How Nokia Brand Licensee HMD Global Is Trying to Compete in India

Nokia brand licensee HMD Global has launched a number of smartphones and feature phones in India in 2021. Although the Finnish company continued its trend of delivering a pure software experience, it brought models such as the Nokia C20 Plus, Nokia 110 4G, and the newly launched Nokia XR20 that are aimed to attract young consumers. The company also has Nokia brand accessories including truly wireless stereo (TWS) earbuds to complement its smartphones. The growing presence of Nokia phones and accessories is aimed to bring the legacy brand back to the Indian market. But has it succeeded towards the aim?

On this week’s episode of Gadgets 360 podcast Orbital, host Akhil Arora along with Senior Reviewer Aditya Shenoy talk with HMD Global Vice President for India and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Sanmeet Singh Kochhar to understand the company’s achievements and learn how it is trying to triumph against the fierce competition coming from Chinese players including Realme and Xiaomi.

Kochhar talks about the Nokia C, Nokia G, and Nokia X series that HMD Global has brought as a replacement to its earlier numeric range of smartphones. While the Nokia C series is targeted at first-time smartphone users, the Nokia G series carries unique features such as two–three days of battery life and software updates promise. The Nokia X series, on the other hand, is designed to push the boundaries and include support for technologies such as 5G connectivity, the executive says.

He also points out that HMD Global considers the Rs. 10,000–16,000 bracket as an important market segment. It already has models including the Nokia 3.4, Nokia 5.4, Nokia G10, Nokia G20, and the Nokia C30 in that segment.

However, instead of planning to bring a massive range of phones quite aggressively — something that we have so far seen with the likes of Realme, Oppo, and Xiaomi — HMD Global wants to focus on both software and hardware as its unique selling points (USPs).

“We have a very different take to this we believe while hardware innovations are important and are going to continue to move forward with that. But at the same time, software, security, privacy, all of these aspects play a very, very important role,” Kochhar tells us.

The executive also notes that apart from smartphones, HMD Global also has a strong base in the 2G feature phone market in India.

Last year, the company introduced the Nokia 5310 XpressMusic (2020) as its feature phone that was targeted at music lovers and people looking at digital detox. Kochhar says that thousands of the Nokia 5310 XpressMusic (2020) units were sold online.

To bring a distinctive experience to the market, HMD Global recently launched the Nokia XR20 as its rugged phone. Kochhar encourages our podcast listeners to experience the ruggedness of the phone by dropping it in real life.

“We have demo phones [Nokia XR20] in select stores. I would encourage you to go there… hold that device in your hand, try to drop it on the floor,” he says.

In the coming days, HMD Global is planning to launch the Nokia T20 tablet in India. Kochhar tells us that the launch will happen “around the Diwali timeframe.” The tablet debuted globally just earlier this month.

HMD Global has been manufacturing its phones for some time. Kochhar says that the Nokia C3, Nokia C01 Plus, and the Nokia C20 Plus were the phones that were not just manufactured locally in the country but were also designed specifically for the Indian market. He adds that the company is also looking to export its locally made phones to other markets in the coming future.

We also talk about how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted HMD Global and the smartphone market as a whole. Additionally, the discussion touches upon how the company is working towards retaining consumers’ trust and value on the Nokia brand. You can catch all this and listen to our full conversation with Kochhar by pressing the play button on the embedded player above.

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