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. By Anthony John Agnello NEW YORK ( InvestorPlace) -- Word is that AT&T ( T) 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) and Microsoft's ( MSFT) 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)." 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.
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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.
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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?