New Tune: Nokia rings in retail-distribution model

NOKIA India, betting big on its bouquet of mobile services to win back lost market share, has forayed into a retail distribution model. The Finnish giant has set up 350 shop-inshops inside mobile phone retail stores in top 16 cities from where it plans to distribute and sell services such as applications, music, navigation and email solutions, a senior official at Nokia India said.

This is the first time the world’s largest mobile phone company has initiated a retail distribution model for its services venture. Nokia has plans to scale this up in a big way, especially in the rural areas, once the pilot phase is over in another six months.

“Since PC and broadband penetration is low in India, it is important to build a retail distribution model to take services to the masses,” said Nokia India head (OPM & devices) Jasmeet Gandhi. “This will be a platform which will have immense possibilities and the potential to transform the services business as we can tap our huge dealer network,” he said.

Nokia India is also soon coming with a local billing model for its mobile applications store, Ovi Store. At present, there are around 50,000 applications in the store. “We will also make available the applications store in our services retail point so that consumers can conveniently buy mobile applications there,” said Mr Gandhi.

The retail distribution from Nokia comes at a time when the company has already made a few of its services free in India. It has already made navigation service free and has recently announced free unlimited download of music with select handsets. Nokia feels such a strategy will be vital as more than 80% of Indian consumers already access or download free digital content.

“While free music is currently available in five handsets, we plan to take this to handsets across price bands or at least the top 15 models. This even includes the mass market range which runs on the S40 operating system,” said Mr Gandhi.

Even though its early days for Nokia in the mobile services space, India has already emerged as one of the top markets. India ranks amongst the top three market for music downloads with around one million registered users, next to UK and Italy.

In terms of total downloads from the Ovi Store, India ranks amongst the top three markets and in navigation services, it figures amongst the top ten countries. For push email service, Nokia is clocking more than one lakh activation per month in India, making it amongst the top five markets globally.

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