Nokia tries to regain lead in smartphones: Can Lumia 610 do it?

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Nokia is going full throttle to emerge as the leader in the smartphones business with a flurry of launches. It recently unveiled yet another member in the Lumia family, the Lumia 610. The Nokia Lumia smartphone series saw two earlier launches in December 2011, the Lumia 710 and 800 and has windows operating system, differentiating it from the Symbian operating system that other Nokia phones have.

Targeted at youngsters, the Lumia 610 is preloaded with a new feature called the Mix Radio, where the user can stream regional and international music free of cost. Nokia also claims that users can access 40 lakh tracks across different genres to play radio stations in an offline mode too.

Vipul Mehrotra, Director and Head of smart devices, Nokia India

Vipul Mehrotra, Director and Head of smart devices, Nokia India

Challenging Samsung openly, Nokia also hosted an aggressive campaign to regain its position as a strong Smartphone player with the ‘blown away by Lumia challenge’, which put competitor Samsung Galaxy directly in competition with Nokia Lumia. According to Nielsen Lumia won 94 percent of the total number of challenges in the picture competition. Thus, Nokia is trying hard to regain its leadership position in this industry, which is seeing Samsung taking the lead.

Ground realities
Why is Nokia trying to work so hard for regaining its position in the market? According to Cyber Media Research reports (January-March 2012), Nokia is placed at number two at 25.5 per cent in the market share for Smartphones in India. Samsung leads at 40.4 percent and at the third position is RIM, the makers of Blackberry at 12.3 per cent market share. The total India Smartphone sales touched 2.7 million units during January-March 2012.

Nokia is thus looking at expanding its consumer base with a youth-centric model. “Nokia caters to all segments, India is basically a country which has a very young demography, 50 percent of the population is under 30 years, so youth is the main segment for any mass market brand in the country and we are no different. But yes we are targeting the youth with the 610, we believe it is best in class at this point of time with its features and will compete with the mainline brands,” says Kaustuv Chatterjee, Head Product Marketing, Nokia India.

According to the CMR report, the Indian mobile handsets market grows in maturity, the needs of users are clearly seen to be converging around two major form factors high-power, high-speed Smartphones vis-à-vis value-plus, content-enabled feature phones. While most players are strong in a particular category, Samsung and others have been able to maintain a strong presence across the spectrum, driven mainly by innovation, quick time-to-market and a segmented approach, players like Motorola and Sony have clearly chosen to stay in the ‘high value’ Smartphones segment, which accounts for just 5.3 per cent of shipments but added up to as much as 23.4 per cent of the market value in the first quarter 2012.

About Lumia’s promotion Vipul Mehrotra, Director Smart Devices, Nokia India, says that the media mix is not going to be different for the 610 than the other devices, Nokia is going to be in digital and television among other places, it tends to target the social media and on ground activations in the youth hangouts for the product to make people aware of the new member in the Lumia family. “As far as we have seen the data consumption is two to three times more with the Lumia devices therefore we know people are buying the devices,” he says.

Picture this
Will the Windows operating system be enough to pull the young crowd? Faizal Kawoosa, Senior Manager, Research and Consulting, Cyber Media Research, gives a detailed view and says that Windows has been something that everybody is fond of. It gives a good experience and everyone knows about it. It’s been there for a while now so the youth might not be pulled towards it. The youth these days are more experienced users of the internet and stay connected through their phones rather than the PC, on the other hand the older people have always used windows on a PC therefore this phone might give them a chance of experiencing windows on a phone, but all this leaves the youth confused. The youth need applications and internet on the go, the operating system is secondary for them.

Nokia has definitely widened its target segment with a windows phone at this rate, but the challenges that it might face is that windows does not allow any localised apps to run on it. Secondly Nokia came out with its Smartphone series very late in the day where other players like Samsung and RIM had already created a buzz. “The drawbacks of the Lumia 610 are that it does not have enough RAM and does not come with an external memory card slot therefore it is not upgradable. Rest assured it is pegged at a very competitive price,” Kawoosa adds.

