Nokia Corporation (NOK), the Finland-based phone marker, was buried in ash after a volcanic eruption of low earnings in July. Shares fell to below $2. The ash is blowing away and Nokia is emerging with optimism for its projects on the horizon.
Nokia is launching its Asha 311 smartphone in the UAE. The system will utilize Qt software, a compiler for Symbian apps. But, Nokia will ditch its Symbian operating system in an effort to compete with Samsung (GM:SSNLF), selling it to Finnish software maker Digia.
Once Nokia caught on that it was losing the smartphone market to Apple and Samsung, Nokia did not just sit around. The company began cutting corners and eliminating redundant business units. To generate revenue, it sold 500 of its patents to Vringo (VRNG) for a sum of $22 million.
While Nokia may have lost smartphone market share, it still remains the second largest mobile company in the world, holding a market share of 19.9%. Samsung's share is only 21.6%. There is still large demand for low-end mobile devices in emerging markets, such as South Africa and India. Developing higher visibility in emerging markets will build trust and a strong foothold as it ramps up smartphone sales in the future.
Rumors are flying that the Nokia Windows Phone 8 will launch with Verizon Communications in early September. Windows phone 8 will be fully supported by Microsoft (MSFT) for a full 18 months, lowering costs for Nokia. AT&T (T) and T-Mobile are also looking for a seat at Nokia's table.
Sale of Lumia devices saw a 200% increase over Q1. The Lumia 610 and 900 series is having a windfall in China and Latin America. Nokia's shares are rising, over 8%, since the company announced the sale of four million new Lumia smartphones running Windows. The two new devices, codenames Arrow and Phi, will be similar to the Lumia 800/900 smartphones. The Arrow will be a mid-range devise, while the Phi will be high end.
The courts also seem to be blessing Nokia indirectly. On August 24, Apple (AAPL) won its patent infringement lawsuit against Samsung. The injunction will prevent some of Samsung's devices from going on sale in the United States. The actual injunction is set for sometime this month. If the court upholds the injunction and prohibits some of Samsung's handset sales in the U.S., Nokia will face less competition with its Windows 8 smartphone release. Apple could also find some backlash. Samsung, which supplies parts used in Apples iPhone and iPads, may decide to retaliate by not providing the supplies Apple needs to produce its products. Nokia would reap the reward with a further reduction in competition from Apple.
Emerging from the ashes along with Microsoft is Amazon (AMZN). Amazon will unveil Nokia mapping services, not Google (GOOG), on the new Kindle Fire. The new capabilities will utilize either a GPS chip or a process known as WiFi triangulation. Mapping services are quite popular on tablets, offering street maps, information about local businesses and some traffic status. Previous Kindle Fire's run an early version of Google's Android system, which did not integrate with Google Maps in the devise. It is only accessible via a Web browser. Nokia's version will greatly enhance the Kindle Fire's mapping capabilities for the user.
Nokia's mapping business is one of its three core business segments. Recently this segment, known as Navteq, is quite busy signing major deals and building partnership to ensure continued growth and profitability. According to last quarter's earnings, Navteq makes up 3% of Nokia's overall revenues. It garnered a $40 million profit. In 2010, the segment generated $1.09 billion and $1.37 billion in 2011, up 26%. The first half of 2012 Navteq is already eyeing a revenue flow of $705 million.
Several key partnerships are taking a front row seat. Microsoft revealed it would replace Bing Maps with Nokia Maps in all of its Window Phone devices. Ford is selecting Nokia mapping technology in its next generation car navigational systems. Flickr is adopting Nokia Maps for its website photo locations. Groupon (GRPN) allows Groupon deals to appear on Nokia Maps. Finally, Nokia has teamed up with 22 technology giants, including Samsung and Qualcomm (QCOM), to develop indoor GPS systems for people to find specific locations within large venues such as stadium and shopping malls.
Nokia and Harman (HAR) are joining hands with a wireless consumer audio technology for exclusive use in the Nokia Lumia. Harman's JBL speakers will co-brand with Nokia a range of speakers. Wireless connectivity from mobile devices to speakers utilizing Bluetooth technology will facilitate connecting any existing Lumia phone or next generation Windows Phone 8 to the system. The JBL PlayUp portable wireless speakers for Nokia will start shipping before the end of the year.
As a result, revenues and cash on hand are rising steadily, enabling the company to invest heavily in R&D for future projects that may well reward long-term investors. Over the past 20 years, Nokia has amassed a large portfolio of more than 30,000 patents. Analysts estimate these to be worth 4 billion to 10 billion euros. With Apple's legal victory over Samsung, these patents may even become more valuable.
Nokia may never shine as bright as Apple. I believe Nokia will continue to develop and strengthen its competitiveness in the smartphone industry. I own a Nokia myself. Granted, it is one of those low-end cell phones I will throw away when I return to the U.S. from China. But you can bet, because it is a good solid low-end phone, I will march into my local AT&T or Verizon store and look at the new Lumia Windows 8 line up. I can also tell you there are people in China waiting to see it, as they are loyal to Nokia. If only a fraction of the 1.06 billion mobile phone users in China buy a Lumia, you can bet Nokia will rise very high out of those ashes.