By: Brodie Govan
Recently confirmed as Asia’s number one brand ahead of Coca Cola and Sony, Finnish giants Nokia believe Asia holds the key to the global market.
The year ahead looks good for the world’s largest manufacturer of mobile phones. A partnership has recently been struck with Google to really bring the world of Internet to life on a handset; a deal has been arranged to aquire Twango, the comprehensive media sharing solution for organizing and sharing photos, videos and other personal media, while the recent purchase of Navteq, a supplier of digital mapping data, puts them firmly on track to be the market leader in GPS.
The man assigned with bringing these new services to South East Asia and Pacific is Regional Head Chris Carr.
The Australian, who has been with Nokia for over 15-years, says the company is shifting its position to secure its dominance in South East Asia.
“We have just realigned our organisation with how we see the market evolving in the near future,” says Chris. “We now operate as an integrated company with three units. We have dedicated units focusing on developing the best in class mobile devices as well as Internet services and software. The third main unit, markets, will bring the combined offer, and complete experience to different parts of the world.”
Most of the changes have been made with the impeding Internet to mobile revolution.
“At Nokia we see the convergence of mobility and internet providing a huge opportunity,” emphasises Chris. “This has been recognised by many leading organisations from different industries, and hence you see a strong migration by many of our non-traditional competitors aiming to compete in this space.
“Being the global leader in mobility we see that we are in a very strong position to leverage our core assets to win in this space. With this in mind, the biggest challenge is providing consumers in South East Asia and the Pacific with experiences and solutions that they find of value and that will differentiate Nokia from the competition.”
Nokia achieved its long-term target of 40 per cent market share in the fourth quarter of 2007 when it sold slightly more than 133 million phones across the world. One-third of the sales come from the Asia-Pacific region and China, with Chris expecting future growth in the region to increase faster than anywhere else globally.
“Asia is the most populous region in the world,” says the former General Manager of Nokia Singapore. “The increased device sales in this region is a combination of the declining cost of ownership and the level of mobile penetration relative to the more mature markets in other parts of the world. Globally we expect the device market to grow 10 per cent, however we believe the Asia region will likely grow faster at a rate of around 15 per cent. While recent figures show Nokia commands a market share in the emerging Chinese mobile media market with 30.9 per cent among handset owners.”
As mobile phone manufacturers promise to shrink and digitise more technology, adding new functions, more memory and more services to handsets is paramount. So are Nokia confident the new N96, N78, 6220 Classic and 6120 Navigator will prove big hits in the year ahead?
“We believe that these new products will enable us to bring web 2.0 to life as they combine the opportunities and breadth of the Internet with the anywhere-anytime advantages of mobility,” adds Chris. “The Nokia N96 and Nokia N78 are full-featured multimedia computers, the Nokia 6210 Navigator is a navigation optimized mobile device and the Nokia 6220 classic is a GPS-enabled smartphone. With these propositions, we believe that these new devices will allow consumers to experience, share, communicate, create, discover and connect how and when they want.”
An area that Nokia has been quick to strengthen following their arrangement with Google.
“We are shaping the next stage of Internet by bringing context to the web services,” adds a wide-eyed Chris. “Navigation services is the first stage of context enabled Internet. By bringing context to Internet services, we enable the next wave of innovation.
“The Google Search plug-in will be gradually available in select Nokia S60 based devices. The first devices with pre-installed Nokia Search featuring the Google plug-in will be Nokia N96, Nokia N78, Nokia 6210 Navigator and Nokia 6220 classic.
“Quite simply we envision that people want their Internet services, like ‘searching’ online, available whenever they want, without being connected to a desktop computer. This service provides the familiar Google search in a mobile-optimized manner that allows them to search, share, reach and be reached truly whenever and wherever they want.”
Amid the new projects, the company is working hard on environmental issues, with the recent announcement of an eco-phone.
“We’ve been working on the Remade concept,” says Melbourne born Chris. “A concept device which was created by Nokia Design and is part of a project looking at how we can help people make more sustainable choices. It explores the idea of using a greater amount of recycled materials to make devices and how they could be used in a more eco-smart way.”
According to Chris, this is just one of the ways Nokia can stay ahead of the game.
“One of the key challenges is tackling the diversity in the different countries, hence making logistics, distribution, channel and retail landscapes a bit more complex,” says Chris. “So keeping ahead of the competition, recruiting talent, retaining talent and building a team for the future are some of the things that are critical to the success of the business.
“But we in Southeast Asia and Pacific are witnessing exciting opportunities around the region. Opportunities include high growth, high populated, lower mobile penetration markets such as Indonesia, China, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. And we expect strong growth to continue.”