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The following commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet's guest contributor program, which is separate from the company's news coverage.
Anthony John Agnello
NEW YORK (
InvestorPlace) -- Word is that
AT&T(T - Get Report) is going to be back in the business of hocking high-end, exclusive smartphones again starting early next year. Kaufman Bros. analyst Ben Abramovitz said in a Friday research note that
Nokia(NOK - Get Report) and
Microsoft's(MSFT - Get Report) debut collaboration -- the Lumia 800 smartphone powered by the Windows Phone 7.5 operating system -- will arrive in the U.S. in 2012 using AT&T's network as its "window."
A follow-up report in
Forbes further detailed Abramovitz's thoughts on the future of Windows phones, predicting, "We believe this poses a potential risk for
Sprint(S) and its new long-term commitment to
Apple(AAPL - Get Report)." The thinking, then, is that Windows smartphones are going to be popular with businessmen. Windows phones will staunch the flood of iPhones and
Google(GOOG) Android devices into the business market with pocket devices using an extension of popular enterprise PC technology.
Best and worst stocks after the Black Friday sales surge
In the telecom race, this means AT&T might have a lock on the first fashionable Windows phone powerhouse in Nokia's Lumia. Since Sprint has hitched its ship to Apple, the logic says it will miss the opportunity present in Microsoft's new rise.
Abramovitz's logic is sound. After a year of speculation and doomsaying about the Finnish phone maker and Microsoft's partnership, the Lumia is off to a promising start. Nokia shares sank hard last week, dipping 6% on Tuesday after Pacific Crest analyst James Faucette lowered Lumia sales estimates for the quarter to 500,000 phones -- but Nokia countered, claiming Lumia was its biggest release in the U.K. in "recent history." While skeptics might scoff,
France Telecom (FTE) subsidiary Orange, a mobile provider for the U.K. that also is an iPhone carrier, said it received more preorders for the Lumia than for any other Nokia phone in its history.
Black Friday leaves Apple stores barren
Great for Nokia and Microsoft then, and great for international telecoms in the U.K., India and the other territories in which Lumia will release this year, racking up a potential 2 million in sales (according to Deutsche Bank) before the year is out.
Realistically speaking, though, will Lumia really be a game-changer for AT&T?