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Nokia

Nokia’s comeback phone in China gets a collective yawn from buyers

The Nokia 6 looks doomed to failure after notching up just 230,000 pre-orders in the first 24 hours, well behind rivals

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 January, 2017, 7:45pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 January, 2017, 11:24pm

Nokia’s comeback device, launched exclusively in China, is unlikely to make a splash in the world’s largest smartphone market as the 230,000 pre-orders it achieved in the first 24 hours does not qualify it for entry into what analysts call “the mainstream market”.

Priced at 1,699 yuan, the Nokia 6 is the first new smartphone carrying the iconic handset name since 2014 when Nokia Oyj chose to sell its entire handset unit to Microsoft. It shoulders the task of reviving the connection the brand used to have with hundreds of millions of phone users in China.

Nokia does have a very recognisable brand, but so do Motorola, Sony and LG. Look what they get today
Xiang Ligang, CEO, cctime.com

HMD Global, the current owner of the Finnish brand, put the device - which runs on Google’s Android platform and is manufactured by Foxconn - on shelves in China on Wednesday by partnering exclusively with Chinese online retail major JD.com. Some 231,228 pre-orders had been placed on JD.com by 3:06 pm on Thursday, 24 hours after the Nokia 6’s online debut.

Di Jin, research manager of IDC China, said that Nokia 6’s pre-order performance is not in the same league as Apple or Samsung Electronics, whose smartphones can easily get millions of pre-orders on the first day of launch.

“The number is not impressive even compared with China’s home grown brands, which means Nokia 6 does not pass the bar to enter the mainstream market,” she said.

In comparison, Meizu’s Note 5 attracted 6 million pre-orders in the first 24 hours after launch, while LeEco’s Le Pro 3 smartphone reached 3.5 million.

The pre-ordering period for the Nokia 6 will last until 9:30am on January 19. Only those who pre-ordered will get the chance to buy the device when it goes on sale later on the same day. However, no deposit is required to pre-order the device, which means there is the possibility that some potential buyers may give up the chance in the end.

Nokia was once the world’s dominant cellphone maker but missed the shift to smartphones. In its glory days in China, it captured about 40 per cent of the market for phones.

Finland-based HMD Global is betting on using the device to make consumers remember the qualities that made the company the leading handset maker of the late 1990s and early 2000s.

“With our passionate team, startup attitude, a brand with a 95 per cent worldwide awareness and a unique, asset-light partnership approach, we believe we are perfectly placed to forge a new way in mobile,” Florian Seiche, president of HMD Global, said in an earlier statement.

Nokia needs to have a technology breakthrough to come back and stand out
Xiang Ligang, CEO, cctime.com

However, brand awareness alone is not going to help Nokia regain its glory, especially amid the increasingly fierce competition in China’s smartphone market, said analysts.

Statistics from Counterpoint Technology Market Research show that four of China’s top five smartphone vendors by shipment are Chinese now. Apple ranked fifth in the third quarter of 2016 with 8.6 per cent market share.

“Nokia does have a very recognisable brand, but so do Motorola, Sony and LG. Look what they get today,” said Xiang Ligang, an independent analyst and CEO of the telecom industry website cctime.com.

“Nokia needs to have a technology breakthrough to come back and stand out. Otherwise, how it is going to compete with China’s home grown vendors, which are really good at producing high-quality smartphones at prices that are not premium at all?” he said.