Guess what? Nokia is still sucking wind in North America

The smartphone maker still has a lot of work to do to build a presence in the U.S., and figures suggest its much-hyped Lumia 900 hasn't moved the needle much.

Nokia halted Times Square for a short while when Nicki Minaj performed a quick concert amid the flashing banners promoting the Lumia 900. Nokia

Apparently even Nikki Minaj couldn't spark a renewed interest in Nokia and its Lumia line of smartphones.

The company disclosed yesterday in its quarterly report that it shipped 600,000 handsets to North America, a number that includes its newest Lumia phones, as well as a mix of lower end and prepaid Symbian phones already out in the market.

Given that the second quarter marked the first full three months of the heavily hyped Lumia 900, the results are something of a disappointment. That 600,000-phone shipment figure was unchanged from the first quarter, and marked a 60 percent decline from a year earlier.

While the figures aren't devastating, they do underscore the uphill climb Nokia faces in rebuilding its brand and presence in North America and, in particular, the U.S. The company threw a ton of promotional resources behind the launch of its Lumia 900 -- including a Times Square concert featuring Minaj -- and was backed by AT&T's largest ever campaign , yet failed to see any quarter-over-quarter improvement.

"Sales over half a million units is actually quite good as a general thing, but it's certainly not as much as you'd want to re-launch a brand and take on Apple and Samsung, both of whom sell in the millions," said Avi Greengart, who covers consumer technology for Current Analysis.

Nokia also only reported the number of phones shipped, and not actually sold directly to consumers. AT&T may shed some light on Lumia 900 sales when it reports its results on Tuesday. T-Mobile USA sells the Lumia 710, and has only said it has been pleased with the results.

Financially, Nokia did show some improvement in North America. The region generated $128 million in revenue, up 45 percent over a year ago, and 38 percent over the first quarter. That suggests a shifting mix toward more Lumia smartphones and fewer prepaid and basic phones.

Nokia doesn't break out the sales figures for specific lines, but Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Pierre Ferragu estimated that each carrier ordered about 250,000 units, unwilling to bet too big on the success of Windows Phone.

Nobody is calling the numbers terrible. In fact, given Nokia's past challenges and diminished visibility in the region, they seem right in line.

Unsubstantiated buzz, however, caused some analysts to up their estimates to as high as 2 million for the quarter.

Roger Entner, an analyst at Recon Analytics, said that a decent-selling device should at least hit 1 million units sold, with blockbuster phones such as the iPhone or Galaxy S III exceeding the 10 million mark.

He likewise said Nokia did okay given the weakness of its brand, but noted the company fumbled when it came to its advertising campaign for the Lumia 900. The now infamous wave of "smartphone beta test" commercials were an embarrassment after the Lumia 900 was found to have a glitch that messed with its data connection . Nokia more than made up for it, offering a $100 credit that temporarily made the phone free to consumers.

With the Lumia 900 long out of the flagship slot at AT&T, it's unclear how well it will do now. News that it, alongside every other Windows Phone, won't be able to upgrade to Windows Phone 8 is expected to hurt sales.

A Nokia representative, however, noted that AT&T's decision to add a pink variant a few days ago speaks to the continued support from the carrier.

Nokia will need a lot more than different colors to turn itself around, particularly in the U.S. Unfortunately, many aren't expecting a turning point until September at Nokia World, with a likely Windows Phone 8 unveiling.

Until then, Nokia will need to drop up a better plan to get U.S. consumers interested in its products. Perhaps Katy Perry is available?

 

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