Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Nokia (NOK) has the most global footprint in the wireless industry today. While there are several facets of the Finnish company worth discussing, I would like to focus on one of my pet themes – Nokia in India.
Let us start by getting some perspective on the Indian handset market –
- In August 2007, the number of mobile subscribers in India hit the 200 million mark. To give you a perspective, there were only 100 million subscribers in May 2006. Note also that India’s population is over a billion of which around 750 million are in the 15-64 age group. So, there is a substantial portion of the market yet to be tapped considering that the teledensity of around 20% is nowhere close to the 60’s that we see in countries such as the U.S.
- The total number of handsets estimated to be shipped in 2007 is about 80 million, which is a 33% increase from last year’s 60.62 million units. This is 7.2% of the total world-wide handset shipments for 2007.
- There are around 100,000 retailers for mobile phones in India.
Besides, there are a couple of things I noticed about the demographics of the Indian mobile customer when I visited Chennai last year.
- When cell-phones took off, it was either the executive or the jazzy college-going kid. Later, it was in the hands of every other college kid, meaning that the middle-class Indian was coming around to the fact that the mobile is after all not a spoiling influence on the kid but more a utility. Today, more and more of the conservative working class which typically eyes utility, wants to be mobile. This explains the popularity of the Ultra-low cost handsets. With a vast majority of India still rural, the profits lie in the volumes. For the subscriber-base to keep growing, this section will have to be served the phones they can afford. So while there will always be a market for costlier phones and convergence devices, the lower-end phones will play a key role.
- India is no longer two or three years behind in technology. The status-conscious urban consumer wants and gets the latest.
With these points in mind, I will, in the sequel, investigate how Nokia is positioned to maintain its leadership position in India.