Nokia’s first ever global handset launch in Pakistan, kept everyone guessing till the formal announcement of what was behind the curtain. With officials tight-lipped, everyone could only guess which Nokia phone was about to be unveiled. Bloggers on the edge of their seat were sending live tweets questioning whether it would be a ‘Nokia Galaxy’ or some other smartphone.
Adding to the suspense, Nokia’s global representative as well as regional head started the event by talking about the importance of mobile internet, existing devices and Nokia’s strategy of connecting next one billion consumers to the internet via mobile.
After an hour into the event, the suspense ended after the Finnish giant officially announced its upcoming low-end feature mobile phones Nokia 110 and Nokia 112.
The upcoming phones are low-end S40 powered mobile phones, said Company’s Vice President, Near East Imran Khalid Mahmood.
The announcement was a surprise for some who thought the giant would launch a high-end smartphone. The products, however, seem to be in line with the market demand as it provides gaming and social networking apps, GPRS and dual SIM, at an affordable price.
Both devices are designed to appeal the young urban consumers who want to experience a fast and affordable online experience, Calin Turcanu, Head of Mobile Phones Business Unit Middle East and Africa said. A technology in the phone decreases data levels up to 90% by compressing websites in cloud and speeding up the process, he added.
The mobile giant also announced that it would be giving away 40 Electronic Arts gaming apps – worth 75 euros or Rs8,850 – for free.
Both devices will offer one click access to Facebook, Twitter and social media networks from the home screen, Turcanu said. The devices feature 1.8” display optimised for a great gaming experience, he said. The giveaway apps include trial versions of well-known games including Need for Speed The Run, Tetris, Bejeweled, Monopoly Here & Now, and SimCity Deluxe. However all of this will only work if the user has gprs activated.
Once they have accessed the offering, consumers will have 60 days to download the games of their choice to keep the games forever, Turcanu said. The devices will have a pre-loaded eBuddy instant messenger, Turcanu said, an application that allows consumers to chat online with friends on MSN, Yahoo, AIM, ICQ, GTalk, Facebook and MySpace.
Besides an internal memory of 16MB, both phones can support up to 32GB of external memory. The devices also feature dual SIM capability – with easy swap technology that can personalise and remember up to five different SIM cards, FM radio & media player, VGA digital camera and S40 operating system, according to Nokia’s press statement. It offers a battery with over 10 hours of talk time and nearly a month’s standby.
Symbian-powered mobile phones account for 70% of the local market, according to Nokia’s Head of PR and Communication Adeel Hashmi. The dual SIM phones have certainly helped increase the company’s market share, he said.
The estimated retail price for Nokia 110 and its single SIM versions is about Rs3,800. The first batch of phones is expected reach Pakistan in the second quarter of 2012, the press release said. The estimated retail price for Nokia 112 is about Rs4,300 excluding taxes and subsidies and is expected to start shipping in the third quarter of 2012.
The devices were launched as part of Nokia’s next billion strategy, said Saulo Passos, Director Mobile Phone Communications, Global for Nokia.
Passos, who came from the UK to attend the global launch, said Nokia had sold 339 million mobile phones last year with an average sale of 11 mobiles per second. The next billion strategy targets urban youth, which is the fastest growing segment globally, he said. They are smart, socially connected and inquisitive, he added.
“We want to give the youth the same experience as smart devices do,” Passos said, “this is what this strategy is all about.”
Nokia is not the only phone maker catering to this large market segment that wants dual SIM, internet connectivity along with gaming and social networking apps at an affordable price. Other companies especially Chinese phone manufacturers also compete in the same market segment in the country.
The mobile giant is also closely collaborating with local app developers to sustain its dominance.
The company provides training and tools to local app developers for creating apps to cater the local market.
Around 67 million apps have been downloaded in Pakistan from Nokia’s store, Mahmood the VP Near East said, most of them being religious apps and news related apps. Ludo and Carrom are also favourites in Pakistan, he said, adding that these two apps alone account for about 700,000 downloads globally.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 16th, 2012.
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