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Windows Technology

Symbian Sells Millions, Despite Nokia Pushing Windows Phone 218

Nerval's Lobster writes "During the fourth quarter of 2012, Nokia sold 4.4 million Lumia smartphones—a significant rise from the previous quarter, which featured sales of 2.9 million Lumia devices. The Lumia line runs Microsoft's Windows Phone operating system, which largely replaced Symbian as Nokia's smartphone software of choice. Despite that shift and Nokia's emphasis on Windows Phone, however, the company still sold 2.2 million Symbian smartphones during the quarter. The question remains whether Nokia should have gone with Windows Phone in the first place, or embraced an alternate platform such as Android; an anti-Elop camp has emerged in recent months, arguing that Symbian was still a viable platform before Elop consigned it to the dustbin of tech history. For now at least, both sides seem to be right: Symbian still sells despite Nokia's attempts to take it increasingly offline, and Lumia phones are selling well. It'll take more time—perhaps a lot more time—before the ramifications of Elop's bet become clear."
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Symbian Sells Millions, Despite Nokia Pushing Windows Phone

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  • Astroturfing (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 10, 2013 @09:11PM (#42553339)

    Lumia phones are NOT SELLING WELL. Don't repeat astroturfing media BS.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      4M isn't bad for a new phone/os - you can shout and wave your little fist but there it is...

      • 1/10th the sales of iPhone, and 1/30th the sales of Android phone is now considered "GOOD"? MS has lowered its standards, it would seem. []
      • by Luckyo ( 1726890 )

        Except that windows phone is no longer new. It's been around for a while and it's in its third major iteration (7.0, 7.5, 8.0).

    • They're not selling well when compared to iPhones or many Android phones.

      However the product is actually quite good (try it, prove me wrong) but the problem is that people aren't willing to give it a shot.
      Hopefully the new Nokia Lumia 620 helps crack the mid/low end markets - I doubt quality-wise it will have many competitors in the price bracket. If they went with Android they'd probably be king of the hill right now.

      I'm thinking that Nokia will die if they don't downsize, but if they do downsize they hav

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by monzie ( 729782 )

        I have a Nokia Lumia 800 ( It's basically the N9 with WP7.8 , minus the front facing camera )

        It is a very good phone and I like it.

        • I wonder, what apps did you download for it, what do you use it for, apart from calling people and taking some casual snapshots? What does it make it worth more than a feature phone for you?
          • Different phone, same OS...

            Downloaded non-game Marketplace apps that I use at least semi-regularly, from the top:
            Adobe Reader (sadly, the best PDF solution for WP7 right now).
            Amazon Kindle (constantly).
            Amazon Mobile (somewhat infrequently, but it has the cool features like barcode scanning to look up pricing).
            AuthenticatorG (Google Authenticator implementation).
            EveMon7 (EVE Online character tracking tool).
            Flashlight (uses the extremely bright camera flash LEDs).
            Forward Contact (not built in, sadly).

      • by iserlohn ( 49556 ) []

        Seriously? You've never seen this list before? Let's say 10% of the list are misunderstandings and another 30% has been fixed in the latest version of WP, that's still pretty damning.

        • I've seen it before. Excluding the 10% or so that aren't on any smartphone (browser Silverlight plugin? Ha!), the 15% or so that were there when the list was first made and the people who made it were just being idiots, the 30%-ish that have been fixed in Mango or later versions of WP7 (seriously, that list is old; Mango came out a year and half ago, and I'm not counting WP8 changes in that 30% list), the additional 10% or so that were fixed by third-party apps, and the 25% or so that are fixed by homebrew

      • > but the problem is that people aren't willing to give it a shot

        In all seriousness, can you blame them?

    • I'm on Verizon. I've been waiting for the Lumina 920 and will buy one as soon as it is available. Where is it?
      • by madprof ( 4723 )

        The Lumia 920 is a brick of a phone. Don't get one. Get another Windows device if you must but not a 920.

    • Lumia phones are NOT SELLING WELL. Don't repeat astroturfing media BS.

      Compare this to previous quarterly sales figures for the iPhone [] and it is not a disastrous as you want to believe. It is certainly not bad enough to make any claim of Lumia sales to have only come from Astroturfers.

      • Unless, of course, we assume that there are two million astroturfers out there who each bought two phones. You call it a stretch, I call it a possibility. ;^)

      • Re:Astroturfing (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 10, 2013 @11:29PM (#42554395)

        That is not a good comparison. The smartphone market exploded. Nokia sold 30 million Symbian smartphones in the quarter before the platform was declared dead. The declared plan was to replace the Symbian smartphones with Windows Phone smartphones in two years. The two years are almost over, the smartphone market doubled (or so), and Nokia sells only 4.4 million Lumia phones. This is a complete failure.

