At CES earlier this year, Nokia wowed the audience with the sleek, beautiful Lumia 900 phone running Windows Phone 7. It won a bunch of awards and proclamations that Nokia was back on its game.
Fast forward a few months. Nokia and AT&T launch on Easter Sunday, a very odd day to launch a new smartphone, and within months, Microsoft confirms that Windows Phone 8 will not run on any existing hardware, thus declaring a brand new phone obsolete before it had a chance.
That is no way to sell a phone.
But with WP8 and upgraded hardware, Nokia is once again gaining momentum. Again buoyed by strong reviews and this time not hampered by obsolescence, the Lumia 920 is doing well enough that one analyst has raised his outlook for 2013.
Ilkka Rauvola, an analyst with Danske Bank, sent a note to clients that the Lumia 920 is doing better than expected, and he now expects 36 million smartphones using Microsoft Corp.’s Windows Phone 8 operating system, including the Lumia 820 and 920, to be sold in 2013, up from an earlier estimate of 23 million devices.
This good news was echoed at Microsoft’s annual shareholders’ meeting in Seattle, where CEO Steve Ballmer said Windows Phone 8 sales were off to a “great start,” in particular the Lumia 920 and the HTC Windows Phone 8X, both of which been selling out in a number of markets.
Ballmer said Windows Phone 8 sales were “four times” that of WP sales in the same period last year, but WP7 sales had pretty much hit their nadir in 2011 and he did not disclose actual numbers of units sold, then or now.
IDC puts third quarter 2012 Windows Phone sales at 3.6 million units, up from 1.5 million in Q3 2011.”Have they moved the needle? In percentages, yes. In absolute volumes, no,” said Ramon T. Llamas, research manager for mobile phones at IDC.
Still, he credits Nokia for is really increasing its footprint, from just AT&T to Verizon and T-Mobile as well, but he said the big change is the stores now know how to sell the phones.
“A lot of people look at this and say maybe we should look at Nokia when the second round of devices came out. The 920 and 820 are giving people a little more confidence in the platform and giving the sales reps a chance to get accustomed to how to sell a Windows Phone device, which had been its Achilles Heel since 2010,” he said.
There is momentum for the platform, not just Nokia. “There’s HTC, which may be the dark horse people overlook. HTC has been so deep into Android over the last year people overlook its Windows Phone devices. With its Series 8x and 8s devices it has a real nice piece of technology on its hands,” said Llamas.