updated 08:50 am EDT, Thu April 22, 2010
Nokia 57pc boost in smartphones not enough
Nokia this morning claimed a minor return to form with an upturn in its phone business, especially smartphones. It shipped a much larger 21.5 million "converged devices," which includes both its smartphones and the Booklet 3G, in the first quarter of the year. The tally is a 57 percent jump from a year ago and is estimated to give it 41 percent of the smartphone market, or a slight recovery from both the fall and from a year ago.
Its overall cellphone shipments were up a more modest 16 percent to 107.8 million units, which combined with job cuts was enough to boost its profit up 60 percent from a year ago to 820 million euros, or about $1.1 billion.
The gains, while an improvement, weren't necessarily enough to outpace competition in the smartphone arena. While enough to hold on to its lead in sheer volume, the growth was far slower than Apple's 131 percent jump in iPhone shipments. Nokia also didn't say how many of its 21.5 million units were Booklet 3Gs and likely had a smaller actual share in pure phone devices.
Apple is so far the only major smartphone maker known to have seen a quarter-to-quarter increase in its phone shipments following the typical post-holiday lull, although LG, Motorola, Samsung and Sony Ericsson have yet to report back on their own results.
Nokia still expects the phone industry's numbers to grow 10 percent in 2010 but also thinks its market share will stay flat over the year. It hasn't said what it expects to keep its performance going in the current quarter and is mostly relying on existing phones as well as entry-level smartphones like the C5 and 5230 for the spring. Company chief Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo admitted that the company still faces "tough competition with respect to the high end of our mobile device portfolio," likely referencing both Apple and RIM.
The first Symbian^3 phone has also been dealt a setback, as Nokia has officially said it's on track to announce the phone in the spring but that it won't actually ship until sometime in the summer. The new OS adds frequently requested features that would help Symbian catch up to modern smartphone platforms, such as multi-touch.