An interview with Nokia’s target="_blank" href="http://www.linkedin.com/pub/viral-oza/0/8b4/434">Viral Oza in The Economic Times published today details the company’s mobile strategy in India and the world at large.
Oza isn’t concerned about the potential for increased competition, telling the Times that “The entry of more players in the Windows Phone market will help the ecosystem to grow further.” Nokia’s Lumia line of Windows Phone smartphones has become the de facto brand of handsets, but there has been rumor of Sony jumping into the ring this year.
He then appears to tie the entrance of new hardware players to a more healthy application market: “Also, more developers will come on board, strengthening the ecosystem even more. In that sense, it only encourages the consumers to buy Windows Phone and broadening the ecosystem.”
This is a long-term argument. Presumably the entrance of a large player, say Sony for example, could depress Nokia’s short-term device sales. But in Oza’s eyes, if that leads to a healthier platform, Nokia could sell more Windows Phone handsets in the long term, provided there’s a more healthy Windows Phone.
Nokia’s Lumia group therefore could be willing to cede short-term market share if it means they get help in growing Windows Phone down the road.
This all becomes complicated in that Nokia’s Lumia business is about to become Microsoft’s Lumia business, but Microsoft has echoed the sentiment that more players building Windows Phone hardware is something to be sought out, not discouraged; as a firm, Microsoft doesn’t want to make every Windows Phone handset that is sold, post its purchase of Nokia’s hardware group.
Oza goes on in the interview to discuss download figures, something always worth examining when discussing the health of a platform:
We already have over 5000 developers in India, who develop apps for Windows Phone platform. 65 percent of all downloads for India developed apps are from outside India, while 35 percent is from India. There is a huge traction towards these India developed apps for Windows Phone. Downloads in India are around 4 million downloads a week from the marketplace.
This tells us that Indian developers are building English-language applications that are seeing global traction, and that a market the size of India does around 16 million downloads per month, or just under 200 million a year at current pace.
That figure scales, given Windows Phone current market share tear in the Indian market.
Tempering the above as unmitigated good news, keep in mind that Microsoft-Nokia continue to struggle for similar growth rates in the United States market, even as numbers for their platform improve in Europe and Latin America. Developer sentiment and innovation are often set in the U.S. market, making it more important than its subscriber rates would normally indicate.
Finally, Oza doesn’t anticipate a pricing war if new OEMs enter its market, implying that Microsoft can anticipate little new margin pressure on its 7.3 billion dollar purchase of Nokia’s hardware assets. That also gives OEMs future price stability to invest against. Perhaps not the most critical element in their planning, but something that could help lure the new players that Windows Phone certainly needs.