Android may rejuvenate Nokia

Venkatesh Ganesh Bangalore | Updated on March 10, 2014


Will enable the company to tap sub-₹10,000 segment

While analysts are not calling the Nokia X Series smartphones a gamechanger, they are upbeat about Microsoft’s strategy to tap into the sub-₹10,000 phone segment.

In the age of smartphones powered by Google’s Android operating system, Microsoft seems to have half acknowledged that if it has to succeed in phones, it makes sense to ride on Google’s open technology.

The company launched the Nokia X smartphones, which for the first time are using Android’s open-source software, and are priced in direct competition with Samsung, Sony and Indian phonemakers such as Lava, Karbonn and Micromax.

The Android open source software, which has minimal licensing requirements, is used on a wide array of mobile devices with different form factors. The X Series announcement, which was first made at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last month, had received mixed responses from analysts.

Tony Cripps of Ovum seems to have concerns around how the X-range of smartphones will tilt the balance in favour of Microsoft. However, he believes that Nokia’s strength in emerging markets will help the company get back its lost glory and, more importantly, further the cause of adoption of Windows phones in India.

However, others believe that this is a masterstroke from Microsoft. “There are no Windows Phones at the ₹8,500 range and in emerging markets if you do not have a sub-₹10,000 phone, you will be off the radar,” says Sanchit Gogia, an analyst with Greyhound Research.

Affordability is key

Multinational and Indian companies have used the Android route to build smartphones in a market were the majority of users seem to veer towards affordable phones.

Talking to Business Line, Nokia India Sales Director Raghuvesh Sarup said the need for an affordable smartphone that can meet user needs, such as quality apps, free music streaming and access to Nokia Maps, is an opportunity for Nokia, which enjoys good brand equity in India.

Narrowing price gaps

“Growth in the smartphone market is being propelled by the launch of low-end, cost competitive devices by international and local vendors, which are further narrowing the price gaps that exist between feature phones and smartphones,” says Manasi Yadav, Senior Market Analyst with IDC India.

The hunger for smartphones in India is growing and this is reflected in the numbers. According to International Data Corporation, in 2013 the smartphone market surpassed 44 million units, up from 16.2 million in 2012, making it one of the fastest growing markets globally.

Published on March 10, 2014

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