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Nokia’s stock slumps as Lumia disappoints

Sinead Carew and Tarmo Virki New York and Helsinki

NOKIA shares plummeted 20 percent in two days after its new Lumia smartphones failed to impress investors looking for transformational handsets to rescue the struggling Finnish company.

Nokia and its partner Microsoft showcased the Lumia 920 phone in what may be their last major shot at reclaiming market share lost to Apple, Samsung and Google.

Microsoft and Nokia hope the device – sporting bright colours, a bigger screen and technology that reduces blur and shakiness in pictures and video – will become a potent weapon in an escalating global war to dominate the mobile industry. But investors said that it lacked “wow” and gave it a quick thumbs down.

Some analysts said Nokia’s reticence about dates, prices or carrier partners also did not help.

Nokia shares in Helsinki began sliding midway through the New York launch on Wednesday and ended down 13 percent at e1.99 (R21), their biggest single-day loss since June. They fell a further 8 percent yesterday.

The Lumia was the first in a flurry of planned mobile device launches expected ahead of the holiday shopping season. Google’s Motorola Mobility showed off three new smartphones based on Android software later on Wednesday. Verizon Wireless, the top US cellular provider, committed to sell all three of the Motorola phones.

Amazon.com was expected to unwrap its new Kindle Fire tablets yesterday and Apple is expected to unveil the latest version of its seminal iPhone next Wednesday.

“The challenge is that the world is working on the fourth, fifth and sixth editions of their devices, while Nokia is still trying to move from chapter one. It still has quite a bit to catch up,” said RBC analyst Mark Sue.

Many industry analysts who saw the phone up close in New York deemed it a solid device with a few differentiating features. But it did not push the envelope as Nokia chief executive Stephen Elop had promised.

Nokia announced no partnerships with cellular service providers, leading some analysts to worry this was a sign of weak carrier support. The Finnish handset maker said that it would announce pricing and roll-out dates for the new Lumia later on a country-by-country basis.

“It is impossible to assess this launch without price and roll-out info. This is disappointing,” said Bengt Nordstrom, the chief executive of telecommunications consultancy Northstream. – Reuters

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