Ahead of the announcement of its quarterly results next week, Nokia has issued a statement warning that earnings, margins and device sales in its key Devices & Services division will be lower than expected for the first quarter of the year and that there will be little improvement in the second quarter. Nokia's current estimate for quarter one is that non-IFRS Devices & Services operating margins will be -3% (down from expected break even), with similar or lower figures anticipated for the second quarter.
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Nokia has announced planned changes at its factories in Komarom (Hungary), Reynosa (Mexico) and Salo (Finland), to "increase efficiency in smartphone production". These three factories will now focus on "smartphone product customization" and device assembly is expected to be transferred to Nokia factories in Asia, where the majority of component suppliers are based. Around 4000 employees will ultimately be lost.
Most of the numbers are now in for Q4, 2011 and, while some are estimates, we now have a pretty good idea of the state of the mobile industry for the last quarter. Phones grew 6% year on year, smartphones by a whopping 63%, with the latter now at 36% of the overall market. The top three companies were the same by either metric - Apple, Samsung and Nokia are way ahead of the rest.
The news that Nokia just handed over its one and a half billionth Series 40 phone was interesting - and impressive - and got me thinking and fact-checking. Just how many Symbian-powered smartphones have been sold, in total, i.e. in the last decade? Turns out it's now well over 500 million, i.e. over half a billion Symbian smartphones have already been sold and are... out there in the world somewhere. Some thoughts below.
Nokia has released its Q4 2011 results, reporting an operating loss of €954 million, with net sales of €10.0 billion (down 21% YoY). Nokia's Devices and Services division's profits were €203 million. Margins in devices and services were 3.4% (down from 12.7 % on Q4 2010 and up from 3.1% in Q3 2011). Total smartphone device sales were 19.6 million, compared with 28.6 million units in Q4 2010 (down 31% YoY) and 16.8 million units in Q3 2011 (up 17%, QoQ).
Sisvel International, a specialist company in managing intellectual property and maximizing the value of patent rights, has bought more than 450 patents originally filed by Nokia. 350 of these cover essential parts of the 2G (GSM), 3G (UMTS/WCDMA) and 4G (LTE) technologies. The other 100 or so cover video encoding optimization technologies. The acquired patents remain subject to certain prior agreements and Nokia is pre-licensed for all the patents as part of the acquisition.
Feeling a little like a TV undercover 'mystery shopper', I picked a UK provincial town and worked my way through their High Street phone outlets. I wanted to get a snapshot of how Symbian was (or wasn't) being represented in the place from which most people acquire phones in this nation. In the process, I was somewhat shocked. However much as some geeks like to attribute failing Symbian sales per quarter to 'technical deficiencies' or 'lack of apps' (both of which are somewhat over-exaggerated), there's a far simpler explanation...
Thanks to a reminder from WebProNews, it's instructive to look again at the smartphone world via StatCounter, a pro service embedded on many web sites which tracks the browser and OS used to access them. And, reflecting the still enormous installed base of Symbian-powered smartphones across the world, Symbian still (for web access, at least) still dominates the world, at 31%. The full graph is below, along with some comments.
Nokia has put up a super-glossy four minute reminder of its innovations over the last 25 years, from the first mobiles through the advanced audio telephony codecs today - it's a good watch (embedded below) and is a reminder, among other things, of the sheer number of telephony patents stacked up at Nokia HQ (remember that Apple had to pay up earlier this year?).
Smartphone sales statistics are now out for Q3, 2011, thanks to Gartner. Sales of Symbian-powered smartphones in the quarter were down 10 million from last year's total, at just under 20 million, but still notably higher than sales of Apple's high profile iOS devices. Sales of Android-powered devices were the strongest, at just over 60 million in the quarter. Some quotes, comment and a table below.
Figures are now in from IDC for the world phone market in Quarter 3, 2011, showing the market flattening in the USA and Western Europe as saturation sets in. However, the proportion of smartphones in the overall mix continues to rise. Nokia is still king in terms of sheer numbers, selling over a hundred million phones in the quarter, although Samsung is catching up relatively quickly. IDC's stats table is quoted below, though we don't yet have a breakdown of smartphone-only sales.
Tucked away in the press releases from Nokia World was a small note that Nokia would be working with the New York Metropolitan Transport Authority (MTA). Given that the MTA announced this trial without mentioning the hardware partner earlier in the year, it's great to see Nokia has picked up a high visibility hardware trial (at least in business circles) in America.
Nokia has released its Q3 2011 results, reporting an operating loss of -€71 million, with net sales of €8.980 billion (down 13% YoY). Nokia's Devices and Services division's profits were €132 million. Margins in devices and services were 2.4% (down from 11.3 % in Q3 2010 and up from -4.2% in Q2 2011). Total smartphone device sales were 16.8 million, compared with 27.2 million units in Q3 2010 (down 34% YoY) and 16.7 million units in Q2 2011 (up 1%, QoQ). The results were ahead of expectations and suggest the company has started on the road to recovery.
Yes, you can turn stats to prove almost anything and goodness knows we've seen enough of that from the tech media in recent years. So time for a shot across the bows with a look at that favourite stat from the 'superphone' brigade: mobile web browsing, sorted by smartphone platform. It'll be iPhone and Android all the way, right? Wrong. Hopelessly wrong.
As every other news outlet is reporting this morning, we awoke with the announcement that Steve Jobs had passed away after a long battle with cancer. Although not a Symbian story per-se, there's a lot about Jobs which affected the way the industry and even the world of Symbian in recent years. Here are a few short thoughts.