New Delhi: Finnish handset maker Nokia, which has been losing market share to Apple and Samsung, is seeing growth in sales of its Windows platform based Lumia smartphones in India and has attributed the pick-up in volumes to rising wealth in the country.
"In terms of what is happening in Lumia for us in India, the volumes are picking up quite nicely. We got a broader portfolio in the Indian market from (Lumia) 920 to 620 and 520 and so forth. We are very pleased with the pick up we are seeing with those products in India," Nokia Chief Executive Officer Stephen Elop said here.
The company's net sales globally of smart devices almost halved in first quarter ended March 31, 2013 at 6.1 million units compared to 11.9 million units its sold in same quarter a year ago. It saw decline of 8 percent in volumes on quarterly basis.
However, sales of Lumia smartphone rose by 27 percent during the Q1, 2013 to 5.6 million units.
Nokia's Lumia phones, based on Windows platform, are available in India in the price range of Rs 9,800-36,000.
Nokia CEO said India is a good example for the company where the company has to focus on strategy for both high-end and entry-level mobile phones.
"India sets that aspiration... We also recognised very large number of people who are more constrained in their ability to spend. I think India is a good example where we have to do both. There are countries around the world where only high end plays, United States is an example," Elop said.
The company in US sells its phone through telecom operators where its "highest priced devices are subsidised so that the actual cost appears to be low to the consumers" because of "operators subsidies".
Elop said, "because of growing wealth, the growing middle and upper classes (in India) we have a great opportunity with Lumia and we are beginning to capture that. The Lumia numbers are very encouraging."
Nokia CEO, however, said challenge for his company remains to push sales at retail stores when people ask for its smartphones. "In some stores, its just iPhone and Android. Thats our challenge to increase the willingness of sales people to recommend and at the same time create enough awareness around Lumia smartphone experience," Elop said.
He said that company entered in to Indian market with high-priced smartphones around a year back and will need to work a lot to build space for it here.
According to data released by research firm Gartner in November 2012, Samsung and Apple dominated smartphone market.
In the third quarter, Samsung became the largest mobile handset market with 22.9 percent of the overall market share. Nokia had slipped to No 2 slot with only 19.2 percent global share, down from 23.9 percent a year ago, Gartner said. Apple was third place with 5.5 percent, up from 3.9 percent a year ago, it had added.
"In absolute terms, we are at lower levels (compared to iPhone and Android based phones). We are starting from zero in those price bands in India as we started just over a year ago. We have to built that. Samsung and Apple have been building up for longer period of time in the Indian market and we have to do that," Elop said.
Nokia CEO said that he has got feedback that Lumia product built on Windows 8 is appealing to the Indian consumer in the higher price band.
“It will take time but we will be able to build that (good market share) ," he said.
The company on May 9 chose India to launch its next generation of low-priced Asha 501 phones at around Rs 5,300 (USD 99) excluding taxes. It will be manufactured in India and it will be available in market from June.
First Published: Sunday, May 12, 2013, 13:06