Nokia's Lumia lineup can't match the appeal of the iPhone and Android, say European carrriers trying to sell the new Windows Phone handsets.
Nokia's Lumia phones are already facing an uphill battle trying to gain attention and sales in a market dominated by Apple and Android.
Four of the major telecom carriers in Europe told Reuters that the Lumia smartphones were not good enough to compete with the iPhone or Samsung's Galaxy phones. As a result, carriers seem to feel little incentive to push the phones over the competition.
At one French telecom store cited by Reuters, Lumia models were not displayed prominently, and one salesperson steered a potential customer toward an iPhone and a variety of Android phones over Nokia's devices
Lack of customer awareness is also hurting Nokia.
"No one comes into the store and asks for a Windows phone," one executive an a European carrier told Reuters.
Nokia has tried to get the word out with a marketing blitz. Ads mocking its rivals and touting the Lumia phone as unique and different have already hit the market.
Despite the snub of the Lumia lineup from European sellers, the Lumia 900 seems to be doing well in the U.S.
Carried by AT&T, the phone was at the top of Amazon's mobile-phone best sellers list last week. AT&T even ran out of available stock at some of its outlets and its online store.
A Nokia spokesman told CNET yesterday that the reaction to the 900 has been very positive, and so some of the retail outlets have sold out. "But we are producing more units as quickly as possible, and new devices are being continually shipped out to fulfill the demand," he added.
But just as in Europe, retailers in the U.S. seem reluctant to push a Nokia phone over the ever-popular iPhone and Android devices. A recent and informal CNET survey of a few AT&T stores in Manhattan found no sales people willing to recommend the Lumia 900.
"Windows Phone is alright," said one associate in a store on the Upper West Side. "But it's no iPhone."
Greg Sullivan, senior product manager at Microsoft for Windows Phone, told CNET that both Microsoft and Nokia have worked closely with AT&T to train sales representatives. But educating them on the features and benefits of the Lumia lineup is something that's going to take time.
The appeal of the iPhone and Android, both among consumers and retailers, remains strong and will be difficult to counter. Nokia faces a huge challenge not just promoting its new phones but changing that ever stubborn public perception.