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Nokia's increasing smartphone shipments were no match for its feature phone business

Seeing Nokia's smartphone business grow is good to see, but let's not forget that the Finnish company is also known for its feature phones.

Published onJanuary 3, 2018

Thanks to HMD Global gaining the rights to make and sell smartphones under the Nokia brand, the Finnish company marked 2017 as its great return to smartphones. That return has been backed up by increasing smartphone sales, though strong feature phone sales continue to set the pace.

According to data from analyst firm Counterpoint Research that was sent to Nokiapoweruser, HMD shipped 2.8 million Nokia smartphones during the third quarter of 2017. Considering that 1.7 million Nokia smartphones were shipped in the first half of 2017, this is a huge jump in shipments for the companies.

What’s great is that, unlike Motorola, Nokia achieved those numbers without flooding the market. 2017 saw releases of the Nokia 2, Nokia 3, Nokia 5, Nokia 6, and Nokia 8, just to name a few, and they all sit at different price points in the market. What’s also helped, but to a smaller degree, is the promise of timely updates, a promise that HMD and Nokia have so far backed up.

Year one: The good and bad of Nokia's return to smartphones

Before we get ahead of ourselves, keep in mind that HMD also shipped 13.5 million Nokia feature phones, which just dwarf its smartphone shipments. In other words, HMD shipped more feature phones in one quarter than it has shipped smartphones for the majority of 2017.

As prevalent as smartphones are, feature phones still reign supreme in pockets around the world. For example, according to research firm eMarketer, feature phone shipments accounted for 55 percent of the overall mobile market in India in Q3 2016. Global feature phone shipments reached 396 million units for 2016, with the shipments accounting for 21 percent of all mobile phones shipped in 2016, according to Strategy Analytics..

In other words, there is still a market for those looking to buy feature phones, and Nokia remains one of the biggest players out there. Whether that will continue moving forward remains to be seen, since selling smartphones is more profitable than selling feature phones. Even so, for a company trying to return to relevancy, it never hurts to have solid feature phone shipments while seeing your smartphone business grow.

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