Nokia India's Managing Director and Vice-President D Shivakumar, will take over as the head of the newly-formed India, Middle East and Africa global sales region, next year. The restructuring has been announced at a time when the company is steadily losing its market share. In an interview with Bibhu Ranjan Mishra and Pradeesh Chandran, he discusses the company’s strategy after the launch of its much-talked Windows-based smartphones. Edited excerpts:
You are moving to a global role at a time when Nokia is steadily losing market share in India?
You can check out what has happened to everybody after the launch of Nokia’s dual SIM mobile phones. This will give you an understanding about our position in the market. The reason why I will not be able to talk about our market share is that at my level if I speak about it, it will be seen as a guidance to the market. All I can tell you is that Nokia's dual SIM phones are doing exceedingly well.
Is Nokia still the number one preference of buyers? Have you done any internal or third-party study recently?
I don’t need to do a study to tell this. Nokia has been a very loved and regarded brand in India. It is doing well. It is doing the right innovation, has got the right portfolio and right consumer traction.
Do you think the timing of restructuring is right, especially when your competitors are going aggressively in the smartphone segment?
There is never a good time or bad time for any organisational change. In February, we announced our plans to use Microsoft’s Windows phone platform. Now we are announcing a structure, which is in line with that strategy. And we want this new organisational structure to start working from January 1. That’s why we have announced it four months ahead of the actual implementation, so that, all the ground works can be done.
Has the company identified your successor yet?
It won’t happen immediately. Till I find my successor, I will continue to manage our India business. Besides, we have got a good team here.
In the new structure, you have kept India in a different bracket with the Middle East and Africa. Why is it so?
If you look at India, the Middle East and Africa, these markets have very common consumer characteristics in terms of technology usage. Essentially, all these geographies are feature-rich markets with smartphone category still in a growing phase. These markets are predominantly pre-paid, not operator-led. Average revenue per user is low. So, we thing it is the right categorisation, especially for durables in technology.
Your competitors have already launched Windows phones in India. What is new in Nokia Windows phone?
Not just in forms, the differences would be in terms of location services, music and the tight integration of social media, including Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin.
How many products you are planning to launch on the Windows platform?
We are going to start with two models. We will then see how these are working, and will launch newer models later on.
What about the concerns of Symbian users?
We are still launching Symbian products and are committed to it till 2016.
While announcing the new structure, you talked of reducing jobs globally by 3,500. How will it affect your India team?
We don’t give any data by regions. We have already done a big restructuring as a part of which we moved Symbian to Accenture. We have transferred a number of Symbian engineers and R&Dpeople to Accenture and that has gone very well in India. It is a very positive thing and people are very happy.
You have announced the closure of your plant in Romania, and plan to shift some works to Asia. Will it strengthen your Chennai plant?
Nokia’s plant in Chennai is the largest cell phone factory for any company in the world. Our investment there has exceeded $300 million so far, even though our original commitment was only $150 million. We export to more than 70 countries from there. It is a very big operation and we will continue to invest in it.