April 10, 2012, 6:13 AM — Nokia may sell more cellphones than any other company in the world, but it's been all but excluded from the United States for years -- and it's seen its global sales steadily shrink as the iPhone and Android smartphones have become the darlings of buyers in an increasing number of countries. Nokia's relevance has been fast receding, and its Symbian, Maemo, and MeeGo efforts became a pattern of failure for a company that just didn't get it. In response, a year ago, Nokia bet its future largely on Windows Phone 7, Microsoft's answer to Apple's iOS and Google's Android.
The first fruits of that partnership -- the Lumia 600 and 800 -- shipped last fall in Europe to disappointing sales. But the Nokia and Windows Phone faithful told skeptics to wait for the Lumia 900, which would prove that both Windows Phone and Nokia were poised to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat across the globe, particularly in the United States where it would be Nokia's turnaround product. Unfortunately, this Windows Phone flagship is no battleship. In fact, it can't even engage the competition in any serious way.
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That's too bad because aspects of both the Lumia 900 and Windows Phone show real promise and class. It's easy to be entranced by the "basic black dress" simplicity of the Lumia 900's design (available in blue, white, and black models), and the tiled interface of Windows Phone is truly inspired, elegant, and alluring. But if you look deeper, you find that the Lumia 900, like Windows Phone 7 itself, is a deficient product whose surface beauty masks a weakling.