Nokia's 2012 highs and lows: From most popular US Windows Phone to Finland's biggest lay-offs

A raft of recently released data on Nokia's performance over the last year is giving some insight into how the Finnish phone maker is doing in Europe and beyond.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Nokia's full year financial results are set to be published later this month, giving investors and industry watchers the full details of what many consider a grim year for the company. However, it will also reveal how well Nokia's latest Windows Phone 8 devices are doing, and whether they're delivering some signs of the long hoped-for recovery for the company.

In the meantime, there's some good news from the company's Finnish homeland, where its flagship Windows device, the Lumia 920, saw a sales spike in the lucrative Christmas gadget buying period.

Finnish carrier Elisa last week reported the Lumia 920 as the third best-selling phone in December 2012, behind Nokia's Windows Phone 7 Lumia 800 in second, and Apple's iPhone 5 in first.  Meanwhile, Sonera, the Finnish arm of TeliaSonera, also reported the 920 taking third spot for December, with Nokia's own Lumia 800 taking the most-popular spot formerly held by the iPhone 5.

For the full year on both carriers, it was the older Lumia 800 - priced well below all its top-end rivals - that took pole position, beating out both Apple's iPhone and Samsung's Galaxy ranges.

The Lumia 800 and 610, both originally Windows Phone Mango devices and keenly priced for the pre-pay market, are also keeping Nokia in the smartphone sales game across Europe - where it's jostling with HTC and Sony for third spot behind Apple and Samsung, according to Kantar World Panel's November 2012 figures.

Nokia's share of Windows Phone

Across five of the major EU markets - France, Spain, Germany, Italy and Great Britain - Windows Phone's share of the smartphone operating system market is around 4.7 percent, Kantar said, thanks in no small measure to Nokia's efforts. In Italy, Windows Phone has a sizable 11.8 percent share of all smartphone sales, according to Kantar, while it achieved 5.1 percent in the UK, 4.7 percent in France, three percent in Spain and a rather lowly 1.8 percent in Germany.

In the US, Windows Phone has 2.7 percent of the smartphone OS market. Nokia devices play a significant part in that figure - according to numbers released on Tuesday by ad network AdDuplex, at least 54 percent of all Windows Phone devices in use in the US are Nokias, and 16 percent are Nokia 920s - the most popular single Windows Phone device. It's a "notable achievement", AdDuplex said, given the handset was only available on one network, AT&T.

Lumia spread

In Europe, however, it's the lower-end Nokias that are leading the Windows Phone charge: in the UK, 42 percent of Windows Phone devices in use are Lumia 800s, 12 percent are 610s, with the 920 limping in at fourth with seven percent. In Italy, the 610 has top spot with 35 percent, followed by the 800 at 24 percent. Again, the 920 trails, making sixth place with four percent marketshare.

No doubt the performance of the Lumias, both old and new, will be scrutinised when Nokia reports its full year results later this month - the first time since it fell from being the world's third biggest smartphone seller to the seventh, according to Gartner's data.

Despite its success at home and in some European markets, 2012 remained a year of cost-cutting and blood-letting for Nokia as it laid the foundations for a more substantial move on the Chinese market and a much hoped-for return to "double digits" marketshare in 2013 and beyond.

Finnish labour market organisation SAK last week reported that Nokia accounted for half of the 50-percent increase in redundancies that happened in 2012, bringing the total number of layoffs in the country to 15,800.

Of the employees let go last year in Finland (up from 10,600 the year prior) 3,700 came from Nokia and a further 624 came from Nokia Siemens Networks, SAK said.

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