Finnish mobile phone maker Nokia, which once dominated the market, has seen sales fall again by a further 22 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2013 - with sales at the mobile handset business, which is in the process of being sold-off to software giant Microsoft, falling by 29 per cent.
The results will be the last before the sale of the handset business to Microsoft is completed.
The unexpectedly sharp decline in handset sales plunged the unit back into losses, falling from a profit of €97m in 2012 to a loss of €198m in the fourth quarter. Over 2013, sales also fell by 29 per cent, from €15.15bn to €10.74bn, while net cash from those activities also fell by €1.1bn.
The company was also slow to release sales figures for its conventional phones and smartphones, leading to speculation that Nokia Lumia sales had been especially poor.
However, figures just released indicate that the company sold 8.2 million Lumia phones on the quarter - down sequentially on the previous quarter, but up from the 4.4 million sold in the same quarter in 2012. Instead, it appears that conventional phone sales are crumbling as emerging markets switch to smartphones.
The deal to sell the handset business to Microsoft was overwhelmingly approved by Nokia shareholders on 19 November with completion expected this quarter, according to the company's results report.
Following the results, some observers have speculated that the deal may already be going sour. Leaked details of "Normandy", a prototype Android-based smartphone as an alternative platform for its S40-based low-end phones that are struggling to compete with cheap Android alternatives, emerged in the last week and has been widely interpreted as a shot across the bows for Microsoft.
"Lumia sales flat or declining? What a surprise... Q4/2013 is for Lumia what Q1/2011 was for Symbian: the beginning of the end," tweeted Jan Ole Suhr, an influential mobile entrepreneur and Nokia developer responsible for developing the Gravity social media client.
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