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HTC One X delay benefits Lumia 900 at AT&T

The One X is being held up at customs because of a dispute between Apple and HTC, extending the Lumia 900's window as AT&T's flagship smartphone.

Nokia Lumia 900
Nokia Lumia 900 Josh Miller/CNET

Nokia may not admit it, but the company is likely jumping for joy that the HTC One X is having trouble getting into the U.S.

Nokia's own Lumia 900, which has enjoyed its flagship smartphone status at AT&T for the past few weeks, could see its preeminent position at the carrier extended as a result of the One X's delay. U.S. customs officials have held up imports of the One X because of a patent dispute between Apple and HTC.

A few extra weeks as AT&T's top dog could do wonders for sales of the device, benefiting both Nokia, which is trying to re-establish its position in the U.S., and Microsoft, which is trying to build some credibility and awareness for its Windows Phone platform. For weeks, posters of Lumia 900s were prominently displayed in AT&T stores, with many salesmen recommending the device.

"The Lumia 900 could benefit in the short term," said Avi Greengart, an analyst at Current Analysis. "It probably gives Nokia a little more breathing room."

AT&T had planned a marketing campaign that would last six to eight weeks, CNET had previously learned. Sunday would mark the sixth week that the Lumia 900 has been on the market.

The One X could have threatened the Lumia 900's position. The much-buzzed about One X was a hit at Mobile World Congress, and had been generating interest ahead of its launch in the U.S. CNET was particularly enthusiastic about the international version. In the U.S., AT&T had high expectations for how well the phone would sell here.

The importation of the One X, along with the Evo 4G LTE for Sprint Nextel, has been delayed by U.S. customs officials because of an ongoing dispute between HTC and Apple. HTC had previously lost a patent infringement case with the U.S. International Trade Commission, which gave the handset vendor several months to remove the infringing technology, which dealt with data detection.

HTC said it believes it is in compliance with the ITC ruling, and called the delay part of a standard review required after such an order.

AT&T declined to comment to CNET, and a Nokia representative declined to comment on the HTC delay, saying the company would prefer to focus on its own products.

Still, Nokia has to be pleased that a major competitor could be delayed indefinitely. With much of the signage at AT&T stores still devoted to the Lumia 900, Nokia still has an edge in awareness. It's unlikely AT&T will take down any of that promotional material with the One X still unable to cross the border.

Overall, the Lumia 900 seems to be doing well. Nokia wouldn't give figures, but pointed to the high customer ratings the device has gotten. Greengart said the phone appears to be doing better than expected in the U.S.

Both HTC and Nokia could use the boost. Both lost market share in the first quarter compared with the same period a year ago, according to a recent Gartner report.

It's still unclear how long the delay will last; AT&T has listed the One X as currently out of stock.

Greengart, however, noted that other devices may also benefit. He added that the Lumia 900 and the One X aren't meant for the same type of customer, and that other high-end devices such as the Samsung Galaxy Note could instead see some interest.

Other wild cards include the Galaxy S III and the Sony Xperia Ion, which could make their way to AT&T.

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