At the launch of Nokia's first Android phone in India, Nokia X, Viral Oza, marketing director for Nokia India, spoke to Beryl Menezes about why Nokia went the Android way and the company's plans to eventually migrate Nokia Android users to its Lumia Windows platform, and more. Excerpts...
Why did Nokia get into the Android ecosystem?
We have maintained that Windows is our primary smartphone platform and over the last couple of years we have focused on it, and it has seen some amazing traction. However, one cannot ignore the fact that India is the third largest smartphone market in the world, with the affordable smartphone segment, Rs 6,500 upwards, expected to grow four times faster than the overall smartphone ecosystem. Thus, we decided to launch Nokia X since its caters to price points our Lumia brand cannot offer.
You mentioned that the aim of Nokia X is eventual migration to Lumia. Couldn't you have done this with a lower-cost Nokia handset?
We realised there is a category of consumers that wants phones at those price points with Android apps – so we decided to give them that, while simultaneously exposing them to Nokia's experience and features, including Microsoft services. Nokia X will generally be priced a little lower than Lumia, and as the Lumia prices come down the Nokia X prices will also come down. So Nokia X will continue to be a feeder system to Lumia. In that way, Nokia X potentially acts as an upgrade part to the Lumia franchise.
It has been widely reported that Lumia wasn't able to match Nokia's sales expectations, and hence Nokia was forced to go Android...
Nokia is the fastest growing ecosystem in the world, doubling sales year on year of Lumia devices - with Nokia 520 being the largest selling phone in its price band, doubling activations year on year with 160 operators in 60 markets, and adding 500 new apps everyday. Thus, on all fronts, response has been extremely positive. However, we see this growing demand in the affordable smartphone segment – which what we want to capitalise on, with the Nokia X range.
Since the Nokia X doesn't work on the Google cloud, how will your strategy be different from the Android ecosystem?
Lumia has showed that the consumers want to be different, want something unique that stands out and Lumia caters to all as a style and status statement. Nokia X will be an extension of that -- the only differentiator being the Android apps – 75% of which are available to Nokia X consumers today along with other third-party apps, and the rest which work on Google API's will over the next few months. Apart from this, all Nokia key features like tiles homescreen, Fastlane UI, offline navigation, 10 GB on one drive, HERE maps, mix radio, six colour options, and durability are available in Nokia X as well. We will make all the necessary investments required to ensure that Nokia X gets its rightful place in the consumers mind, just like Lumia and Asha.
What was the idea behind launching Nokia X range devices one at a time and not together?
That was just a part of our strategy. We launched two Lumia devices, and in the next 18 months we had 12 devices in the market. We launched one Asha device, but today we have five. The other two Android phones in this family, Nokia XL and Nokia X+ will be launched in the second quarter.