Home » Cloud client SW platforms » Nokia X family of smartphones, leading local brand partners for Windows Phone and the potential of all that on the Indian market

Nokia X family of smartphones, leading local brand partners for Windows Phone and the potential of all that on the Indian market

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For some observers in the Western media the Nokia X family is a kind of challenge to Microsoft unlike my earlier post describing it as Nokia’s “best of everything” X range smartphones to conquer the smartphone market between the Asha and Lumia devices [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, Feb 24, 2014]. In Will Satya Nadella and Microsoft Pick Up The Challenge Laid Down By The Android-Powered Nokia X? Forbes contributor, Ewan Spence simply concludes that:

If Nadella is looking to move Microsoft towards a future with more focus on easily accessible services rather than hardware lock-in, then the Nokia X should continue to receive some love and affection, along with continued support in the media and from the press teams in Redmond. It may even be made available for other manufacturers looking for an Android base to build on with some preferential patent licensing bundled along with the deal.

Other journalists accustomed to the U.S. market, where you don’t buy your smartphone but getting it as part of your paid subscription “for free”, even critisizing the Nokia X performance (see two critics on the right) unlike the head of UX Design, an American (see his view on the left) in charge of the team in Beijing, China “with global scope and BRIICA (Brazil, India, Indonesia, China, Africa) focus”:

Doug Walston, Head of MP [Mobile Phones] UX Design, Nokia – Beijing*:

“With the X family,” says Doug, “we were really focused on the needs of new people using smartphones, especially those in emerging markets. We wanted to create a beautifully simple device that gives access to a wealth of apps.”

“Apps don’t need to be rewritten to tap into Fastlane. We’ve used some special sauce (and native platform hooks) so it all just works.”

“If there’s an element of the interface of which I’m particularly proud, it’s the home screen. It’s so distinctive, bold and direct. It’s a break from the confusion that you see elsewhere in phones at this price.”

“The simplicity of the interface also means that it has a very low overhead on performance. Typically for a phone with all these features, you would expect a horrid battery life and a laggy interface in this segment, but that isn’t true of the X family at all. The performance is surprisingly good.”

From Not just a pretty face – the UI of the X family [Nokia Conversations blog, Feb 26, 2014]
*” The entire MP UX Design team is in Beijing now with global scope and BRIICA (Brazil, India, Indonesia, China, Africa) focus and encompasses accountability for the UX Design of the entire MP devices portfolio (15 + devices annually, with an expected volume of around 300 million devices sold annually).” This is a rephrased text corresponding to the job announcement of the Head of Mobile Phones Industrial Design [ID] on LinkedIn. Walston took this role on May 9, 2013 when he came from Motorola Mobility to take over the MP UX Design part of Peter Skillman’s job leaving him with the role of heading the HERE Design group based in Berlin and Cambridge. Before that Skillman was heading the UI and services design for the successful Asha range for two years.

Jane McEntegart, Writer/Editor at Tom’s Hardware:

Nokia X 1.0 is not slow or sluggish, but in the brief time we played with it, it wasn’t blazing fast either. The tile-interface also didn’t feel quite as sleek as it does in Windows Phone 8.

From Hands On with Nokia’s Windows Phone-flavored Android OS [Tom’s Hardware, Feb 24, 2014]

Tom Warren, Senior Reporter for The Verge, the resident Microsoft expert:

If you put the Nokia X side-by-side with the company’s Lumia 520 handset it might be hard to tell them apart.

Using the X software can be quite frustrating, however, as the entire interface is prone to slow response and a lot of lag. Closing or switching between apps on the X takes far longer than other, even entry-level, smartphones, and browsing the web will quickly test your patience. The third-party apps we saw on the X, such as Facebook, looked as they do on other Android smartphones, but they too suffered from poor performance. Nokia’s choice to combine the functions of home and back into the single back button is confusing, and it’s difficult to predict exactly where in the interface the button will take you when you press it. Part of the reason for the laggy interface and apps … is more likely related to the Android version in use on these devices.

Nokia appears to be positioning the X as a method to draw people to Microsoft’s cloud services.

From This is Nokia X: Android and Windows Phone collide [The Verge, Feb 24, 2014]

Is the head of MP UX design is right or such a harsh critic as Tom Warren? You could decide it for yourself by watching the video below. Draw special attention to the Fastlane performance difference between the Nokia X with 512MB of RAM and Nokia X+/XL with 768MB ([3:46-4:30] vs. [5:53-6:26]). It is also not an accident that “Resizeable tiles” are demonstrated on the 768MB version. My impression is, that if you are buying the 768MB versions (Nokia X+ or Nokia XL) you won’t feel the problems Tom Warren outlined above, won’t feel at all:

Nokia Launches Nokia X At Mobile World Congress In Barcelona [Red Robot – Intelligent Distribution YouTube channel, Feb 24, 2014]

Today at the Mobile World Congress, Nokia introduced the Nokia X family, affordable smartphones that offer access to a world of Android apps. The new devices feature the best of Nokia design and quality, signature Nokia experiences such as HERE Maps and Mix Radio, and popular Microsoft services such as Skype, OneDrive and Outlook.com.
[0:06] Press conference
>> [0:50] Elop’s 1st introduction: the new Nokia 220
>> [1:20] 2nd introduction: the new Nokia Asha 230
>> [1:32] 3d introduction: the new Nokia X and Nokia X+
>> [2:07] Preloaded great applications on the Nokia X family, hundreds of thousands of Android apps, Nokia signature experiences (HERE Maps, Nokia Mix Radio)
>> [2:42] Fastlane as a fantastic element of Nokia X experience
>> [2:57] 4th introduction: the Nokia XL
[3:40] B-roll (i.e. alternative) footages (with no sound):
> [3:42] Nokia X: Runs Android Apps, 4″ display, Fastlane, 3MP camera, 1GHz Dual Core Processor, Dual SIM
>> [3:46] Nokia X: Fastlane
>> [4:30] Nokia X: Skype
>> [5:08] Nokia X: Nokia Store
>> [5:33] Nokia X: Third Party App Stores
> [5:49] Nokia X+: Runs Android Apps, 4″ display, Fastlane, 3MP camera, 1GHz Dual Core Processor, 768MB RAM, Dual SIM
>> [5:53] Nokia X+: Swipe
>> [6:26] Nokia X+: Resizeable tiles
>> [7:15] Nokia X+: Nokia Mix Radio
>> [8:02] Nokia X+: Demo App: Plants VS Zombies 2
> [8:40] Nokia XL: Runs Android Apps, 5″ display, Fastlane, 5MP camera with flash, 2MP fron-facing camera, 1GHz Dual Core Processor, 768MB RAM, Dual SIM
>> [8:45] Nokia XL: Swipe
>> [9:26] Nokia XL: Camera: 5MP with autofocus and flash

Even more, as the rest of my post goes through the below details (i.e. sections 1. to 4.), you will find (along with with me) that from the point of view of focusing on the BRIICA (Brazil, India, Indonesia, China, Africa) markets (which was the task of the development team in Beijing China) this is an excellent product with no problems mentioned by some media people in the West. There is even no conflict with Microsoft at all (another critical speculation typical to the Western Media) as the Nokia X family is also preparing the ground for the upcoming super low-cost (higher levels as well) Windows Phone devices from local and regional brands like the #3 Karbonn and the #4 Lava (Xolo) in India, as well as Gionee which is a large local brand in China with strong recognition in India as well, not to speak of those who will supplied from Foxconn, the biggest white-label phone manufacturer in China.