      • Naaa, those figures are from the Symbian era, WP is a much more laughable competitor: iPhone in the third quarter of 2012 sold 26.9 million [], 27.04 in the fourth quarter []. Android sold more. I might concede that it is not as disastrous as it seems: it is inconceivably worse.
      • Those numbers are a bit out of date. The current Wikipedia page [] has an updated bar graph []; in the most recent quarter listed (Jul-Sept 2012), the iPhone sold 26.9 million units.

        If we're to assume that Nokia's goal is to sell a dominant phone platform, rather than a very niche product, these reported sales figures are underwhelming.

  • by bogaboga ( 793279 ) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @09:12PM (#42553357)

    Yes, I believe most of those that bought Nokia's Windows Phones didn't know they were buying into Microsoft's phone OS.

    Most of them must have bought Nokia phones because the word "NOKIA" featured prominently on the phones. Not because they featured Windows Phone 8.

    All this reminds me of those early Net-book days running Linux, remember?

    • You are radically over estimating consumer awareness of anything that is not an iPhone. Most of the people who bought Nokia's Windows Phone did so because they walked into the store and a salesperson recommended it.

      • by morcego ( 260031 ) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @09:57PM (#42553755)

        Actually, in Brazil the Nokia brand carries a lot of weight. People will buy a phone because it says Nokia here. True or not, around here people believe they need to buy Nokia if they want a phone they don't need to charge every days (sometimes, twice a day).

        I have no reason to doubt it is the same in at least some other countries. And regardless, Brazilian cellphone market is huge.

        • True. In Germany, back before smartphones there were essentially Nokia and a few other companies no one cared about. Nokias were tanks that fit in your pocket, almost indestructible and with long battery life. In 2010, Nokia still had the reputation of being a solid choice (if somewhat old-fashioned as Meego was only starting to pick up steam and people were still associating Nokia with Symbian). I can't say much beyond that as I can only tell about the techie population but most techies I know avoid the co
          • Nokia is only considered if you have already decided to buy a WinMo phone - and even that may be shaky due to Microsoft invalidating the entire current Lumia line shortly after release by making WinMo 8 incompatible with existing devices (apparently without telling Nokia how to make compatible ones before launching the OS) and making WinMo 8 apps incompatible with WinMo 7, making Nokia's smartphone unit stuck with nothing but futureless legacy phones for the second time in two years. I can imagine that even people who consciously bought a Lumia in 2010/11 would be wary about WinMo and/or Nokia after that.

            It sounds like MS is actively trying to destroy Nokia. Their only significant partner when it comes to Windows Mobile devices. Now of course MS is not known to play nice with other companies in general, this sound like downright stupidity from MS's side. They need Nokia as much as Nokia needs them, provided they want to give Windows Mobile at least a fighting chance against juggernaut Android.

        • It used to be the same here in the UK. Until the Motorola Razr (the original), I don't think there was a single other phone brand which people would seek out by name- Nokia was THE phone brand.

          Right up until the iPhone, Nokia was still an extremely popular brand. Post-iPhone there was a lot of criticism of Symbian "looking tired", although it was still popular enough. Post-Elop, I think the brand is more or less dead to people now.

        • Ditto in India. Used to be that one identified a mobile phone store by the Nokia logo on top of the store. Even now, for feature phones (or dumb phones) people will choose Nokia without a second glance. But everywhere I look, Samsung seems king in smartphones in India.

      • by Luckyo ( 1726890 )

        You are radically under estimating the brand value of nokia. It's on par if not more known and liked then apple in most of the Latin America and Asia.

        It took a shitload of hits lately, but it's still extremely high up. They bought themselves a lot of clout with projects like bringing natal care to mothers in rural third world, and they ran dozens of these (and still do to an extent).

    • by jfanning ( 35979 )

      Nice trick those graphs.

      Symbian was already tanking in Q2 2010, nearly a full year before the famous memo and Android had already passed Symbian in market share by the time of the memo. They were screwed no matter what. []

  • Aside from technically literate consumers who might actually care whether their phone is powered by IOS, Symbian, Windows, or Android, would most consumers be able to meaningfully discriminate between these phone operating systems?

    Wouldn't most consumers merely want a phone that works and some working apps for Facebook, Twitter, YouTube etc?

    • by donaldm ( 919619 )

      Aside from technically literate consumers who might actually care whether their phone is powered by IOS, Symbian, Windows, or Android, would most consumers be able to meaningfully discriminate between these phone operating systems?

