JioPhone effect: Nokia may soon foray into 4G feature phone market in India
Mehta said that the feature-phone category is very important for the Nokia brand because of its potential size in India. Nokia does have four feature phones in India, including the new-generation 3310 device.
NEW DELHI: HMD Global, the maker of Nokia-badged feature- and smart-phones, may soon enter the emerging 4G feature-phone segment that is getting a huge push from JioPhone of Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Ji.
“JioPhone is definitely going to have an impact on the segment, and there is no question about it. We are watching how this materializes. If we see a viable business proposition, we will definitely consider it and participate,” said Ajey Mehta, India VP for HMD Global.
Mehta said that the feature-phone category is very important for the Nokia brand because of its potential size in India. Nokia does have four feature phones in India, including the new-generation 3310 device. “If there is a business opportunity, for sure we are open to it…in that [feature phone] category, our brand is very strong,” he added.
According to Hong Kong-based Counterpoint Research, 24 million 4G feature-phones are likely to be shipped by the end of this year.
In the open handset market, home-bred player Lava has already launched its 4G feature-phone, while it’s bigger rival, Micromax will soon launch its 4G feature-phone in a tie-up with state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam (BSNL). The tie-up offers include free voice plans.
Currently, Qualcomm and Spreadtrum are providing chipsets for 4G feature-phones in the country. Both companies separately told ET that multiple Indian and Chinese OEMs and ODMs have plans to launch 4G feature-phones using their chipsets.
Nokia, once the largest handset brand, re-entered India with Android-based smart-phones, looking to establish itself as one of the top three smart-phone player, leveraging the brand’s reputation.
The executive said that customer response has been positive.
HMD Global, which last week launched its flagship smart-phone Nokia 8 in India, now expects a 40-50% increase in handset sales during the festive season. “We have already seen a healthy traction,” he added.
The company is planning a large distribution drive, supported by marketing campaigns, to drive festive season sales. “We have offers for trade and consumers. We have very aggressive budgets for marketing and promotion this season,” Mehta said.
The executive said that competition continues to be very intense in India, but the brand is ready to tackle it. “We are not scared of competition, we are happy to take it on.”