  1. Why does this post concentrate on the Indian market?
  2. Nokia X family has been well positioned for the highest growth Indian market
  3. The feature phone and smartphone markets in India according to CyberMedia Research India and IDC
  4. New low-cost Windows Phone partnering strategy by Microsoft especially aimed at the Indian market


1. Why does this post concentrate on the Indian market?

Answer #1: The Indian smartphone market is expected to double and touch 80 million by the end of current fiscal, a top Samsung India official said today.

“We are expecting smartphone sales in the country to touch 80 million mark by the end of current fiscal [Samsung’s fiscal years are the same as the calendar years], while total sales were around 40 million in 2012-13,” Samsung Mobile and IT India Head Vineet Taneja said.

From Indian smartphone market to double to 80 million by fiscal end: Samsung [The Economic Times (of India), Feb 18, 2014]

Answer #2:Now is the right time because there is a rapidly growing low-price affordable smartphone segment that’s really taking off in a number of growth economies. We’re seeing that in countries like Indonesia, Russia, Vietnam and a number of others,” [Stephen] Elop [former Nokia CEO and soon-to-be Microsoft executive vice president] says in the interview, shot at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

While Nokia X is based on Android, the user interface “is remarkably similar to the Windows Phone interface,” he says.

That means these customers, many of whom have never owned a smartphone before, will learn to navigate in Microsoft’s world first, with the potential over time to buy higher end Nokia Lumia phones that run Windows Phone as Lumia prices drop.

“And so we’ve gone for that and we’ll take advantage of that to keep people in the Lumia family but using Nokia X as a feeder system into our Windows Phone strategy,” Elop says.

The strategy isn’t meant for the U.S. where cellular carriers widely and generously subsidize the price of high-end phones in order to lock customers in to long-term contracts, he says.

The above excerpts are from the Nokia’s Stephen Elop Talks Android video interview:

Nokia’s Stephen Elop talks about the move by the company to embrace Android at this time.

From Nokia chief: Nokia X Android smartphone is a gateway drug to Windows Phone [Network World, Feb 25, 2014]

Answer #3: is in another post of mine: Nokia’s “best of everything” X range smartphones to conquer the smartphone market between the Asha and Lumia devices [‘Experiencing the Cloud’ Feb 24, 2014] but before reading that here is Nokia X/ Nokia X Plus Hands On (Dual SIM) [WPXBOX YouTube channel, Feb 24, 2014] video from which you can easily understand why is it “best of everything” instead of a stock Android smartphone:

Detailed Hands on of Nokia X and Nokia X+ which only differ by memory of 256 MB Ram. They both come with 4GB memory card which can be expanded to 32GB.

Answer #4: in section 2 of this post I will show you that these smartphones will quite probably have a competitive on line pricing starting at most from:
Rs 7400 ($119) for Nokia X vs. the list price of EUR 89 [$122]* (Rs 7582)
Rs 8000 ($129) for Nokia X+ vs. the list price of EUR 99 [$136]* (Rs 8434)
Rs 8600 ($139) for Nokia XL vs. the list price of EUR 109 [$150]* (Rs 9284)
* Although these prices are before local taxes.

Answer #5: India will be key to future smartphone growth as it represents more than a quarter of the global feature phone market. “Growth in the India market doesn’t rely on high-end devices like the iPhone, but in low-cost Android phones. Nearly half of the smartphones shipped in India in 2013 cost less than US$120,” said Kiranjeet Kaur, Senior Market Analyst for mobile phones at IDC Asia/Pacific.
From Smartphone Prices Race to the Bottom as Emerging Markets Outside of China Come into the Spotlight for Future Growth, According to IDC [press release, Feb 24, 2014]

Answer #6: In addition to existing partnersNokia, Samsung, HTC and Huawei — Microsoft has announced it is now working with Foxconn, Gionee, Lava (Xolo), Lenovo, LG, Longcheer, JSR, Karbonn and ZTE to develop on the Windows Phone platform. … Customers can expect to see an even broader array of devices, from iconic to lower-cost options, coming to market. … The expanded Windows Phone ecosystem will also provide mobile operators and retail partners with additional opportunities to offer white-label Windows Phone devices under their own brands.
From Microsoft adds nine new Windows Phone hardware partners [press release, Feb 23, 2014] where Karbonn is the #3 and Lava (Xolo) the #4 brands (after #1 Samsung and #2 Micromax), while Gionee is a local brand in China with strong recognition in India as well, and Longcheer as a local Chinese brand that has long been in India as well (albeit with top recognition already lost). Finally Foxconn is the biggest white-label phone manufacturer in China whose production has already influenced the Indian market very much.

We are adding support for Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 and 400 series chipsets, with options that support all major cellular technologies, including LTE (TDD/FDD), HSPA+, EVDO and TD-SCMA. We will also support soft keys and dual SIM where our partners want it for their devices. One nice benefit of these additions is that many hardware vendors will be able to use the same hardware for both Android and Windows Phone devices [obviously if they are using the Qualcomm SoCs]. From Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president of Microsoft Windows Phone in Scaling Windows Phone, evolving Windows 8 [Windows Phone Blog, Feb 23, 2014]

Q. Many of your recent partnerships and announcements have focused on emerging markets. Is that a major priority?
A. It’s not our only focus, but it’s a very big one. The purpose of low-cost phones in emerging markets is to drive volume. From Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president of Microsoft Windows Phone in Q.&A. With Joe Belfiore on the Future of Windows Phone [Bits blog of The New York Times, Feb 23, 2014] That is the Nokia X family will not only prepare the ground for its own Lumias but for these upcoming low-cost Windows Phone devices as well (also why IMHO Microsoft will not kill the Nokia X family after Nokia devices and services becomes part of it)


2. Nokia X family has been well positioned for the highest growth Indian market

X marks the sweet spot [Nokia Conversations, Feb 25, 2014]

We asked Jussi Nevanlinna, VP for Mobile Phone marketing, some of your questions about the new Nokia X family, why it’s important for Nokia and why customers will be delighted with the phones.

