Nokia’s Weber devises U.S. plan of attack

If Nokia’s big challenge this year is getting back in with US consumers and operators, it should be a busy 2012 for Chris Weber.

Weber –  who heads the Finnish company’s business here – took a moment with us at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas to lay out some of his plans a day after AT&T announced it would sell Nokia’s Lumia 900, and a day before the Lumia 710 goes on sale at T-Mobile USA.

Weber told Reuters that he has to first find a way to convince enough consumers to at least try out Nokia’s Windows Phone-based devices, to at least give them a chance.

In this regard, he expects a lot of help from T-Mobile in the form of flagship phone status in their stores. This involves 6 Lumia display locations in each store, a poster out front, and a center island display to top it all off. At AT&T, Weber says, details on a promotional assist from the carrier are “still being worked out.”

But if the AT&T keynote announcement of eight LTE devices yesterday was anything to go by, Weber may have to fight harder for attention there. Weber also needs to gain attention at other U.S. operators, such as Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel.

Sprint: When all else fails, call a magician

davidblaineAfter bigger rivals Verizon Wireless and AT&T stole the limelight at the Consumer Electronics Show with promises of multiple advanced phones for this year, now Sprint Nextel is trying to grab some attention with a stunt of its own.

In an intentionally mysterious invitation, the No. 3 U.S. mobile provider says it has enlisted the help of illusionist David Blaine to show the world how “Sprint’s making the Impossible Possible” at a New York Event scheduled for February 7.

Sprint’s promising that the event will be “a lot of fun” but it is mum on whether Blaine plans relive his Times Square encasement in a block of ice or his vertigo stunt in Bryant Park.

A PC for less than a buck

Ultraportable, Web-centric netbooks PCs have been on the market for a relatively short amount of time, but prices continue to fall, as new models flood the market and wireless carriers move to subsidize the purchase cost.

And now, in what is likely a sign of things to come, a netbook can be had for mere pocket change.

Best Buy is currently offering an HP netbook — the  Compaq Mini 110c-1040DX — for the low-low price of 99 cents with the purchase of a 2-year data plan from Sprint. AT&T and Verizon already offer similar subsidies for netbooks–just not so steep. The same netbook will cost you $200 with 2-year activation with Verizon or AT&T. And without a contract, the device will run you $390.

Sprint: Android not good enough yet

Sprint may be having a lot of problems marketing its own brand in the last few years, but according to Chief Executive Dan Hesse, Google’s Android mobile operating system isn’t perfect either.

He told the National Press Club in Washington that he didn’t think Android in its current form is ”good enough to put the Sprint brand on it.”

But Hesse promised to sell a phone powered by Android “at some time in the future.” Sprint is part of the alliance of about 30 companies that said they would support Google’s development of a mobile phone operating system. T-Mobile USA started selling the first phone powered by Android earlier this week.  (Reporting by Kim Dixon)

Cable, Sprint up ante on rivals

cellphone-guy.jpgTwo sectors may be getting a new lease on life after the Wall Street Journal reported news that a handful of the top U.S. cable operators are exploring a joint venture with Sprint Nextel and Clearwire to create a national high-speed wireless network to fight off the telcos for subscribers.

Without a big infusion of cash, WiMax technology could be a non-starter in the U.S. So far, Sprint has planned to introduce the service in three markets.

Expanding beyond that may prove a tough sell for Sprint shareholders who had widely criticized its commitment last year to spend $5 billion on WiMax by 2010. Sprint is also struggling to keep its existing customers from leaving.