Nokia had fun on stage today introducing its brand new hero smartphone, the Lumia 1020. At an event in New York City, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop showed off the smartphone’s 41-megapixel camera that sports a variety of interesting features. But Elop, even on this momentous event, could not escape the hard questions that Nokia faces as it tries to climb back to the top of the smartphone mountain.
During the question-and-answer segment of the event, a reporter from Forbes, Joan Lappin, asked Elop about the company’s relationship with mobile carrier AT&T. She is a Nokia Lumia 920 owner and called the process of buying the smartphone “crummy” and that “AT&T is actually a dreadful partner for Nokia.”
The Forbes reporter wasn’t exaggerating. When the Lumia 920 came out, many people complained that it was hard to find at AT&T stores, the staff was not knowledgeable of the features of the device and that it—a device which Nokia had pinned massive hopes upon—was generally a second-class citizen to the iPhone and Android hero smartphones at the carrier. BlackBerry has also faced this problem with AT&T in marketing its new flagship Z10 device.
Elop countered the question by putting the onus on Nokia to be better at marketing, distributing Lumia devices and building the Windows Phone as the real third ecosystem for smartphones, behind iOS and Android.
AT&T Mobility president and CEO Ralph de la Vega addressed the partnership with Nokia in a short interview with ReadWrite.
“We have a great partnership and I think Stephen was right,” de la Vega said. “It [Windows Phone] is the latest system, like Stephen said. It takes more people getting used to it and acclimated, too. I think it takes an extra effort for getting together AT&T, Microsoft and Nokia to make an all-out pitch to launch this product with a much stronger backing than any other product we launched with Microsoft or Nokia.”
For AT&T’s part, de la Vega promised that the staff in stores would be knowledgeable of the features of the Lumia 1020 and it would be displayed as a “hero” device in AT&T stores. The Lumia 1020 will be available at AT&T on July 26 and retail for $299 with a two-year contract. At that price point, AT&T store staffers are going to work extra hard to sell the device, no matter how nice the camera turns out to be.
“Every time I use it you find some new nuance that is really cool and we want to make sure they are fully trained to show off this device to the customers,” de la Vega said.
De la Vega also said that the launch of the Lumia 1020 would different in terms of marketing and presentation than previous Nokia releases, such as the Lumia 900 and Lumia 920.
“I think you will see a different aspect of that than any other phone we have done with Nokia,” de la Vega said.