Is the Lumia 920 a turning point in Nokia's fortunes?

Nokia's near-vertical plunge from cell phone dominance should serve as a lesson to others that believe themselves immune from suffering a similar fate.

The twists and turns the company continues to make are sometimes painful to watch and equally difficult to understand, and its "all-in" partnership with Microsoft is a wager that seems burdened with risk and potential humiliation.

However, as with every gamble, there is the outside chance for success-- albeit my experience with that the "sport of kings" (horse racing) consistently proves otherwise.

Regardless, I refer here to Nokia's flagship Lumia 920 Windows Phone 8 smartphone, which might be the company's last chance to get things right and regain consumer confidence.

While little, if any, hard evidence exists about the recent sales success of this latest smartphone, perhaps for the first time in recent memory Nokia might have made a step forward and upward with the Lumia 920.

Rumours indicate that the device has proved so popular that AT&T Mobility is short on supply, and that Amazon and retail outlets in Germany and Australia have sold out.

Now, we all know that stock supply level can be manipulated to create shortages, but Nokia's manufacturing and supply chain was once (and might still be) the envy of the industry and the company needs to ship every Lumia 920 that it possibly can. There are some who think the shortages are due less to overwhelming demand than short supply at this point. Any attempt by Nokia to create "shortages" at the expense of short-term profit could backfire in a spectacular fashion.

Also of note was a recent comment from Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer that Windows Phone sales are four times higher in 2012 than they were last year. Again, this can be open to interpretation since Ballmer failed to detail the precise timeframes involved.

However, Paul Santos, writing in Seeking Alpha, extrapolated from Ballmer's comments that in the fourth quarter Nokia could sell around 5.5 million to 6.6 million Lumia units (not just 920 models), versus the 5.4 million that is the apparent consensus of Wall Street analysts.

This, if it comes true, would be a massive boost from the 2.9 million Lumias shipped in the third quarter, and might be an indication that Nokia is at least staying afloat.

I guess we'll have to wait until Nokia reveals the level of Lumia shipments before coming to a conclusion. But it's a welcome change to be waiting with anticipation for what the company has to announce, as opposed fearing for its very survival.--Paul