Did Nokia really only sell 640,000 Windows Phones in Q4?

Nokia pulled a little trick when reporting their Q4 2011 financial results this afternoon. They said Lumia sales topped 1 million units “to date”. Now what does “to date” mean to you? To me it includes everything until today, which in this case happens to be the 26th of January. Chris Davies, from SlashGear, saw my tweets asking a question about the language Nokia was using, so he did the smart thing and contacted Nokia’s press people to get some clarification. They confirmed that the 1 million “to date” figure includes Lumia devices sold until January 26th. In that case, how many Windows Phones did Nokia actually sell in Q4?

Doing some quick math, assuming Nokia sold exactly 1 million Lumias, there are 72 days between the 16th of November (when the Lumia 800 went on sale in the UK) and today. In other words, Nokia sold an average of 13,889 Lumias per day. But since we want to figure out how many devices Nokia sold in Q4, we have to count the days between November 16th and December 31st. That’s 46 days.

13,889 Lumias x 46 days = 638,894 Lumias sold.

That can’t be right … right?

  • It would be great to have the figures for Nokia N9 and compare. Seriously, Elop is just killing the company.

  • But saying that Nov 16th date to the end of 2011 = Q4 is misleading too as Q4 normally contains all of October and the 1st half of November!

    Only your logic they sold 640k Lumias in the 2nd half of Q4.

    • Right you are, but you’ve got to admit: 640,000 units of a smartphone everyone was¬†anticipating (at least that’s what the press would have you believe), during a holiday quarter, is rather anemic.

      • The press were anticipating it. I don’t think it began to capture consumers’ imaginations until it after the launch and the generally-positive reviews in the mainstream media.

        I honestly don’t know what ‘good’ looks like in this situation – especially given the phased roll-out skews the numbers even further… it wasn’t a global launch in November. Over 1m shipped in slightly over 2 months suggests its not dead in the blocks at least.

        As Dean Buble just twittered, based on ‘old Nokia’ performance even launching at all in 2011 is a mark things have changed.

        • I agree. I remember being at the Feb 2011 meeting when Elop made the big Windows pitch. I was expecting the first phones to be *announced* in Q4, and start shipping around MWC2012. Quite frankly getting phones out, on a new software & hardware platform, is pretty impressive in under a year. Symbian used to take new manufacturers 2-3yrs and $100m to get their first (usually awful) phone to market.

          • Sorry for butchering your name ūüôā Will try to edit.

        • Unfortunately, the only indisputable ‘change’ here is that Nokia released two brand-new models (in a brand-new series, running a brand-new OS), both of which were manufactured by outside vendor…not at their own, flagship factory.

          Far as I know, this is unprecedented in Nokia history.

          • Yes – it was¬†necessary¬†in order to get them to market in time. Short-term it required swallowing a bit of pride, but long-term I think it will be looked on as a smart pragmatic move.

        • Canucker

          The PR effort around the Lumia launch in the UK was significant. There were events, mall booths, social media, lots of artificial buzz. The numbers are not terrible but they are also something of a belly flop: lots of noise and a lot of people got wet, but with a lingering sting.

        • Were those ‚ÄúZOMG!!!! Generally Positive!!!!‚ÄĚ, ‚ÄúOMG ‚ÄĒ Generally positive‚ÄĚ or, ‚Äúgenerally, positive‚ÄĚ reviews that people saw in the press?

          The only non-gearhead review I saw was by the WSJ’s Mossberg and I’d characterize his ‚Äúnice but limited‚ÄĚ review as a ‚Äúgenerally, positive.‚ÄĚ Seemed like a general-audience version of the tech stories that the 800 and 900 have a new look and a nice slab of plastic. (Frankly, the tech press seems bored with the old Android-vs-Apple story and I sure wish they come up with a better one than, ‚Äúhey, Microsoft has a product that works, too!‚ÄĚ)

          The Mossberg review might get people to ask to take a look once they go to the store, but didn’t seem likely to pull people in. Successful movies either open big or get legs by generating a lot of word-of-mouth when they find their audience; I guess the kindest thing to say about Lumia is that Microsoft/Nokia are still scratching their heads about why people will lock into a 2-year contract on ‚Äúgenerally positive‚ÄĚ perceptions that the product is kinda 2010-ish. That doesn’t bode well for how pleased consumers will feel with their decision just 12 months from now.

