Analysis: Lumia sell-out no proof of Nokia turnaround

Tue Dec 18, 2012 10:48am EST
 
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By Ritsuko Ando

HELSINKI (Reuters) - It's too soon to bet that Nokia's on the road to recovery after its new Lumia smartphones were sold out in many stores across Europe and America, as retailers say supplies have been short ever since their launch.

The Lumia 920 and 820, which use Microsoft's latest Windows Phone 8 software, were launched last month with expectations of a "make or break" for Nokia, once the undisputed leader in mobile phones, now losing share in smartphones and lower-end handsets.

Positive online reviews and anecdotes of waiting lists for the 920, as well as Nokia's sales deal with China Mobile announced earlier this month, have helped Nokia shares rise over 40 percent in the past month.

But analysts say there's no proof that Lumia phones are making significant inroads on market leaders Samsung and Apple or that Chief Executive Stephen Elop's risky strategy of betting the company's future on Windows software was paying off.

"I think people are looking and saying, 'Hey, there aren't enough 920s in the market', but the reality is that the volume is so small. It's not going to move the needle," said Pacific Crest Securities analyst James Faucette.

Most analysts forecast Nokia will sell around 5 to 6 million Windows Phone devices in the fourth quarter, with over half of them older versions of Lumia, which have been heavily discounted.

That would be better than the 3 million Lumia smartphones sold in the third quarter, but it pales in comparison with Samsung, which champions Google's Android system and is expected to ship 60 million smartphones in October-December.

IMPROVEMENT FROM LOW BASE   Continued...

 
A Nokia Lumia 920 featuring Windows Phone 8 is displayed during an event in San Francisco, California October 29, 2012. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith