Nokia slips further behind Apple

Michael Carroll
27 Jan 2012

Nokia shipped nearly 18 million fewer smartphones than rival Apple in the fourth quarter, despite its first range of Windows Phone 7 devices launching during the period.

The Finnish vendor shipped 19.6 million smartphones in 4Q11, compared to Apple’s 37.04 million. Nokia’s figure is down 31% on 4Q10, but its results show some signs of moving in the right direction with shipments up 17% on 3Q11, and a million WP7 Lumia smartphones shipped since October.

However, the sequential improvement in shipments did little to boost Nokia’s finances, with the firm slipping to a full year net loss of €1.2 billion ($1.57 billion) in 2011, compared to a profit of €1.8 billion in 2010. Operating profit at its devices and services business fell a whopping 75% year-on-year to €884 million, while losses at its location and commerce division grew from €663 million to €1.5 billion. On the flip side, infrastructure joint venture Nokia Siemens cut its operating loss from €686 million in 2010 to €300 million in 2011.

Nokia chief Stephen Elop said a warm reception for its Lumia smartphones shows the firm belongs “on the field” of battle in mobile ecosystems. “Our specific intent has been to establish a beachhead in this war of ecosystems, and country by country that is what we are now accomplishing.”

However, the firm’s legacy Symbian software won’t, now, contribute as much to Nokia’s 2012 device shipments as previously forecast, due to “an acceleration of the anticipated trend towards lower-priced smartphones with specifications that are different from Symbian's traditional strengths,” Elop said.

The vendor predicted Symbian was good for another 150 million unit shipments when it first unveiled plans to partner with Microsoft in February 2011.

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