MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.--Nokia had some good news and bad news for financial investors on Thursday (Jan. 26), announcing that though it had managed to sell over 1 million Windows Phone 7 Lumia devices to date, it had also lost $1.38-billion in the fourth quarter of 2011.
A year earlier, in the fourth quarter of 2010, Nokia had actually made a profit of $980 million, making this quarter’s results all the more worrying.
Nokia sales plummeted 21 percent in Q411, with smartphone shipments down 31 percent from the same period the year before. Overall the Finnish phonemaker reported a 73 percent drop in fourth-quarter earnings, though the firm still managed to come in just ahead of analyst expectations, perhaps thanks to a $250-million payment from Microsoft for being a Windows Phone partner.
The firm blamed most of its financial losses in the fourth quarter on the 1.1 billion write-down for the firm’s digital mapping assets.
Analysts, however, noted that Nokia’s ongoing struggle was still tied to the firm’s painful transition from Symbian to Windows Phones.
“Despite the latest improvements in Symbian's user interface and the launch of a few new devices, it's now clear that Nokia will not be able to continue to rely on Symbian and needs to move even faster to Windows Phones,” said Francisco Jeronimo, IDC’s European mobile devices research manager, adding that lower volumes of Symbian and lower ASPs would not help the company remain profitable.
Analyst Jack Gold concurred with Jeronimo, noting that the sale of one million Lumia devices was a “good first step” but that it was worth noting that Apple had sold 37 million iPhones in the same timeframe.
“When compared with Symbian devices such as the N95 in 2007, the N97 in 2009, and the N8 in 2010, the Lumia 800 performed particularly well,” said Jeronimo, noting that the massive marketing investment Nokia had made to promote the device helped ship better than expected volumes in Western Europe, the phone’s launch market.
IDC even went so far as to say the Lumia sales had “significantly affected” sales of HTC and Samsung Windows Phones, predicting that Nokia would dominate the Windows Phone space within the next few quarters.
Despite IDC’s optimism for Nokia in the Windows Phone space, however, both Jeronimo and Gold see a gloomy near future for the phone maker.
“Windows Phones volumes will not be enough to offset the decline of Symbian,” said Jeronimo, suggesting that Nokia continue to push forward with its restructuring program, cut costs and focus in on delivering more devices faster than before at different price points.