Nokia's Lumia 920 supply issues: Demand or cautious rollout?

The big question remains what the Nokia Lumia 920 would have done if there weren't supply issues.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Nokia CEO Stephen Elop said Thursday that he was pleased with demand for the company's flagship Lumia 920 device, but also acknowledged that management was cognizant of oversupply risks.


Elop's comments came on a conference call following Nokia's upside surprise. Nokia said its fourth quarter would be better than expected and the company sold 4.4 million Lumia devices. Nokia executives didn't break out sales of Windows Phone 7 and Windows Phone 8 devices.

Earlier: Nokia Q4: Better than expected, Lumia sales 'solid'

Speaking about Nokia Lumia 920 supplies, Elop noted that the company is "still dealing with constraints." Elop added that he expects Symbian device sales of 2.2 million in the fourth quarter to fall off dramatically going into the first and second quarters.

The big question here remains what the Lumia 920 would have done if there weren't supply issues. Nokia was "very deliberate" and "thoughtful" about early momentum for Lumia devices. Translation: Nokia didn't want to be embarrassed about too much supply.

Elop said that the supply issues weren't totally strong demand. He noted that there were component shortages and Nokia is "working with suppliers and operators to work through the situation today."

Analysts asked about Lumia volume going forward, but Nokia didn't offer projections. Nokia is launching Lumia 920 in India and China so volumes could pick up. For Windows Phone watchers, Elop said the ecosystem was healthy and carriers were interested in developing a No. 3 platform. Nokia's aim is to get Windows Phone market share to 10 percent.

Add it up and Nokia's fourth quarter could be viewed as a positive sign for Windows Phone demand. However, it is worth noting that Verizon and AT&T combined sold roughly 20 million smartphones in the fourth quarter mostly fueled by Apple's iPhone 5. Nokia didn't break out Lumia demand in North America, but the numbers indicate that Windows Phone is a small player compared to iPhone and Android devices.

By the numbers:

  • Nokia said fourth quarter operating margin will be at least break even to 2 percent. 
  • Device and services sales will be EUR 3.9 billion with 83.6 million units shipping. 
  • Nokia moved 9.3 million Asha units, 6.6 million smartphones with 4.4 million Lumia units and 2.2 million Symbian. 
  • Total Nokia sales for the fourth quarter will be EUR 4 billion.
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