Before the iPhone debuted in 2007, Nokia was virtually alone in the smartphone world, and ever since then, it (and everyone else) has been chasing Apple. Nokia still sells more mobile phones than any other company, but mostly they are of the feature phone variety that don't have touchscreens and data plans. Nokia announced Jan. 26 they had lost over a billion dollars worth of business in the last three months of 2011, but their new line of Windows Phone-powered Lumia smartphones had sold better than expected, the New York Times reported.

The Finnish company said they had sold one million Lumia 800 and Lumia 710 smartphones since their October 2011 debut. Lumia phones are a partnership between Nokia and Microsoft, and Nokia plans to begin selling their flagship Lumia 900 in the U.S. starting in March. The Lumia phones are being targeted to people who want an alternative to Apple and Android devices, and Nokia plans to spend millions in marketing them, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop told the Times.

In the war of ecosystems, clearly there are some strong contenders already on the field, he said. With Lumia, we have demonstrated that we belong on the field. Our specific intent has been to establish a beachhead in this war of ecosystems, and country by country that is what we are now accomplishing.

Experts who follow these kinds of trends are reportedly saying Nokia will launch itself into the thick of the smartphone war this year by selling six times as many devices as last year. Nokia may even pass BlackBerry in smartphone sales, analysts from International Data Corp told the Times. Furthermore, by 2015, the Windows Phone-powered Nokia phones could be the second largest system in the world.

What people are underestimating is how much operators in Europe and elsewhere are beginning to support and push Windows phones, Franciso Jeronimo, an analyst at I.D.C. Told the Times.

Operators are very afraid of becoming dependent on the Android-Apple duopoly and as a result, they are pushing Nokia devices aggressively on the public.

Tell us in the comments if you've had a Nokia phone and if you think they can challenge Android and Apple.