So its the time of the Digital Jamboree year of the Smartphones Bloodbath. Now we see how the new partnerships will fare, like Nokia and Microsoft. Both Nokia and Microsoft released their Q1 results and here we go.
For Q1 2012, Nokia smartphone unit sales fell 39% from the previous period, Q4 of 2011, to reach a level of 11.9 million smartphones sold. That is bad. In terms of market share, Nokia's once-proud smartphone unit now commands.. 7% market share. Just over one year ago, with Elop in charge, Nokia was growing smartphone sales strongly, and had 29% market share and were twice as big as their nearest rival, and did that all generating a record profit in the smartphone unit. Oh, did I forget to mention, yes, now in Q1 of 2012, Nokia's smarpthone unit generated a huge loss once again, at 18% operating loss in the smartphone unit! Yes, the losses in the smartphone unit ballooned by 62% and are now 311 million Euros per quarter ($405 million US dollars). This happens while the 'amazing' Lumia series running Windows Phone has been launched, to dismal market acceptance. All this while Microsoft pumps in $250 million US dollars per quarter to help Nokia sell (or force) the new Lumia series to past Nokia smartphone owners.
The rejection rate of the Lumia by existing Nokia smartphone owners is 5 out of 6 attempts. Not of sales of any brand smartphones, it is sales attempts to existing Nokia owners! Just over one year ago, before the Elop Effect, when Nokia was attempting have existing Nokia owners replace their Nokia smartphones or existing Nokia dumbphones with Nokia smarpthone that ran on Symbian, the conversion rate was better than 1 to 1, ie Nokia picked up new customers when it did that conversion. Those customers came primarily from Nokia's strong dumbphone market share, but also from other smarthpone rivals.
The Nokia smartphone market share is now approximately 7% (again, we wont' know final percentage number until all data is in but it won't be better than 8% and can't be worse than 6%). Remember all those cheerful forecasters exactly a year ago who promised Nokia and Microsoft would somehow become a 'third ecosystem' and have over 20% market share? Total hogwash. So yes, this 7% now is down from 13% just one quarter ago! (Nokia just lost nearly half of the customers it had just three months previously!), And the market share is down from 29% just before the Elop Effect one year ago. Yes, the collapse is not slowing down, Nokia's collapse is now increasing as Lumia comes online. Nokia's collapse is becoming worse as Lumia is being forced down customer throats. So it is true, in one year, Nokia has lost 3 out of every 4 customers it had in smartphones. This is a world record in destruction of a loyal customer base, in any industry. The market leader has never ever ever, in any industry so comprehensively self-destructed, to lose 3 out of 4 customers in a one year period.
NOKIA TRIES TO SPIN STORY WITH ACCOUNTING GIMMICKS
So Nokia reports that the ASP the Average Sales Price climbed for Q1. And on quick view of the Q1 results, that seems true. And mathematically it is so, that if we take all revenues earned by the smartphone unit, and divide by smartphones shipped, the ASP did indeed climb to 143 Euros. But that reflects an accounting gimmick, that Nokia started to use in Q4 of last year - there is an infusion of 250 million dollars of Microsoft money, coming to support Nokia Lumia sales. That is money not paid by actual consumers, customers, operators, carriers, retail stores. It is bonus money, paid by Microsoft. It distorts the picture of what end-consumers are willing to pay for Nokia branded smartphones and helps paint a picture more rosy than reality. The infusion of cleverly negotiated Microsoft money is a valid input into the smartphone unit, to report its performance (or loss, as it now actually is) but it is not valid for the calculation of the ASP, which is now not comparable to the past ASP of Nokia smartphones.
Its easy to correct. Here are the actual ASP's when Microsoft Windows Phone subsidy is removed, so this is the actual consumer willingness to pay for Nokia branded smartphones over the Elop period as CEO
Nokia corrected ASP (when Microsoft subsidy is removed)
Q4 2010 - 155 Euros (202 US Dollars)
Q1 2011 - 146 Euros (189 US Dollars)
Q2 2011 - 141 Euros (183 US Dollars)
Q3 2011 - 131 Euros (170 US Dollars)
Q4 2011 - 131 Euros (170 US Dollars) *
Q1 2012 - 127 Euros (166 US Dollars) *
Above ASP calculated with Microsoft $250 million US dollar marketing support payment has been removed, the above reflects actual market price that Nokia branded smartphones actually acheived per quarter
* The two periods Q4 2011 and Q1 2012 included originally the Microsoft payment, so these are the corrected numbers when that payment is removed
And so we see how the early Lumia series is doing. You might think that selling 600,000 units of Lumia in Q4 of 2011 and now 2 million in Q1 of 2012, would be a strong start. Except that it is not. Nokia's last new platform launch globally was the launch of the Symbian S^3 based smartphones into Q4 of 2011, led by then-flagship smartphone the N8. That first incomplete quarter achieved 4 million sales of S^3 based smartphones by Nokia. It was done at the tail end of the global economic crisis, with modest marketing support. It was done on what many thought was an 'obsolete' platform, Symbian. It had no outside marketing support. Yet Nokia managed 4 million new sales of S^3 based smartphones in that quarter. Note, that the overall market has grown so much since then, that the correct target number to just 'match' what Nokia could do with the N8 and Symbian S^3 today, would be 6.4 million new sales, not 4 million.
