Nokia Corporation (NYSE:NOK), which has been much belieaguered in the smartphone market the last couple of years, can be buoyed by some more evidence that it might be on the verge of a comeback in existing markets due to strong showings in emerging markets. First we reported on a market survey in Indonesia that showed Nokia selling well in the most recent quarter. Now, some specific details come out of South Africa, which just sold its 10-millionth smartphone.
In this new report, Nokia Corporation (NYSE:NOK) handsets, which mainly run on its proprietary Symbian operating system, ran a close second to Research in Motion Limited (NASDAQ:RIMM) and its BlackBerry, both easily outpacing the iOS by Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and the Android system from Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG). Among the 10 million smartphones sold in South Africa, BlackBerry-run phones maked up about 48 percent of the market (4.8 million), while Nokia’s Symbian phones are about 40 percent (4 million). This does include some Nokia phones running Windows Phone, but that OS has not been in the market long enough to make a significant impact. Way back in the distance are Android phones (usually Samsung or HTC handsets) with 8 percent (about 800,000) and the iOS system contained in iPhones (400,000) with about 4 percent.
The survey was conducted by World Wide Worx, which tracks smartphone sales in South Africa. The report said that Nokia Corporation (NYSE:NOK) is still the favorite handset among smartphone users 16 and older who live in urbanized areas (cities and towns) in South Africa- down slightly to 50 percent from 51 percent 18 months earlier, in 2010. The report also expects Nokia to remain No. 1 in this demographic at least until the end of 2013, though it may lose some market share.
It is argued that Nokia Corporation (NYSE:NOK) and Research in Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) are and may continue to be the leaders in smartphones in the country due to their low cost; iPhones and Android devices seem to be marketed and sold more to the “elite” in the country, though Apple is estimated to increase its market share from its current 1-percent spot to about 6 percent in the next 18 months.
Indications are that Nokia Corporation (NYSE:NOK) and Research in Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) will likely remain the prominent forces in South Africa smartphone sales. Might this be a catalyst for both companies to come back from the virtual dead and re-invent themselves for the existing markets worldwide? There are several hedge funds who have an interest in Nokia succeeding; one of them is Jim Simons’ Renaissance Technologies, which made an $18.5 million play in Nokia stock during the first quarter of 2012 (see this multi-billion dollar portfolio).