Nokia smartphone market share shrinks to 31 percent, operating profit takes a beating too

Stephen Elop's first quarterly results as Nokia CEO have just come out, and while the company's still growing, others seem to be speeding ahead of it. Nokia's reporting its converged mobile devices (smartphones, to you and us) reached volumes of 28.3 million during Q4 2010, which is a neat bump from 20.8 million at the same time last year and 26.5 million in the previous quarter. However, in the context of the broader smartphone marketplace, that figure now amounts to only a 31 percent share, according to Nokia's own estimates, which is a major dip relative to its 40 percent slice in Q4 2009 and 38 percent in Q3 2010. Elop's perspective on the matter is as follows:

"In Q4 we delivered solid performance across all three of our businesses, and generated outstanding cash flow. Additionally, growth trends in the mobile devices market continue to be encouraging. Yet, Nokia faces some significant challenges in our competitiveness and our execution. In short, the industry changed, and now it's time for Nokia to change faster."

When your operating profit goes from €1.47b (€950m net) a year ago to €1.09b (€745m net) this year, the response should indeed be to change and to change fast. Nokia's still not disclosing sales figures of the N8, but given that this was the first full reporting period where the company's Symbian flagship has been on sale, it doesn't seem to have had quite the impact Espoo will have hoped for. Wanna try again with the N9?

Update: Nokia's investor relations call has borne a few more interesting tidbits from the new man in charge. Elop is quoted as saying Nokia must "build or join a competitive ecosystem," with the latter verb in that sentence sure to renew discussions of why the Finnish company should / shouldn't switch to an OS such as Android or Windows Phone 7. We still think that'll be the very last resort over in Espoo, but Elop apparently believes Nokia has the brand recognition and operator relationships to make such a move if it wanted to. Which of course it doesn't. Or does it? Let's wait for Nokia's Strategy and Financial Briefing in London on February 11th -- Mr. Elop's expected to be a lot more specific about his company's roadmap going forward on that day.