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Monday, June 30, 2003

India ko No Kia
Satya Prakash

FINNISH mobile phone giant Nokia has ruled out any immediate plans to establish a manufacturing or assembling unit in India to cater to its growing market in the country.

"We are catering not just to the Indian market. We are a global player and we decide our strategy keeping in mind the needs of our global market," Nokia’s Vice President Sales South East Asia Pacific (SEAP) Tyler McGee says.

"We have two manufacturing units - one in China and other in South Korea and they are able to meet the demands," he adds.

McGee, however, was quick to add that Nokia was committed to the Indian market. "We have our infrastructure and Research and Development facility in India and we will review our policy depending upon market demands."

Asked about introducing cheaper mobile phones for low-end users, he asserts that Nokia is already catering to such users in countries like India, Vietnam and other developing markets through various affordable handsets, including Nokia 3315.

Admitting that grey market exists in Asia, McGee says: "We are not police. We cannot check that. But we will certainly work with the local authorities to convince the customers that they should buy handsets only from authorised dealers.

McGee denies price as the factor behind the flourishing grey market "There are several other factors like levy and price was just one of them," he adds and says Nokia is already manufacturing seven CDMA handsets but only two of them were available in India.

"We are focussing on key products, a select brand of phones and not all," he says, adding the company would work with local CDMA operators to make it more affordable.

He cited Nokia’s recent agreement with Reliance for supply of CDMA handsets and expressed the hope that more such agreements will be reached.

Terming India’s mobile phone market as one of the biggest in the world, Nokia’s Director Imaging business Unit, Asia Pacific Mauro Montanaro says the company will introduce more affordable handsets with varying price ranges in India.

"You will see segmentation of phones. We plan to keep the categories and of course different price ranges," he said.

Montanaro says Nokia will add video cameras to the cheaper models in the near future.

"Existing models will be fitted with cameras to bring down the cost of possessing video phones, though these may not have some of the sophisticated video imaging facilities," he adds.