Ravi Kunwar, head of Pan Asia for HMD Global told Dhaka Tribune’s Ibrahim Hossain Ovi in an interview. HMD Global is the home of Nokia phones, which designs and markets a range of smartphones and feature phones.
Tell us about HMD Global’s future plans and vision to explore new opportunities in Bangladesh.
Going forward, there are a number of key focus and investment areas for us. The first of them is 5G, which will be transformational for many industries. Together with our partners at Nokia, Qualcomm and Google – we will deliver an affordable yet premium-grade Nokia experience in 2020. Imaging, Design & Innovation and Security are the other three strategic areas that will be heavily focused and invested on.
Lastly, we are the global leaders in the feature phone category. We will continuously innovate in design, form-factor and functionality for this segment, and will continue to challenge the boundaries of what a feature phone can do. This vision of HMD will reflect on Bangladesh’s product line up and business modality as the days progress.
How important is Bangladesh market for HMD Global?
The Bangladeshi market is a focus market for HMD Pan Asia’s region, in terms of both feature phones and smartphone category. We will continue to deliver feature phones in each price segment, as well as budget to mid-range smartphones for this market.
What is Nokia’s current market share/situation in Bangladesh in comparison to previous years?
Nokia Brand is currently among the top five and top 10 feature phones and smartphones respectively.
Is there any growth here compared to last year?
We have seen a remarkable growth in the smartphone segment, compared to the previous quarter, and doubled our feature phone growth.
What are the biggest challenges you face in this market and the impact of grey market?
The biggest challenge we face in Bangladeshi market is the price and the way price structures are built. This also impacts the availability of grey products in the market. We continuously work on price structure, so that we can provide our device to consumers at a competitive price .
Tell us more about the software and security update advantages of Nokia phones, or why people should buy Nokia smartphones over other leading brands.
Our plan for Android is to provide the purest experience of android for consumers. That is why all our devices, whether they are Android One devices or Android Go, comes with bloatware free, customization-free Android operating system. This enables our users to enjoy the devices without lags and in a hassle free manner. We also deliver guaranteed monthly security updates for three years and OS updates for two years – ensuring your phone experience gets better over time, as well as eligible for new innovation from Google right from the beginning. In short, Nokia devices gets better over time, due to its unique take on Android and that’s why people should buy a Nokia Smartphone.
Do Nokia smartphones provide any distinct advantage for the consumers?
We are the only manufacturer 100% committed to having the latest Android across the entire portfolio – from Android Go to Android One devices- and we remain committed to it as we get ready to bring Android 10 to Nokia smartphones.
Aren’t you crowding up the feature phone segment? Are people still buying feature phones anyway?
As a feature phone market leader, we are aware of how important this type of phone is, for our consumers. Feature phone shipments have been growing since last year. And we have a distinct offering for these diverse needs – be it our entry level Nokia 105, our most affordable VoLTE compatible Nokia 220 4G, or the new Nokia 800 Tough. They are versatile and accessible, and they contain a range of essential features which cater to diverse various consumer needs.
Do you plan to release an Android OS feature phone?
Our decision to use KaiOS for the Nokia 2720 Flip was made because we wanted to strike a balance between software, features, design and accessibility. KaiOS includes a lot of essential functionality that consumers would expect from a feature phone, but takes it to the next level with the Google Assistant. The Assistant, along with apps like Google Maps and YouTube, are a direct result of Google’s investment in KaiOS.
Is the Nokia brand revival in trouble?
The global smartphone market is extremely dynamic and challenging. We are operating at a global scale and being acknowledged for our differentiated approach to product making. Plus, in a very short span of time, we have introduced a full range of Nokia phones – giving a wide variety of choices to our consumers. We have entered the US operator channel and are looking to increase our business in this very significant market. We have been building our business in a sustainable manner to fulfill our long-term ambition to be a leading player in the smartphone industry.