Nokia’s Lumia 800 Windows phone is flying off the shelves in the U.K., surprising analysts and signaling good news for the phone’s North American launch in 2012.
The Finnish phone maker, which debuted the Lumia in the U.K. last month, said it’s having difficulty meeting consumer demand for the new device. Nokia remains the world’s top handset maker by volume, but has ceded ground over the past three years to rivals like Apple and Android, particularly in Western markets.
The company is betting the Windows brand will lure customers comfortable with the Microsoft interface, and offered an Xbox promotion along with the new phone to draw customers in.
“Lumia 800 sales in the U.K. are off to an excellent start,” said the company. “Based on earliest data, the sales start of the Lumia 800 is the best ever first week of Nokia smartphone sales in the U.K. in recent history.”
Last week, analysts from financial research groups Bernstein Research and Pacific Crest scaled back sales predictions for the Lumia Windows phones, citing high prices and lack of innovative new features. The forecasts led to a drop in stock prices for Nokia.
However, the higher-than-expected sales in the U.K. are good news for Nokia, and while the company says “it is not our policy to disclose individual product sales figures outside our quarterly financial results,” it also called last week’s downgraded predictions “premature.”
The positive reaction to Windows phones may also bode well for the company’s planned North American launch early next year. A recent study from the NPD group found that nearly half of smartphone users are considering a switch to Windows, which may mean higher than expected sales for the U.S. and Canadian launches as well.
A shining reception in the U.K. may lend Nokia the confidence, credibility, and momentum it needs to propel itself back to the top of the smartphone market. If the U.K. launch is any indication, Windows may give Apple, Android, and RIM’s BlackBerry some real competition and a struggling phone giant some solid ground to stand on.