By Tefo Mohapi
Recently Nokia announced a partnership with Microsoft. Following that, they have since launched Windows Mobile powered Nokia Lumia Smartphones. With Nokia being the dominant brand as far as mobile phones are concerned in Africa, I thought it would be great to chat with Tom Erskine from Nokia to get more insight on their smartphone vision for Africa and in general.
Tefo Mohapi: Tell me a bit about the Microsoft partnership.
Tom Erskine: When Stephen Elop joined Nokia (as Chief Executive Officer) in October 2010 and he realised that a new direction was needed. We needed a partner and Microsoft presented the best opportunity. So in February 2011 he outlined a vision for the company which included partnering with Microsoft to develop a range of Smartphones running Windows Mobile.
8 months later – at Nokia World 2011 in London – we unveiled the first 2 products (as a result of partnership): Nokia Lumia 800 & Nokia Lumia 710, both of which have been well received.
TM: Sounds great, but where does Symbian fit in? Does it still feature in Nokia’s future?
TE: Symbian remains a key platform for us and we have just launched new products including the Nokia 701, 700 and 603 on this platform (Symbian). Symbian Belle is a fantastic new UI (User Interface) and the quality and specifications of the products we have released will resonate well with mainstream consumers.
TM: So the strategy will still involve offering both feature phones and smartphones. Taking into consideration your dominance in Africa?
TE: We are committed to offering the best portfolio of products across different price bands / price points. Africa is a big region and we want to offer consumers the best proposition at whichever price level they are interested in. To this point we are definitely interested in driving Smartphones in Africa and our recent launch of the Nokia N9 in South Africa shows this. It would be way too simplistic to label Africa a “feature phone” market, demand for smartphones is there.
TM: Let’s talk about applications, still continuing with the Ovi Store with Windows Mobile Apps?
TE: In terms of applications, we are very proud with the progress of Nokia Ovi Store and now have more than 10 Million Downloads a day. We want to continue this momentum with our Nokia with Windows Phone products and are adding more than 100 quality applications per day. We also want to maintain our local approach to apps, we are very proud with the range of locally relevant apps within our stores. Windows phone already has a huge range of top apps from Angry Birds to Facebook.
Tom Erskine is the “Head of Smart Devices: Middle East & Africa” for Nokia.