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Nokia Eyes to Dethrone Samsung in India With Its Differentiated Approach

Nokia, with all the nostalgia and clever marketing, is gearing up to regain market share quickly with the hope to ultimately be the leader again.

Debashis Sarkar | News18.com@SarkDeb

Updated:June 14, 2017, 1:20 PM IST
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Nokia Eyes to Dethrone Samsung in India With Its Differentiated Approach
(Image: Debashis Sarkar/News18.com)
In its hay days, Nokia ruled the mobile market in India. After its slow demise, Samsung took over to be the smartphone market leader and still continues to dominate the top 5 brand list. While several brands joined the race to defeat Samsung, they could barely manage to hold their fortresses in between the no.2 and no. 5 positions.

Nokia, with all the nostalgia and clever marketing, is gearing up to regain market share quickly with the hope to ultimately be the leader again.

Interestingly, during the Nokia Android phone launch in India, the company did not speak about the hardware specifications of the Nokia Android smartphones, not even for once. Nokia wants the hardware ‘spec-war’ to take the back seat. But are consumers eager to go beyond the obsession over specs?

WATCH VIDEO: Nokia 6,5,3 India Launch




Pranav Shroff, Director-- Portfolio, Strategy And Planning, HMD Global in an exclusive interaction with Debashis Sarkar of News18.com share how Nokia is looking at the smartphone market right now and the strategy it is adopting. Excerpts…

Nokia seems to be too late to join the Android party. Also, Nokia needs to showcase real innovation and not just bank on nostalgia to survive. Any comments?

There is no better time than now for Nokia to introduce Android smartphones. If you just see the Indian market, in the beginning of 2016, Samsung was the market leader. Then there was four Indian brands which existed in the top five list. I call them MILK—Micromax, Intex, Karbonn and Lava. Now by the end of 2016, Samsung retained its leadership position at almost the same market share. But the four Indian brands, MILK, were replace by the Chinese brands, which I call LOVE—Lenovo, Oppo, Vivo and (E)Xiaomi.

Also read: Nokia 6, 5, Nokia 3 Launched in India: Here Are The Prices, Specifications and More

If in a year, no. 2 to no. 5 top brands in the country can get completely replaced, this means consumers are clearly saying something and it is definitely not “more specs for less price.” Consumers need a brand they can trust and get the right experience.

In other words, the market needs a differentiated approach as same products from countless brands have confused buyers by selling just spec sheets and not deliver that premium experience in the budget segment.

You said that Nokia is not keen on fighting the spec war. But how can Nokia take on Chinese competitors in the under Rs 15,000 segment without fighting the “more hardware for less price” race?

I completely believe that the “spec war” doesn’t excite consumers. But this doesn’t mean we will not provide the right hardware required for a smooth experience. We want consumers to focus on the overall experience and not just specs.

For example, battery life of a smartphone is the most common concern for consumers. When someone buys a smartphone, the person expects to get at least one full day’s worth of battery. At Nokia, we are saying that we will meet that expectation irrespective of the mAh capacity we provide. The entire experience is based on backend optimisation and not just specs.

Nokia was and is always about simplicity, consumer trust and meaningful innovation. We don’t believe in the spec-sheet eye-wash.

Also read: Apple CEO Tim Cook Confirms Making Self-Driving Cars: Report

Will Nokia only focus on budget smartphones?

Absolutely not. We cannot share any specific details right now but there will be premium offerings from Nokia as well.

Nokia is adopting a healthy mix of both offline and online sales. What is the strategy behind this?

We want to be wherever the consumers are. Nokia has a huge retail network in the country and we simply cannot ignore that. While the Nokia 3 and 5 will be sold offline, the Nokia 6 will be exclusively available on Amazon.in. This will help us to reach more buyers.

Don’t you think stock Android on Nokia phones could be too boring to attract buyers?

It might sound boring but the plain latest Android OS is offered by very few brands at select price points. The best Android experience is offered by either Nexus or Pixel devices. However, these are expensive handsets. We are trying to deliver that same best pure Android experience of the Nexus or Pixel phones on the Nokia 3 or 5 or 6.

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