Mary McDowell, executive vice-president and general manager (enterprise solutions), Nokia, is not ready to rest on her laurels, yet. In the second quarter of 2007, Nokia’s enterprise solutions unit recorded an operating profit of euro 99 million, compared with an operating loss of euro 63 million in the second quarter of 2006. The company registered an operating margin of 18.0 per cent.
With the global shipments of smartphones, running advanced operating systems, expected to reach 113 million units in 2007, Nokia is working overtime to ensure it retains the leadership position in the market.
As the head of the enterprise solutions group, McDowell, has set her heart on tapping the Indian market with customised business solutions, regional language support tools, and strenuous marketing. Priyanka Joshi spoke to McDowell on the unit’s business strategy. Excerpts:
How has the enterprise solutions group developed and captured the smartphone market, especially in India?
Each of the enterprise solutions’ business units (devices, software and security) was profitable in the second quarter of 2007. In effect, the company’s net sales were driven primarily by the strong volume growth in the devices business, especially Nokia E65, compared with the second quarter of 2006.
In India, we have been able to grow the market by lowering the prices of business phones (for instance, the E50 retails close to Rs 10,000) and providing affordable business solutions. Earlier, the entry price in this segment was around Rs 25,000, but with Nokia launching price variants in the smartphones market, the prices (across the board) have declined.
During the second quarter of 2007, Nokia’s share in the global devices market improved to an estimated 38 per cent, and the operating margins rose to their highest level in three years.
Since India is a crucial market in the Asia-Pacific region, are you planning to provide specific solutions for Indian customers?
Yes, we are. India is now the second-largest cell phone market for us and we are planning to develop solutions through our vendor partnerships. We will be looking at industry-specific tools. Nokia Research is already working on a pilot project for a large pharmaceutical and another for a logistics company to help the employees integrate productivity tools on their Nokia handsets.
Regional language support for our enterprise software is also a possibility in the future.
We have deployed some large mobile e-mail and device management systems over the widest array of devices and application platforms across businesses and operator networks in India. In fact, we have seen the demand for device management grow exponentially over the past 18 months, augmenting our vision that mobility is more than just mobile email.
Symbian OS remains the leading smartphone operating system with a market share of 60 per cent or so. Is Nokia planning to move towards Windows Mobile- or Linux-based phones?
We have sold close to five million E-series phones globally, and we feel that Nokia’s commitment to the Symbian operating system is the key to its success. Microsoft’s Windows Mobile is a competition for us in the smartphone segment but it is still a far threat for the Symbian OS. There is no reason why we should migrate to Windows Mobile.
What kind of enterprise mobility solutions and launches can be expected in the next quarter?
The Nokia E-series, including the new Nokia E65, Nokia E61i, and Nokia E90 Communicator, exhibit usability and functional design, as well as our understanding of corporate IT requirements for device security and manageability. We will continue with new phone launches, including a few touchscreen-based handsets (something that Nokia has not been big on). Also, we are doing a lot to improve the design of the E-series handsets and the result would be out in the market soon.
Our Nokia Intellisync Mobile Suite, a portfolio of products that reside on a single server that can be used in isolation or paired together to create a comprehensive mobility solution, is the core for our future developments. We will be actively looking at acquisitions so as to strengthen the software solutions offered in our enterprise and smartphone devices.