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Asha outstrips Lumia as budget range boosts Nokia

Nokia’s hopes of staging a comeback in the mobile arena may rest on its production of entry-level devices rather than its high-end Lumia smartphones, as indicated by statistics released by the company.

The Finnish manufacturer was buoyed by its fourth quarter financial report on Friday which surpassed expectations, with the holiday season propelling net sales to £3.2 billion.

In just three months it sold 86.3 million devices, leading many to attribute the success to Nokia’s updated Lumia smartphone line. But while the flagship models made a significant contribution with 4.4 million shipments over the quarter, its budget Asha range sold over double the amount, shifting 9.3 million units.

The Nokia Lumia 820 and 920, running Microsoft’s new Windows Phone 8 operating system garnered much attention when released in October last year and were charged with leading a revival for Nokia as a whole. But Friday’s statistics suggest focusing on entry level devices, which typically sell in great volumes within emerging markets, may be the key to driving a sustainable upturn in fortunes for the company.

"We are pleased that Q4 2012 was a solid quarter where we exceeded expectations and delivered underlying profitability in Devices & Services and record underlying profitability in Nokia Siemens Networks,” said Nokia CEO Stephen Elop.

“We focused on our priorities and as a result we sold a total of 14 million Asha smartphones and Lumia smartphones while managing our costs efficiently, and Nokia Siemens Networks delivered yet another very good quarter."

The findings add further weight to the view that maintaining a presence in the budget sector of the mobile market will determine the future success of phone manufacturers. With Samsung set to record a record profit for the last quarter, its strategy of releasing multiple handset variants – many adjusted for different regions and lower-cost markets – has been seen as key to it gaining the edge over rival Apple in the industry.

The Cupertino firm has consequently been linked with producing a budget iPhone model this year, but these reports have not yet been confirmed.