Nokia Declines as New Smartphone Disappoints Investors

Nokia Oyj fell as much as 5.6 percent in Helsinki trading after introducing a smartphone that disappointed investors anticipating a handset attractive enough to push forward the company’s comeback effort.

The Lumia 925 has a metal frame, lets users take sharper photos and video, including in low light, and costs 469 euros ($609) before taxes and carrier subsidies, Jo Harlow, Nokia’s smartphone chief, said today at a press conference in London. The phone is a modified version of earlier models, said Mikko Ervasti, an analyst at Evli Bank Oyj in Helsinki.

“There is nothing groundbreakingly new or different in the hardware or software design, and there is limited differentiation to Lumia 920 or Lumia 928,” Ervasti said in a note. He said Harlow’s presentation was “not very confident.”

Chief Executive Officer Stephen Elop is trying to boost a fledgling comeback bid that has so far failed to reverse market-share losses even as Lumia sales are rising. The phone also advances partner Microsoft Corp.’s push into mobile software as the two companies seek to break the dominance of Apple’s iPhone and devices that run Google Inc.’s Android software, led by Samsung Electronics Co. models.

Nokia, which had risen 18 percent in the six days before today’s Lumia 925 introduction, was down 3.2 percent to 2.85 euros at 3:32 p.m. in Helsinki.

‘Not Groundbreaking’

“Shares are down today after they were so strong for multiple days going into the event,” said Sandeep Deshpande, an analyst at JPMorgan Chase & Co. in London. “Still, it wasn’t much of an event as the handset is O.K. but not groundbreaking.”

Operators including Vodafone Group Plc will sell the Lumia 925 in Europe, starting in June. T-Mobile US Inc. will offer it in the U.S., and China Mobile Ltd. and China Unicom (Hong Kong) Ltd. will market it in China.

The handset includes software that lets users snap 10 photos at once and edit them, Espoo, Finland-based Nokia said. The software will be available as an update for other Lumias running on Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8.

“We take better pictures than anyone else,” Harlow said in an interview. “It is competitive in the imaging area, but we believe very strongly what we’ve been able to deliver with low light and bright light performance is something other people have not been able to accomplish.”

Color Options

The metal design makes the Lumia 925 more robust, Nokia said. The back of the phone is polycarbonate and comes in white, gray and black. Users can separately buy covers that allow the phone to be charged wirelessly when placed on a special pad.

One of the first smartphone makers, Nokia dominated with a global market share topping 50 percent before Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android software were introduced six years ago. Nokia’s market share has since collapsed to 3 percent, according to IDC. The slump has pushed Nokia to losses and forced it to cancel its dividend for the first time in at least 143 years.

Lumia’s global sales rose to 5.6 million units in the first three months of the year from 4.4 million in the fourth quarter as Nokia added versions. The company predicted at least 7.11 million Lumias will be sold this quarter as more models roll out. Nokia is trying to differentiate itself from rivals with its camera technology and location-based services.

Pricing Concern

“Nokia has been quite successful pushing great camera and video technology into their smartphones,” said Ilkka Rauvola, an analyst at Danske Bank A/S in Helsinki. “To make themselves stand out even more they need to continue to innovate and drive down the price of the devices so more users around the world can afford them.”

Elop, who joined from Microsoft in 2010, is into the third year of a bet that his former employer’s software will help revive Nokia’s sales. He abandoned Nokia’s homegrown software after it fell out of favor among consumers.

Apple and Samsung’s combined smartphone sales top 100 million a quarter. Apple’s iPhone and devices running Android account for more than 90 percent of the market.

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