In September this year, Microsoft announced it is picking up Nokia’s devices and services business for $7.2 billion. Prior to the upcoming completion of the acquisition, Nokia India managing director P Balaji tells Rachit Vats that 2013 has been a good year for the brand as the buzz around Nokia products is back. Edited excerpts:
How bullish is Nokia about 2014, especially with the Microsoft acquisition coming into picture now?
The regulatory approvals are likely to get secured in the first quarter of 2014. From that point of view we are focusing on business as usual. We have had a good momentum this year as we established Asha, which completed two years, and Lumia in the market. The buzz is back as we are able to target the right audience with our devices and services. Nokia and Microsoft together will be the ecosystem to beat in 2014-15.
What are those strengths that Nokia and Microsoft together are likely to deliver?
Nokia has devices, a whole bunch of services and a strong retail presence. These are our strengths and assets that we bring. With Microsoft, what they have done with their entire services and product portfolio — Skype, Xbox, Bing and so on — is amazing. These partnership provides fantastic opportunities to add even more value in the marketplace to consumers.
Any weak areas where Nokia would like to focus on next?
Our focus is getting more apps first on Lumia, something we are consciously working on for the last two quarters. Overall we got a good traction going for Lumia and we don’t want to miss the opportunity. Just to give a perspective, this was a very strong Lumia Diwali. The buzz is back, consumers are asking for Nokia, and that is the strength we are building on.
How much of a headstart will this partnership will help deliver, considering that Google and Apple already have a good going with their products and distribution?
We are bullish on the fact that at least 50 million smartphones phones are expected to be sold next year and 150 million volume for feature phones. It is an exciting opportunity.
We got one focus, right from entry-level to aspirational smartphones, we are looking at packing innovations. The focus is to win on both sides — the premium with Lumia and the entry-level with Asha. We are going into 2014 with a strong buzz on those lines.