Nokia under ‘noticeable pressure’ as rivals gain ground in Asia

Included in analyst firm IDC’s most recent quarterly global mobile phone report is the following snapshot for the mobile handset industry in Asia:

Competitive forces emerged in the Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan) region last quarter to the detriment of market leader Nokia. In emerging markets, brands such as Micromax, Nexian, and i-Mobile chipped away at Nokia’s market share.

Android-powered smartphones also gained momentum across the region at the expense of Nokia. 

Samsung gained ground in South Korea while Huawei, Lenovo, and ZTE launched devices in several markets. In Japan, mobile phone market growth was driven primarily by domestic vendors Sharp, Panasonic, Fujitsu, and NEC.

IDC’s announcement, which is noted as the first acknowledgement of Apple’s entry into the world’s top five phone vendors, includes a global outlook with specific mention of emerging markets and the rise of ‘new’ mobile industry players from China:

Apple, RIM, and the vendors producing Android-based smartphones have put noticeable pressure on Nokia, the overall market leader.

“Nokia still leads all vendors by a significant margin for converged mobile devices and mobile phones as a whole,” said Ramon Llamas, senior research analyst with IDC’s Mobile Devices Technology and Trends team. “However, Nokia’s grip on the traditional mobile phone market has been somewhat loosened, as multiple Chinese vendors have gained ground, especially within emerging markets. To bolster its overall competitiveness, Nokia has been focused on improving its smartphone offerings.”

How will Nokia respond the increased competition and stiffer challenge in Asia – both in terms of smartphones and traditional devices?

The sheer range of the companies’ devices coupled with its huge brand presence in the region means it remains all conquering despite the new competition, and popularity of sexier smartphone brands like Apple, RIM and Android-based devices.

The company has introduced a range of new smartphones for Asia but it remains to be seen if Symbian 3, the operating system used, and Nokia’s brand can compete with the growing popularity for high-end, premium smartphones and budget devices, of which Android is a huge driver.