HMD’s CEO Florian Seiche gave an interesting interview for the Indian edition of Forbes. The last 2 weeks were really intensive for HMD Global in India, because of the launch event of Nokia 5.1 Plus and 6.1 Plus, and the sales start of Nokia 6.1 Plus. India as country is HMD’s biggest market by volume. It’s second only to Europe in Nokia Mobile’s regional split, so it’s clear why Nokia Mobile is pretty invested in that market.
HMD’s CEO said that India is a highly specs to price oriented market, and that compared to Western Europe, customers in India change their mobile device more often. Nokia Mobile doesn’t want to “tactically compete with the Chinese in terms of specs”, meaning that HMD cannot offer all their device at such an aggressive price, because the company also focuses on design and build quality, or as Mr. Seiche said: “Our key USP is the quality of the phone.” – further explaining that “hardware quality and lifetime quality promise are our biggest differentiators.” He claims that HMD cannot build long term sustainable business if the company goes just for “specs to price” devices, but instead focuses on fundamentals. HMD’s CEO also said that they need to communicate Nokia phones differentiation factors more, and with that I agree.
In terms of 4G feature phones, something interesting was said. HMD is still examining the potential of 4G feature phones. The growth we see is driven by Jio’s customer acquisition, says Seiche, but the bigger trend is customers moving to smartphones. The Nokia 8110 4G will be launched in India, but it will be priced premium and won’t compete with Jio phone.
On the question what did Florian learn as being the CEO, he said that “No 1 learning is about the speed of execution”. “You can talk many strategies, you can talk as much as you want but the only thing that matters is what are you actually able to get out in the market, ” explains Mr. Seiche. I agree here and HMD had problems with executing and getting the devices quickly to market. The leadership is aware of that, and I hope it will be fixed with future launches.
The interview is interesting and I recommend reading it in full at Forbes India.