When classes get underway this year at Seton Hall University, each incoming freshman will receive a new Lumia 900 handset, thanks to the school's partnership with Nokia. The campaign is part of Seton Hall's Mobile Computing Initiative, launched in coordination with Nokia, AT&T, and Microsoft.
Under the initiative, every incoming member of the class of 2016 will receive a Lumia 900 equipped with Windows Phone 7.5 and an enhanced version of SHUmobile — an app that provides students with campus maps, directories, and news feeds. This multi-platform app is already available to students currently enrolled at Seton Hall, though freshmen with Lumia 900 handsets will also have access to a new Freshman Experience component that allows them to directly communicate with peers, roommates, and academic advisors. Seton Hall will also use Nokia's analytics tools to conduct polls to learn how students are using the Lumia 900 in everyday campus life.
Nokia isn't the first company to target collegians in this fashion. Apple launched a similar campaign in 2008, handing out free iPhones to freshmen at Abilene Christian University, and in 2010, when it offered iPads to students at Seton Hill University. It's pretty clear that these initiatives are driven more by PR strategy than anything else, though Seton Hall's incoming class certainly won't complain about participating in it.