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HMD Global to bring 5G across all price points: CEO

HMD Global, the maker of Nokia-branded phones, is working to bring 5G technology across its portfolio globally and in India, and is taking the partner-led approach to make smartphones affordable, helping push the migration from feature phones, a top official said.

“One of our key focus areas is to bring 5G deep across our portfolio. Last year, we launched six 5G devices in our portfolio and we have launched two exclusive models with a US carrier which were both aimed at the more affordable price point. This is allowing us to get the scale to now further expand in 2022…,” HMD Global Chief Executive Officer Florian Seiche.

HMD had last year partnered with Reliance Jio to offer subsidies on four smartphone models. Seiche said that the company is “seeing a good momentum also on this and partnership with key operator partners like Jio is encouraging.”

“We see consumer finances becoming more and more important in different parts of the world to again help the customers move from their features to,” he said, adding that the financing options allows consumers to buy quality devices.

He further added that HMD will focus on how to further deepen its ability to source locally, produce locally and enter into go-to-market partnerships for the sales and marketing. “The Indian market is very competitive so we have to look at all the aspects of the process to bring the best value to the customers.”

The company has started exports of its ‘Made in India’ feature phone to UAE and is also evaluating smartphone exports from India.

“We have worked hard last year and started exports from India. Today, India is important for our local manufacturing strategy, not just for domestic but for exports as well,” the top executive said.

The company is working with Lava International, Dixon and Rising Star to locally manufacture feature phones and smartphones through factories in Noida, Uttar Pradesh and Sriperumbudur, Tamil Nadu. Most of HMD’s smartphones are being manufactured by Lava and Dixon while Rising Star makes feature phones for the company.

Seiche said that the core growth came from smartphones – a 40% year-on-year growth in 2021 – which helped the company become profitable.

“That (smartphones) is a clear driver and is also true for India. In 2022, it will be a growth driver for India. We would have been able to do even more but there is still tightness in the supply chain, especially at the entry part, but we expect to be on a strong growth trajectory for this year.”

HMD is also focusing on the enterprise market to sell phones bundled with services. It is building its services as a business to tap the enterprise opportunity.

“It is one of the key growth drivers because enterprise focuses on quality, security and upgradability resonate. There is a very rational decision-making process, so we come out naturally very strong,” he said.

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