It is a difficult time for Microsoft and their Windows Phone 7 (WP7) mobile operating system. While Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android are able to entice new users, WP7 continues its struggle to garner consumer attention. As of February 2012, comScore, a mobile user data measurement service, reported that Android and iOS both saw an increase in their userbase, which encompasses over 80 percent of the total smartphone market in the United States. Meanwhile, WP7 dropped to a measly 3.9 percent total market share.

A simple examination of this data paints a very dreary picture for Microsoft’s young mobile platform, but that’s where Nokia and their new Lumia 900 come into play. Having launched just one week ago, the Lumia 900 is already proving to be quite a popular device among AT&T customers—a sign that Windows Phone may have found its saving grace. Here’s why:

A Lust-Worthy Design

One can argue that Apple’s sleek industrial design for the iPhone 4 and 4S is unmatched and largely contributes to the success of the iPhone and iOS platform. No other mobile device on the market has been designed as beautifully as the iPhone—until now. With the introduction of the Lumia series, and in this case the 900, Nokia has created a truly unique and handsome smartphone. With its rounded cyan-colored polycarbonate body and 4.3” ClearBlack AMOLED display, the Lumia 900 not only looks like a premium device, it feels like one. Unlike the iPhone 4 and 4S’ rather sharp edges, the Lumia 900 is incredibly comfortable in the hand. It also has a heft and sturdiness to it that reassures the holder of the phone that dropping it won’t shatter it to pieces.

An Attractive Price

Microsoft, Nokia and AT&T are not messing around with their marketing campaign for the Lumia 900. All three companies are working hard to ensure that both AT&T customers and other consumers are aware of the phone. The most impressive part of the trio’s marketing strategy is the Lumia’s aggressive $99 price tag. Considering most new high-quality smartphones start at $199, it is a welcome surprise. In fact, Nokia is doing one better. Any AT&T customer that signs a new 2-year contract with the purchase of a Lumia 900 before April 21 will receive a $100 rebate – basically nullifying the price of the phone. That’s what I call a great deal.

Slick Exclusive Apps

The most interesting part of Nokia’s partnership with Microsoft is the extra freedom and assistance given to Nokia to help design the Lumia 900. By working closely with Microsoft’s software engineers, Nokia and their software partners were able to create some fantastic and exclusive applications for their flagship Windows Phone. The list of exclusive apps include: Nokia Drive, Nokia Maps, and Nokia Transit. Nokia Drive is the standout application here; it provides users with excellent turn-by-turn directions, similar to Google Navigation, completely free of cost.

Solid User Experience

Since the Lumia 900 is a WP7 device, it provides the same snappy experience as other WP7 phones. There is no noticeable lag, apps are easy to jump in and out of and the general interface is easy to use. Unlike the more complicated nature of Android, WP7 uses its “tile” system to provide users with information quickly and concisely. Combine the intuitive nature of WP7 with Microsoft’s services like Bing search, free SkyDrive cloud data storage, and Microsoft Office integration, and the Lumia 900 becomes a much more intriguing smartphone.

Conclusive Evidence

Even with all the great things going for it, the Lumia 900’s success depends entirely on how it is received among the general public. With early reports of strong phone sales in retail stores and on AT&T and Amazon’s website, there is good reason for both Nokia and Microsoft to be pleased. If the Lumia 900 is able to continue its sales momentum through the rest of this fiscal quarter, it will bode very well for both companies and the future of the Windows Phone platform. The important thing is for Nokia and Microsoft to look ahead beyond the Lumia 900 and expand on what may be the first smash hit for Windows Phone.