Finnish operator seeks to cover all bases as it focuses on Chinese market

Updated: 2013-03-25 05:53

By Shen Jingting (China Daily)

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 Finnish operator seeks to cover all bases as it focuses on Chinese market

Jo Harlow, Nokia's executive vice-president in charge of smartphones, said: "Our target in China this year is to grow." Provided to China Daily

The Finnish mobile phone vendor Nokia Oyj hopes to achieve growth in the Chinese market this year by presenting a product portfolio covering customers in all categories, said the company's executives.

During the 2013 Mobile Congress World held in Barcelona, Nokia introduced four new mobile phones catering for low- to mid-end users. Among them, two are Lumia smartphones running on the Windows Phone 8 system and can support China Mobile Ltd's 3G TD-SCDMA standard.

"Our target in China this year is to grow," said Jo Harlow, Nokia's executive vice-president in charge of smartphones. In order to achieve the goal, Nokia has to create attractive products and be able to reach a wider audience, she told China Daily.

The newly launched Nokia Lumia smartphones, Lumia 520 and Lumia 720, can supplement Nokia's high-end flagship Lumia 920, which has a retail price of more than $740 in China. In contrast, the price of the cheapest model, the Lumia 520, is about $185.

In the feature phone sector, the Nokia 105, also released last month in Barcelona, will be sold at $20, the cheapest ever Nokia device with a color screen.

"It is important for Nokia to have a complete portfolio of products to sell," Harlow said.

Stephen Elop, chief executive officer of Nokia, expressed a similar view that Nokia needs to offer differentiation at each price point. "That is a key part of our approach to competition, particularly in a country such as China," he said.

China is Nokia's biggest single country market with more than 200 million users. However, Nokia is losing ground to Samsung Electronics Co and Apple Inc in the high-end market. In the mid- to low-end mobile phone market, Nokia faced severe challenges from domestic rivals such as Huawei Technologies Co and ZTE Corp.

Nokia held almost half of the smartphone market share in China more than two years ago but the figure slipped to a mere 2.4 percent in the fourth quarter last year, according to Beijing-based Analysys International.

Harlow said Nokia reached a number of major milestones in China last year as the company began the transition from the Symbian mobile operating system to the Windows Phone platform.

"We launched the first Lumia Windows Phone device in March 2012. We expanded our portfolio rapidly. At the end of last year, we had the first TD-SCDMA product in the market," she recalled.

"The year 2012 for Nokia in China was a building year," Harlow added.

She admitted competition in China is much more intense than anywhere else. But she expressed confidence in Nokia's turnaround in China in 2013, as well as in the global smartphone market.

One of the reasons why Nokia Windows Phone devices will enjoy greater popularity is because more people will get to know about the platform, she said. Microsoft, the developer of the Windows Phone operating system, started to introduce Windows PCs and Windows tablets to utilize exactly the same user interface.

"More people know about the system and the viral effect. Word of mouth is going to take place," Gustavo Eichelmann, chief executive officer of Nokia China, said in a previous interview with China Daily.

(China Daily 03/25/2013 page17)