HMD Global launched the Nokia 8 in India yesterday. The fourth smartphone coming from the company’s portfolio now seeks to compete in the premium segment, which is dominated by the likes of Samsung, OnePlus, and Apple. While Samsung and Apple still continue to fight in the upper premium category, the likes of OnePlus has been able to get the price and feature combination right and hence, has become one of the most selling brands in the country. Enter (rather re-enter) Nokia; a brand which vanished from the phone space only to come back years later with Android running at its heart. But how much has the market changed, and where does Nokia fit in? BGR India got into a conversation with Ajey Mehta, HMD Global Vice President and Country Head, India, and Larry Paulson, Vice President and President of Qualcomm India on the sidelines of the Nokia 8 India launch, and here’s what they have to say about the Indian smartphone market, affordable processors, consumer mindset, and the latest industry trend. Also Read - Nokia XR20 launched in India at Rs 46,999: It is the toughest Nokia phone everAlso Read - HMD Global confirms Nokia XR20 is coming to India soon: Check expected launch date, more
Brand Nokia re-entered the smartphone space with the launch of its Nokia 3, Nokia 5, and Nokia 6 smartphones earlier this year. These smartphones along with the Nokia 3310 redux entered the Indian market amidst an outpour of nostalgia. After the affordable range, HMD Global now introduced the Nokia 8, which sits in the mid-range segment with a price tag of Rs 36,999. While the company is tight-lipped about how much of the fan following has reflected into numbers, it has a positive feedback about the eight-months of its journey with the Nokia brand, and related partnerships in the mobile market. Also Read - Nokia launches an affordable tablet: Check specifications, price, India launch details, more
“The reception has been fantastic. It s been a very warm reception. Be it from the customers who have given fantastic NPS scores or the ecosystem partners, including distributors, retailers, partners, operators, such as Qualcomm, Amazon, or Carl ZEISS, the response has been overwhelming,” says Mehta. ALSO READ: Nokia 8 first impressions: Comeback of the flagship brand with a flagship phone
In contrast to the global markets, Indian consumers are fragmented. There’s significant, if not equal, demand for feature phones, as there is for smartphones. Similarly, given the price-driven nature of the Indian consumers, there’s a need to cater to the various segments, ranging from budget to mid-range, premium and upper premium category. Amidst this, for top chipmaker Qualcomm the strategy is not to cater to a particular segment but build products that can be upgraded as per the need of the time while keeping the competition in mind. ALSO READ: Nokia smartphones will soon be made in India: HMD Global
“Our strategy at Qualcomm is to align with the market. We know that the market is segmented. HMD Global and Nokia are delivering to that segmentation. Our strategy is to participate in the segmentation. We push power down. We work from high to low over time. So what you see in a Snapdragon 800 processor in 2017, you ll probably see it in a 680 with a whole new level functionality. So just like a lot of consumer products, what you see in entry level television or automobile, we have a baseline quality, performance, functionality, which will support a good display technology, and so on,” Paulson explained.
Paulson further talked about how the Indian market is segmented and there’s a demand for each type of mobile device that adds to the competition. “What we find in Indian market is that it is segmented. It is more segmented than perhaps it gets noticed. There s a substantial entry-level market. What we have learnt over time is that India is on a journey as people start using the internet and start using the imaging and multimedia, they actually will prioritize spending to go up. So the good thing about India is that now you have got the penetration demographic as substantial. Even if it is the feature phone space, there s fragmentation. They will want camera, music, and so on. I guess there are differences in the Indian market which are well defined by the makeup of it, but then there are similarities as well,” he added. ALSO READ: 5 reasons why Nokia is poised for a comeback in the Indian smartphone market
According to a Counterpoint research earlier this year, the average selling price of smartphones in India rose by three percent to $122 (approximately Rs 8,000) on-year after declining every year since 2013. However, for a brand like Nokia to re-establish itself in a market which has always been among its top markets, the challenge is to cater to the consumer needs while maintaining market competition.
“I think the great thing about India is that you have a diverse set of consumers. If you look at the number of customers point of view, of course, the mid-market segment is the large segment. But you have the consumer who is interested in the flagship as well. So you have the whole set. If you look at the numbers, it is the mid-market between Rs 8,000 to Rs 15,000 where 60 percent of the sales are happening. Having said that, for a country so large, even if you are a small percentage of the overall base, the absolute numbers are huge. As you know we are the second largest and the fastest growing smartphone market in the world, and that s the reason why there s so much competition and so much activity in the smartphone market, apart from the opportunity in the feature phone market. All this packed together makes India a very exciting place to be today,” Mehta said. RELATED: The Nokia 8 gets the pricing right, but just how right is it?
While HMD Global is finally appears to be getting its price and flagship features equation right in the country, is the company looking at following the industry trends as well? The Nokia 8 brings in top-line features such as dual cameras, stock Android, enhanced display, advanced processor. However, it does not include that one feature which has been dominant this year – bezel-less display. When asked if the company will introduce a bezel-less Nokia phone anytime soon, Mehta concluded the conversation with a cliffhanger, “Stay tuned.” RELATED: Nokia 9 leak yet again hints at dual-camera setup, 3D bezel-less display