How Nokia can regain Its African market share
Africans’ affinity for Nokia phones has long been evident and in its hey days the Finnish phone maker controlled more than 80% market share in sub Saharan Africa phone market. That is now history and Microsoft’s newly owned phone maker has less than 10% of smartphone market although it still controls more than 40% of standard phone market. The continent of 1Billion people is one of the largest and fastest-growing markets for the phone manufacturers with penetration still being less half. It is thus no wonder that the launch of the new touchscreen versions of Nokia phones like Lumia brands that have been well received across the continent by the middle class and upper class in the continent. The Finnish company introduced its new offering to African early last year and has so far fared well. With all its new features and a brand new windows operating system, Africans have taken to the new smartphone. As the dark clouds of smartphone market competition heats up creating uncertainty about guaranteed market share in Africa continues to cast a shadow over the region, Nokia cannot afford to take for granted its current market brand robustness.It is not only the short term market outlook that the Nokia business strategists should be concerned with but more importantly the longer term horizon is more critical, given the importance of drawing up a coherent strategy that could help catch up with South Korean firms LG and Samsung together with Chinese brands that currently dominate the market. Nokia must develop a clear pillar to stand on besides competition against the Asian manufacturers that have kept the market humming along for the past few years but unless Nokia revives its business model, its long-term market future is at risk.
African market share can buffer Nokia against global market uncertainty especially North America and Europe, but it must not underestimate the importance of new way of doing business in Africa. Currently, Nokia Lumia smartphones only account for less 1% of African growth, a number that must be increased for a more balanced growth for the company.Nokia must develop high-tech phones that are engaged in a technology that can meet tomorrow’s demand and must invest in innovations across the continent. In such a crowded market, Nokia will have to work hard to gain the confidence of African consumers. The fact that Africa is now a huge market for smartphones is no longer a secret. Multinational brands from around the world are beating a path to its doors, excited by the vast potential on offer. While this is encouraging, companies such as Nokia must also show their commitment to the continent. One positive aspect of Nokia’s operations in Africa is that it has been focusing on developer communities over the past two decades. It is important for Nokia to shows Africa’s based developers have an opportunities to work with it to further their skills and knowledge. Looking forward, hopefully Nokia under Microsoft’s watch will consider assembling or manufacturing some of it products in Africa, providing new opportunities for local small and medium-sized companies as well as creating jobs. By doing so, Nokia will tie its future more deeply with that of Africa, the world’s second largest mobile phone market. Such a move will truly revive the fortunes of the Finnish brand.