Nokia has chosen Indonesia to launch two of their latest mobile phones under the Asha Touch series, the Asha 308 and Asha 309, a testament to the country’s key role as their second largest feature phone market, after China.
The Asha series, unlike the Windows-based Lumia smartphones, are Nokia’s feature phones that feature a Symbian-based operating system, which boasts smartphone-like capabilities. The company has aggressively pushed the Asha series into emerging markets, including Indonesia, where feature phones continue to have a strong presence.
Indonesians are big fans of mobile devices. The penetration of SIM cards in Indonesia, a country where the population has hit over 240 million people, has surpassed 120 percent as mobile devices continue to proliferate.
Yet, despite the increasing affordability of smartphones, feature phones still dominate more than 80 percent of the mobile phone market in a country where the GDP per capita stands at US$3,000.
A recent study by the International Data Corporation (IDC) shows that Nokia has kept a lead in the feature phone market. However, the company has been battered by tough competition in the smartphone segment as Samsung overtakes longtime champion BlackBerry.
Martin Chirotarrab, president director of Nokia Indonesia, said that Indonesia was a top market for the company in the Asia Pacific region, and is the second largest market for their Asha mobile phone series
He added that Indonesia was within the top 10 countries exhibiting strong growth for the Finnish company’s business.
“Therefore, success in Indonesia translates into success in the core company,” he said.
He added that the latest Asha products would hit shelves “at the beginning of the fourth quarter”. Meanwhile, Nokia expects to sell the new mobile phones below the $100 mark.
“We, together with network operators, are getting data plans ready,” he further added during the launch in Jakarta on Tuesday.
In addition to Martin, executives from Nokia headquarters attended the launch as well. Nokia CEO, Stephen Elop, also paid a visit to the country last week.
Timo Toikkanen, the executive vice president of mobile phones at Nokia, added that besides being a massive market for the Asha series, Indonesia was also the “home of the Nokia Life”.
“When you put that together, we’ve felt that there’s no better place for us to come and do a global launch but right here in Jakarta,” he said during a limited press meet.
Nokia Life, originally called the Nokia Life Tools, is a short-text-message service providing information on health care, education, entertainment and agriculture for subscribers in the emerging markets of China, India, Indonesia and Nigeria. As of February, Nokia Life has acquired more than 50 million users in the four countries.
Besides launching the two new Asha Touch mobile phones, Nokia also introduced Nokia Life+, the enriched version of Nokia Life, which comes in the form of a Web-based application now available for 18 countries.
Martin said the “key components” in pushing the new devices to the market was “the depth of distribution in the country” in terms of making the product available at points of sales, and allowing consumers to test products at these sales points.
“Indonesian consumers are fantastic. They are very technology savvy and keen to have the latest technology,” he said, adding that many features in the new mobile phones were based on the needs of consumers in key markets, including Indonesia.
In addition, Timo said that the company has taken into account the strong need for Indonesians to socially connect through their devices, as well as to remain entertained through mobile games.