Nokia launches Windows smartphone to regain market share
STOCKHOLM—Finland’s Nokia, struggling to remain the world’s top mobile phone maker amid fierce competition, launched Wednesday its first smartphone using the Windows platform, which it hopes will secure profitability.
Nokia launched the Lumia 800 and Lumia 710 smartphones, to be rolled out starting next month in selected markets.
The success of the new phones is seen as do-or-die for Nokia, with its market share plunging as smartphone users flock to the hugely popular iPhone by Apple, RIM’s Blackberry and handsets running Google’s Android platform.
Chief executive Stephen Elop in February announced a radical company restructuring and the phasing out of Symbian as Nokia’s smartphone software in favor of a partnership with Microsoft.
“Eight months ago, we shared our new strategy and today we are demonstrating clear progress of this strategy in action. We’re driving innovation throughout our entire portfolio, from new smartphone experiences to ever smarter mobile phones,” Elop said at a Nokia event in London that was webcast live.
“We are very proud of Lumia and everything it represents. Lumia means light, this is a new dawn for Nokia,” he added.
Yet the market seemed little impressed with the launches, with Nokia’s share up just 1.33 percent in early afternoon trading on a flat Helsinki stock exchange.
Analyst Michael Schroeder of FIM Bank said the launch was “not enough” to help Nokia immediately begin regaining market share.
“No, they need a lot more to stop the slide,” he said. “They need broader distribution (of the new phones), they need global distribution before they can start gaining market share,” he added.
The Lumia 800 will feature Internet Explorer 9, free voice-guided navigation services and free music and image storage.
It will go on sale in Britain, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain in November, and in Hong Kong, India, Russia, Singapore and Taiwan by the end of the year.
A simpler version, the Lumia 710, will go on sale by yearend on most of the same markets.
Schroeder estimated Nokia’s market share for smartphones at 15 percent in the third quarter, down from 18 percent in the previous quarter, and put its overall market share for mobile devices at around 25 percent, down from a peak of around 40 percent in early 2008.
“I think they will hit a low point next summer … before they start recovering,” Schroeder said.
Nokia last week posted a third-quarter loss of 68 million euros ($94 million), far smaller than analysts expected.