HMD Global bets on emotional connect for Nokia’s success in India

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New Delhi: HMD Global is betting heavily on the emotional connect that brand Nokia has had with the masses in the past to sell its new line of Android phones in India. Armed with 10-year rights to market the iconic brand, HMD is confident of soon becoming a part of the top smartphone players in the country.

“Nokia is a people’s brand and we have had a phenomenal legacy. The brand is known to be reliable and trustworthy and it continues to have a strong recall among consumers even today. The new line of smartphones will continue to deliver on that promise,” Nokia India vice president Ajey Mehta told PTI. The company hopes to be among the top smartphone players in the country soon, he added.

But will emotional connect be enough to compete in the world’s second largest telecom market? “We have seen a tremendous response to the new 3310 that we launched last week. We want to leverage the values of Nokia and script the next chapter,” Mehta said. HMD is focusing strongly on the millennials with strong design and rich feature sets, he said.

India is one of the fastest growing smartphone markets globally. As per International Data Corporation (IDC), smartphone sales grew 4.7% to 27 million units in the January-March period compared to the previous quarter. Samsung continued to dominate the market with 28.1% share. Xiaomi followed with 14.2% while Vivo, Lenovo and Oppo had 10.5%, 9.5% and 9.3% share, respectively.

HMD has chosen the sub-Rs 15,000 category to launch three smartphones. The devices will be manufactured by Foxconn in India, sold under the Nokia brand. This category—which is growing at a steady pace—is also witnessing fierce competition with the likes of Samsung, Lenovo (and Motorola), Xiaomi and Vivo lining up a slew of devices.

“We are focused on what the consumers want… While the current lineup is priced between Rs9,000-Rs15,000, going ahead, we will have phones on both sides of this range,” Mehta said.

Once a dominant player in the Indian market, some time around 2012, Nokia began to see a downfall in its market share, hurt by its slow response to changing trends like dual SIM, touch screen smartphones. This was also the time when homegrown firms like Micromax and others like Samsung began to eat into Nokia’s market share, leaving it with under 10% share at the end of 2012.

In 2011, Nokia announced its partnership with Microsoft to bring out Windows operating system-based smartphones. In 2014, Nokia sold its mobile phones business to Microsoft for $7.2 billion. Last year, Microsoft sold the feature phone business to HMD Global and contract manufacturer Foxconn for $350 million.

HMD Global, in a separate arrangement with Nokia, said it will bring out Android-based smartphones. Nokia 3 and Nokia 5 smartphones will be available in India only through retail stores for Rs9,499 and Rs12,899, respectively.

Nokia 3 will be available from 16 June while Nokia 5 will be up for grabs for pre-booking from 7 July. Nokia 6—the flagship—is priced at Rs14,999 and will go for pre-booking from 14 July, exclusively on Amazon. In India, HMD has partnered with 400 exclusive distributors reaching over 80,000 retail points.