Finally, some good news for Nokia: Lumias outshipped iPhone, Samsung Android phones through first three quarters

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What if smartphone design still matters?
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What if smartphone design still matters?

Nokia (NOK) has hit a bit of a rough patch lately, having just reported its third consecutive billion-dollar quarterly loss earlier this week. Of course, investors saw some promise in Nokia’s earnings report, and it turns out there may be even more cause for optimism than they initially thought. According to market research firm Strategy Analytics, Nokia’s Windows Phone efforts are off to a better start than Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone or Samsung’s (005930KS) Android smartphones at this point in their respective product cycles.

UPDATE: A reader notes that Strategy Analytics’s figures include the third fiscal quarter of 2007, a quarter during which the iPhone was on sale for two days, as the first of three counted quarters. When counting cumulative iPhone sales through the end of the second fiscal quarter of 2008, the iPhone’s total becomes 5.4 million units — still below the estimated 6.9 million Lumia phones shipped. Regardless, as noted in the final paragraph of this post, the comparison is flawed to begin with.

“We estimate Nokia shipped 6.9 million Lumia smartphones with the Microsoft (MSFTWindows Phone operating system cumulatively worldwide during the first three quarters after commercial launch, from Q4 2011 to Q2 2012,” Neil Shah, a senior analyst at Strategy Analytics, said in a statement. ”This compares with 3.7 million units of the Apple iPhone family in its first three quarters during 2007, and 1.3 million units for the Samsung Android family in its first three quarters during 2009. It is an encouraging start for Nokia and Microsoft.”

Shah’s colleague Neil Mawtson added, “Based on historical shipment benchmarks, Nokia’s new Lumia portfolio is performing reasonably well. Some of the pessimism surrounding Nokia and Microsoft’s emerging partnership so far may be misplaced. However, Nokia and Microsoft are clearly not out of the woods yet. With a new Apple iPhone 5 expected on the horizon, and Samsung’s Galaxy S3 selling in huge quantities, Nokia will need to pull something impressive out of the bag for the next-generation Windows Phone 8 launch later this year to sustain its tentative early momentum.”

Of course, there’s one important caveat to Strategy Analytics’s report: When Apple’s iPhone and Samsung’s Android smartphones launched, the smartphone market paled in comparison to today’s market. Comparing smartphone shipments in 2012 to smartphone shipments in 2007 or 2009 is like comparing modern-day salaries to salaries in the 1960s without accounting for inflation.

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