Peshwa Acharya, VP & Head-Marketing & Consumer Experience, Reliance Retail

Peshwa Acharya, VP & Head-Marketing & Consumer Experience, Reliance Retail

Peshwa Acharya, Telecom Expert, says that the people have moved up to using Android and Apple phones these days, Nokia is not being able to use its full potential, hence the brand is losing its sheen. Most of the retail outlets today are multi brand where one gets a choice of different products, Nokia needs to up the competition with other Android based phones in India.

Lumia is basically a windows phone, which is the biggest USP of the brand, people connect with windows. “The suggestion that I will give Nokia is that they need to engage the customers in the retail stores and not only stick to priority outlets, which have fantastic locations in cities and towns. These priority stores have their customer care experts who should be out there in the retail stores prodding the consumers to buy Nokia instead of other brands,” he adds.

What is going wrong?
The youth market is going in for Android based phones or iOS, they are not using Symbian or Lava or Annabelle. iOS is very expensive, therefore Android is able to capture the market because it caters to everyone, it has an offering from a Rs 5,000 Micromax to a Rs 30,000 Samsung S II.

Acharya thinks that the 610 that gives a Windows platform is basically for those who use Microsoft office, youngsters have no use of Excel Sheets Power Points or Word when they are on the move,   therefore Nokia foraying into the youth with Lumia is a mistake, every other phone has social networking, games apps, camera and entertainment. He says that this phone is special because it had a Microsoft platform, but it won’t work with the youth as such. “Being priced at Rs 12,999, not only the young but more older people will also pick it up since they are getting the windows platform at a cheaper price. But in the process Nokia is denting its own image of Lumia by keeping such a price tag,” he adds.

Rizwan Memon, Community and Products Manager, Techtree.com has a different view, he says, “Nokia Lumia 610 will be competing with itself, the 710 is around Rs 1500-2000 costlier than 610 and gives more features, maybe if the price could have been lower, a windows phone would have been a hit and seen volume sales.”

“At this price it is very competitive and might work with the youth that Nokia is trying to target, the Lumia might be the cheapest windows phone officially launched in the Indian market as the others windows phones of the same price range is available but have not seen an official entry,” he adds.

Faisal Kawoosa, Senior Manager, Research and Consulting, Cyber Media Research

Faisal Kawoosa, Senior Manager, Research and Consulting, Cyber Media Research

A ‘Dark’ touch to Lumia 800
Nokia also announced the launch of its collaboration with Warner Brothers for ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ movie, Nokia launched 200 Lumia 800 Smartphones with the Batman logo etched on the back. The Smartphone is preloaded with trailers, applications and a game related to the movie franchise and is pegged at a price of Rs 24,999. From the 1st of July to the 31st of July Nokia is letting the consumers who buy a Lumia Smartphone get a chance to win movie tickets to the movie and own an entire theatre for a day. Consumers also get Dark Knight goodies when they purchase Lumia Phones.

Acharya comments on the same by saying that these are marketing gimmicks that keeps happening in the advertising world to make the brand visible to a certain target audience. It helps in brand building but is a normal marketing venture that happens every other day. Memon refutes and says “The Dark Knight Rises Lumia 800, is like a collector’s item, therefore Nokia does not need any volume sales for it, and it’s a fair price for those who are movie enthusiasts.”

Faizal Kawoosa says that a Smartphone will not only provide connectivity but is also meant for high end gaming and entertainment, which in the Indian context might not work. The apps and the themes need to be localized in future, even though there are a lot of fans of TDKR but in the Indian scenario if they come out with more Bollywood content, such ventures might work. “At the end of the day a Smartphone is an experience, it should be smart, if one looks a t Samsung it allows a lot of local apps on Android platform that is appreciated by a local user,” he adds.

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