Nokia Lumia 900 TV Ads: We Know It Looks Different, But Is it Better?

The new Microsoft-Nokia Lumia 900 TV ads tell us too gently that the smartphone is "beautifully different" instead of urgently yelling out why it's beautifully better than Android and the iPhone, and that it is beautifully cheaper.

Is the Lumia 900 Windows Phone Microsoft and Nokia's last chance at glory? I wouldn't go that far, but the pressure is undeniably on to get these shiny, pretty smartphones on consumers' minds and in their hands.

Hence the TV spots you've probably seen in prime time for the past week or so. The main message of these lightly humorous but not assertive enough ads: The Lumia 900 is easy on the eyes and it looks … different. "Beautifully different."

One TV spot I saw this weekend is about expressing your individuality (the first video below). It's part of a campaign called "The Smartphone Beta Test Is Over", implying rather outlandishly that Google and Apple have been using the general public as beta testers for their (wildly successful) phones and that the Lumia 900 is the culmination of all that testing. It's a stretch to say the least.

The other ad I saw (second video) is about getting a girl to like you using the Lumia 900 -- another big stretch. But hey, this is advertising.

To be fair, the Nokia Lumia 900 has received positive reviews. It's a durable and aesthetically pleasing smartphone with a killer eight-megapixel camera and strong battery life for a 4G LTE phone. And the $99.99 price tag available on AT&T is simply irresistible.

The Metro-based live tiles that rule the Windows Phones OS are still hit or miss. Some argue that they help simplify navigation while others complain that it's a dumbing down of the smartphone experience, limiting users to one long screen and little customization other than the ability to rearrange tiles.

But despite compelling new features in the Lumia 900, the Microsoft/Nokia ad campaign mostly sticks to the script of the earlier Windows Phone ads: Buy this phone because it allows quicker access to your information and doesn't look like Android or the iPhone.

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Nokia Answers Lumia 900 User Complaints with Software Update, Bill Credit

The "we look different" approach is risky because you appear as if you're being different for the sake of being different. Microsoft doesn't explain the Lumia's stand-out features as much as it should in the ads. It's just different. Well, we can see that. Tell us why it's better.

This strategy would be more effective if Android and iPhone users were clamoring for something different-looking. But they are not.

Perhaps future ads will be more explicit about the cool features living inside and outside the Lumia 900. They should be praising the Lumia's enduring battery life as an answer to complaints about Android quickly draining batteries and they should bang the drum for Lumia's 4G LTE capability as an advantage over the 3G-only iPhone 4S. These strengths are merely alluded to in the new ads. But this is no time to be subtle.

In the end, the Lumia 900's price is the smoking gun here. The Motorola Droid Razr Maxx costs $299.99 and the comparable Lumia 900 is one-third of that price.

Now there's something different that cash-strapped consumers can believe in.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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