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Nokia bids to challenge Apple

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Nokia fails to challenge Apple as N900 bombs.
Positioned to combat the success of the iPhone, Nokia's N900 smartphone has sold fewer that 100,000 models in the five months it has been on sale, claims Gartner.

Nokia's top-of-the-range N900 smartphone  sold less than 100,000 units during its first five months on the market,  according to Gartner. In comparison, the iPhone saw sales hit 8.75m  between January and March, highlights.                

The N900 is popular among technology  specialists but has failed to attract a broader audience since its November  launch. Nokia claims it is satisfied by the sales figures, with Nokia  solutions business head Alberto Torres saying they have "exceeded  expectations".

Analysts say the Linux Maemo operating  system used in the N900 is a vital part of Nokia's attempt to regain  ground in the smartphone market. The N900 is currently the only phone  using the Linux Maemo operating system. 

The N900, Nokia's first handset running the Linux Maemo operating system, is said to have found support among technology enthusiasts with its slide-out keyboard and touchscreen, but its bulky size has failed to appeal to the mass market.

Analysts claim that the company has been struggling to re-establish itself as a leader in the smartphone sector, but continues to lag behind Apple and Asian vendors in style and innovation. Nokia's last recognised success with a high-end smartphone was three years ago with the N95.

As ever, Nokia claims that the N900 has been a notable triumph. "Sales have substantially exceeded expectations," said Alberto Torres, head of Nokia's solutions business.

However, Nokia has a long history of never revealing handset shipment targets or actual numbers. Gartner estimates that Nokia sold 50,000 N900s in the last quarter of 2009, and quarterly sales fell in January-March of this year.

Adding further bad news for the N900, Nokia has announced that the Nokia/Intel operating system MeeGo is now available for download to netbooks, but is not available as an update for Nokia's N900 device. The company would appear to be resisting any moves of an official OS update for the N900, even though the device is the official development platform for MeeGo.

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