Q: I was wondering why U.S. carriers have not picked up Nokia's N-series phones. Why wouldn't a carrier like AT&T or T-Mobile want such high-end handsets to attract customers? - Zoheb
A: There are a few answers, Zoheb, but they all boil down to money. More so than in other countries the cell phone market in the United States has long centered on the service rebate. Carriers discount phones to attract customers and their contracts, while customers are trained to expect free or discounted handsets. While this dynamic is beginning to change due to the growing popularity of unlocked phones, service rebates largely rule the day here.
Though the rebates have their upside--customers can get $200 knocked off the price of a nice smartphone--they have their downsides as well. And I'm not talking about service contracts. Rather, the widespread use of service rebates has helped to "dumb down" the cell phone selection in the United States. With notable exceptions, carriers tend to keep their phones below $300 to make them as affordable as possible.
The problem with the N-series phones is that they cost well over $500 (the fancy Nokia N96 is $776 unlocked). So even with a service rebate they're going to remain pretty expensive. Sure, there will be customers like yourself who will be willing to buy one, but that's not enough incentive for a carrier to buy a several thousand of them. Instead, they're going to pick handsets that will sell in the biggest numbers.
We also have to remember that the N-series phones are complicated with a lot of different features. U.S. carriers tend to be in the driver's seat when it comes to choosing phones for their lineups. They have a lot of say in how the phone looks and what features it has. Thanks to the iPhone and the T-Mobile G1 this is also beginning to change, but they still like to exert their control. I'd wager than the N-series phones are simply too complicated for U.S. carriers. There are too many parts and features that the carriers can't control. Also, I'm sure that carriers haven't figured out how to monetize all the services on a handset like the N96. That's yet a another deterrent against picking it up.… Read more