First of all, why now? Why is the timing now right for an Android-based smartphone from Nokia?

There are a couple of answers to that question.

To launch the Nokia X family, we needed to be able to create a product that was true to Nokia’s heritage in design and build quality. But we also needed to make it very affordable. Lots of different components had to come into place for us to create something that’s clear and easy to use, but also high quality and within people’s financial reach.

The other answer is that the market itself is moving. We’re the number one manufacturer in growth markets in the ‘entry-level’ and ‘feature phone’ categories. But a lot of those people are now aspiring to smartphone products. There are a significant number of users worldwide who are about to experience the Internet through a mobile device. As you can imagine, we want to be ready for them.

image

The Nokia X family is based on the Android Open Source Platform (AOSP). Does that put the future of the family at the mercy of Google?

To fully explain, this is a Nokia smartphone that runs Android apps. At its heart, we have AOSP on top of which we have added Nokia design and usability expertise to create the user interface that people see. Then we have added Nokia experiences like HERE Maps and Nokia MixRadio, and Microsoft services like Skype, Outlook.com and OneDrive. What we don’t have is Google services: this was deliberate. Instead, we have implemented Nokia and Microsoft services to create something truly differentiated.

So who is the target audience for the Nokia X family?

These are global products, which will be available pretty much everywhere except North America, Korea and Japan. We have a particular focus on growth markets – for example, India and China, Thailand and Indonesia then over to Egypt, Kenya and Nigeria, and South America, especially countries like Brazil, and Mexico. They are all places where we’re seeing this big shift from feature phones to affordable smartphones.

Our Nokia X family customers are young, social, very aspirational and are fans of Nokia. They love our brand and our product design. And they also love Android apps: the quantity and choice is very appealing to them.

So we’re offering them the best of three worlds:

  • Nokia design and build quality;
  • Microsoft cloud services; and
  • Android apps.

image

Does the X family compete with the Lumia family and maybe mean lost sales for Lumia?

Our approach to compete in the affordable smartphone market is twofold. While Lumia remains our primary smartphone platform and we continue to push the prices down, Nokia X addresses price points that are generally lower than those reached by Lumia, and we’ll keep pushing the Nokia X prices down even further.

In fact we see Nokia X as a stepping-stone to Lumia. With Nokia X we are bringing people the best of Nokia and Microsoft services and experiences, making a future switch to Lumia natural.

Some might see creating an Android-based device as strange considering that the plan is for Nokia’s devices and services business to join Microsoft soon?

I can’t speak on Microsoft’s behalf; what I can say is our strategy with Mobile Phones has been, and remains, connecting the next billion. Microsoft is equally focussed on ‘mobile first; cloud first. As I have explained, getting people exposed to and loving Microsoft and Nokia services in the affordable segment creates a natural pathway to Lumia, which is designed to be the pinnacle smartphone experience.

image

Technology becomes cheaper all the time. When it becomes possible to create a Lumia for $100, will the X family be retired?

I think the key word is ‘family’. We will be announcing more products in the family over the course of the next year, and the price range it covers will change to suit the markets. We will be taking Nokia X into even more affordable price points.

What do app developers need to do to make their Android apps available for the Nokia X family?

The short answer is: nothing. In the vast majority of cases, Android apps will run very well on the Nokia X family, out of the box.

Furthermore, we’re working with developers to make it very easy to submit apps into the Nokia Store. In most cases, they simply republish their apps to Nokia Store .

Where apps depend on functionality that isn’t on the Nokia X family devices, like Google Maps, we’ve created API plugins for the Android SDK to allow developers to simply tick the box to use HERE Maps instead.

image

And what advantages can developers and customers gain by using Nokia Store?

Android developers stand to make big gains by supporting the Nokia X family. We have heard many times that they find it hard to monetise their apps. One reason for that is, in emerging markets, people are a lot less likely to have credit cards. The Nokia Store offers in-app payments through operator billing, and we have the largest network of operators signed up for that. It’s been shown through experience that when operator billing is available, then revenues increase by up to five times.

That’s one reason the Nokia Store offers a better alternative. The other is from the user’s side. The Nokia Store is curated. The apps are screened and scanned so you won’t bump up against malware or inappropriate content. So they can shop in our store with confidence and security.

And worldwide, people are very comfortable with using third-party app stores that aren’t owned by Google. In Russia, the Yandex Store dominates the Android marketplace. In China, Google Play isn’t available, so all app purchases are through third parties. So you see, non-Google stores are already the norm for most Android owners.

Nokia X is a phone made for India [India Today, Feb 24, 2014]

The Finnish handset maker has finally unveiled its much talked of Android phone, the Nokia X, at the ongoing Mobile World Congress 2014.

Nokia has launched a family Android phones with three variants–Nokia X, X+ and XL–at affordable prices. All three Nokia X variants are going to be low-cost phones with the Nokia XL expected to be priced around Rs.9,000 [$145]. For now, the prices that have been revealed are: Nokia X for 89 euros, the X+ 99 euros and the larger LX carries a price tag of 109 euros.

Specs-wise, these are basic level phones. All three devices are powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon Dual Core processor and are dual SIM. The Nokia X comes with 4-inch display, the X+ has a bit of more storage options and the XL variant comes with 5-inch LCD screen and and 5-megapixel rear and 2-megapixel front cameras.

The Nokia X phones do not come with pre-installed Google Play Services. As a result the Play Store isn’t available on the Nokia X or Nokia X+. Though, Android apps can be downloaded through Yandex Store.

Once, Nokia was the leader of Indian mobile industry. Nokia feature phones used to be first choice of the Indian consumers. But it could not keep pace with the emergence of smartphones. Its competitors like Samsung, Sony and Micromax took away the markets from the Finnish handsets maker with innovative smartphones at affordable prices.

With affordable Android phones, the world’s largest smartphone maker, Samsung, is dominating the Indian market. Even, the home grown tech company Micromax made a market for itself with range of affordable Android phones having great features.

With its budget prices and widely used Android OS, the Nokia X series of smartphones will target the consumers looking to upgrade themselves from feature to smartphones. As the smartphone market is growing in India, given its brand reputation in the country, Nokia phones are going to give its competitors a run for their money in the sub Rs.10,000 [$161]segment. An Android phone from the Nokia at affordable price will be a good deal.

Well aware of its advantageous positing in the price-sensitive Indian market, Nokia has listed the X series devices on its India website as coming soon just after unveiling the devices at the ongoing Mobile World Congress 2014 in Barcelona.

