Nokia's excuse was they wanted to convey/simulate what the product is theoretically capable of achieving (in this case, optical image stabilisation with ridiculously awesome image quality when taken in low light). This, my dear readers, is a classic textbook example of how to botch the launch of what appears to be a good product.
Being the cynical person I am, I have never bought Nokia's (and any other firms like Apple and Samsung) hyperbole claims about their imaging expertise and prefer to do my own test to find out, so I was already cautious over their claims. The N8 was pretty disappointing after all the hype and so was the Lumia 800's camera, despite claims to the contrary. But this is particularly disappointing because I've actually expected better from them.
The advertising industry isn't immune to deception, and you would be gullible to believe otherwise. I still remember the video games scandal of 2005 when Sony Computer Entertainment (SCE) announced Killzone 2 at E3, and attempted to pass on a pre-rendered proof of concept target render simulated video as an in-game footage being rendered in real time. As with everything in life, things don't stay secret for long.
Sony learned then (and since then, again and again) that there's no such thing as secrets. That was in 2005 and consumers has since wised up. This is the age of the internet, and any companies trying to one-over the consumers will be exposed and lynched. I am pretty sure the incident cost SCE, Guerrilla Games (the developer) and its parent company, Sony, a sizeable amount of trust.
So it appears that the camera is actually pretty good (for a phone). So the billion dollar question is if the camera on the Lumia 920 was competent, why did Nokia or their advertising agency go the extra length to provide fake 'samples' that were so extraordinarily awesome in quality, even my Nikon D7000 with a super sharp £500 lens would struggle to match?
The risk of getting caught were just too great. Nokia has also since posted real images taken with the Lumia 920 and while the quality looks good for a smartphone, the new samples lacks the detail and quality of the images shown in the original video. Not. Even. Close.
At the end of the day, Nokia and its agencies has just learned the hard way. The mainstream press today weren't reporting about Nokia's latest and greatest smartphones - they were going on about how deceitful Nokia were. The media just loves their whipping boys, and Nokia has more or less become theirs.
We live in the age of the internet, where truth reigns and trusts has to be earned. For Nokia's sake, I hope they learn from this sorry episode.