Getting to know the meaning of sisu

Nokia announced 4.4 million Lumia smartphones were shipped in Q4. That’s about 14 million since the Lumia line was launched a year earlier. It isn’t however nearly enough to replace the lost sales from Symbian. One year earlier Nokia shipped 19 million Symbian phones in the fourth quarter and the year before 28.3 million. The history of smartphone sales from Nokia is shown below:

Screen Shot 2013-01-10 at 1-10-6.23.00 PM

I repeated the forecast I drew up in February 2011 when the platform switch was announced. That forecast was based on the company stating that 150 million Symbian phones would still be shipped. Symbian fell far more rapidly than I (and Nokia) expected and to date only 98 million have shipped. The last quarter’s 2.2 million seems to be so low that it will be hard to imagine the platform lasting more than a few quarters.

My forecast for Windows Phone was 15 million (through Q4/2012) and the 14 million actually shipped is not far off. However, note that the sequential growth into the fourth quarter was lower than the same period last year. For the holiday quarter Nokia received almost no boost. If there is reason to be optimistic it’s that there wasn’t a decline in overall smartphones into Q4.

The overall result is that Nokia remains in an operating loss status and it’s going to be very hard to recover. No phone vendor has successfully recovered to date. The company managed to book a €50 million one-time payment for IP rights (presumably from RIM) and is sustained by royalties and platform support payments from Microsoft. But even so it’s barely breaking even.

The prospects for Windows Phone may be improving however. Operators in the US continue to talk about it. We don’t have a split for AT&T’s push this past quarter and estimates suggest that 80% of smartphone from AT&T were still iPhones but Verizon will also push the platform and there are suggestions it’s doing well in Germany. HTC has also launched some WP flagship phones and may have had a good December as a result.

That translates into steady progress. But the growth of Android and iOS continue as well. Windows Phone needs to continue to persevere in adverse conditions for years to come. The Finns know a thing or two about that.

  • markrogo

    Is 4.4 million Lumias really evidence the Windows Phone platform is doing well? I’m not saying it isn’t but you are calling for 55.5 million iPhones, which implies on the order of 200 million Android phones. That seems to have Nokia alone well below 2% and Windows Phone not likely all that much above it.

    Maybe this is progress, but it doesn’t especially feel like it.

    • EnGeeYes

      Not sure how it implies 200M Android phones. In CY2012Q3 122M Android phones were sold to end users and my projection based on Samsung’s Q3->Q4 reported growth is for <140M Android phones in CY2012Q4.

  • The 50 million euros is definitely RIM, per their most recent filing (pg. 27).

  • cellojoe

    about the iPhone estimate, we seem to be settling in at around 16 mil for the us, that implies 39 million or so for row? but last year the rest of the world combined for some 23 million in the quarter even 50 would require almost 50 percent growth in the ROW where android seems to fare better than iOS. I wonder where the growth would come from …

  • Tatil_S

    “However, note that the sequential growth into the fourth quarter was lower than the same period last year.”

    Is that all that significant though? Last year WP sales went from about none in Q3 to some in Q4. Percentage growth over that period cannot be all that meaningful, can it?

    • Some people get fooled into buying these Lumias because the market for mobile phones is growing rapidly. These are mostly all would-be Android buyers. They are looking for lower end phones that simply don’t cost as much as an iPhone. Some people bought oldsmobiles and pintos. They only care about price, and, in this case, a car is only purchased to get them from A to B, nothing else. There are always those people when the market is huge.

      • Tatil_S

        I don’t see how your reply applies to my comment about comparing Q3 to Q4 sales growth in 2010 and 2011, but I’ve got four friends who switched from iPhone to WP. They area all well versed in tech and not all that tight fisted.

    • I’m speaking about the total smartphone shipments (WP + Symbian). Last year with only Symbian phones, sales rose sequentially. This year WP alone rose sequentially but Symbian fell resulting in a flat holiday period. Perhaps we are meant to focus only on WP but the company’s survival depends on positive cash flow and everything counts.

      • Tatil_S

        Thanks for clarifying.

  • Notafanboysir

    The sales are so bad because Windows Phone 8 sucks for consumers: especially in Europe where Microsoft Bing / Zune services are shit. It lacks apps. It lacks highend hardware (no quadcores, no full-hd screens – unlike Androids starting in Feb). It doesn’t have anything like Siri or Google Now just yet. And the Lumia 920 is definitely a bulky brick.

  • How many of Lumias sold in December were old WP7 models?

    In Finland in December the best selling model was Lumia 800, for two biggest carriers. Sales figures for biggest carriers in Finland in December 2012:

    Sonera: 1. iPhone 5; 2. Lumia 800; 3. iPhone 4S; 4. Lumia 920
    Elisa: 1. Apple iPhone 5; 2. Nokia Lumia 800; 3. Nokia Lumia 920
    DNA: 1. Samsung Galaxy Y; 2. Nokia Lumia 920; 3. Nokia Lumia 800; 4. iPhone 5

    • For context, Sonera sells Lumia 800 for 168 € (inc. taxes) with 2 year contract in Finland (192 € for 1 year contract) and iPhone 5 for 600 € (640 €).

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  • Nokiaaa

    The providers push for windows phone and manufacturers diversifying are destined to give Microsoft a shot to their money. If windows phone were to stay, there are reasonable hopes that Nokia can survive longer any manufacturer in the past. It is harder to differentiate windows phone for the manufacturers than Andriod, but compete in the areas of marketing. Nokia’s phones typically attracts Asian/European customers, but less so in the states. It is hard to grasp what will attract customers and what not, but one thing Nokia urgently needs to do is to simplify their positioning strategy as the number one windows phone maker. They also need to come up with uncomplicated
    phone modeling strategy (i.e. like Samsung did for Galaxy S I, S II,
    and SIII instead of Lumia 823 and Lumia 930). If a customer does not remember
    your phone model, they will not buy your product in spite of your number 1st

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