We are looking at manufacturing 100% of our devices in India, says HMD Global Vice President Sanmeet Singh Kochhar
Nokia is a name that needs no introduction. The company has launched some of the most durable and trendiest smartphones such as the Nokia 1100, Nokia XpressMusic series and Nokia N-series smartphones in the past, back when smartphones didn't exist. The company also gave the world its first mobile game Snakes at a time when modern games like PUBG Mobile and Candy Crush Saga didn't exist. After being taken over by HMD Global, Nokia has reinvented itself while maintaining its legacy by launching new smartphone series such as 5-series and 2-series smartphones. Earlier this year, the company added another feather to its hat by introducing new smartphones.
HMD Global launched G-series smartphones consisting of the Nokia G10 and the G20 smartphones, C-series smartphones consisting of the Nokia C10 and Nokia C20 smartphones and the X-series smartphones consisting of the Nokia X10 and Nokia X20 smartphones. More recently, HMD Global brought its Nokia G20 smartphone to India.
On the sidelines of this event, we sat down for a conversation with HMD Global Vice President Sanmeet Singh Kochhar to talk about a host of topics including understanding how the Nokia G20 smartphone was performing globally, how it stood up against the competition and if the company had plans of launching 5G smartphones in India anytime soon. We also talked to him about the performance of the Nokia brand in India. The HMD Global executive shared that the company had received a great overall response from users and that it planned to manufacture 100% of its devices in India. Here are snippets of our conversation with Kochhar...
How has the pandemic been for you so far?
So, it's been quite an experience...Our priority has been to take care of our fans and our customers. In fact, what we have done is a few things which I want to mention.
First of all, there were of course some fans who had their devices with us at that time because they required some support...we were in touch with them over the phone and through online channels to communicate to them the status of their device and how we can get it back to them.
Secondly..there were some people for whom the warranties were expiring at a certain time, which was during the lockdown and we made sure that we extend it so that they don't lose out on the warranty. And then a very important thing...So we have this service wherein over 7500 PIN codes we cover directly. We take the device and it's all free of charge if you are a customer who's on warranty. As a customer, you just have to log in the request and we make sure that we collect the device from your place. If you require some support then we do the repair..and then we deliver the device back to your home and all of this is done free of charge. We have got overwhelmingly good feedback on this service.
Then in terms of the industry as well as our business, we have seen that the category is quite resilient...We have seen that since the lockdown started to open in the month of June, we have seen that the business is coming back to normal and the sales are going up.
Last year we had a device called Nokia C3 which was focused at consumers who are looking to upgrade to smartphones from a feature phone and that has worked very well for us...we have got a very strong and overwhelming feedback.
HMD Global launched three new smartphone series in April this year and one of them was the Nokia G20, which was made available in some of the European markets around the time of the launch. But you brought it to India in July, so why such a delay?
See, that it's always a function of different aspects of the supply chain and how we can get the device components India or we get the approvals and then we move forward. So different products are launched in different markets at different times.
So how has the response for G20 been in the global market so far? Because it has been quite some time since the launch.
We just launched that sometime in April-May and the response has been quite fantastic...The response has been quite amazing in different markets around the world.
Could you share some insights regarding that?
As a matter of policy, we do not share the sales numbers. But I must say that we have got very good traction with this device globally and we are expecting good traction in India as well.
So are you planning to launch G10 in India sometime?
We do not generally comment on future launches, so I would just, you know, say that we have a range of devices that are planned for India or the festive season and they'll be coming in very soon.
Alright, so I'm talking about the mid-budget smartphone segment which is where G20 places itself in India. It's a very versatile and very competitive market segment. Companies are targeting this market segment with specific series like Realme has its Narzo series and Xiaomi has its Redmi Note 10 series. What according to you gives Nokia smartphones an edge over all these smartphones?
Yes, excellent point and I agree. So Indian market you know India is the second-biggest smartphone market globally. And this is a very, very competitive market, not only in the 10 to 15K, but overall it's been quite competitive and this segment, of course, is very very competitive, with multiple players having different series in the online channel and in the offline channel….You know, yeah, and we believe that we have a very, very strong differentiator and a very strong edge in this segment because our objective is to democratize technology and bring in the features from some of the higher-priced devices of competition into this.
So if you look at this segment, there are almost very few devices that offer a bloat-free and pure Android experience...You try to use the G20 for some time and you'll see a very clean experience. You can use the device and you can have the apps the way you want, and whichever apps you want right.
When we are looking at the device, we are saying that's a future-proof device. Former consumer research, we know that people are looking to use their device for three years. You know they don't want to be forced to change their device, whereas if we look at some of our competition...the devices are getting obsolete very soon. But we offer something called the operating system upgrade. So as I said, we launch the device on Android 11 then we promise that the device in the next two years will get two operating system updates.
We are seeing a lot of companies target launching smartphones with 5G connectivity in India. So what are your thoughts on that?
I think 5G is going to be a reality and in India again a lot of people want to future proof their devices and are keen to look at 5G experience. And we have also said that you know 5G is an important one for us, and we'll be focusing on the 5G devices globally as well as in India.
Talking about India, what has your overall response been like so far, particularly in the mid-budget segment? How did the pandemic affect this trend?
So the response for Nokia, we have a very very strong presence in the feature phone as well as in the smartphone market. We are looking at manufacturing 100% of our devices in India and we are looking to grow the business. So the response for us has been great.
Could you share some details regarding your future launches in India?
We have a range of devices that are planned for launch before the festive season begins.