Analysis: Even in emerging markets, Nokia's star is fading

Sun Apr 29, 2012 8:14am EDT
 
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By Devidutta Tripathy and Tarmo Virki

NEW DELHI/HELSINKI (Reuters) - Nokia phones once took pride of place in Manish Khatri's Mumbai store, but now models made by Samsung Electronics get the limelight.

He has nothing against Nokia, he says, but it's better for business to push the more popular models.

That simple calculation is being made in thousands of stores across India and similar emerging markets, where Nokia's rivals used to be relative minnows.

For 14 years the world's biggest seller of mobile phones, it was overtaken by Korea's Samsung in the first quarter of this year, having already watched both Apple and Samsung leapfrog its lead in the lucrative smartphone segment last year.

In the popular narrative of Nokia's eclipse, it is Apple's iPhone that steals the light, but the company is also losing its shine in the basic phone market, which had been a reliable generator of profits and carried the promise of years of strong growth in emerging markets.

No more.

Its basic phone sales fell 16 percent in the first three months of 2012, and have fallen in four of the last five quarters, while competitors like China's ZTE and Huawei have been growing fast.

In India, the world's second-biggest mobile phone market, with more than 900 million subscribers, Nokia's market share has halved in the three years to 2011, when it sold 31 percent of the total 183 million handsets sold, according to Indian researcher CyberMedia.   Continued...

 
Nokia's President and CEO Stephen Elop gestures as he speaks during a news conference for the launch of the new Nokia Lumia products in Beijing, March 28, 2012. REUTERS/Soo Hoo Zheyang