NEW DELHI: Nokia, once the leader in the feature phones market, is set to make a fresh push in the category as the company prepares to make a dash for the fast-growing, but low-cost, 4G devices business, targeting mobile companies such as Reliance Jio, Airtel and Vodafone.
The company, now owned by HMD Global, has been in the market for a few months, but has realised quickly that action will be hectic in the entry feature phone market, especially after Jio launched its new 4G-internet device priced at Rs 1,500.
“Feature phone is a critical category… and we see (mobile) operators as a partner here,” Ajey Mehta, India VP for HMD Global, told TOI here. “There is sizeable volume in this segment, roughly 10 million devices monthly. Nokia has traditionally been strong here, and there is huge opportunity.”
Nokia does have four feature phones in India, including the new-generation 3310 device, but these lack 4G capabilities. Market analysts say that with absence of a 4G feature device, at a time when mobile operators are aggressively focusing on the category, will hit Nokia’s chances.
“We are working on it… We are talking to Jio, Airtel, and Vodafone for 4G VOLTE devices. We are exploring all opportunities, ” Mehta said, adding that a device may be expected soon. “It could be in the coming months.”
Apart from feature phones, HMD (which holds the global rights to market Nokia brand), also sells smartphones in India that run on Google‘s Android operating system.
The devices are manufactured in India, at the factory of Taiwanese contract maker Foxconn, and are priced upwards of Rs 9,500 (for the Nokia3 device). The company on Tuesday launched its flagship phones, the Nokia 8, that has been priced at Rs 36,999.
Mehta said that demand has been there for the company’s smartphones, despite heavy competition. However, he did not share absolute sales numbers.
HMD Global, which holds the rights for Nokia brand name, aims to rank among the top smartphone players in the next 3-5 years in India as it works towards restoring the old glory of the iconic label.