      • Anemic, sure, but then the combined MS/Nokia marketing behemoth was (understandably) slow to acheive momentum. Look at the favorable press received during CES…that had to help.

        So, yes it’s been a weak start but things are finally up and moving, after all the long months of rumor and speculation. For better or worse, 1Q12 results should prove a more reliable indicator.

        • Anonymous

          ¬†A big part of this Lumia introduction was based on production limits.¬† They simply had to ramp up with a third party while, in parallel, continuing to build more capacity.¬† The polycarbonate chassis in and of itself requires machining so its not surprising the production tooling has proven a long lead time item.¬† This was probably a key reason behind the incremental, market by market (“beachhead”) launch strategy.

    • Canucker

      They sold an estimated 640K Lumias in Q4 since their own launch date. Nokia cannot adjust the quarter start and end dates to make the numbers look better. They could have launched earlier but presumably war not ready. The simple fact that they felt the need to stretch their numbers shows that the marketers were uncomfortable with the message of 600-odd thousand rather than 1 million. It is misleading as the MSM picked up on the one million in the quarter number.

      Should be irrelevant in a few months in any case as the Lumia 900 is so much better than the hobbled Lumia 800. Maybe buyers thought the same?

      • If buyers were put off by anything — and, let’s face it, a large percentage of WP subscribers are simply anxious to trade up — it’s that the first two Lumia models have lots of tough competition in their price range.

        At full retail, Lumia 800 in not obviously better than HTC’s Titan II and fares poorly against Samsung’s Galaxy SII. Similarly, Lumia 710 is up against a slew of low-priced, big-screen WP and Android handsets.

  • Luyanda Kota

    So they sold 640k units in the remaining half of Q4 so if they started at the beginning of October they would have sold 1.3 million, Nokia knows what its doing, I just wish that people were as excited as they get when they write about an iPhone. 

  • I don’t think that’s a safe assumption either – sales won’t scale linearly and each geography has a different reaction to the product / pricing‚Ķ Lumia won’t be a ‘success’ or ‘failure’ in equal measure in all geographies.

  • The Lumia 710 and the Lumia 800 were both introduced at the end of October which really leaves less than two months for the company to achieve the “well over 1 million” number in Q4. If it’s to date then 1 million in a quarter is still decent going considering this is just out of the gate.

    Omar, Nokia were in a nose dive so unless someone did something dramatic to change it they would be in BIG trouble.

    Let’s give the new strategy a chance before we call it quits.

  • @Omar: I fail to see how N9 sales figures be useful, here.

    Nokia announced the N9 would be subject to an unusual, fragmented release in a relatively few (and less populous) countries, as well as indicating it would have a limited marketing budget. Under those circumstances you have to wonder how many N9s they would even bother to make.

    Well, mobile industry pundit Eldar Murtazin claims a shockingly low initial run of <100K units. In fact, he suggests this is all the N9s there will ever be. Nokia haven't denied this figure. And CEO Elop publicly stated that N9 is their first and _last_ MeeGo handset, regardless of sales (!).

    So, again — how would it be helpful to compare N9 sales with sales of the Lumia series?

    • Tiago Silva

      The N9 sales figures are important because it seems that the N9 has sold between 1.4 and 2 million handsets.

    • bamboo

      The N9 sales figures are important because if it sold well, it shows that Nokia has been backing the wrong platform. Many analysts say that it appears that the N9 outsold the Lumia in Q4 last year despite Nokia doing everything it can to downplay the N9 for fear of it cannibalising Lumia sales.

  • Canucker

    There is an awful lot riding on the Lumia range, and not just for Nokia. The pressure is coming from Microsoft. It does look as though the Lumia is representing about 50% of all Windows Phone 7 sales but that shows how poor the platform is doing relative to their real competitors (and I don’t mean RIM).

    • The platform’s not finished yet – this year’s updates will add important features and flexibility that will allow Nokia and the other manufacturers to offer a wider variety of choices and price-points. Everything in this process is a moving target at the moment.

      • Canucker

        I didn’t mean to imply it was done at all. In fact, its undergoing a major overhaul in terms of strategy. Nokia will likely be the dominant WP7 player (which will likely reduce the incentives for HTC and Samsung to push WP7) but if Nokia is able to breakthrough 5-10% of the market, then it will have succeeded. It’s been a very, very slow start, however, almost Palm-like (difference being depth of pockets and the fact that HP was clueless).

        Tim Cook said during the Apple earnings statement when asked about smartphones being a two horse race between Apple and Android that there’s a third horse that is always dressed and run from Redmond. He is not counting Microsoft out at all.¬†

        • Anonymous

          ¬†Agreed.¬† I tend to think Nokia will carve out a majority stake in the WP ecosystem…but not ALL of it.¬† In fact, I think it’s to Nokia’s advantage to have one or two other strong OEM’s in the mix for the simple reason that it grows its location services business and helps solidify the alliance without the cloud of acquisition looming over its head.¬† I suspect Nokia will branch out within this ecosystem…possibly to tablets as well.

  • ‚ÄúI just wish that people were as excited as they get when they write about an iPhone.‚ÄĚ

    And why do you wish that? Nokia and Microsoft have positioned the Lumias as competent, but not cutting edge devices. That type of enthusiasm gets reserved for monster screens, 4-core CPUs or customized home screens (Android lovers) or Siri, Facebook, easy iCloud sync and app choice on the Apple side. Microsoft is not there yet on the software; Nokia has done a nice, sensible match-up with the modest hardware requirements.

    Nothing to get excited about, so the ZOMG stuff would be BS.

  • Anonymous

    First of all the 4 th quarter was incomplete. Second of all, just a few Lumia 800 phones we’re launched in a few major countries in Europe, 6 if I recall. The phones we’re in the stores half of december in the EU countries. The phone isn’t even launched in the US and is just now being lauched in other European countries and some other countries in the world. This applies also to the Nokia 710. This article reeks of sensation seeking and nothing more. The Lumia”s are doing just fine given the short launch period. Even now it’s making a difference for Microsoft and for Nokia. So lets wait and see over 3 years what the statistics are for WP 7, a greater market share than Apple’s Iphone????

  • Wp7 is fail. Nokia Lumia 710 is a joke

    • AS147

      and there you are again, same message each time. Go away troll

  • Anonymous

    Also note that “sold” actually means shipped. Normally those figures are about the same, if inventory levels stay about the same, EXCEPT in launch quarters, when the channel is filled the first time. So, actual sell-thru could be far, far lower, as many of those “sold” devices could be sitting on display somewhere.

    • Anonymous

      Hey. Don’t say that. WinFan guys don’t like it when you point those things out. Besides, the more times someone says they don’t like wp7, the less people will buy them and win fan guys will be sad. : (
      Anecdotally speaking, I asked our Dell rep how he likes the wp7 he got and well, he was less than impressed. He wasn’t alone in his opinion.¬†

      • i am a IOS and Android user and i dont think its fair to slam¬†Microsoft¬†because¬†their metro UI is innovative and at least not just another ios clone, innovation must be¬†acknowledged, its a zippy UI and logical it never slows down or lags and has minimum impact on battery life its a pleasure to use, but it takes time it grows on you, its way better than the first incarnation of ios was, and with windows 8¬†Apollo¬†coming soon any issues ( there are not many) will be rectified.¬†

  • Anonymous

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  • Anonymous

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