We knew AT&T was going big for the Lumia 900 launch, but now we may know just how big. While we had previously heard something in the neighborhood of $100 million, Ad Age is reporting the company will spend as much as $150 million to promote the new handset, even more than it spent on the launch of Apple's iPhone 4. The reason for dropping so much cash on the Windows Phone device is simple — having the hugely in-demand iPhone as an exclusive offering was a massive coup for the company, and it's determined to make the Lumia 900 its next hit now that Verizon and Sprint have gotten a piece of the Apple pie.
Between the iPhone's launch in 2007 and February 2011 things were going swell for AT&T. In 2010 alone the company added more than three times the net wireless subscribers that Verizon did. After losing iPhone exclusivity, though, the tables have turned, and Verizon is breathing down AT&T's neck with 32.2 million smartphone subscribers compared to AT&T's 33.8 million. Verizon's smartphone customer base grew an astonishing 81 percent over the course of 2011 — more than double AT&T's growth.
So what's AT&T to do? The same thing it did last time, it hopes — score a hot exclusive phone that drives people into its stores. The strong competition between Android OEMs means that while scoring a breakthrough Android device wouldn't be impossible, AT&T would have little chance of making a big impact with so many close substitutes on the market. That leaves the Lumia 900 and the tiny-by-comparison Windows Phone platform as the premier candidates to inherit the iPhone's exclusive spot, and AT&T is doing its best to exploit the opportunity. So far we're only seeing the first details of the launch's success trickle in, but one thing is for sure; however well the Lumia 900 does, it's highly unlikely any amount of marketing muscle is going to turn it into an iPhone.