I have read over the past few days lots of comments around the fact that Nokia seems to be going with exclusivity agreements again, much like it did with the Lumia 920 about half a year ago. The main objections are centred around two issues:
- Nokia would sell many more if it would sell the device on all operators.
- It is not fair to consumers, as some simply can’t get the Nokia Lumia 1020.
With regards to the first issue, analysts and journalist normally point out the iPhone and Galaxy S3/4 as prime examples, as Samsung and Apple wouldn’t be able to sell that amount of units if it were exclusively on one carrier. I think that they may be missing an important point: Nokia is the underdog right now.
When the iPhone first launched it was on one carrier in most of the countries. When the first Galaxy S launched, in the US it had a different version for each operator. Why did that happen? Simply, because the manufacturer needed to have some leverage with the operator in order to get it to stock the phone and market it. Naturally, over time the power in the relationship has changed: every operator wants and needs to stock the new Galaxy S and the new iPhone.
This is clearly not yet the case with Nokia and this particular handset, the Nokia Lumia 1020. The bottom line of an operator is not really affected by stocking the device or not. Consumers are not asking for it. This means for Nokia that it is not easy to stand out in the shop next to the Galaxy S4, HTC One or iPhone which will be pushed by the operators.
In order to get some necessary spotlight attention, Nokia has to turn to exclusivity agreements. I am 100% sure that Nokia will start being on every operator as soon as their devices are lusted after again by consumers, but for now, Nokia is realistic and is adjusting its strategy. You can be sure that they have done their numbers and despite perhaps selling fewer devices, this strategy gives them a better return.
As for the second issue, Nokia is a for-profit company. The Lumia 1020 is unique, but not something someone can’t live without. Although I would like to be able to buy it SIM-free and it bothers me that I may not be able to for the first couple of months (at a reasonable price, that is), that’s life. Change operator or get something else.
I, for one, just hope Nokia does well with its new devices. If it does, I am sure that the exclusivity agreements will be a part of the past in less than two years.