Nokia Largest Windows Phone Vendor: Strategy Analytics

Nokia has become the world's largest Windows Phone vendor, according to a new estimate from Strategy Analytics.

Nokia has become the world€™s largest Windows Phone vendor, according to new data from Strategy Analytics.

According to the research firm, Nokia shipped some 0.9 million Windows Phone units in the fourth quarter of 2011, good for 33 percent of that market, and surpassing the individual efforts of HTC and other manufacturers.

€œGlobal smartphone shipments using the Microsoft operating system grew 36 percent sequentially to reach 2.7 million units in Q4 2011,€ Alex Spektor, an associate director at Strategy Analytics, wrote in a Feb. 24 statement tied to the numbers. €œMicrosoft smartphone shipments remain tiny, but they are showing tentative signs of growth.€

According to another analyst at the firm, Nokia€™s progress doesn€™t bode well for HTC. €œNokia€™s Microsoft smartphone growth during the quarter was achieved partly by capturing market share from HTC,€ Tom Kang, director of Strategy Analytics, wrote as part of the same research note. €œThis is a challenging development for HTC because it is also losing ground to Samsung in the Android segment. HTC is now at risk of being caught in a pincher movement.€

Nokia€™s Windows Phone devices include the midrange Lumia 710 and the higher-end Lumia 800 and Lumia 900. In addition, the company is apparently gearing up to present some lower-price smartphones at this year€™s Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, according to a new Bloomberg report; unnamed sources speaking to Reuters also suggested that a set of cheaper smartphones loaded with Windows Phone would appear at MWC.

Nokia CEO Stephen Elop made the decision in 2011 to abandon his company€™s homegrown operating systems, most notably Symbian, in favor of Windows Phone. Although he argued that Microsoft€™s software could better combat Apple€™s iPhone and the growing family of Google Android devices, analysts and pundits greeted the move with some skepticism.

However, there are some early signs that Nokia€™s Windows Phone strategy is paying off. The company announced it had sold 1 million Windows Phone units in the fourth quarter of 2011, surpassing some analyst expectations.

€œWe still have a tremendous amount to accomplish in 2012,€ Elop wrote in a Jan. 26 statement linked to Nokia€™s most recent earnings, €œand thus, it is my assessment that we are in the heart of our transition.€

Follow Nicholas Kolakowski on Twitter