Indian Financial Express did a nice interview with the HMD Global vice president Sanmeet Kochhar who gave some insights on Nokia Mobile’s plans for India and the world in 2021. The year 2020 was tough for Nokia Mobile. Even though they had logistical problems, the shipments improved in Q4 2020. It seems that Nokia 5.3 was welcomed well, but there were a lot of affordable smartphones shipped for carriers and the Chinese market too. That didn’t help much to the Nokia brand, which is now 15th in the phone industry but is still alive and can do some kicking if governed well.
Kochhar told that they are back at 100% manufacturing capacity and are still very committed to the Make in India initiative. Nokia Mobile is already manufacturing 100% of its devices for the local market in India. They rely on multiple partners there, some local, and some foreign like Taiwanese Foxconn that has factories in Chennai. For the launch of Nokia C3, Nokia Mobile worked with an Indian partner, and there will be more devices coming in that are manufactured by Indian partners, like Lava for example.
That way Nokia Mobile can work on improving the transport and expand their distribution in India, and now have 700 plus distribution partners. This opportunity will be used to make India an important source for their exports.
He also mentioned that Nokia Mobile is working on devices that are customized for the Indian market, and that Nokia Mobile is planning on launching more affordable 5G devices in 2021.
He mentioned that they rely on different partners including Google, Qualcomm, Nokia, and others in the ecosystem, so they don’t need to start setting up their own factories. When asked about the differentiation factor of Nokia devices, Kochhar told that the differentiation lies in having better, future-proof software.
This is something that I find troubling since relying solely on software as a differentiating factor is not good. The only thing Nokia devices are currently being recognized for is the design and the usage of Android One, and we all know how buggy that software is. Some nice software solutions are coming from Nokia, Google, and Zeiss, but the hardware should be also explored more and invested in since Nokia smartphones are becoming inferior to its competition in that segment.
Nokia is a strong brand, but Nokia Mobile needs to invest in its reputation and the only way to do that is to make good phones that stand out from the rest in durability, quality and good hardware components.