Music to Nokia's ears

Last Updated: Mon, Nov 26, 2012 05:28 hrs

Nokia is betting big on music to drown the noise over its slipping market share in India. Its trump cards in India: Music Store and the Nokia Music application, which are supported by both Asha and Lumia range of phones.

Jyrki Rosenberg, Global head and VP, Nokia Entertainment, says Nokia Music Store is the largest online library of legal digital music with a catalogue of over 4.5 million songs. Today, 1.4 million songs are getting downloaded through the Nokia Music store every day. "Music is an integral part of Nokia's strategy for which the company has taken various innovative strategies to attract music lovers," he says.

Analysts have started taking note of Nokia's efforts. As per IDC's Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker report, Nokia has taken a step in its storied transition, having officially launched its first Windows OS-powered Lumia smart phones and its Asha line of smart phone-like feature phones.

A KPMG report justifies Nokia's faith. The Indian music market today is growing at a compounded annual growth rate of 5 per cent over the last three years. Digital music's share in the overall music market in India is expected to grow from the current 49 per cent to 79 per cent by 2015 at Rs 1,475 crore, and close to 50 per cent of music revenues in India comes from mobile downloads.

That should be music to the ears of the Finnish mobile handset manufacturer, which has been facing a rough ride in India, after a stellar beginning way back in August, 1995. In fact, it was the first mobile handset manufacturer to enter the country. To have a big, fat, black Nokia 5100 in your pocket then had a snob-value attached to it. Most of the cellphones also had the ringtone of "Sare Jahan Se Accha...", but not anymore.

Though Nokia remained the leading player for the longest time – not just in India but in the world over – somewhere down the line, its love for the Symbian operating software, advent of Android-based smartphones coupled with Apple's iPhone and Samsung's Galaxy series, started limiting its growth. And, over the past five years, Nokia has suffered declining market share in almost all the major markets.

According to a CyberMedia Research (CMR) report on the India mobile handsets market (worth Rs 33,031 crore), during the first six months of 2012, Nokia continued to be the number one mobile handset maker in India, but its share has gone down to 22.2 per cent, followed by Samsung with 13 per cent and homegrown Micromax with 5.5 per cent. Where it really hurt is that in the smartphones category, Samsung is the clear market leader with 41.6 per cent market share, followed by Nokia (19.2 per cent) and RIM (12.1 per cent).

Nokia did try to come up with a few models of smartphones, but it didn't help much. Nokia admits as much. "Yes we had a few misses like N97. But now, we have got a very good response for our mid-budget Asha devices and the Lumia phones, which run on the Windows platform," Viral Oza, director (marketing), Nokia India says.

Analysts agree Nokia has been smart enough to dress up a cheap new feature phone as something far more aspirational - to the extent that devices like Asha 305 are now widely depicted as smartphones across Asia.

In February last year, Nokia entered into a strategic partnership with Microsoft, as part of which all Nokia smartphones will incorporate Microsoft's Windows Phone operating system (replacing Symbian). Nokia unveiled its first Windows Phone handsets, the Lumia, in October 2011.

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