If there is one brand that seems unaffected by the #BoycottChineseProducts trend on social media, it is HMD Global, the company behind Nokia phones. HMD Global is now touting its Finnish origin on its sleeves and hopes for increased consumer interest in its Nokia-branded phones.
“Given the overall macro situation, a lot of people are looking at where the brand is originating from and whether the brand is coming from a particular country or not,” Sanmeet Singh Kochhar, Vice President, HMD Global told indianexpress.com over a call from Dubai. “We are the only European brand in the telecom ecosystem and we are proud of our Finnish heritage.” He added: “While our phones are designed in Finland, 100 percent of our devices are made in India.”
Kochhar says the origin of the brand wasn’t a primary concern for consumers while buying a phone in the past, but now things might change. “We see a significant shift not only because of our origins and also because of the trust that we have established over the years,” he said, adding that he also expected consumers to be more vigilant about the data and privacy and how secure their device is.
While there has been an uproar over Chinese smartphone brands over social media, the truth is that out of the top five smartphone brands — four have a Chinese origin. Kochhar agrees that India’s smartphone market is dominated by Chinese smartphone players but he also emphasised that the Nokia brand has certain advantages over the competition like Nordic-inspired design and timely software updates.
“I understand that right now, some of these [Chinese] brands are big, but that does not deter us from growing in this situation,” he said, adding that “it’s not going to turn overnight, but there’s an opportunity for a European brand like us to grow our business in India.”
As part of its revamped business strategy, Kochhar says the brand will be hyperactive in India, the second-largest smartphone market in the world. He said HMD Global plans to launch the Nokia 5.3, a mid-range smartphone in India soon. The brand has also planned to bring the Nokia 8.3, its first-ever 5G handset, to the market sometime in the future.
HMD Global recently announced that it would be releasing an affordable Android phone with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 690 and 5G support. It, however, remains to be seen when that unnamed device comes to India. Apart from smartphones, HMD Global has found some success in revamping Nokia’s old feature phones, like the 8110 “banana phone” and the resurrected Nokia 5310 phone which hit the market recently.
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