Although we are about two months away from the year end, 2013 is turning out to be the most happening in terms of devices – even by technology’s fast paced standards. In which other year do you recall having witnessed such massive changes? BlackBerry up for sale. Nokia acquired by Microsoft. Smartphone sales shipments overtaking feature phone sales worldwide for the first time ever. Samsung overtaking Apple in smartphone sales. Apple outperforming Coca-Cola as the highest equity brand in the world.
Added to this, 2013 has turned out to be a global boom year for mobile handsets which have registered a 7.5% growth compared to a flat 2012. This growth is primarily driven by the surge in sales in the under $200 smartphone category in developing countries, especially South Asia and the Pacific region. Smartphone sales worldwide are expected to surpass one billion units.
####Khurram Mahboob on what to expect in 2014 from the fast paced world of mobile devices
In South Asia, smartphone penetration is booming and the opportunities are enormous. India, for example, has a smartphone penetration of only 18% compared to 71% in China. Although in Pakistan smartphone penetration is said to have crossed the seven million mark, in a country with over 125 million connections, a five percent share is miserably low, reinforcing the notion that Pakistan is still a feature phone dominated market. However, smartphone adoption rates are growing exponentially with double digit growth. Aggressive marketing and rising consumer awareness, falling prices, the ubiquity of under $200 category products and increased support by carriers are further accelerating adoption rates.
Smartphone penetration in Pakistan can largely be credited to QMobile which has singlehandedly changed the dynamics of the handset market. Today QMobile mirrors what Nokia once used to be as a quasi monopoly player in the device market. It is amazing (and a classic marketing management study that should be taught at business schools) how an entrepreneurial small scale venture has successfully focused on different segment tiers, thereby winning strong equity and an established name. This year, QMobile, with a range of 60+ handset variants, has crossed the one million sales mark in a single month. This achievement, however, is nothing compared to the fact that as per market intelligence figures released for Q3 2013, QMobile is the second most preferred device in Pakistan with the customers of the majority of mobile networks, with Nokia continuing to be in the number one slot. This is sheer brilliance given that only three years ago Nokia had cornered 70% of the market. Nokia’s decline has opened up space for other local investors to introduce Android-based smartphones and these efforts have borne fruit with marketing dollars spent by companies such as Huawei, Megagate and United Mobile.
####Samsung is the market leader in Pakistan in the premium smartphone category... Nokia Pakistan has continued to lose volume share, although the launch of the Nokia Lumia 920, Lumia 820 and Lumia 620 surprised everyone
In keeping with global trends, Samsung is the market leader in Pakistan in the premium smartphone category and the Galaxy series has been a real success. This year, Samsung has largely focused on ensuring wider market awareness of their product portfolio. They have also strengthened their distribution network and brought in Muller & Phipps as a third distributor to ensure optimal reach and penetration.
HTC’s performance on the other hand was disappointing in terms of product innovation and the company saw a decline in market share compared to 2012. Globally too, HTC is facing the critical issue of having failed to launch a blockbuster smartphone this year. Nevertheless, in Pakistan HTC enjoys a very strong uptake in the $150 to 300 category.
Nokia Pakistan has continued to lose volume share, although the launch of the Nokia Lumia 920, Lumia 820 and Lumia 620 surprised everyone both with the rate of uptake and a powerful product performance. Nokia further grew its popular Asha range by introducing the Asha 501 and Asha 210. These launches were supported by a massive marketing investment, which in my opinion will pay off. There is not much Nokia can do in Pakistan so long as Android remains the ‘love OS’ for customers, but watch this space as Windows also commands strong loyalty.
These trends relate to the consumer segment in Pakistan, and in my opinion there is also a huge opportunity to be tapped in the enterprise segment. The segment’s untapped value has further increased by BlackBerry’s weakening share in the corporate segment.
In fact this segment is wide open to anyone ready to enter it. However, a word of caution; there is a reason why BlackBerry enjoyed a monopoly in this segment and this was because their business and email solutions were and are still unparalleled. My million dollar advice to Nokia is to venture seriously into this segment. With Microsoft as the hardware saviour, Nokia has the best arsenal to enter this segment, especially as Nokia’s deeper collaboration with Microsoft will potentially enable them to take their business mobility solutions to a new level entirely. Already, as the lines between business and entertainment continue to blur, Nokia has cleverly expanded its business mobility solutions to a wider range of mobile phones. All Lumia phones are business optimised with full access to Microsoft Office and Office Outlook. Nokia must now bring these business solutions to the Asha range as this will be greatly beneficial to young professionals looking for affordable yet feature rich mobile phones.
Khurram Mahboob is a telecom professional in Pakistan. firstname.lastname@example.org