      I think the best way of answering this is to look at the Android graphical interface and compare it to the iPhone GUI and while not identical there is significant similarly for customers to move from one to the other with very little extra learning so basically the human interfaces are functionally similar with nicely designed and separated icons which are labelled underneath with a comfortably readable font. When you look at the Microsoft interface which is "tile based" you see different sized tile icons

    • by Patch86 ( 1465427 ) on Friday January 11, 2013 @04:33AM (#42555653)

      People don't care about "the OS" per se, but they care about several things which are related to the OS:

      - They care about the GUI. iOS devices have a certain GUI. Android devices all have GUIs with highly shared characteristics. Windows Phone devices have that tile-based GUI. If you don't like the tiles, you could describe that as "not liking Windows Phone".
      - They care about the apps and hardware accessories. iOS is the king of both- hugely well populated App Store, colossal range of accessories. Android phones have a great range of apps, and a smaller but varied accessory range. Windows Phones currently have few apps, and almost no dedicated hardware accessories.
      - They care about branding. iPhones are extremely fashionable. Android Phones have built up a great reputation as almost the "standard smartphone"; plus the Google and green android branding is well loved. Microsoft Windows still makes most people think of offices, spreadsheets and beige boxes. For better or worse, those annoying "I'm a PC/I'm a Mac" Apple adverts did hit the nail on the head.

      People don't care about NT kernels and Unix-like file systems and Java Machines, no. But the OS doesn't stop with those bits.

    • Most definately! Android and iOS are like "app-buckets", whereas Symbian features all kinds of functionality that these app-buckets simply do not have, which have to be complemented with apps, but kind of suck.

      I'll give a few examples of why I choose a Nokia E7-00 (a $600 phone at that time) after Android, even though I'm a fan of Linux on the desktop and free software in general:
      -Offline maps, with walking directions;
      -Build in VoIP straight from the dialer app;
      -Build in streaming internet radio (simply pas

  • Nokia has given up, but is there still a dev community for it? Are consumers sticking to Symbian for some app that doesnt exist on other platforms?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      More likely, they're consumers that just want a phone that can do calls and send and receive texts. Dumbphones are still pretty popular, and they've got to run on something.

    • by monzie ( 729782 ) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @09:38PM (#42553579) Homepage

      I agree. There are many folks who can live without Instagram [1] or Angry Birds.
      A good/decent camera with "social stuff" like Facebook and Twitter and solid battery life is all that many people require.

      Here in India Symbian still sells, sells well and people still like it, Here are some reasons that I can think of

      1. Symbian phones have better battery life than most other smartphones. In a country where people travel a lot and power outages are common, a long batter life is a important. And when you ask and Indian what "good battery life" is , you'll get the answer: "2-3 days".

      2. It does the job. SMS, WhatsApp, Skype, Twitter , Facebook are all the apps that people use. Using iFart apps has not really caught on. The downside is people don't use Yelp or Foursquare or GroupOn all that much in India. People just call up friends and ask. Sometimes that's easier and better :)

      3. Indians hate paying for apps. Period.

      Of course mine is a country of a BILLION people so generalizations are impossible But having stayed in this country all my life and having owned muliple iOS/Android devices ( currently evaluating WP 8).

      [1] = More people can live without Instagram, especially thanks to its new TOS

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The anti-Elop camp emerged the moment he has announced the Windows strategy in Feb 2011 and a lot of people predicted Nokia's downfall at that time. And in no way do the Lumia phones sell well. Not by any standard. 4.4 million Lumia phone is just pathetic. The Nokia N8 (Symbian) alone sold almost 4 million in its first quarter (Q4 2010) and the smartphone market was much smaller at that time. It is also a lie that Nokia was failing before the strategy was switched to Windows Phone. The smartphone unit had i

    • by clonmult ( 586283 ) on Friday January 11, 2013 @04:55AM (#42555745)
      Whilst I do really like both my N8 and the 808 (and kinda despise my iPhone), anyone who thinks that Nokia were in a great position prior to Q4 2010 are smoking something dubious. It has taken Nokia 2 years to get Symbian into something like a decent state (as seen on the latest 808 firmwares) - Android and Apple were improving and growing at a much greater pace. Of course Nokias problem is down to stupendous levels of incompetence at the top end, management who don't know their posterior from their elbow, that were happily allowing teams to compete with each other, politics that would have made MS management happy beyond their wildest dreams. On that count, Nokia and MS are a match made in heaven/hell (delete as appropriate)
  • Windows phones are not user friendly. There user screen cannot be properly configured (as with other mobile phones today). They have no options of setting a background image. They are hard to configure, missing features that have existed for years on Symbian, Android and Apple. It is battery unfriendly by nature (a lot of power usage).