Nokia Lumia 525 – First Impressions [Digit YouTube channel, Jan 7, 2014]

After the major success tasted by the entry level Lumia 520, Nokia has introduced the updated Lumia 525 for those wanting just a little more, at the same price

The current (Feb 25, 2014) lowest online price for Lumia 525 (in India) is on Snapdeal.com:

image
Rs 11499 [$186]
(list price) –> Rs 9519 [$154] Black/White –> Rs 9712 [$158 ] Yellow

Competing with the following models of the marketing leading brands (Samsung, Micromax, Karbonn):

image
Rs 11230 [$181] Rs 9244 [$149] … Rs 12100 [$195] Rs 9379 [$151] … Rs 12990 [$207] Rs 9997 [$161]
image

For comparison the preceding the Lumia 520 on the same site:

image
Rs 10499 [$169] (list price) –> Rs 7976 [$128] Black –> Rs 7995 [$129] White
–> Rs 8169 [$132 ] Yellow

Then some leading competitors for the Nokia X range (also from Snapdeal.com):

image
All list prices: Rs 9999 [$161] Rs 8949 [$144] … Rs 7225 [$117] … Rs 7895 [$127]

image

13767
6878
10957
7440
7623
Broadcom BCM23550
Broadcom BCM21654G
MediaTek MT6572
Qualcomm MSM8225
Qualcomm MSM8225

Which means a competitive on line pricing starting at most from:
Rs 7400 ($119) for Nokia X vs. the list price of EUR 89 [$122]* (Rs 7582)
Rs 8000 ($129) for Nokia X+ vs. the list price of EUR 99 [$136]* (Rs 8434)
Rs 8600 ($139) for Nokia XL vs. the list price of EUR 109 [$150]* (Rs 9284)
* Although these prices are before local taxes.

For  comparison the top of the Asha Touch range, the Asha 503 on the same site (currently):

image
Rs 7399 [$119] (list price) –> Rs 6549 [$106] Black/White –> Rs 6894 [$111] Yellow
–> Rs 6939 [$112] Red

Which means that the price of Asha devices could be lowered after the Nokia X devices appear on the market. This is especially true with the introduction of Asha 230 using the same SoC:

image

As the Asha 230 was announced for EUR 45 [$62]* (Rs 3823) you got an immediate price indication for such a decrease. In fact this new model is an effective replacement for the current Asha 500 as the entry level Nokia Asha Software Platform 1.1 device which has:

  • 2 MP rear camera instead of a 1.3 MP one on Asha 230
  • standby time up to 840 h (2G), talk time up to 14 h (2G) because of an 1200 mAh battery instead of the 1020 mAh one on Asha 230

but has the best online price of Rs 3999 ($66), actually from Nokia India against the list price of USD69 before taxes or subsidies.


3. The feature phone and smartphone markets in India according to CyberMedia Research India and IDC

From CMR announces top Telecom trends for 2014 in India [CyberMedia Research India press release, Dec 31, 2013]

CMR today released its MarketVision 2014 for Telecommunications in India.  Below are the key trends identified for 2014 for some priority segments.

Mobile Handsets

2013 witnessed the first time decline in growth of feature phones in India and this trend is going to further sharpen in 2014 as the primary focus of the industry as well as consumers would remain around the smartphones.

CMR identifies the following trends for 2014 in Smartphones

  • LTE enabled smartphone releases to be among priority areas of the vendors.
  • Chinese ODM’s have started taken a direct OEM route towards India Smartphone market.  CMR expect around 10 Chinese ODMs entering into India Mobile market in 2014.
  • ‘Made in India’ smartphones amount to 47% of the total sales.  With such tremendous growth and success witnessed by these brands in the local market, 2014 will be the time to look at newer geographies including MENA, Latin America and the SAARC [South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation] region for the home grown vendors.  CMR expects 3-4 such brands looking for new geographic markets.
  • With the increasing confidence and reliance of Indian consumers on the online retailing, particularly after the emergence of successful platforms like flipkart, CMR expects the role of ‘etailing’ becoming important for emerging brands who for various reasons cannot establish their physical distribution network across the country, particularly the non-metro cities and towns.
  • While the ecosystem partners like ODMs and app developers will be exploring Windows as a platform for mobility, CMR identifies Tizen, Firefox, Ubuntu and Sailfish among the new open source OSs emerging in 2014 in the India market.
  • CMR expects vernacular apps to start getting focus in 2014 from the developer community in the country.  Since national elections are going to be among the predominant themes for 2014, we expect a lot of apps being developed around this space which could be owned by a political party or being promoted by a neutral app developer.

62.9 million mobile handsets shipped in India during July-Sept 2013, a Y-o-Y growth of 10.9%; September registers, 19.5 million handset shipments; Nokia retains overall leadership [CyberMedia Research India press release, Nov 19, 2013]

  • Smartphone shipments cross 11.1 million units; Samsung still the market leader in smartphones category with Micromax and Karbonn at #2 and #3, respectively. Top 3 vendors make up nearly 63.1% of the total smartphone shipments.
  • Featurephone segment witnesses the first ever negative growth in shipments in the India Mobile handsets market.

According to CMR’s India Mobile Handsets Market Review, 3Q 2013, November 2013 release,India registered 62.9 million mobile handset shipments for the period July-September (3Q) 2013. During the same period, 11.1 million smartphones were shipped in the country.

image

Commenting on the results, Faisal Kawoosa, Lead Analyst, CMR Telecoms Practice said, “We have been saying that the way forward is smartphones. JAS 2013 is the first quarter to actually report this trend in numbers. This means vendors can expect to see large opportunities in the upgrades market where many featurephone users will upgrade to a smartphone. It may also so happen that new smartphone purchases register lower volumes vis-à-vis upgrades. But this phenomenon may be a few quarters away.”

“So there is going to be a huge opportunity as well as competition in the entry- to mid-level smartphone segments, which is where the volumes would remain for a while,” Faisal further added.

image

India Smartphones Market

The India smartphones market during July-September 2013 saw a rise in shipments by 152.3% over and above the July-September 2012 number, taking the contribution of smartphones to 17.6% of total mobile handset shipments during the period July-September 2013.

image

Commenting on these results, Tarun Pathak, Analyst, CMR Telecoms Practice said, “The India smartphones market continues to be a competitive space with close to brands vying with each other. Going forward, we expect this segment to be even more competitive as we expect some of the China-based ODM partners entering directly into the India market during 1H 2014. It will be interesting to see what impact this will have on the market share of existing smartphone players.”

“Another interesting observation is that local handset brands have now close to 47% market share in the India smartphones market and this momentum has been a source of confidence to a couple of players to enter new geographies outside India where the smartphone market is on the rise. Going forward 3G smartphone shipments will continue to rise and we can expect to see a few smartphone vendors introduce 4G-enabled devices by the end of 2013,” Tarun concluded.

