The Middle East remains a key market for Nokia and the handset vendor intends to regain its strong position in the region. Nokia's general manager for the Lower Gulf region highlighted a renewed marketing strategy and push for the Windows smartphone operating system (OS), which all its smart devices use. Having held onto a large share of the market, BMI believes Nokia is building on an already strong reputation, but faces fierce competition from the likes of Samsung and HTC.
|Small But Important|
|Nokia Sales By Region|
Nokia's popular handsets had held around 50% of the handset market in the Middle East for several years and even now the region punches above its weight in terms of sales to the region. Nokia reported that 15.4% of its handset sales were in the Middle East, equivalent of EUR420mn. This is a significant number considering mobile subscriptions in the area account for just 4% of the global total. According to the UAE's TRA, Nokia devices accounted for 56.4% of handsets registered on networks in Q213.
While this is a very positive sign for the vendor, the key point is whether or not consumers continue to buy its devices and replace their existing handsets with Nokia's latest devices. BMI believes Nokia's strength in the country, a trend we believe is reflected across the region, lies in its established Arabic interface and content. In addition, migrant workers in the country are likely to have selected Nokia's lower end handsets, which have longer replacement cycles and a lower average selling price.
For Nokia to succeed in the region, it will need to continue encouraging upgrades to its Windows OS-based devices. The vendor hosted its Nokia World event in Abu Dhabi for the first time, allowing it to showcase its new devices. The vendor has retained a series of low-end devices that should help maintain its appeal among lower income subscribers but offering a wider range of features such as inbuilt cameras that will help the devices appeal.
However, Nokia is not the only company to be targeting the Middle East, with Apple and Samsung - the global smartphone market leaders - keen to replicate their success across the region. The Middle East's affluent consumers are very appealing, with the ability to buy high-end devices and continue spending on them over the longer term. Nokia's current strong position gives it a lot of ground to lose to its major rivals but its reputation is a strong base to continue building on.