Now with Lumia in its second quarter of sales, Nokia only achieved only 2 million total sales. This is comprehensive market failure by Nokia. Not against measuring truly desirable smartphones like the iPhone or Samsung Galaxy etc, but even against Nokia's own modest success of its previous new platform launch, the Symbian S^3 and the N8, neither of which set the world on fire just over a year ago when launched - yet this Lumia series, in its SECOND quarter, is selling less than one third what Nokia was used to doing, before the Elop Effect. This Lumia launch is not viable, it is only being sustained by artificial respiration, with the biggest Nokia promotion and marketing push ever, and further added with hundreds of millions of dollars of Microsoft money, including 100 million that the two paid to AT&T so its staff could take the Lumia 900 as their employee phones (yet few seemed to want to do that, I wonder why...)
One more point, the USA sales in Q1. T-mobile was the only carrier/operator to offer Lumia sales in Q1. The total USA handset sales in Q4 were 500,000 units. These were obviously all dumbphones as Nokia had terminated Symbian sales in the US market earlier last year. That unit sales number grew up to an underwhelming 600,000 handsets of any kind in Q1. So T-Mobile USA's total contribution was to increase Nokia USA sales by 100,000 units. No wonder the publshed reports from T-Mobile sales - and Nokia's CEO himself, admit the T-Mobile USA sales of Lumia were modest. If we attribute another 100,000 of the 'dumbphone' part of the sales, we are pretty close to the ceiling of what could have been total Lumia sales in the USA in Q1. 200,000 would also be .. 10% of total Lumia sales worldwide. That hardlly sets the world on fire.
SO WHO KNEW?
Was this total market disaster 'foreseeable' - could some clever management strategist see this total disaster Quarter, in advance? Well, lets see what the world's most accurate forecaster of the mobile industry wrote on this blog on July 26 of 2011, when the first data had come out of how severely Nokia sales were collapsing due to the mismanagement by Stephen Elop. I wrote my blog of the best case projection for Nokia and Microsoft partnership for years 2012 and 2013. I explained very clearly what were my models I used and the reasoning and the base facts. That blog posting was very widely referenced and has over 30 comments. And this was my projection for Q1 of 2012:
TOMI FORECAST IN JULY 26, 2011 FOR Q1 NOKIA RESULTS ('Ultra Positive Optimistic Scenario')
Q1 2012 . . 7% . . 7M Symb/4M WP7 . . $164/$180 . $1.9B . . . 2.3% . . . $ 43M profit
ACTUAL NOKIA Q1 PERFORMANCE
Q1 2012 . . 7% . . 9.9 Symb*/2M WP7 . . $165** . . . $1.95B** . . . -32%** . $ -638M loss
* includes MeeGo
** without Microsoft bonus payment of $250M which is not paid by end-users and is not actual handset business income
So I forecasted 11.0M total smartphones sold when reality was 11.9M. I forecasted 4M Lumia out of the total when reality was only 2M (bear in mind, I also correctly forecasted that Lumia sales would start in Q4 so this would be the second quarter of Lumia sales). I forecasted $1.9B dollar revenues when reality was $1.95. In forecasting terms, that is considered a home run, perfection. And I did say, last July, that this is the very best case ultra-optimistic scenario which I did not believe in, in terms of the profitability, where I said the best Nokia could hope for, is to climb to a tiny profit by Christmas and now have a 2.3% profitability for Q1. That was obviously way too positive. When the Microsoft bonus is removed, the real business loss by Nokia smartphones had a profitability of minus (-) 32% (ie making 32% of a loss) and total losses (after Microsoft bonus is removed) is 638 million dollars compared to the best case scenario of 43 million dollars of a profit.
You will not find anyone in the mobile handset industry, with a published forecast dated last summer or before, who dared forecast 7% for Q1 of 2012. There were many who promised Nokia and Microsoft to have over 20% for this year including some utterly ridiculous forecasts as high as 28% for this year. The next best forecast for Q1 after mine, was Horace Dediu whose 2012 Q1 forecast was about 10% and many who visited his blog accused him of being too pessimistic about Nokia haha. I not only nailed the market share and hit the total shipment numbers within one million error, I even had the total revenues of the smartphone unit within one million dollars only of error.
That being said, you may want to go read the full forecast to see how Tomi Ahonen felt Nokia and Microsoft might do (under the best optimistic scenario) for the full year 2012 and 2013. Its not pretty. Except that since then, because we have received more data, I can correct and revise the forecasts into the future. It will be worse for end of 2012 and into 2013, than those forecasts. Suffice it to say, Nokia's market share this year will end nearer 4% not at the 6% that I said last July. I will return with a full updated forecast later.
