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Summary:

One day before Nokia announces results for the most recent quarter, the company is touting a sales milestone: 1.5 billion Series 40 phones sold. That’s a huge accomplishment, but Series 40 now faces challenges from low-priced Android phones, so the momentum may not continue.

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One day before Nokia announces results for the most recent quarter, the company is touting a sales milestone: 1.5 billion Series 40 phones sold. Nokia shared the news on Wednesday, pointing out its first Series 40 phone, the Nokia 7110, went on sale in 1999. It’s fitting for a few reasons that the 1.5 billionth handset was sold in Brazil and the phone has both a QWERTY keypad and runs a lite version of the monster hit, Angry Birds.

Mayara Rodrigues, a 21-year-old woman, purchased the Nokia Asha 303 handset, because she “loves staying in touch with friends and family through social networks.” Back in 1999, of course, there were no social networks, and texting was a clunkier experience without QWERTY keypads on phones. And Angry Birds? That egg wasn’t even close to hatching.

The sales figure is a certainly a huge accomplishment, and the timing of the news is interesting: It follows the very day after Apple announced quarterly iPhone sales of 37.04 million units. Part of me thinks Nokia’s news is meant to show the world Nokia is still very relevant to the mobile space, even as its status as a smartphone leader has declined in the past few years. Given how people are starting to buzz about Nokia’s Windows Phones, I think, like the Angry Birds, Nokia will fly again, even if not as high as before.

However, I’m not sold on Series 40 devices taking as much market share in emerging markets as they have in the past. During most of its long lifespan, Series 40 hasn’t had to contend with low-priced Google Android phones like it does today. We’re now starting to see dual-SIM Androids, even from the likes of Samsung, which is contending with Apple as a global smartphone leader.

Are the best days of Series 40 behind it? Perhaps, but even if it they are, it’s hard to argue Nokia’s relevance around the world: 1.3 billion people on the planet still use a Nokia phone today.

  1. Can’t totally agree with the assesment that 1,3 billion people uses Nokia phone’s today. I bought more than 10 during the years (for myself and others), and none is in use anymore. Won’t buy Nokias again with Windows on it. A pity.

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  2. This is cool but how much revenue does it bring to Nokia? 1.5b=$??

    Can’t argue with the relevance today, but that’s just a circumstance generated by the markets that buy these handsets. Their break will come when they can market a lumia for $12.

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  3. Apple SELLS 37million phones per quarter. Nokia and Microsoft SHIPPED 1.3 million phones in two months. Apple SOLD more than that in the first, yes, first day of sale of iPhone 4s.

    Window phones are a colossal failure in the market place. As soon as all the MS fanboys/Apple haters but their Windows Phone, meager market share will plummet to zero.

    A lot of people and bloggers have monetary interests in Nokia and MS and want you to think their phOnes have a chance, but the truth is, nobody wants them.

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  4. This is what bothers me when Apple talks about “money paid to developers”, too. They talk about how much they’ve given since 2008, to make it sound like a huge number. But I don’t think that’s relevant to most developers today. They would care a lot more about how much they’ve given in the past year.

    Same thing with Nokia. Who cares how many they’ve sold since 1999? I mean sure, it’s an impressive number, and Nokia has been a major force in the phone world during the past decade. But this really isn’t relevant news for today. I believe Samsung is about to pass Nokia in how many phones they sell every quarter already. Last time I checked Samsung sold about 300 million and Nokia 300+.

    Bottomline line, Nokia is losing the fight. Quoting numbers from the past decade won’t change that.

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  5. Forgot to mention that it was only 2 years ago when Nokia outsold Samsung 2:1.

    And you’re right about Android cannibalizing Nokia, Kevin. Just recently I was going to buy a cheap phone for my mother as a gift. I had to choose between a Blackberry style Huawei, a touchscreen one from Huawei with Android 2.3, and a Nokia C3 which was more expensive than both. I ended up buying the Android one, even though I went to the store wanting to buy either the Blackberry style Huawei or the Nokia C3. It cost around $100.

    At this point you have to ask yourself, why WOULDN’T you buy an touchscreen Android phone over a S40 phone or other such phone from the past, at roughly the same price.

    And speaking of cannibalizing Nokia sales. It wasn’t too long ago when Nokia said Android would commoditize their phones. Well, I guess that’s already happening whether they like it or not. Their Android competition is doing that to them. It would’ve still been a smart decision to become a major Android player at the time.

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