Following months of rumors surrounding a potential Android device in the works, Nokia unveiled its first ever Android smartphones at Mobile World Conference today in Barcelona. The Nokia X line of handsets is comprised of three smartphones, the Nokia X, X+, and XL, priced at €89, €99, and €109 respectively, each of which runs a forked version of Google’s Android mobile operating system. The debate about whether or not these constitute true Android devices or not aside, a Nokia Android smartphone has an exciting potential, particularly in high-growth mobile markets such as India, Indonesia, and Nigeria. Below are three reasons why the new Nokia Android smartphones will make significant waves in emerging markets.
1. Hitting the sub-$150 price point
In India and China alone, over 500 million new smartphones will be sold this year. Unlike in the U.S., where the vast majority of smartphone buyers purchase high-end smartphones at prices that are heavily subsidized by mobile network operators, in emerging markets, most people purchase their smartphones without an operator contract, and therefore must spend upwards of $600 for phones such as Apple’s iPhone 5C. With this pricing model in mind, the majority of smartphone buyers in developing countries look to purchase a smartphone for $150 or less.
In a recent Jana survey, 53% of emerging market respondents said that they plan to spend $150 or less on their next mobile phone. Nearly three quarters of respondents said that they would not spend more than $200 on their next mobile phone. This puts phones like the Samsung Galaxy S4, and the iPhone 5s, two of the most popular handsets in developed countries, well out of the price range of the hundreds of millions of new emerging market smartphone buyers. However, the entire line of Nokia Android smartphones are priced below $150, a sweet-spot for emerging market sales.
2. Strong brand image
Nokia was once the most popular brand of mobile phone in the world. As recently as 2009, the Finnish handset manufacturer accounted for over 36% of mobile devices sold worldwide, nearly twice as much as its closest rival Samsung and nearly 18x greater than Apple’s share of the market. Recently, the Nokia brand has lost significant luster in developed markets, trailing Samsung, Apple, Huawei, Lenovo, and LG in global smartphone sales. However, in emerging markets, consumers still perceive Nokia as a top mobile brand.
In the same recent Jana survey, respondents were asked to share the brand of mobile phone they plan to buy next. Overall, Nokia was the second most commonly selected answer, with 27% of respondents saying they plan to buy a Nokia mobile phone. In some countries, including Indonesia, Nigeria, South Africa, and Vietnam, Nokia was actually the most popular choice among respondents, beating out global top pick Samsung.
3. Nokia and Android, a winning combination
While there was some discrepancy among the choice for most popular brand in each emerging market, one point was clear, Android was far and away the most popular choice of OS among respondents to the Jana survey. Overall, 54% of respondents said that their next mobile phone will be an Android smartphone. Android was more than 4x as popular as Windows Phone, the second most popular choice, and 6x more popular than iOS or BlackBerry.
By deciding to finally release an Android smartphone, Nokia has positioned itself to capture a rapidly growing emerging market smartphone user base that is hungry for Android smartphones and still perceives Nokia handsets as “durable” and “long-lasting.” Combined with a price tag that is within the range of the majority of the world’s new smartphone buyers, a Nokia Android smartphone is a winning combination that could make significant waves in emerging markets.
How do you think the Nokia X will perform in the global smartphone market? Was Nokia wise to create an Android device? Let us know on Twitter: @Jana