There are some HMD Nokia numbers and we can attempt some analysis. We have a very active and loyal readership at this blog (thank you to all) and one of the beauties of the comments section, is that you can learn a lot just from reading the comments - I certainly do. And now in the past few days, there were several sudden early numbers that came relating to HMD's performance with the Nokia brand, particularly around smartphones (where our interest lies, not so much the featurephone ie dumbphone side). Lets first take just the data points, vague as they mostly are, and see what we have.
UPDATES 18, 19 & 24 October 2017 (see bottom, we have a preliminary sampling of some countries where Nokia Android phones are marketed, courtesy of comments via readers to this blog)
First off, we have a quoted but vague number via HMD's Pekka Rantala, who gave an interview at the Italian Nokioteca. It starts in Italian, but switches to English. If you want to go to the point where Pekka talks about the sales numbers (that is in English) it starts at 07:45. Pekka said on Sept 2, 2017, that for phones that started to sell in June and covering the first four smartphone models, HMD/Nokia has sold 'millions' of smartphones and for dumbphones (5 models) they had sold 'tens of millions'. Pekka said several times that demand is exceeding supply. Also Pekka explained that the initial strategy has smartphones sold in only a few distribution outlets per country (like one chain of stores in Italy) and this was done for the reason of attempting to keep phones available in the few distributors, rather than putting effort into securing a wide distribution (where then most resellers would have nothing to sell). Pekka further explained that the marketing has not been yet using paid marketing because the initial demand is so strong, but a paid advertising campaign for the Nokia 8 flagship would be coming to major markets for the Christmas season including Italy. Very intersting interview, I recommend you watch it. And thank you to our regular blog reader 'Winter' for finding the interview.
So Pekka Rantala Chief Marketing Officer of HMD said Nokia smartphones had already sold millions by the start of September. And we know its not into the 'tens' of millions, because he mentioned that number, as the scale of the featurephone side, like the 3310. This gives us a scale of cumulative sales June to August, 3 months, of over 2.0 million and under 9.9 million.
Second we have also via link found by our reader Winter, that measured the scale. It is an indirect measure, but most who would buy a Nokia branded Android smarthphone, would then go and get the Android app from HMD for that smartphone. Nokia Power User website had reported on the statistics for the HMD Nokia Android app, and that as of October 8, 2017, those were in the scale band of between 1 million and 5 million downloads. Certainly there are at least 1 million HMD Nokia Android smartphones that are not just sold and in use, but have been activated on the Google Play Store for Android apps. Note that not all who buy a smartphone will download apps to it, and as the article points out, and our blog reader 'Phil W' also reiterates to our readers, those Play Store numbers do not include China which is where HMD started its sales, where the Nokia 6 went first on sale. So the 'upside' for the cumulative sales could be above 5 million. I'll do my math in a moment but lets take the third number before that.
Finally we have an analyst house, giving their count. This is perhaps the 'best number' and it is certainly the most precise. IDC is one of the big analyst houses that report every quarter on the smartphone market, and one of the 'best' that we have used on this blog in our average of leading analyst houses, when we arrive at the quarterly total market size number. IDC has given their number to the Finnish newspaper Ilta-Sanomat, on 11 October, 2017. This story was picked up by our blog reader 'Paul'. IDC reports that the Nokia brand is already ranked number 5 in Finland, number 11 across Europe and has 0.4% global market share. As of the first half of 2017 (ie ending June) IDC had counted total cumulative HMD Nokia smartphone sales at 1.5 million. This is all in a Finnish-language article interviewnig IDC's Research Director Francisco Jeronimo.
So we have scales of numbers, one says 2M to 9.9M cumulatively up to end of August, on global level. Another says 1M to 4.9M cumulatively to early October, but ignoring China sales. And a third says 1.5M cumulatively up to end of June with 0.4% global market share. Let's try to make some sense out of these numbers, are they telling a consistent story?
What is currently missing from that, which can help give us guidance? First market size. What does 0.4% global market share mean? IDC has not reported the Q3 numbers (July-Sept) so the 0.4% global market share is very likely the measured number for Q2 (April-June). And IDC counted the total market to be 341.6 million smartphones sold globally in the quarter. 0.4% would be sales of 1.4 million in Q2 and allowing for 0.1M sold in just China in Q1. That sounds reasonable.
Now what is the China market size? The TomiAhonen Phone Book tells us total handset sales in China last year was 412 million so about 22% of all mobile phones sold, are sold in China. As China is somewhat near middle in terms of global smartphone migration rate, we can use that percent also for the smaller smartphone market size, as a rough rule of thumb. Meanwhile as HMD is pursuing a global footprint, that would give a reasonable number as the percentage we might see China smartphones as a percent of all HMD Nokia smartphones sold (before we have any better regional data). So to adjust the scale of the Nokia Power User numbers, when China is factored in, the actual 'activated Android Nokia phones' cumulatively by early October would be between 1.3 million and 6.4 million. I would warn that not all who buy a new phone will download an app to it, but among the most eager Nokia buyers, that ratio is likely to be significantly lower than normal. Lets give it a factor of 1 in 5 doesn't download apps at all, and add that missing 20% to the shipments of HMD Nokia Android smartphones to the above. We arrive at 1.6 million low end and 8.0 million high end for the Nokia Power User measured indirect number, and what it suggests.
