Just a couple days ago, Microsoft’s new flagship Windows 10 Mobile smartphones were officially unveiled, packing some of the latest and greatest hardware such as 2K displays, iris scanners, and liquid cooling technology. Availability is slated for November, though the company initially neglected to state who would carry the devices. That day we were made aware that AT&T would carry the Lumia 950, and we were hopefully that other carriers might follow suit in announcing their intent to carry the flagships. But no one else stepped up. OneTechStop editor-in-chief, Lenny B, attended the event in New York and was informed by Panos Panay himself that AT&T was the only carrier stateside to sell the 950. That got us scratching out heads.
It seemed that many people were quite displeased with what seemed to be Microsoft returning to carrier exclusivity. Did Microsoft not learn from the mistakes of the past? Seems like it, as T-MobileUS CEO John Legere went on Twitter to express his own view on the situation:
— John Legere (@JohnLegere) October 8, 2015
Legere even went as far as comparing Microsoft to Amazon, referencing the disastrous Fire Phone and it’s carrier exclusivity. I was sure this claim was false. There’s no way Microsoft would just severely limit its first flagships in nearly 2 years, and the first to run Windows 10 Mobile. Turns out it’s completely true. WinBeta received a response from Microsoft about the limited carrier availability and this is what the company had to say:
“We’re refocusing our channel strategy, narrowing it in the short-term and planning for broader operator availability long-term. While there was interest across the board from U.S. operators, currently we’ve made the decision to have AT&T carry the Lumia 950, and then sell both the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL unlocked through our own channel in Microsoft stores.
In Europe, Deutsche Telekom will carry the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL, and we’ll have more to share about other carriers shortly.”
What does this mean? I’m not quite sure, it’s pretty vague. But as far as I can make out, AT&T could just be a placeholder, a way for them to test the waters and see the demand for the devices. It’s a way for them to see just how much effort to put into these smartphones, which is somewhat understandable after having recently written off over $4Billion dollars from the Nokia acquisition. But it’s also a dumb move for Microsoft. They simply have too much at stake with not only the smartphone market, but with Windows 10 in general. These devices are meant to supplement the Windows 10 experience by putting a computer in your hand with the help of the Continuum software. Limiting them is limiting the reach of Windows 10, which is off to a great start. With PC installments reaching 110 million so soon after release, Microsoft would be wise to take advantage.
Only time will tell whether or not Microsoft comes to their senses. In the meantime, the phones will still be available unlocked in the US, which means it’s likely they’re to be compatible with both AT&T and T-Mobile (not sure about Verizon or Sprint though). The Lumia 950 and 950XL will retail for $549 and $649 respectively.