Nokia to Close New York, Chicago Stores Too

Nokia confirmed Wednesday that it will shut down its two flagship North American retail stores, in New York and Chicago, on the heels of a similar announcement that it will close its store in London.

Since the bulk of consumer purchases in North America are made through wireless operators, Nokia will focus on working with those operators and with retailers like Amazon.com and Best Buy, said Laurie Armstrong, a Nokia spokeswoman.

Nokia didn't say when the U.S. stores will close, but the store on London's Regent Street reportedly will be closed in the first quarter next year.

The stores were designed to "inspire and educate consumers to the benefits of mobility" and broaden the appeal of the Nokia brand, the spokeswoman said. Since the U.S. stores opened in 2006, "consumer awareness in the U.S. has grown substantially," she said.

That may be true, but the awareness has not led to increased sales for Nokia in the region. Nokia sold 25.3 million phones in North America during 2006, but the figure had dropped to 15.7 million in 2008. Nokia is the number-one handset maker worldwide, with about 38 percent market share, but it has only about 8 percent market share in the U.S.

Nokia opened its first flagship store in Moscow in 2005, and planned to open 17 others around the world. Armstrong did not say how many eventually opened or whether they would all be closed. In addition to the flagship stores, Nokia also operates smaller retail stores.

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