    For this reason I am never going to buy a Windows phone. I rather move to Android. But I would prefer to continue to use Symbian. But that is not a option I am afraid of. Sinc

  • by gmuslera ( 3436 ) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @10:04PM (#42553807) Homepage Journal

    They say numbers about Windows 8 and Symbian, but what about Meego/N9? If a platform that they declared dead and buried basically at the moment of launching it, in just one phone, performed in a not so different way than Win8 phones, that would be a big message. There were some numbers around N9 sales for Q4 2011 [] and Q1 2012 [] that could point that it was selling better than Lumias, but not sure how it evolved. What is possible is that if Sailfish or Ubuntu gets ported to it (have a good shape for the swipe gestures used in those incoming mobile OSs) it could be even start selling back.

    Anyway, speaking about dead and buried OSs, Microsoft killed and buried the Window OS bundled in most Lumia Phones when announced Windows Phone 8, saying that present and close enough in time Lumias won't be able to run it, and that apps for Windows 7.x won't be compatible with it neither. Is not so amazing that it sells badly, even for being a Windows phones. You had to wait till Lumia 920 to have a Windows 8.

  • no way (Score:5, Insightful)

    by terec ( 2797475 ) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @10:27PM (#42553989)

    Symbian was popular, but it was a disaster in terms of technology: hard to program with one of the worst mobile user interfaces ever conceived. Nokia needed to change to something else. Windows 8 is actually not that bad in principle, but it was too little too late, and Microsoft has failed to establish it as a viable and popular platform for app developers.

    Nokia should have gone with a dual Android (cash cow) and Meego (risky bet, high payoff) strategy. Nokia could have made fantastic Android phones. By now, they have lost their sales channels and their brand name, and lots of other companies have figured out how to make good hardware, so they are basically toast.

    • Re:no way (Score:5, Informative)

      by tuppe666 ( 904118 ) on Friday January 11, 2013 @01:41AM (#42555043)

      Symbian was popular, but it was a disaster in terms of technology: hard to program with one of the worst mobile user interfaces ever conceived. Nokia needed to change to something else.

      ...but had a solution in place going forward with a unifying toolkit "QT" and two replacement in-house OS's Meego and Meltemi.

      • by ecki ( 115356 )

        ... of which none did deliver or were stillborn. The cross platformness of Qt was compromised from the start with two competing UI frameworks libdui for Harmattan and Orbit for Symbian. This [] is a good article about that mess. And from what we know about Meltemi, it would have been a third, incompatible framework.

        Nokia did achieve only the minimum target for Symbian, and that is to retrofit Qt 4.8 to Symbian 9.2/^3.

        Before anybody blames Elop for this, 90% of it happened before his time.

    • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

      Elop hurried the windows phone announcement and "symbian is dead" announcement to happen just about at the same time that the qt libs for symbian became usable enough for shipping apps with it.

  • They are selling that well in the benelux countries that Nokia is dumping Lumia phones on aldi, a discount supermarket chain. A model that sold for 499 euro six month ago for 199 euro. I still wouldn't want it for that price to be honest.
  • The OS doesnt matter. it is the UI that matters.
  • Recently (Score:5, Insightful)

    by drolli ( 522659 ) on Friday January 11, 2013 @05:13AM (#42555795) Journal

    Recently my samsung galaxy note had some accident, so until it was repaired i was forced back to use my old nokia e63. Funny story: for email and podcasts (which is what matters to me on a mobile) i found that actually more productive, even after 2 years of using android phones/tablets, especially taking into account the battery life. I then checked in a store for the current symbian phone models, and i can honestly say: There is nothing in the smartphone world which matches the price/performance ratio of these.
    They are cheap, well designed, have an os where the bugs have been fixed. The UI is sensible, i can take one in my hand and still use it without thinking.

    I would rather buy a new symbian phone as a second cheap reliabe outdoor phone for sports etc. than a nokia lumia (even if these are no bad either).

    If nokia would not have bragged so much about changing the platforms, the best thing they could have done would have been to put a decent kernel below and keep the API stable.

    • by horza ( 87255 )

      I have a Nokia E71 as backup. To be honest it's much better than all the android smart phones out there for productivity. It would probably be smarter of me to get a cheap tablet for playing games and watching movies in bed and use a symbian phone for daily use. The two killer features of Symbian for me are (a) battery life which can be nearly a week and (b) voicemail app that records directly to the handset which means I can just listen to my latest message without going through the previous 20 to get to i

      • by drolli ( 522659 )

        There are a number of features which i love the note 2 for. Funnily the ultimate killer feature in the daily use of the note 2 is the idea that it vibrates shortly if you pick it up and there is a new message. This is so fucking brilliant and practical - you just can miss a new message with this. I also like the "flip over to turn silent" idea.

%DCL-MEM-BAD, bad memory VMS-F-PDGERS, pudding between the ears