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Nokia sold 14 million smartphones in Q4… if you reclassify Asha phones

Updated Jan 10th, 2013 8:54AM EST
Nokia Earnings Q4 2012

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Nokia (NOK) just issued a positive fourth-quarter warning in Helsinki, stating that the Mobile Phones unit and Lumia phones beat company expectations. The reported Lumia shipment volume of 4.4 million units is very close to the European sell-side consensus expectation; actually 100,000 units above the mid-December consensus.

Nokia’s share price has plunged over the past three days due to rumors about a cheap iPhone from Apple. Now, Nokia’s stock price shot up 14% in Helsinki after the new comments from the company came out. Lumia volume of 4.4 million units for the Christmas quarter is an undeniable relief — but it also probably was heavily propped up by the deeply discounted old Lumia 800. We’ll have to wait and see to get more information about the Windows Phone 8 volume. This is the first quarter when Windows phones outsold Symbian models at Nokia – a new era has begun. The combined Windows, Symbian and Meego sales were 6.6 million units.

The decision to lump Asha sales into “smartphone” category will be controversial. Asha phones were a big hit for Nokia in Asia and Latin America during 2012. They helped Nokia reverse its market share losses in India and deliver two consecutive volume surprises in the second and third quarters last year. The Asha device volume in 4Q12 was 9.3 million units. This is now a crucially important category for Nokia, since Asha phones have ASP level far above the rest of Nokia’s feature phones – the best-selling Asha 311 retails at around $130 in many markets.

But Asha models are built on the S40 operating system and are widely viewed as feature phones by most industry research houses. Nokia is arguing that since you can now have fairly advanced email features, popular apps and games in Asha phones, they actually are smartphones.

After launching mobile game company SpringToys tragically early in 2000, Tero Kuittinen spent eight years doing equity research at firms including Alliance Capital and Opstock. He is currently an analyst and VP of North American sales at mobile diagnostics and expense management Alekstra, and has contributed to, Forbes and Business 2.0 Magazine in addition to BGR.