Nokia Sells a Million Windows Phones, AT&T's 7.6 Million iPhones and Fake Android Tablet Numbers

This morning both AT&T and Nokia reported quarterly earnings. AT&T sold 9.4 million smartphones, including 7.6 million iPhones last quarter, but generally missed expectations and posted a loss (partly because of the blocked T-Mobile deal). The company ended the year with 103.2 million mobile subscribers in the US. Verizon earlier this week said that it had 108.7 million subscribers.

Nokia beat the market's low expectations despite announcing a $1.4 billion (€1.07 billion) loss. More importantly the company announced that it had sold more than 1 million Lumia Windows Phones during the quarter in Europe. That was consistent with analysts' projections and has boosted Nokia despite the accelerating decline of its Symbian platform.

Yet data from forecaster Kantar, discussed by Reuters yesterday, reflected that sales of Lumia handsets in all nine markets where the phones are available were "less than 2 percent." Accordingly there's a long climb up the mountain for Nokia to reclaim its former position as a market leader on the back of Microsoft's OS:

Kantar said Microsoft's Windows Phone share in all of the nine key markets it measures remained at less than 2 percent despite the high-profile launch of the Lumia range from Nokia.

Nokia's flagship Lumia 800 model failed to break into top 10 smartphones sold in Britain by the end of the fourth quarter, the researcher said.

Nokia said in November the model was off to an excellent start in Britain, and had seen the best ever first week of Nokia smartphone sales in the UK in recent history.

Microsoft and Nokia have an arrangement where licensing and royalty payments change hands. But basically Microsoft is paying Nokia billions over a period of years to use the Windows Phone OS.

Finally, in the battle over marketshare numbers, Strategy Analytics put out an attention-getting release this morning arguing, "Android Captures Record 39 Percent Share of Global Tablet Shipments in Q4 2011." This conveys the impression that Android tablets have captured substantial marketshare, which is inaccurate. 

The chart below suggests that Android tablets sold 10.4 million units -- in part because Apple actually sold 15.4 million iPads.  

Screen shot 2012-01-26 at 8.13.28 AM

Kindle Fire, a quasi-Android tablet (quasi because it marginalizes Google and the Android Market), sold perhaps 4 to 4.5 million units. If correct that would constitute nearly half the "shipments" in the chart above. Beyond this Nook, another low-end Android tablet, may have sold quite well in Q4 also. These are the bestselling Android tablets. All others have had negligible sales.

Previously the HP TouchPad was the bestselling non-Apple tablet because it was reduced to $99 by HP to move units. 

Let's end talk of "shipments" as a market share metric. Devices "shipped" does not mean devices purchased by consumers. Nor do "shipments" stand as a proxy for purchases, although they do typically in the unique case of Apple devices.

The "shipments vs. sales gap" was most starkly revealed last year specifically in the case of Android tablets (and RIM Playbooks). Millions of units "shipped" but almost none actually "sold" to consumers. Instead they sat on shelves. Effectively then "shipments" is a discredited and invalid metric to measure market share. 

Statistically valid consumer survey data would be more reliable as a measure of market penetration.