AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) could be Nokia’s new window into the U.S. smartphone market. Reports that AT&T is working on a deal with Nokia (NYSE: NOK) come as Nokia’s new Lumia smartphones are selling very well in Europe — this week, U.K. service provider Orange said it has had more preorders for the Windows-based Lumia 800 than for any other Nokia phone in history.
Nokia has not announced plans to offer the Lumia phones in the United States, suggesting that it wants to create custom phones for U.S. carriers. That’s a strategy that has worked well for Samsung and HTC.
Finland’s Nokia has seen its market value plummet since the introduction of Apple’s iPhone changed the game for mobile phone makers. Competitors jumped on the Android bandwagon while Nokia forged its own path with its Symbian operating system. In August, Nokia said it would stop selling U.S. phones based on the Symbian operating system once it launches Windows-based phones.
Nokia is still the global leader in mobile device sales, with a 24% market share for the third quarter according to Gartner (down from 28% in the year-ago quarter). But in the fast-growing smartphone market, Nokia’s Symbian operating system has just 17% of the market, down from 36% in the year-ago quarter. Microsoft Windows also saw its market share slip in the past year, from 2.7% to 1.5%. The two companies are betting they can both stage a comeback in the smart device space by working together.