Two of the biggest surprises in mobile have been Nokia (NOK 2.07%) and BlackBerry (BB 1.02%). The two seemingly forgotten wireless handset pioneers befuddled skeptics as they rallied in the latter half of 2012 to hit fresh 52-week highs in January.
Shares of Nokia and BlackBerry have fallen sharply since those January highs, but both stocks have still more than doubled off of last year's lows.
Was that it? Was the push to unexpected highs at a time when fundamentals for both companies were in states of decline merely a sucker's rally?
At least one analyst sees it that way.
MKM Partners analyst Michael Genovese offered some uninspiring survey results. Most consumers in the MKM-commissioned survey have little to no interest in either platform in the smartphone space.
To be fair, Genovese is a bear on both stocks. He has "sell" ratings on both, tagging BlackBerry with a $10 price target and feeling that Nokia's stock will go as low as $3.
However, the survey itself is still problematic.
More than half of the survey participants currently have a smartphone, but just 3.4% of those own a BlackBerry and an even more anemic 1.6% have a Nokia smartphone.
We know why BlackBerry and Nokia are fringe players here. Apple breathed new life into the smartphone market with the iPhone and Google's Android is the platform of choice given the open-source nature of the OS that makes handsets cheap and plentiful, along with developer support that now rivals Apple's iOS. Android and iOS powered 86.4% of the smartphone-toting respondents' devices.
The good news -- for BlackBerry -- is that 5.9% of the total survey pool expect to buy a BlackBerry as their first or next smartphone. Nokia can't catch a break here, with just 0.7% singling out Nokia.
Then again, maybe the consumers just aren't as enlightened as one would think. Even after Microsoft (MSFT 3.20%) and Nokia have spent a ton of dough marketing Nokia's line of Windows Phone-based Lumia smartphones, 81% of the people surveyed had no idea that Nokia had a Windows 8 phone.
It's hard to claw your way back to relevance when people just don't know that you're there. Expect the tough times to continue for BlackBerry and Nokia until they prove that they can actually make market share inroads.