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Nokia’s Lumia 920 and the struggle for attention in major markets

Published Nov 13th, 2012 1:47PM EST
Nokia Lumia 920 Search

In order to gauge overall consumer interest in Nokia’s (NOK) new flagship model in different geographic regions, I decided to conduct a Google (GOOG) Trends search comparing relative search volumes for some major smartphone brands: “Galaxy S3”, “iPhone 5”, “Note 2”, “Lumia 920” and “Sony Xperia”. The date for search volume comparison was set at November 10. Results were checked for anomalies via searches on countries in the same geographic regions (France, UK, Malaysia, Philippines, Chile, etc.). The following four tidbits stood out.

  • Search interest in Lumia 920 relative to iPhone 5 is remarkably similar across continents. A bit less or more than 10% in Africa, Latin America, Europe and United States. India is the stronghold for Nokia — Lumia 920 generates more than 30% of the search volume of iPhone 5. This has something to do with the relative weakness of iPhone in India, where Sony Xperia, Galaxy S3 and Note 2 all generate search volumes close to iPhone 5.
  •  Losing search volume competition to iPhone5 by 8-to-1 ratio isn’t that bad. But losing search volume competition to Samsung’s Note 2 across five continents is a bit alarming. Samsung’s (005930) lead smartphone is the Galaxy S3  while the Note 2 is clearly more of a niche product. Yet the search volume it is now generating is fairly stunning. In the middle of the Lumia 920 launch buzz, Note 2 is beating Lumia 920 by 2-to-1 in old Nokia strongholds of Brazil and India. The consumer interest in Note 2 must also give Apple some reason for reflection. Apple (AAPL) only launches one smartphone a year. Samsung is now demonstrating it can successfully launch two very high-end smartphones within six months of each other — while maintainting strong consumer interest in both across the world.
  • Even with rapidly rising consumer interest in Samsung’s Note 2, search volumes for Galaxy S3 remain remarkably high. Samsung’s lead phone is actually beating the more recently launched iPhone 5 in markets like South Africa and Brazil even though it’s not that much cheaper. For Lumia 920, this means that there are two high-end Samsung models that are competing for consumer attention highly effectively right now.
  •  Lumia 920 actually generates fewer searches than Sony (SNE) Xperia in South Africa, Brazil, India and Germany. It’s not an entirely fair comparison, because there are several models launched under Xperia brand right now and Sony is opting to use different names in different markets. Nevertheless, the relative vitality of the brand is surprising to many living in America, where Sony has faded badly over the past two years. Outside of North America, Lumia faces tough competition not only from leading high-end brands but also from second-tier vendors like Sony. That Indian result showing more searches for Sony Xperia than iPhone 5 or Galaxy S3 is not an artifact — Xperia is also remarkably strong in Asian markets like Malaysia and Philippines.

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.