Gartner Report: Nokia Further Slips Off from Elite Smartphone High Flyers

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By Erik Pineda | November 15, 2012 4:45 PM EST

Nokia badly needs a lifeline, research firm Gartner said on its latest report, which showed that the Lumia 920 maker crashed out from the coveted list of the top five biggest smartphone makers in the world.

Out of the 169.2 million smartphones that consumers snapped from July to September 2012, only 7.2 million units were Nokia brands, pushing down the Finnish firm to the number seven spot of top-grossing mobile phone vendors.

Taking the number three position is equally troubled Research in Motion, seller of BlackBerry gadgets that have been steadily declining since the advent of touch-based smartphones, which consumers can manipulate through apps-controlled buttons instead of the physical one.

Lacking any interesting smartphone lines for the period, it was almost expected for Nokia sales to shrink in the last quarter, Garner said, pointing out that "Nokia had a particularly bad quarter with smartphone sales."

The company, however, racked up an overall mobile phone sale of 82.3 million units, according to Gartner research analyst Anshul Gupta, placing it second to Samsung, which once again cemented its reputation as the biggest player of them all, dominating the two realms of smartphones and feature phones for the most part of 2012.

Nokia's good showing in the feature phone segment can be attributed to its popular basic phones headlined by the Asha touch phones, which appealed to users as the cheaper alternative to smartphones.

Yet this area is far from being the comfort zone of Nokia as indicated by the 21.9 per cent drop on the firm's overall Q3 sales, Mr Gupta said.

The once mighty Nokia has forged a close partnership with Microsoft to propel sales its Windows-based smartphones and Gartner agreed that "the arrival of the new Lumia devices on Windows 8 should help to halt the decline in share in the fourth quarter of 2012."

However, whatever good harvest Nokia expects from its alliance and reliance with Microsoft will not be known to the world until January next year, reports to be issued by that time span the whole period that new WP8-powered Lumias have become available, Gartner said.

"It won't be until 2013 to see a significant improvement in Nokia's position," Mr Gupta said.

Analysts expect Nokia to do well from October to December 2012 as its Lumia 920 garnered positive reviews from tech experts. The gadget's sales performance are also expected to be boosted by carrier subsidies, which in the U.S. are carried by AT&T while in Australia by Telstra Corporation.

But according to Mr Gupta, focus on future mobile phone sales data will be on China, where "sales of mobile phones grew driven by sales of smartphones, while demand of feature phones remained weak."

"In mature markets, we finally saw replacement sales pick up with the launch of new devices in the quarter," the Gartner analyst was quoted by Computerworld Australia as saying.

The new Gartner data also showed that around 428 million mobile phones were grabbed by global consumers in Q3 2012, showing that "two consecutive quarter of decline in mobile phone sales, demand has improved in both mature and emerging markets as sales increased sequentially."

As expected, Apple and Samsung gobbled up much of the sales clocked in the period by smartphones, selling 23.6 million and 55 million handsets respectively.

The Apple-Samsung smartphone duopoly resulted to the two titans controlling 46.5 per cent of the total market pie, creating a scenario in which "a handful of vendors (were) fighting over a distant third spot," as described by Mr Gupta.

Also, the ecosystem rivalry further swung the balance in Android's favour, which now controls 72.4 per cent of the market. Apple's iOS holds 13.9 per cent.

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