GOING FORWARD, GETS WORSE
All the indicators for Q2 suggest it will get far worse still. Each of the first three Lumia handsets, Lumia 800, Lumia 710 and Lumia 900 have had production problems with hardware or software and require visits back to the store. The situation with the Lumia 900 is so bad, the carriers in the USA and Canada offer complete rebates of the paid amount so to the consumer, the smartphone 'cash payment' price part seems now free. Still obviously the customer has to sign the two-year contract so in reality they are not free. But the sticker price comparison to say an iPhone 4S at about 199 dollars or 179 dollars (plus contract) compared to the Lumia 900 at 0 dollars (after rebate) (plus contract) may seem compelling to some buyers.
Still, Nokia faces the reseller revolt as reported now in many countries. Recent reports have added that after the Lumia 900 launched, AT&T's flagship stores in New York City were refusing to sell the device. And the various reseller reluctance is again repeated by Stephen Elop himself who again admits the problem exists in the UK for example. And independent surveys have come up with such 'sales boycott' behavior also in stores now reported in France at Orange stores (the biggest carrier/operator of France).
The market data is consistently bad, even the momentarily rosy picture reported by big Nokia and Microsoft press publicity machines, that the Lumia 900 was the bestseller on Amazon, was not real - first of all most US phones are not sold via Amazon, they are sold in stores, for which we heard the sales staff reluctant to sell any Microsoft Windows Phone units including Lumia devices, but furthermore, now even that Amazon moment of glory has faded, and Lumia 900 is falling on Amazon sales charts. If the Lumia 900 cannot hold the number 1 spot for even one month, it is clearly not the bestselling smartphone even in the North American market, and its pattern will follow exactly that of the earlier launch markets of Europe and Asia - the Lumia looks good in a store, but is a severe continuing disappointment in the hands of consumers, who will return the Lumia at record levels. This in turn teaches the sales staff never to let a customer leave the store with a Lumia and they are now reported to push iPhones and Samsung Galaxy models ahead of the Lumia - when customers ask for the Lumia by name - in stores from Finland to France and from the UK to the USA. The Lumia is failing and the future of this line of Lumia by Nokia is dead.
On the Microsoft side, that Microsoft refuses to give us a Windows Phone total sales number, even after Nokia said 2 million Lumia sales in Q2, tells us that the rest of the Windows Phone family have sold miniscule numbers and the total worldwide Windows Phone sales did not even reach 3 million.
So we heard from the company which 12 months ago was towering over rivals as the biggest smartphone maker in the world. Now they are less than one third the size of the biggest smartphone maker, Samsung ( we will know more when Sammy reports) and I already called it last week, that this quarter, Q1 of 2012, Samsung has passed Nokia as the world's biggest handset maker overall, even as Samsung's numbers aren't out yet, but based on the early indicators from major markets and by the severe fall of Nokia this quarter (its total handsets fell from 113.5 million units in Q4 down 27% to 83.7 million now in Q1). Samsung has already given a preview to Q1 results telling of record-breaking sales in its handset unit.
What does wounded Nokia do now? We see the worst news from the exits of two senior leaders involved in the Lumia and Windows Phone battle for the come-back. Nokia's 20 year veteran sales boss, Colin Giles will depart Nokia. This was the guy you'll recall last Spring who was sent by Elop to go fix the ;'disaster' at China sales, where Nokia sales were falling. Elop refused to accept personal responsibility for causing the Elop Effect, but rather blamed the China sales head and replaced him with Colin Giles. Now that China sales have fallen catastrphically ever since (and Tomi here keeps reporting it is a sales boycott by the carriers, but nobody is listening..) now Giles exists the company. You don't leave your position as head of sales if things are looking good and thing are just about to turn better in the next months.
What of the Microsoft Windows Phone side? We also learned this week that the same happened at Microsoft. Its Marketing Chief for Windows Phone, Gavin Kim, departs Microsoft only five months after the spectacular headhunting triumph by Microsoft to snatch Mr Kim from Samsung. You don't leave the company in only a few months, if your product is poised to be on the brink of major global success. No, you leave a sinking ship if you see there is no hope here.
DSo thats our Nokia Q1 there. No mention of N9 sales numbers, which suggests to me, that the N9 keeps outselling the whole Lumia series, as it did already in Q1. Nokia smartphone sales are collapsing globally and my projection for year-end is in the low single digits now, say 4% or so. I will do a better full-year projection for Nokia once I have had to digest these numbers a bit, and I see the other results from the rivals. But Nokia is dying before our eyes. They had 29% market share with Elop in charge, when smartphone sales were growing strongly and Nokia's smartphones were profitable. Then Elop did his Elop Effect and followed that up with numerous further management blunders. Today Nokia's market share is 7% and falling, with the smarthpone unit reporting record losses. This is not a way to build a third ecosystem haha. Oh, and to the Nokia Shareholders' Meeting - please fire the Microsoft Muppet CEO now, while there still exists a Nokia to speak of, before he destroys what is left of it.
FOLLOW-UP on April 24, I wrote a follow-up on why now, this path has become a Certain Road to Death for Nokia.