A decade ago, smartphones proved to be its Achilles’ heel. Now, the handset band is haunted once again, by the same animal it failed to tame.
Almost two years after Nokia returned to India in a new avatar and with a new owner—HMD Global—the iconic Finnish handset brand has slipped to its lowest smartphone market share.
Long-term objective remains to be among the top smartphone players in the world. The growth, has been very good, and the brand is happy with its penetration in some key global markets.
Feature phones, or those that have access to Internet but are not as advanced as smartphones, seem to be a critical part of Nokia’s business strategy. Nokia will continue to innovate and bring compelling products for consumers who need such devices.
The game, however, doesn’t lie in feature phones. “The volume and value is in smartphones,” says Navkender Singh, research director at IDC India. Nokia, unfortunately, has missed the bus, and could find it very hard to catch up.
Nokia, reckon handset experts, is paying the price of being a ‘perfectionist’ in its second avatar. The company has believed in optimal engineering, akin to typical European brands, says Faisal Kawoosa, founder and chief analyst at techARC. “However, consumers do not look at things that way. They want to buy more for less”.
So when a potential consumer scouts for a smartphone online, he or she uses filters such as RAM, memory and camera specs to take a call. Within specs, RAM tops the order. In this scenario, even if Nokia’s smartphones are optimally designed, they will not peck the order when a user is looking for a smartphone. Obviously, this goes to the advantage of competition. Nokia, he adds, has to work on educating consumers why ‘more is not always the best’. “If they succeed in doing so, they will definitely see an increase in the sales”.
Nokia, meanwhile, is banking on its unique selling proposition of devices that are secure and up-to-date. “We’ve made it a point to be one of the fastest adopters of the latest Android operating systems,” says the spokesperson. Android 9 Pie includes AI-powered features to make the device smarter, faster and adapt to the user’s behaviour. “Your smartphone experience gets better over time,”
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