New Lumia phones seen winning Nokia more time

Tue Nov 13, 2012 9:48am EST
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By Ritsuko Ando

HELSINKI (Reuters) - Nokia's new Lumia smartphones are trickling into the market and early signs suggest they may sell well enough to give the handset maker more time in its fight against industry leaders Samsung and Apple.

But investors shouldn't expect a quick turnaround for the struggling Finnish cellphone maker, with rival gadgets like mini tablet computers vying for consumers' attention, analysts said.

"Positive reviews are a great start but as we have seen many times before these won't deliver strong sales volumes on their own," said Pete Cunningham, an analyst at research firm Canalys.

Successful sales of the latest Lumia 920 and 820 models are crucial for Nokia's survival. The former market leader is burning through cash while it loses share in both high-end smartphones and cheaper handsets.

FIM Securities analyst Michael Schroder forecast Nokia will sell 1-3 million of the new models this quarter. It sold 2.9 million older Lumia models in the third quarter, compared to Apple's sales of around 26.6 million iPhones in the same period.

"In any case the uptake will not be massive," he predicted.

Lumia's sales could serve a verdict on Chief Executive Stephen Elop's decision in February 2011 to partner with Microsoft instead of using Google's Android or continuing to develop Nokia's own operating system.

Investors had feared poor reviews and weak sales could bring an end to the company's smartphone business early next year.   Continued...

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer displays a Nokia Lumia 920 featuring Windows Phone 8 during an event in San Francisco, California October 29, 2012. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith