Nokia announced its partnership with Microsoft way back in February 2011, a move that would let the Finnish handset maker focus exclusively on Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 platform. It took a while for Nokia to develop devices for Windows Phone 7; their first Windows Phone handsets hit store shelves during the 4th quarter of 2011.
While everyone expected this partnership to result in Nokia completely dominating the Windows Phone 7 market, few thought it would happen quite so quickly. Research firm Strategy Analytics is reporting that sales of Nokia devices accounted for 33% of all Windows Phone devices sold during Q4, making it the top Windows Phone manufacturer in the quarter.
Nokia achieved this by focusing exclusively on sales in Europe and Asia, and has only recently started to bring Windows Phone devices to the U.S. in Q1 2012. With the Lumia 710 now available on T-Mobile, and the Lumia 800 and 900 set to go on sale in the U.S. in February and March (respectively), it’s clear Nokia’s dominance of the Windows Phone market will only grow exponentially from here.
This growth comes with good reason; Nokia’s Lumia devices are damned attractive, and Windows Phone 7.5 is the most underrated mobile platform out there. If Windows Phone 7.5 manages to emerge as the third major mobile operating system, Nokia’s bet on Windows Phone will pay off big for the Finnish handset maker.
Whether or not the Windows Phone platform will become relevant is the much bigger question. Though Nokia was the clear winner in the Windows Phone market, it didn’t manage to sell 1 million devices in the quarter, compared to over 37 million iPhones sold during the same period, and even more Android devices.
The next quarter will be all-too-important for both Nokia and Microsoft. We’ll be watching sales numbers of the high-profile Lumia 710, 800, and 900 devices in the U.S. and European Markets very closely to see if they can put a dent in iOS and Android devices.