Nokia’s transition from Symbian to the Windows Phone 7 operating system can’t come quickly enough, as evidence mounts that European mobile operators are beginning to turn away from products that are no longer attractive to new phone buyers.
Europe has traditionally been a safe haven for Nokia sales, much needed too as the company has repeatedly failed to make any impact on the valuable US market.
Forbes.com reports that a research note from analysts MKM Partners indicates a steep decline in interest for Nokia’s Symbian range among European networks, citing as an example the claim that carriers are offering extreme discounts on Nokia’s seven month old N8 smartphone, in response to sales levels that have been “eroding rapidly” in recent weeks.
Contrasting this with strong launches of high-end Android devices, such as the Samsung Galaxy S2 and HTC Desire HD, and even good sales performance among mid-range Android phones, such as the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play, the author of the note points out the N8 can now be acquired in certain European markets on contract from just €15 per month.
The author further explains that the beautiful E7 QWERTY slider, which also features HDMI-out and an 8MP camera, has also failed to gain the support from operators that Nokia hoped it would.
The analyst doesn’t predict much good news ahead either, noting that smartphone sales are expected to fall by around 17% in Q2 2011 compared with Q1, but that this decline may be even steeper if carriers continue to be turned off by the Symbian devices that Nokia is still pushing to them.
To add salt to the wound, he adds that Android’s projected increase in market share over the next quarter is “likely underestimated by the markets”, suggesting that Android may well grow even faster than anticipated. Given that over 400,000 Android devices are activated every day, it looks like the growth of Google’s smartphone platform could become even more phenomenal.
Nokia’s first Windows Phone devices are expected before the end of this year, but all indications are that sales in significant volumes won’t really kick off until 2012. That’s an awfully long time for Nokia to wait while its market share continues to fall, while carriers and distributors are turning their back on their products, and while consumers themselves are rapidly losing interest in what Nokia has to offer.