Notes for Editors
    1. This release is a part of the CyberMedia Research (CMR) Smart Mobility Market Programme.
    2. CyberMedia Research (CMR) uses the term “shipments” to describe the number of handsets leaving the factory premises for OEM sales or stocking by distributors and retailers. For the convenience of media, the term shipments has been replaced by ‘sales’ in the press release, but this reflects the market size in terms of units of mobile handsets and not their absolute value. In the case of handsets imported into the country it represents the number leaving the first warehouse to OEMs, distributors and retailers. CyberMedia Research does not track the number of handsets brought on their person by individual passengers landing on Indian soil from overseas destinations or ‘grey market’ handsets. These are, therefore, not part of the CyberMedia Research numbers reported here.
    3. CyberMedia Research (CMR) tracks shipments of mobile handsets on a monthly basis. However, as per convention, the market size is reported on a calendar quarter basis where appropriate to the context; in all such cases this refers to an aggregated number for the three calendar months in the quarter to which the press release refers.
    About CyberMedia Research
    A part of CyberMedia, South Asia’s largest specialty publisher, CyberMedia Research (CMR) has been a front runner in market research, consulting and advisory services since 1986. CMR offers research and consulting services – insights, market intelligence, market sizing, ecosystem mapping and go-to-market services – covering the Information Technology, ITeS, Semiconductor & Electronics, Telecommunications, Government, SMB & Entrepreneurship, Smart Infrastructure, Energy & Utilities and Healthcare & Life Sciences verticals.
    Cyber Media Research Ltd., an ISO 9001: 2008 company, is a member of the Market Research Society of India (www.mrsi.in) and enrolled with ESOMAR (www.esomar.org) CMR’s forthcoming studies include stakeholder satisfaction surveys, mega spender assessments and market mapping studies for these domains.
    For more details, please visit http://www.cybermediaresearch.co.in or http://www.cmrindia.com/

    Explosive Smartphone Growth Driven by Lower-Priced Models, Cannibalises Feature Phone Sales in Indian Mobile Market, Says IDC [press release, Dec 2, 2013]

    The India smartphone market grew by 229% year over year (YoY) in the third quarter of 2013 (3Q13).  According to International Data Corporation’s (IDC) APEJ Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, vendors shipped a total of 12.8 million smartphones in 3Q13 compared to 3.8 million units in the same period of 2012. 3Q13 grew by close to 28% over the units shipped in the second quarter of 2013 (2Q13).

    The 5.0 inch-6.99 inch screen size smartphones (phablets) continued to show sustained growth in 3Q2013 as well – the phablet category contributed to 23% in the overall market in terms of volume.

    The overall mobile phone market (Feature Phones and Smartphones) had a 12% growth YoY and a 7% growth quarter over quarter (QoQ) with the share of feature phones sliding further to make 81% of the total market in 3Q13 despite the feature phone market growing at 3% in 3Q2013 over 2Q2013.

    imageimage

    Source: IDC Asia Pacific Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, 3Q 2013

    The third quarter of 2013 witnessed a slowdown in the numbers for top local vendors such as Micromax and Karbonn – while international vendors like Samsung and Nokia powered by their new product launches made up for close to 30% of the overall market in 3Q2013.

    “The growth in the smartphone market continues to drive the overall growth numbers for the phone market – given that there’s still a huge potential for smartphone penetration in India, this trend is expected to continue in the coming quarters”, said Manasi Yadav, Senior Market Analyst with IDC India.

    “The change agents for this rapid shift of consumer preference towards Smartphones have been the narrowing price gap between Feature phones and Smartphones. The Smartphone market is expected to maintain these elevated levels of growth in the near future” comments Kiran Kumar, Research Manager with IDC India.

    Top Five Smartphone Vendor Highlights

    Samsung: Samsung maintained its leadership spot with about 33% in terms of market share. Its smartphone shipments grew by close to 36% from 2Q 2013 to 3Q2013. The third quarter saw quite a few new launches across price points by Samsung – however the low-mid tier phones such as Galaxy S

    Duos and Galaxy Star continued to drive their volumes.

    Micromax: Micromax held on to its second spot with about 17% in terms of market share in 3Q2013. Some of the top selling models were A27 and A26 in terms of volumes – we have seen a dedicated marketing and advertising push from the brand with continued investments to up the brand recall.

    These efforts are expected to bear fruit in the coming quarters in time for their upcoming launches.

    image

    Karbonn: The market share for Karbonn in 3Q2013 was close to 11%, some of the top selling models for this brand were A6 and A50. There has been a significant pick-up for the Titanium range of phones especially S5 and S2 specifically.

    Nokia: The Lumia range of devices continued to show a growth trajectory in 3Q2013 and garnered close to 5% market share – the trend is expected to continue with greater support from Microsoft in the coming quarters. The third quarter of 2013 saw a few notable launches like the Lumia 625 and Lumia 925 which have been able to generate positive interest from consumers and developers alike.

    Lava : Lava made it to the top 5 for the first time in 3Q2013 owing to huge shipments coming in from its XOLO and IRIS range of competitively priced devices. Some of the top selling models for the brand are IRIS 349 and IRIS 402. Keeping in mind the shifting consumer preferences, there has been a conscious shift from feature phones to smartphones, which is expected to continue in the upcoming quarters too.

    Smartphone Prices Race to the Bottom as Emerging Markets Outside of China Come into the Spotlight for Future Growth, According to IDC [press release, Feb 24, 2014]

    Singapore and London, February 24, 2014 – Emerging markets have become the center of attention when talking about present and future smartphone growth. According to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, in 2013 the worldwide smartphone market surpassed 1 billion units shipped, up from 752 million in 2012.  This boom has been mainly powered by the China market, which has tripled in size over the last three yearsChina accounted for one out of every three smartphones shipped around the world in 2013, equaling 351 million units.

    Recently the surge in growth has started to slow as smartphones already account for over 80% of China’s total phone sales.  The next half billion new smartphone customers will increasingly come mainly from poorer emerging markets, notably India and in Africa

    “The China boom is now slowing,” said Melissa Chau, Senior Research Manager for mobile devices at IDC Asia/Pacific.  “China is becoming like more mature markets in North America and Western Europe, where smartphone sales growth is slackening off.”

    Emerging markets in Asia/Pacific outside of China, together with the Middle East and Africa, Central and Eastern Europe, and Latin America, account for four fifths of the global feature phone market, according to IDC data. “This is a very big market opportunity,” said Simon Baker, Program Manager for mobile phones at IDC CEMA.  “Some 660 million feature phones were shipped last year, which could add two thirds to the size of the current global smartphone market.”

    India will be key to future smartphone growth as it represents more than a quarter of the global feature phone market. “Growth in the India market doesn’t rely on high-end devices like the iPhone, but in low-cost Android phones. Nearly half of the smartphones shipped in India in 2013 cost less than US$120,” said Kiranjeet Kaur, Senior Market Analyst for mobile phones at IDC Asia/Pacific.

