With increasing competition and dwindling sales figures, Nokia has in recent times been searching for segments in which to focus its resources in India.
A top Nokia executive recently defined the company’s focus areas as the less than-Rs 6,000 handsets with S40 being the desired platform and internet connectivity an important feature.
More detailed strategy emerged when Steven Elop, the chief executive officer of Nokia, visited India recently.
One thing is clear: that India is a market for dual-SIM devices and Nokia cannot ignore this. And the reason of this focus is very clear: the six or seven dual SIM phones that Nokia has launched in India so far have been fairly successful.
“All our dual SIM launches are doing well and we are witnessing rocketing sales. These launches have also had a halo effect on our single-SIM phones. India has shown that brand plus team plus great execution can deliver strong results,” Elop told a media gathering.
Elop attributed the success of Nokia in the dual SIM category to easy swap technology, which allows the phones to remember up to five different SIM cards and users don’t even need to pull the battery out or put the device off to switch SIMs. Also, the success of these phones has had to do with Nokia’s wide distribution network in India.
Elop clarified the Indian strategy for smartphones and stressed on the need to be present at all the price points of the smartphone market and especially at the lower end of the spectrum. This clearly means that Nokia will look at making cheaper Windows Phone 7 devices, but till then lower end smartphones from the company will be based on Symbian, which Elop has decided to make significant investment in till 2015.
Elop said, “We are all part of this group that is interested and all willing to spend a lot of money. But frankly from an economic perspective, part of the race that we will see in the Indian phone market is the extent to which you can get broader coverage of price points—to the extent that if you can get that lower-cost smartphone that meets the aspirations of an individual while at the same time keeping the price well down.”
Jasmeet Gandhi, head of services marketing and devices, Nokia India, had said last week that Nokia will restrict its use of Windows Phone 7 and developer ecosystem for feature rich smartphones for now.
Gandhi also added, “The low-end phones, which are priced below Rs 6,000, would have S40 (Series 40) platform to let users access web-based applications. It will be our focus area for some time to come.”
This would leave a big gap in Nokia’s portfolio, which can only be filled by Symbian devices. Symbian has already seen two major updates in the past two months in the form of Anna and Belle.
Elop did not, however, share the tablet roadmap for Nokia but did hint that the company is interested in the segment. However, Nokia’s strategy could be different when it comes to bigger devices. As he said, “We do believe that peoples’ expectations are that they have a digital experience that crosses different environments— smartphone, tablets, televisions, set-top-boxes, gaming platforms, and in some markets a PC is very important.”
Could this mean Nokia will have something of a converged form of all these devices? Only time will tell, as Elop didn’t.