Can we fit this onto any sort of reasonable graph? Here we have serious issues of just 'gut' guesstimates. Will the Nokia sales have a one-time huge surge, those who missed Nokia rushes to the stores, bought the first devices, and then never returned? That was somewhat the pattern with Lumia, which had severe disappointments and the sales patterns in following periods never matched the early excitement. How satisfied are the buyers with their first Android based HMD Nokia smartphones? We don't have stories of 101 faults or exploding phones with antennagates or broken screens. But it is early going. If this was the pattern, we could have 1.4 million sales in Q2, and then say 1.2 million sales in Q3 and 0.8 million by Q4. Another rival theory is, that the sales are solid, and are constrained by retail availability (demand exceeding supply). Certainly this is what Pekka Rantala talked about in his interview. In that case, if HMD sold 1.4 million in one month (June) then you could multiply that number by three for the next quarter (Q3, July to September) and get 4.2 million quarterly sales. A good sign is that HMD is expanding its product line, releasing two new Android phones for Christmas (Nokia 9 and Nokia 2). And that their overall phone business seems to be on very solid ground with 5 dumbphones selling in 'tens of millions' cumulatively, and for example the 3310 classic model now upgraded to include 3G so it can be sold in some of the more advanced markets where 2G networks have been shut down or are being shut down.
Now its a gut check time. What can I tell you? I do think that there is genuine growth happening. The data is consistent with this type of pattern:
FIRST ROUGH ESTIMATE OF HMD NOKIA QUARTERLY ANDROID SMARTPHONE SALES
Q1 (China only) sales . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0.1 million (IDC, calculated)
Q2 (June only) world launch . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1.4 million (IDC, calculated)
Q3 (world 3 months) about . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.5 million (TomiAhonen Consulting estimate)
Q4 (2 new models added, Christmas Qtr) about . . 3.5 million (TomiAhonen Consulting, preliminary forecast)
Source: TomiAhonen Consulting estimates and preliminary forecast based on IDC, Nokia Power User data, and HMD statement, 13 October 2017
This table may be freely shared
That would mean that 'today' mid October in real calendar time but say end of September end of Q3 in unit measurement time we'd have a cumulative Nokia Android sales level of 4.0 million HMD smartphones sold so far. It would be totally consistent with Pekka Rantala saying 'we sold millions' by September and not 'tens of millions' (yet). It is totally consistent with Nokia Power User measuring between 1 million and 5 million activated Nokia Android devices downloading at Play Store, which suggests global base of Nokia HMD smartphones in use of between 1.6 million and 8.0 million.
Another way to look at it, is just to take the mid-points of the more vague measurements. The HMD CMO number between 'millions' (2.0m) and under 'tens of millions' (9.9m) is 5.95 million. Meanwhile the number via Nokia Power User measurement of between 1.6 million and 8.0 million gives an average of 4.8 million. If we average those two averages, we'd arrive at 5.4 million cumulative shipments so far. My number is therefore perhaps slighly conservative, being 26% below those strict averages.
A third way is to take the IDC number for one month, and simply multiply it for 3 months to get the Q3 number estimate. That would be 4.2 million (per quarter, not cumulatively). That would mean cumulative number of 5.7 million by now.
I want to strongly caution about these numbers, I am taking the view that Nokia HMD sales are GROWING from the initial excitement of the re-launch of the Nokia brand. It is by no means a guarantee that this is going on. Hopefully we will find more data points to see if this is in fact happening. But I am confident to give my best guess, that the current sales level of HMD Nokia is about 2.5 million units per quarter (Q3) and looking solid for roughly 3.5 million global quarterly sales for Q4 Christmas period. That means that as of today (end of September) the cumulative Nokia HMD sales would be about 4.0 million so far.
One last point, also brought out by readers to this blog. The key to HMD's success is not how good the phones are. This market is wholly dependent on how good the carrier support will be. And that remains to be seen, but the first sign is out, that HMD seems to be doing well on that front. Our blog's long-time loyal reader 'Asko' reported on October 6 that he had seen the first carrier-advertising for HMD's Nokia. It was in Finland, no surprise that it would start there. But carrier support is the VITAL piece if HMD is ever to re-enter the Top 10 or if it would be only a curiosity forgotten old brand like say Palm or Alcatel or Motorola selling in tiny numbers. The carrier support is absolutely critical. And the first sign is seen, in one country, one carrier, has started to advertise Nokia HMD smartphones. Yes, this is Finland, but inevitably, Finland, as the birthplace of the Nokia brand - was always going to be the first country where this happened, anyway. And it has now happened. We need to monitor this space and see, does HMD win more carriers to start to promote the brand. Only then can the real return happen.