    Converting feature phone sales to smartphone sales implies a relentless push towards low cost,” added Baker. IDC research shows nearly half the mobile handsets sold across the world have retail prices of less than US$100 without sales tax. Two thirds of those have prices of less than US$50.

    “The opportunity gets larger the lower the price falls,” continued Baker. “If you take retail prices without sales tax, in 2013 nearly three quarters of the US$100-125 price tier was already accounted for by smartphones. Within US$75-100 the proportion was down to just over half, and between $50-75 it was not much more than a third.”

    Many smartphone vendors have begun gearing up for this next wave of cost pressure. Samsung is increasingly switching production to Vietnam, where manufacturing costs currently undercut mainland China. Even Hon Hai [better known outside as Foxconn], one of the largest contract manufacturers for handsets in China, has announced plans for a plant in Indonesia to furnish a lower production cost base.

    In addition to the table below, an interactive graphic showing worldwide sub-$100 feature phone shipments by region is available here. The chart is intended for public use in online news articles and social media. Instructions on how to embed this graphic can be found by viewing this press release on IDC.com.

    image

    image

    The China Smartphone Market Hiccups as Growth Streak Ends with First Sequential Decline in 2013 Q4, Says IDC [press release, Fev 13, 2014]

    Singapore and Hong Kong, February 13, 2014 – After 9 consecutive quarters of explosive growth, which propelled China into the top smartphone market in the world, the China smartphone market experience its first slowdown in 2013 Q4.

    According to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Asia/Pacific Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, shipped 90.8 million units compared to 94.8 million in 2013 Q3, declining by 4.3% quarter on quarter (see Figure 1). Several factors drove this stumble – for one, China Mobile’s 4G TD-LTE network went live on December 18, translating into supplies of 4G handsets not able to reach the market fully until 2014 Q1. The increasing popularity of phablets and channel inventory also played a role, whereby operators cut phone subsidies on phones with smaller screens, triggering distribution channels looking to clear out those stocks.

    “The world has increasingly looked to China as the powerhouse to propel the world’s smartphone growth and this is the first hiccup we’ve seen in an otherwise stellar growth path,” says Melissa Chau, Senior Research Manager with IDC Asia/Pacific’s Client Devices team.

    “There will certainly be future drivers to unlock further smartphone growth in China, as Apple demonstrated with its China Mobile tie-up in January, and the massive device migration to come of phones only supporting 2G and 3G networks to devices supporting 4G networks. However, we are now starting to see a market that is becoming less about capturing the low-hanging fruit of first time smartphone users and moving into the more laborious process of convincing existing users why they should upgrade to this year’s model”

    Looking ahead at the prospects for the Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan) region, with mature Asia/Pacific markets like already having hit market saturation and China growth facing more moderate increases, two trends will become more prominent.

    First, growth will increasingly shift to ever-more emerging markets. While India volumes significantly lag China, India has taken the number three ranking of largest smartphone markets in the world in 2013, surpassing Japan, the United Kingdom, South Korea, Germany and France, which were all ranked higher in 2012.

    Second, Chinese phone players which have previously been content to make their mark on the China market itself, are looking to expand their ambitions overseas. While this trend has started already through 2013, IDC expects it to become more common in 2014.

    Chinese players are getting hungrier to turn themselves into international rather than China-only brands. Nowhere is this more clear than Lenovo’s acquisition of Motorola’s handset business, and even smaller players, some unknown to much of the world, like Oppo, BBK, Gionee and of course Xiaomi are ramping up on international expansion.”

    Figure 1.
    Asia/Pacific (Excluding Japan) Smartphone Shipments by Sub-Region, 2011Q1-2013Q4

    image

    Notes:

    • Mature markets include Australia, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Singapore and Taiwan
    • SEA markets include Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam

    Source: Asia/Pacific Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, February 2014


    4. New low-cost Windows Phone partnering strategy by Microsoft especially aimed at the Indian market

    Mobile World Congress, Microsoft and Nokia [The Official Microsoft Blog, Feb 24, 2014]

    The following post is from Frank X. Shaw, Corporate Vice President of Communications at Microsoft.


    Mobile World Congress is in full swing in Barcelona this week, one of the biggest events of the year for the mobile industry. I love Barcelona, and am sad to miss MWC this year. There is something about the combination of the history and tradition of Barcelona past and the energy and innovation of Barcelona present, with all the attendees of MWC a punctuation mark. And there is always something new, companies with something to say.

    Microsoft is no exception. On Sunday afternoon, we hosted a press conference where we reinforced the momentum we’re seeing for Windows Phone – the fastest growing mobile OS with 91 percent year-over-year growth. We announced we’re working with nine new Windows Phone hardware partners , including Foxconn, Gionee, Lava (Xolo), Lenovo, LG, Longcheer, JSR, Karbonn and ZTE as well as a collaboration with Qualcomm to help more manufacturers build Windows Phones faster. You can read Joe Belfiore’s blog post [see also below] from yesterday for more details.

    Nokia held its press conference earlier Monday. They announced a number of new devices from their Mobile Phone division including Nokia X, which will compete with Android devices in the affordable smartphone category and introduce the Microsoft cloud to a new set of customers in growth markets.

    There’s been lots of speculation about what this announcement means for Microsoft and about our pending acquisition of Nokia’s Devices and Services business. Here are a couple of points to put things into context.

    First, our transaction with Nokia has not yet closed. Today, we operate as two independent companies as required by antitrust law, and we will until the acquisition is complete. The anticipated close timeframe for the acquisition remains end of the first quarter of 2014.

    Second, we’re pleased to see Microsoft services like Skype, OneDrive and Outlook.com being introduced on these devices. This provides the opportunity to bring millions of people, particularly in growth markets, into the Microsoft family. The Skype team on Monday announced an offer in select markets for the first customers who purchase a Nokia X, one month of Skype’s Unlimited World Subscription. Read the Skype blog for more details.

    Finally, our primary smartphone strategy remains Windows Phone, and our core device platform for developers is the Windows platform.

    It is a fascinating time in the industry today. The rate of improvements in devices, the breadth of services offered, the way consumers and businesses are using devices of all shapes and sizes to do more – it is a reminder to all of us that what is considered status quo in Barcelona this year has the potential to look very different in the rear view mirror a year from now.

    We’d have it no other way. 🙂

    Microsoft adds nine new Windows Phone hardware partners [press release, Feb 23, 2014]

    New hardware partners and tools will accelerate global scale.

    Microsoft Corp. on Sunday announced nine new hardware partners for Windows Phone and direct access to tools that will broaden the portfolio of devices for consumers and introduce new price points to accelerate growth in key markets. In addition to existing partnersNokia, Samsung, HTC and Huawei — Microsoft has announced it is now working with Foxconn, Gionee, Lava (Xolo), Lenovo, LG, Longcheer, JSR, Karbonn and ZTE to develop on the Windows Phone platform.

