Nokia’s N8, Windows Phone 7 In Europe: Slow Burners or Burned Out?

Nokia N8

Not a great stat if you’re a Windows or Nokia (NYSE: NOK) fan in the Old World and are hoping for some momentum behind your favorite platform: in Europe neither is selling very well.

While all attention seems to be focussed right now on how fast Android is growing, the iPhone is still holding ground impressively in the smartphone cateogry for the moment, particularly in respect to Nokia’s flagship device, the N8.

According to figures from Morgan Stanley, iPhones are currently outselling N8s by a factor of six to one. And next year the analysts predict the gap will get even bigger: in 2011 the ratio widens to eight to one between the iPhone and the N8.

Actual numbers, as quoted by V3: Morgan Stanley predicts Nokia will sell 2.5 million N8 handsets in Q4, and nine million devices in 2011. Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) will shift 16 million iPhones in Q4, with a further 72 million in 2011.

After the iPhone, Morgan Stanley says the best-selling devices are the Samsung Tocco Lite, Samsung Galaxy S, Nokia 5230 and BlackBerry Curve.

The analysts point out that the N8 was never intended to be an “iPhone killer”; rather, the device is meant to mark a step-change in Nokia’s approach to smartphone design, using the newest Symbian OS. In this, Nokia has succeeded.

Still, the numbers must come as a blow, given that Finnish Nokia has always counted Europe as a stronghold in the developed world, particularly throughout its many years of never quite breaking into the North American market.

But the N8 might not really have it so bad: another report out on Windows Phone 7 sales in the UK makes for some grim numbers.

According to the mobile phone comparison shopping site MobilesPlease, Windows Phone 7 devices are accounting for just three percent smartphone sales, and “a little under two percent of overall sales” through MobilesPlease.co.uk and its network of mobile phone partner sites.

Symbian devices, which the site says are almost exclusively about the N8 these days (Morgan Stanley too acknowledges that the N8 is selling better in the UK than it is elsewhere in Europe), are outselling Windows Phone 7 devices by a margin of 3 to 1.

The sites average about 800,000 unique visitors per month, “enough to show that the initial public reaction to Windows Phone 7 is lukewarm at best.”

Ben Pusey of MobilesPlease thinks the key issue with Windows Phone 7 so far has been that the devices are too generic, and entering the market too late, to make enough of an impact against the buzz of all the new Android devices, and the more established iPhone and Blackberry products.

One surprising aside: Pusey says he visited a few other retailers to compare his numbers, and the Carphone Warehouse he visited didn’t even have a Windows Phone 7 model on display, although the sales rep thought that there might be one in the back.

Meanwhile, Morgan Stanley notes that retailers are expecting to keep promoting N8 devices through January 2011, meaning that there is still hope of N8’s gaining a bit more ground over the holiday shopping season.

But come February, it may well turn out that the N8 will just be another one of those devices that failed to deliver on its promise.

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