Nokia plots Asia push

21 June 2011

SINGAPORE: Asia is likely be a major focus for Nokia in the months ahead, as the Finnish mobile phone firm moves to address its falling market share in India and China.

Bloomberg reports that Nokia ceo Stephen Elop, in a keynote speech to a Singapore conference later today, will outline the firm's future strategy for the region.

At Nokia Connection 2011, the company has already revealed a new model, the N9 - a "pure touch" smartphone with no front-facing buttons at all.

According to Gartner figures cited by Bloomberg, the company's market share fell from 32% to 20% in China - and from 49% to 30% in India - between 2009 and 2010. According to its own sales data, Nokia generates just under half of its sales from the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region.

Earlier this year, Elop famously suggested that Nokia was "standing on a burning platform" - with Apple's iPhone and devices powered by Google's Android operating system providing increasingly tough competition.

In a bid to boost its smartphone sales, the company recently announced a strategic partnership with Microsoft, and is set to launch new phones featuring the US firm's Windows operating system.

In Asia, Nokia faces competition from cheap feature phones at the low end of the market and from Apple at the high end. Local rivals Samsung and ZTE have also launched popular mid-range devices over recent years.

More broadly, Asia is set to be a key growth market in mobile telephony in the years to come. Figures released by Nielsen last month suggest that over 40% of consumers in emerging Asia economies would be interested in buying a smartphone in the coming year.

This rising interest has had an impact on the mobile marketing sector, with an InMobi report suggesting that APAC mobile ad impressions rose by 10% between January and April 2011.

There are roughly 18bn impressions per month in the region - around half of the global total.

Gartner also predicts that Asian sales of mobile phones - including smartphones and feature phones - will rise to around 50% of the global total, equivalent to almost 1.3bn devices, by 2015.

This year, sales for the region are thought likely to reach 900m.

Speaking to Bloomberg, Nokia executive vice president Colin Giles said: "[Asia is] a hugely important market for us.

"We introduced our first phone specially designed for the Asian market 14 years ago. It was small, had a full graphics display and featured many Asian languages from Chinese to Thai to Bahasa. We have not looked back since."

Data sourced from Bloomberg/Nokia/Nielsen/InMobi/Warc; additional content by Warc staff