Nokia has struck a deal to give away free subscriptions to Netflix, the online film service, to buyers of its latest smartphone through some vendors in the UK.
The content deal underlines the importance for Nokia of gaining Christmas sales for its latest device, the Lumia 1020, a Windows phone.
The model will be one of the last to be made by Nokia, which is in the process of selling its handset business to Microsoft.
Nokia has run deals selling content alongside its phones in the past with mixed results. An executive at one operator pointed to an ineffective deal a few years ago that offered a free download service for music.
This time, customers of Vodafone will be given an annual subscription to Netflix, although the deal is being funded predominantly by Nokia according to people familiar with the terms.
Phones4U is offering six months of Netflix on its range of Nokia Windows smartphones, including the Lumia 625, 925 and 1020.
The promotions, which elsewhere include a trade-in deal for digital cameras for the latest phone, come ahead of a crucial Christmas sales period.
Nokia is expected to support the 1020 phones with its largest ever promotional campaigns for a Windows smartphone at Christmas.
The advertising for the phone will be subsidised by Microsoft as well as the UK operators and retailers.
The Vodafone Netflix offer, for example, alone will be supported through large format press adverts, poster sites and retail placements.
Microsoft is also already advertising the purchase of Nokia’s devices business, even though the deal has still not been approved by shareholders.
Nokia is running similar campaigns in other countries with Netflix, including in Finland, where it was giving away six months of Netflix with Gigantti as part of a Facebook campaign with the Lumia 625.
Nokia will launch the last of its Lumia line-up for this year at an event in Abu Dhabi on October 22, which is expected to include a move into the supersized “phablet” and tablet markets for the first time, as well as more lower-cost smartphones.
The Lumia 1020 launched last month in the UK, but market commentators say that it is still too early to judge the results in a crucial period for a Windows smartphone platform that is gradually gaining mainstream acceptance.
The market share globally of Windows Phone is tiny compared to Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android, at about 4 per cent, according to IDC.
However, the UK is one of its biggest markets, where Windows phones accounted for a smartphone market share of more than 10 per cent in the three months to August, according to Kantar.
Apple has also recently launched its latest devices, including the high-end iPhone 5s, which operators report have sold strongly in the first few weeks. At the end of August, the best-selling phone on the UK contract market was the iPhone 5, followed by Samsung’s Galaxy S4.