By: Faisal Kawoosa,Lead Analyst, CyberMedia Research
HMD needs to leverage on the strong vast installed base using Nokia Featurephones throughout the country
Once again HMD has shown that it has all the attitude of a start-up. While a couple of strong brands reached to the launch of their Android Oreo Go based Smartphones targeting the first time Smartphone users in sub INR 3,000 price segment, they had only to abort the launches at the last minute.
Nokia 1 Go edition is not just significant from exhibition of technology capabilities that HMD has showcased by launching lite yet powerful Smartphone. It is a fundamental breakthrough for Nokia to resurrect in the Smartphone era.
For India, Nokia 1 is going to be a paramount thing for HMD. While it is addressing all segments by launching Smartphones in different price segments, this base level phone has its own significance. India shipped 57% of mobile phones – Feature as well as Smart in 2017 priced under Rs 5,000. At the same time, there are estimated 500 million Featurephone users in the country, of which 200 million could be pushed to an entry level Smartphone and converted into ‘voice and data’ subscribers from the present ‘voice only’ users. These 200 million subscribers upgrade shall not, however, happen in a single year but over a period of couple of years.
Nokia is 2nd in India in Featurephones by installed base. That means, in terms of actual Featurephones being used by subscribers, Nokia is still popular among the subscribers. These would include all Featurephones under brand ‘Nokia’ through various owning companies, from Nokia to Microsoft to HMD.
HMD has set the early mover’s advantage in this space and with its strong brand position throughout the country, it could be among the frontrunner brands not only leveraging from Featurephone to Smartphone switch, but also lead India in its digitalisation drive, which is of less significance if all segments are not brought on to the enabled side of the digital divide, for which a mobile phone with smart capabilities is essential.
Nokia is 1st by installed base in one-third of the Featurephone market in India and at the same time, 2nd in remaining two-thirds. The only exception is Madhya Pradesh, where it ranks 4th. In some states, where it is 1st, like Kerala, it has a strong market share than its next competing brands. In Kerala, its share in installed Featurephones is 55%.
The operators have already started collaborating with the handset makers in what could be termed as ‘Strategic Bundling’. Nokia has now to forge alliances with operators to take Nokia 1 to the potential segments and bring the subscribers on to the data networks. The only ‘spoiler’ for their prospects could be Jio as it is convinced with JioPhone being the answer to add smartness in a limited way to the potential users coming for the first time from the Featurephone segment. However, users, essentially in India demand manoeuvrability across price segments and do not appreciate the ‘closed’ enablement. The closed enablement was already rejected by the Indian subscribers long back when Nokia through Asha series tried to give voice plus environment for users who weren’t able to buy fully capable Smartphones.
Let’s hope HMD is able to build all the enabling layers over Nokia 1, so that it achieves the desired as well as potential results. This should not only be encouraging for HMD but other brands to follow and speed up their pace of having Android Oreo Go based Smartphones sooner.