Apple endured mixed fortunes this week, with record iPhone 4S sales offset by lower than expected earnings for the third quarter. Rival Nokia, meanwhile, saw light at the end of the tunnel, as feature phone shipments increased and its Nokia-Siemens joint venture cut its losses during the period.
Early sales of Apple’s latest smartphone hit four million units in the first weekend the device was available – more than double the 1.7 million iPhone 4’s shipped in the first three days that device was available.
The shipments bode well for Apple’s 4Q results, however its third quarter was apparently hit by consumers holding off until the new device was launched, resulting in the firm missing Wall Street forecasts for the first time in recent memory with shipments of 17 million devices compared to the 20 million analysts predicted.
A massive $27 billion (€19.6 billion) was wiped from the firm’s valuation, as net profit of $7.05 per share ($6.62 billion) fell 34 cents shy of analyst’s forecasts.
Apple’s shipments were only 270,000 higher than Nokia’s smartphone shipments in 3Q11, however the Finnish vendor benefitted from a rise in sales of its low- and mid-tier units, which brought its total shipments for the period to 106.6 million units.
However, the shipment growth wasn’t enough to return the firm to profitability. Net loss for the period was €151 million compared to a profit of €322 million in 3Q10.
Ericsson shrugged off poor performances by its ST-Ericsson and Sony Ericsson joint ventures to record a marginal 6% increase in net income to 3.8 billion Swedish Krona ($418 million). The rise was fuelled by demand for mobile broadband infrastructure, however the firm lost over 10 billion Krona in cash flow – down from 11.8 billion in 3Q10 to 1.6 billion this quarter.
A report by the Economist Intelligence Unit claimed governments in Asia Pacific are being more ambitious in high-speed broadband plans than those in Europe. Singapore and Japan, for example, aim to offer 1GB services to 90% of households within five years, compared to typical targets of data rates between 50Mbps and 100Mbps in Europe.
As if in response, Telekom Austria detailed plans to offer GB data speeds to two thirds of Austrian addresses by 2015 using fiber, and will begin building an LTE network early next year to meet growing demand for data services and position the country as a leader of the digital economy.
In merger and acquisition news, asset management firm The Carlyle Group bought 85% of Spanish operator Telecable in a deal that values the firm at €400 million; Telefonica allied with China Unicom to boost deployment of machine-to-machine services; and Korea Telecom edged closer to buying 20% of South African telco Telkom for $581 million.
Telstra’s shareholders accepted an offer of A$11 billion (€8.1 billion) to split the firm and migrate subscribers to Australia’s National Broadband Network.
BSNL, India’s state-owned operator, called for approval to return 2.4GHz Wimax spectrum in 17 of 22 circles where it was awarded, because the market is now moving towards TD-LTE as its 4G technology of choice.
Meanwhile, Qualcomm was offered a lifeline in the country after the government backtracked on a decision not to award it a broadband wireless access license it paid $1 billion to acquire. The US firm plans to use the license to operate a TD-LTE network via a single local company.
And Motorola Mobility took a step down memory lane by unveiling the Droid Razr, an ultra-thin Android smartphone designed to evoke memories of its iconic clamshell Razr handset.
The new model features a Kevlar shell to address concerns over its robustness, and has already won near universal praise from reviewers despite featuring a built-in battery and running an older version of Google’s operating system.