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Nokia Lumia outships iPhone, Samsung Android in first three quarters: report

Nokia shipped 6.9 million Lumia smartphones on the Windows Phone operating system worldwide during the first quarters that it was available, easily beating the iPhone shipments in its first three months of availability, according to new data from Strategy Analytics.

The numbers also show that significantly more Nokia Lumia devices were shipped than Samsung Android devices in the first three quarters that each was available. The numbers suggest that some of the pessimism in the market about Nokia and Windows Phone may be misplaced.

?The competition actually is now more intense than it was for Apple or Samsung to grow with a newer platform, barriers for growth are now difficult even for other Android vendors to double their shipment volumes every quarter,? said Neil Shah, Newton, MA-based senior analyst of the global wireless practice at Strategy Analytics.

?Hence, this is a bright spot for Nokia considering the painful strategic transition it has been undergoing,? he said.

Nokia leverages distribution footprint
According to the Strategy Analytics report, while Nokia shipped 6.9 million Lumia smartphones between the fourth quarter of 2011 and the second quarter of 2012, Apple shipped only 3.7 million units of the iPhone during it first three quarters in 2007 while Samsung shipped just 1.3 million units for the Samsung Android family in 2009.

?Nokia?s huge global distribution footprint has been the key driver behind the Lumia shipments,? said Neil Mawston, London-based executive director of the global wireless practice at Strategy Analytics.

?Nokia has leveraged its massive sales force across dozens of countries worldwide to push several Windows Phone models onto store shelves at operators and retailers,? he said.

While shipments have been strong, perhaps a more important measurement for any handset manufacturer is how many devices are sold through to consumers at retail.

For the Lumia, there are signs that retailers may be facing some difficulties selling the devices to consumers, with Nokia last week lowering the price on the Lumia 900 to $49.99 from $99.99.

?The sell-through or sales have been healthy in some markets but lackluster in few markets against more mature iPhone and Android smartphones,? Mr. Shah said.

U.S. market a challenge
While the shipment figures are promising, Nokia still faces some challenges ahead.

As the company?s second quarter financial results showed last week, Nokia?s mobile phone sales otherwise are declining and the company is losing money. The handset manufacturer?s partnership with Microsoft for Windows Phone devices needs to start paying off in a bigger way very soon if Nokia is to offset its losses elsewhere.

?The United States and China remain the number one challenge for Lumia,? Mr. Mawston said. ?If Nokia and Microsoft can crack the world?s two largest markets, the hype and positive momentum created will quickly ripple around the rest of the world.?

Additionally, Nokia faces some stiff competition going into the second half of the year.

The new iPhone 5 is expected to be introduced later this year, which typically gives Apple a significant boost. Additionally, Samsung?s Galaxy S III phones are selling very well.

As a result, consumers in the market for a new smartphone may decide to buy one of these devices rather than a slightly older Nokia Lumia phone. The next generation of Nokia Lumia?s will not be available until after Microsoft releases Windows Phone 8, which is supposed to happen in October.

?Lumia's global growth will slow in the third quarter of 2012, as consumers and operators hold off on some WP7 purchases in anticipation of the new WP8 launch,? Mr. Shah said. ?Thus, the pressure on Nokia remains intense and the next-generation Windows Phone 8 launch later this year will decide on how Nokia sustains its tentative early momentum.?

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York