Ouch: Nokia loses half its home advantage in one year

Everyone knows it’s been a tough year for Nokia (s NOK), as the world’s biggest handset maker tries to turn the ship around and get back some momentum through its alliance with Microsoft and a range of shiny new Lumia handsets.

But did anyone think it was this tough?

Even the company’s most hardcore supporters — that is, users in its home territory of Finland — seem to be defecting to rivals, with new figures from IDC showing that it has lost more than half of its smartphone market share there over the last 12 months.

According to a Finnish language report from Helsinki’s Taloussanomat, Nokia’s share of the smartphone market for the third quarter of 2011 has dropped to 31 percent — that’s down from 76 percent the same time last year.

The company’s main challenger is Samsung, which now has a quarter of all smartphone sales in Finland — rocketing up from just 3 percent for the same quarter in 2010 and putting it narrowly behind Nokia itself. In third place is Apple’s iPhone (s AAPL), which has traditionally received little support from many of the Finnish operators. It rose by five points to take 16 percent of the market.

Of course, in broader terms, this doesn’t mean a great deal to Nokia’s bottom line — after all, Finland’s entire population is little more than 5 million and the company shifted more than 100 million handsets worldwide in the quarter in question. And since the Lumia was not yet on the cards during the quarter in question, sales may have been affected more than usual.

Yet this low blow will hurt, not least since Nokia’s dominance of the Finnish economy is hard to overstate. Its tentacles are everywhere, and the company has traditionally enjoyed a level of dominance at home that is unprecedented.

As Taloussanomat notes:

Smartphones only represent one part of the global mobile phone market, and Finland itself is a small market area.

But Nokia’s collapse is relevant, however, since the company’s position in its home smartphone market has traditionally been very strong. 

The rest of the field, if you’re interested, is made up with Sony Ericsson (11 percent), Huawei (11 percent) and ZTE (6 percent). It seems the Asian manufacturers are really making inroads, even in unfamiliar markets.