    With this latest news, Microsoft is now working with seven of the top 10 smartphone manufacturers in the world in addition to leading brands in China, India and Taiwan, representing more than 56 percent of the addressable market globally (IDC Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker, 2013). Customers can expect to see an even broader array of devices, from iconic to lower-cost options, coming to market.

    “We are pleased to add these new partners to our expanding Windows Phone ecosystem. They will be key contributors to continued growth across price points and geographies for Windows Phone,” said Nick Parker, corporate vice president of the OEM Division at Microsoft.

    Windows Phone is the fastest-growing smartphone operating system, according to IDC, and posted the largest increase for 2013 (90.9 percent), more than doubling the growth of the overall market during the year.

    Microsoft also unveiled expanded hardware support that provides more flexibility so Windows Phone partners can build devices to meet the unique needs of their region or customer segments. Microsoft is adding support for Qualcomm Snapdragon™ 200 and 400 processors by Qualcomm Technologies Inc. with options that support various major cellular technologies, including LTE (TDD/FDD), HSPA+, EVDO and TD-SCMA. Windows Phone will also support soft keys and dual SIM, critical requirements particularly in Asian markets. These changes allow for manufacturing partners to easily leverage existing design investments to diversify their portfolio to include Windows Phone devices, including larger screen phablets.

    On Sunday, Microsoft launched the Windows Hardware Partner Portal, which is designed to speed up device commercialization while minimizing development costs. Speed and economies are especially important for manufacturers needing to compete and win in the dynamic high-volume smartphone segment. The Windows Hardware Partner Portal is now open to all smartphone device manufacturers to learn about and begin the process to develop on the Windows Phone platform. Windows Phone device manufacturers will also be able to leverage the great services Microsoft has to offer in that market, which could include Office Mobile, Skype, Xbox and Bing; a growing app catalog; and features like Live Tiles and People Hub, which make Windows Phone so uniquely personal.

    To further help enable smartphone device manufacturers to quickly and easily broaden their portfolio to include Windows Phone devices, Microsoft and Qualcomm Technologies are collaborating to give OEMs and ODMs that are working with the various Qualcomm Reference Designs for Snapdragon 200 and 400 processors direct access to Microsoft tools, content and adaptation kits to build devices on the Windows Phone platform. With Microsoft and Qualcomm Technologies, through its Qualcomm Reference Design program, delivering the building blocks to help design and build Windows Phones, Microsoft hardware partners will be able to focus on differentiating their offering based on apps and services. Device manufacturers will now be able to choose from hundreds of ways to customize their Windows Phone devices while keeping the consistently high-quality experience that the Windows Phone platform provides.

    “We are making it easier, faster and more affordable for partners to develop a Windows Phone,” Parker said.

    The well-established Qualcomm Reference Design program offers Qualcomm Technologies’ leading technical innovation, differentiated hardware and software, easy customization options that save engineering costs, access to an ecosystem of hardware providers, and testing and acceptance readiness for regional and leading operator requirements.

    The expanded Windows Phone ecosystem will also provide mobile operators and retail partners with additional opportunities to offer white-label Windows Phone devices under their own brands. Mobile operators will also have more options to build custom apps and services for their Windows Phone devices that increase customer satisfaction, retention rates and revenue streams.

    Scaling Windows Phone, evolving Windows 8 [Windows Phone Blog, Feb 23, 2014]

    The following post is from Joe Belfiore, Corporate Vice President of corporate vice president of Windows Phone and Windows Program Management & Design at Microsoft.


    A lot of you folks know me as “the Windows Phone guy.” Over the past five years I’ve been co-managing the Windows Phone product team on a mission to make Windows Phone a delightful and successful platform. Recently my job changed to focus not just on Windows Phone but also on the user experience of Windows 8 and future versions of Windows. Today Nick Parker and I had a chance to talk to media and analysts from around the world attending Mobile World Congress in Barcelona—we shared some updates about Windows and Windows Phone, and we announced a new phase in our plan to continue growing and scaling Windows Phone globally.

    Let’s start with Windows Phone.

    We’ve experienced steady growth in recent years due to our “highly personal” approach to the smartphone experience and the amazing devices we’ve seen from our hardware partners HTC, Huawei, Nokia and Samsung. Together we’ve solidified our spot among the top three operating systems and celebrated some impressive milestones:

    • Recognized as the fastest growing OS with 91% year-over-year growth in 2013 (IDC, February 2014)
    • More than 10% share across Europe—which is more than double compared with last year. (Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, January 2014)
    • Most important to me, we’ve seen high customer satisfaction data—a fact that even our competitors have acknowledged!
    • Reached critical mass in the Windows Phone Store (now over 240,000 apps) and are still growing – fast – with an average of 500 apps added each day. We’ve had key additions such as Instagram, Vine, Waze and Mint—and today, we announced Facebook Messenger will be available in the coming weeks.

    This past year was especially busy as we delivered three updates to the Windows Phone platform—we continued building the platform out for scale (via new chipsets, new carrier/country support, and more screen sizes) and we enabled some great scenarios for customers (e.g. the Nokia Lumia 41 MP camera and advanced camera features).

    New Windows Phone Hardware Partners

    Broadly speaking, our partners overall are the engine of growth for Windows. In addition to our great partners HTC, Huawei, Nokia and Samsung, today in Barcelona we announced we’re now working with nine new Windows Phone partners, including: Foxconn, Gionee, JSR, Karbonn, Lava (Xolo), Lenovo, LG, Longcheer and ZTE. Collectively, Windows Phone partners make up an impressive 56 percent of the global smartphone market, according to IDC.

    This is exciting news for phone buyers around the world. With seven of the top 10 global OEMs—in addition to some of the leading brands in China, India and Taiwan— now collaborating with Windows Phone, you can expect to see an incredible new range of devices across screen sizes and price points. And of course we’re committed to delivering this device diversity without compromising the consistent, designed-around-you Windows Phone experience our users have grown to love.

    Some of these partners are names that might not be familiar to you, but they’re leading the global expansion in the smartphone category. They bring competitive products to market because of their knowledge of the local markets, channels and consumers. They are important partners that will help broaden availability of Windows Phones to new and emerging markets.

    New Windows Phone Hardware Support

    Getting a wider range of device builders to create Windows Phones required us to enable even more hardware flexibility and to make the engineering process of building a Windows Phone even easier. Thus we also announced:

    • We are adding support for Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 and 400 series chipsets, with options that support all major cellular technologies, including LTE (TDD/FDD), HSPA+, EVDO and TD-SCMA. We will also support soft keys and dual SIM where our partners want it for their devices. One nice benefit of these additions is that many hardware vendors will be able to use the same hardware for both Android and Windows Phone devices.
    • To streamline the process of building a Windows Phone device, today we launched the Windows Hardware Partner Portal so that all our hardware partners will have direct access to the tools and content needed to build and market their Windows Phone devices efficiently and cost-effectively.

