Nokia Lumia sales fall to 8.2M in woebegone end to 2013

The number of both feature phones and smartphones sold this year fell, leading to a 29 percent drop in revenue for Nokia's phone-making unit in the fourth quarter.

Richard Trenholm Former Movie and TV Senior Editor
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
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A new round of disappointing results is highlighting Nokia's shift from the biggest maker of mobile phones in the world to a company that doesn't want to talk so much about mobile phones anymore.

Nokia has seen sales of the Lumia line of smartphones plummet across the world, and on Thursday, as it published its latest financial figures, it initially seemed loath to reveal exact numbers.

But Nokia eventually owned up to actual numbers, confirming that it sold 8.2 million Lumia smartphones in the last three months of the year, down from record 8.8M sales in the third quarter.

The Finnish phone-flinger on Thursday published its financial results for the fourth quarter of 2013 along with results for the full year. The number of both feature phones and smartphones sold this year fell, leading to a 29 percent drop in revenue for the phone-making division in the fourth quarter, to 2.63 billion euros ($3.57 billion), compared to the fourth quarter of 2012.

The Lumia lineup clearly lost the momentum seen in the previous quarter's results when the company trumpeted a 19 percent increase in the number of Lumias shifted.

In Thursday's results Nokia also confirmed that it has extended a patent license with Samsung for five years, after a bitter legal battle between the two in courtrooms around the world.

2013 was a decisive year for Nokia: it's been make or break for the Lumia range of smartphones as Windows Phone overtook BlackBerry for third place in the phone market behind Android and the iPhone. And Nokia is in the process of selling its phone hardware department to Microsoft, which provides the Windows Phone software for the Lumia range.

In light of the sale of the handset division to Microsoft, numbers for the part of the company that actually makes phones are reported separately. That leaves Nokia's continuing operations consisting of three businesses: networking and equipment provider Nokia Solutions and Networks, maps app Here, and research and development outfit Advanced Technologies. These parts of the business made a profit of 408 million euros, as opposed to the loss made by the whole company including the handset business.

By way of comparison, before announcing today's results Nokia revealed how the company has performed in past years without counting the handset business. In 2012, for example, these parts of the company took in 534m and made a profit of 325m... if only they hadn't bothered with those pesky mobile phones.

Update 5:21 a.m. PT: Added number of Lumia phones sold in the fourth quarter.