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Nokia Sells 1M Windows Phones But Lumia 900 Faces Challenge

The Lumia 900 will be Microsoft and Nokia's best shot at getting people interested in the Windows Phone platform.

Nokia managed to sell "well over" one million Lumia 710 and Lumia 800 Windows Phones, the company announced in its latest earnings report. That's a fine start for the company as it bets its future on Microsoft's mobile OS, but the biggest challenge is yet to come.

Soon, Nokia will launch the Lumia 900 on AT&T. It's not Nokia's first Windows Phone in the United States -- that distinction belongs to the Lumia 710 on T-Mobile -- but it should be the company's biggest smartphone launch in the country to date. According to one report, Nokia, Microsoft and AT&T will spend roughly $100 million marketing the phone.

Why the hubbub? Call it an alignment of the stars. The Lumia 900 is Nokia's top tier Windows Phone, with the same slick design as the Lumia 800, but with a larger 4.3-inch screen and support for AT&T's 4G LTE network. AT&T has been scrambling to build that network and compete with 4G offerings from Verizon Wireless, and although the carrier has already launched a couple of 4G LTE phones -- Samsung's Skyrocket and HTC's Vivid -- neither is particularly remarkable. AT&T needs a shiny new phone to market around 4G LTE, and the Lumia 900 could fit the bill. Microsoft, meanwhile, needs to get Windows Phone on the map, and given its close partnership with Nokia, it makes sense for Microsoft to put marketing muscle behind the Lumia 900.

According to a leaked roadmap published at Boy Genius Report, the Lumia 900 will launch on March 18, for $100 with a two-year contract. At that price, it has a decent chance of catching shoppers' eyes. In other words, this phone will be Microsoft and Nokia's best attempt yet at getting people interested in the Windows Phone platform. If it fails to move the market share needle in a positive direction, Microsoft and Nokia will be in big trouble.

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