    We also are working closely with Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. to help manufacturers anywhere in the world quickly and easily broaden their portfolio by building Windows Phone devices through the well-established Qualcomm Reference Design (QRD) program. Making it easier for manufacturers to take advantage of reference design options is an important step for Windows Phone. ABI Research notes a major smartphone industry shift towards reference designs since they speed time to market, and estimates that more than 400 million reference design smartphones will be shipped in 2014.

    Evolving Windows 8

    As part of my “new job,” I talked as well about Windows on tablets and PCs, and what to expect from us in the near future.

    We are committed to making Windows the best place for our partners to build great devices. Today that means different screen sizes, input methods, connectivity needs, and usage scenarios. Above all, we want that experience to feel natural for our customers. We want it to be familiar and tailored to the device. We want your stuff to be there no matter where you are, ready for whatever you need, and we want it to run beautifully on hardware made by partners around the world.

    With Windows 8, there’s no doubt that we made a big bet and took a first step toward that future. We bet on touch and on mobility in a big way, and included a fresh take on what a touch-based interface could be for customers. We believe deeply in this direction and the future will continue to build on Windows 8.

    We shipped Windows 8.1 in under a year in response to customer and partner feedback, and we’ll continue to refine and improve Windows to deliver a productive and delightful experience for all users on all devices. And, you’ll see us continue on a more rapid release cadence where we deliver ongoing value to all your Windows devices.

    Over the next few months, we’ll continue to deliver innovation and progression with an update to Windows 8.1, coming this spring. We’re especially excited about several things I want to preview with you here.

    • We’ll enable our partners to build lower cost hardware for a great Windows experience at highly competitive price points.
    • We are making improvements to the user interface that will naturally bridge touch and desktop, especially for our mouse and keyboard users. We have a number of targeted UI improvements that keep our highly satisfying touch experience intact, but that make the UI more familiar and more convenient for users with mouse/keyboard. Don’t worry, we still LOVE and BELIEVE IN touch… but you’ll like how much more smooth and convenient these changes make mouse and keyboard use!
    • We are enhancing support for enterprise customers via a few tweaks, particularly including features that greatly improve IE8 compatibility in Internet Explorer 11, which is especially critical for web-based line of business applications. Additionally, we’re extending mobile device management capabilities and making deployment easier.

    More news still to come

    Speaking of our enterprise customers, we are also hard at work on delivering a compelling new update for Windows Phone that will add key features for consumers, as well as a big investment in enterprise customer capabilities, including VPN, S/MIME support, enterprise Wi-Fi, extended mobile device management and certificate management. Along with a host of great developer and consumer value, we expect to deliver this to customers this spring with new phones following as we move into summer.

    2013 was an exciting and busy year chock full of big changes in our industry and at Microsoft. I’m really excited about seeing what the new and hot technologies are as Mobile World Congress opens tomorrow, and even more excited about the work we’ll be able to deliver for customers, partners and developers over the next several months. Stay tuned!

    Q.&A. With Joe Belfiore on the Future of Windows Phone [Bits blog of The New York Times, Feb 23, 2014]

    Joe Belfiore is the corporate vice president of Microsoft Windows Phone, and he oversees the software that powers handsets using the company’s operating system. Microsoft is expected to close its $7.2 billion deal to buy the handset and services division of Nokia by the end of March. The acquisition will give Microsoft control of both mobile software and hardware, as it looks to expand its 4 percent market share in global smartphone sales. Mr. Belfiore will play a crucial role in Microsoft’s efforts to take on Apple and the cellphone makers that use Google’s Android operating system.

    On Sunday, Mr. Belfiore declined to comment on rumors that Nokia would unveil an Android-based phone on Monday at the Mobile World Congress conference in Barcelona. But during a news conference earlier in the day, he said, “What they do as an independent company is up to them. There are some things they do that we are excited about. There are other things that we are not so excited about.”

    The following is an edited interview with Mr. Belfiore on other questions facing Microsoft and Windows Mobile.

    Q. You have talked about 2013 being a year that Windows Phone had to eat its vegetables. What do you mean by that?

    A. We faced a massive problem. It would have been very difficult to create a range of devices for every operator at every price that included every app in the world. We decided to focus on building something at a limited set of price points in a small, limited number of countries. That’s what we did this year. We had to get that right. Now that we’ve done that, we want to get Windows Phone at more price levels and in more countries.

    Q. It’s difficult to attract users if you can’t offer them the apps that they want. But to get the apps, you need users. How do you solve that problem?

    A. There’s no magic solution. We have to grow phone volume where we can. To increase our market share, we have to be available where customers are at low-cost and high-end price points. The stage is now set. Given our hardware partners, and Microsoft and Nokia coming together, we are in a good position to kick-start our market share.

    Q. The Microsoft-Nokia acquisition is expected to close this quarter. What excites you about the deal?

    A. There are some straightforward benefits. We can build on our existing healthy engineering relationship between software and hardware. And when one company takes products to market, it can tell the story with one voice. That will be a benefit. The biggest problem we face is how to get the word out about what we do. Those marketing activities, the storytelling around our products, are underestimated.

    Q. When Microsoft closes the deal with Nokia, it will compete directly with other handset makers that also use the Windows Phone operating system. What is your response to that?

    A. We can help build the market for Windows Phones. When there’s a healthy ecosystem, there’s a sales opportunity for all our partners. There are some markets and some countries where Nokia already competes with other manufacturers. But there’s a large opportunity out there. There are niches that are partners will be able to fill.

    Q. Many of your recent partnerships and announcements have focused on emerging markets. Is that a major priority?

    A. It’s not our only focus, but it’s a very big one. The purpose of low-cost phones in emerging markets is to drive volume. But doing high-end products like the Lumia 1520 and Lumia 1020 also gives an aspirational view of the way the product line will go.

    Q. In a year’s time, where would you like the Windows Phone experience to be?

    A. A year from now, I would like to have widespread consumer knowledge of the type of value proposition that is available with Windows Phone. People who use the phones have a favorable experience with them. But we need to get the word out there.

    Q. Smartphones that use either Android or Apple’s iOS have almost 95 of the global market share. What is your response to analysts who say that Microsoft should give up on Windows Phone?

    A. We benefit from investing in mobile innovation. And we think we have a lot to offer our partners and customers. The mobile market will continue to grow, the opportunities will continue to grow. We are not going anywhere.

    Q. Microsoft has just appointed a new chief executive. How does Windows Phone fit into his vision?

    A. The way we’ve built our team and how we have approached innovation is massively focused on mobile first, cloud first. That’s very much aligned with the vision that he has outlined.


    1 Comment

    1. Sam says:

      Great, very helpful thanks for this POST.

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