Feature Phones are still alive and seemingly kicking, and it looks like you again have Nokia to thank. In India, there is undeniably increased competition amongst Reliance Jio’s JioPhones range of handsets and Nokia (now by HMD Global). This data is as per recent researches which have also revealed that India is not the only market for feature phones; there is Africa and the Middle East as well.
Now, as per a Counterpoint research report called Counterpoint Market Monitor, feature phone shipments have grown for four consecutive quarters globally; with these resulting in as much as 23% of the overall phone shipments during Q3 2018. Also, shipments in the Africa and Middle East regions are said to have experienced a 32% growth in the feature phone segments.
The Counterpoint research report also throws light on the fact about the Nokia 3310 handset having raked up considerably increased demand over other phones. This also reportedly contributed to an increase in the overall global market share of Nokia handsets which stood at 14% during Q3 2018 globally. During the same period, Jio’s market share (with respect to feature phones) was 11%.
At this juncture, it is worth noting that HMD’s market share grew by 2% from its 2017 share; the brand held 12% market share during Q3 2017. Here, iTel was the joint market leader as of Q3 018, with HMD. The brand's share fell from 16% in Q3 2017 to 14% in Q3 2018.
In India, the Nokia 3310 is priced at Rs 3000 (approximately) and comes with a 2MP camera and dual SIM-card slots. The brand has remained popular in the country; it is worth remembering here that Nokia phones have always captured fancy of Indian consumers in both the feature phone as well as smartphone segments. The former took Nokia (th older brand prior to HMD Global) to the numero-uno position not too long ago; and the newer (post HMD branding) smartphones are also finding relatively wider audiences.
Reasons for the preference of Nokia feature phones could be the loyalty factor along with aspects like HMD Global maintaining traditional Nokia feel with respect to battery backup, look & feel, and comparatively ease of usage. This trend is also applicable to markets outside of India.
Also, with JioPhones offering LTE connectivity and offering affordability (company collects only a refundable security deposit) the number of feature phone shipments could only increase theoretically. Hence, would this also prompt Nokia by HMD Global to release more LTE feature phones with essential apps support, or would the company continue offering “reliable” premium handsets for those preferring a clean mobile experience? Do share your thoughts and insights.