Mobile phone maker Nokia has stemmed losses as sales of its Lumia handsets topped five million in the first three months of 2013, but it still looks like a long road back for the Finnish giant.
Nokia posted sales of €5.8bn for the three months ending 31 March 2013, down more than 20 percent on the year-ago quarter. Losses at the firm were €150m.
While those figures would ordinarily make for grim reading, for Nokia they represent a huge improvement on the €1.3bn it lost in the first three months of 2012. According to Nokia, it sold 5.6 million Lumia handsets in the quarter, pointing to healthy demand for the Windows Phone 8-powered devices, whoch accounted for two-thirds of Lumia shipments.
But in the last quarter of 2012, Nokia sold around 4.4 million of its flagship Lumia 920 handsets.
Since then, it has released a slew of Lumias for the more budget conscious end of the market. And the sales figures pall in comparison to the number of units market leaders Samsung and Apple ship in a quarter.
But Elop told analysts that he expected an unnamed US mobile operator to give "hero status" - typically given to handsets such as Apple's iPhone or Samsung's Galaxy S range - to a forthcoming Lumia handset.
"Momentum behind Lumia is building," he added.
Other worrying signs for the firm include the rapid erosion of its feature phone business, which has provided the rump of its revenues in recent times. Furthermore, while it has stemmed losses compared to the year-ago quarter, much of the improvement derives from the restructuring charges it booked in Q1 2012.
For example, in Q1 2012, it took a €772m charge for restructuring its Nokia Siemens Networks business. In Q1 2013, the restructuring charge in that business was just €129m. During that period of intense restructuring, sales at NSN fell by five percent, from €2.9bn in Q1 2012 to €2.8bn in Q1 2013.
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