Nokia plans to bring its Vertu luxury brand to Japan, is poised to fail

Japan has always been a tough market crack for Nokia, the world’s biggest cell phone manufacturer. While the Finnish company boasts a 40 percent share of global handset sales, this figure has been steady at about 1 percent in Japan.

Now it has come to light that Nokia plans to launch an MVNO with Nippon’s No. 1 cell phone carrier Docomo starting in either February or March next year. Nokia will reportedly try to win in Japan via its Vertu brand of super-expensive phones. The company is planning to sell handsets priced between $16,000 and $50,000.

Although Japan is not as heavily affected by the current economic crisis as the USA, for example, Nokia’s move is a good example for poor timing. On top of that, the market for cell phones in Japan as a whole has been considerably shrinking in recent months.

I am not sure what Nokia’s final goal is here but they can’t expect to grow their market share by selling Vertu phones, not even in luxury-crazy and “rich” Japan. In case Japanese people want to stand out using “unusual” cell phones (of all things), they can get the iPhone or handsets like this one. Skimming the segment of super-rich cell phone users might not be enough to improve Nokia’s situation in Japan.