UPDATES 18, 19 & 24 October 2017: Several of our readers have submitted comments that discuss countries where the marketing has started. I am now adding (on 18 October) an early preliminary sampling of countries that have thus been 'reported' to already have HMD Nokia Android phone advertising and what other data we have of those countries. I am posting in chronological order by countries that were discussed by people commenting. As of 24 Oct we have 25 countries reported:
China (one retail channel, source HMD)
Italy (one retail channel. advertising of Nokia 8 coming for Christmas, source HMD)
Finland (advertising by 1 of 3 carriers, source reader 'Asko'; also market share of HMD Nokia in Finland currently ranked 5th, source IDC)
Hong Kong (1 carrier CSL plus 3 local retailers advertising Nokia 8, according to my observations)
India (1 carrier Vodafone marketing 3, 4 & 6 says iGadgetWoman; plus manufacturing locally, source reader 'John A')
Indonesia (biggest retailer and 1 carrier Indosat advertising Nokia 3 & 6, source reader 'Abdul Muis' with local manufacturing, source reader 'John A')
Turkey (1 carrier, Vodafone, running ads for Nokia, source reader 'John A')
Sweden (2 of 4 carriers Telia and Telenor selling Nokia source reader 'John A')
Poland (3 out of 4 carriers selling Nokia, heavily advertised. Source reader 'Mike')
Netherlands (Nokia 8 is on Dutch networks, source reader 'Winter')
Spain (3 of 4 carriers are advertising Nokia 3, source reader 'Luis Calvo')
Hungary (3 carriers Telenor, Vodafone & T-Mobile are all advertising Nokia, source reader 'zlutor')
Switzerland (all major carriers offering Nokia including among their 'brand list' feature, source reader 'Joe Fish')
Malaysia (1 carrier Digi advertising Nokia 3 & 6, source reader 'Abdul Muis')
UAE (1 carrier Etisalat has 3 Nokia models, source reader 'Abdul Muis')
Portugal (2 of 3 carriers NOS & Vodafone have Nokia 3, 5 & 8 models, source reader 'Pedro')
Bulgaria (3 of 3 carriers advertise Nokia, also demand is exceeding supply, source reader 'Vlad')
Germany (2 carriers offer some Nokias: T-Mobile has 2 and O2 has 3 models, source reader 'Huber')
Nigeria (1 carrier 9mobile is advertising Nokia 8, via Twitter follower 'Mister Mobility' aka @moverick)
Mexico (1 carrier Movistar is advertising Nokia 6, via reader 'Rigoberto Calleja')
NOTE - other countries mentioned in various press releases and articles. I have so far found UK, New Zealand, Australia, Croatia, Serbia.
THIS LISTING MAY BE FREELY SHARED; Please indicate 'data crowd-sources via readers of Communities Dominate blog' if you post the listing.
I need to point out that the USA is a good example of where Nokia has not yet managed to get any carrier support. Reader 'Jim Glue' provides info that only Amazon sells the Nokia 6 in the US.
My deepest thanks to the readers who contributed these insights! I hope to add more to the list if we get more such data. But at least 12 countries have a Nokia HMD retail presence and some level of support advertising or marketing including some very big countries overall (China, India, Indonesia) and major Nokia strongholds in Europe like Italy, Turkey, Spain and Poland. Plus the obligatory Finland and Sweden haha..
One last note. Reader 'Paul' noticed the print edition of Finnish tech mag 'Mikrobitti' which compared smartphones in the 300 Euro price bracket and the Finnish mag selected the Nokia 5 as better than the iPhone SE. Yes its from Finland, probably home bias but still.. shows considerable promise for the return if some are willing to go to print calling Nokia better than Apple's iPhone....
For context. Some may look at 80 million Samsung smartphones sold every quarter and say this is peanuts. I would remind them about the only other comparable recent entry into the smartphone races that turned to be a success. A tech company named Apple launched itself into the handset market in 2007. It set as its public target to sell 10 million iPhones in the first year. Now lets ignore the China numbers for Q1, and count four quarters from Q2 of this year by my rough early estimate. Let's say Q1 of next year will be 'down' as the after-Christmas quarters mostly are, and HMD 'only' sell 3.0M in the January-March Quarter of 2018. Then for the equivalent first year sales somewhat apples-to-apples, HMD/Nokia would have done 10.5 million sales in its first full year and do roughly as good as Apple in its first year. Do not misjudge these early numbers. As long as HMD continues in GROWING from this start, then this is a VERY strong start indeed. 1.4 million sold in one month at the end of Q2? Yeah, 2.5 million they'll definitely then do in Q3, probably more. And if HMD/Nokia can sell 2.5 million Android smartphones in Q3, when they add 2 new smartphones for Christmas, 3.5 million is a reasonable early estimate for Q4 Christmas sales as well.
I think these numbers have considerable upside potential, and very little downside below my conservative estimate. But we will monitor more info as it comes in, hopefully more measured results to give us a sense, of whether these numbers hold (is there continued growth), do carriers buy into the Nokia comeback story and start to promote HMD/Nokia smartphones - and will the Christmas sales period bring joy and presents in the land of Santa Claus.
My very best to HMD, this blog is in your corner. If you dare to reveal any more numbers, please do so!!! Tsemppiä!