The day after Nokia's charger recall announcement

10 Nov

Nokia’s charger recall announced yesterday hasn’t really created any panic or confusion in India, unlike the BL5C battery recall of 2007 when media and consumers went berserk and rumours of cellphones exploding somewhere or the other featured on primetime news for a number of days. This time however, the difference is that the recall is restricted to chargers supplied with just one model (the Nokia 7210 Supernova). However, the picture is not that calm and composed as it might seem from the outside.

We spoke to a few industry analysts as well as people in the trade and we found out some interesting facts. The 7210 Supernova has been one of the best performing phones in Nokia’s ‘Live’ category of devices. Announced towards the end of last year, it sold as many as 300,000 units a month during its first few months and industry analysts peg that it still sells about 250,000 units a month (that is, before this charger recall). Nokia sells around 5 million devices a month in India (the figure is debated and we have used an average of the numbers that we have learnt), which would mean that the 7210 Supernova accounts for 5 percent of Nokia’s monthly device sales (by volume) in India. There is not even an iota of doubt that the sales of this particular model will go down in the coming days.

But what’s more crucial for Nokia is to understand that it is not the same market conditions that prevailed in 2007, where it was competing with the other four handset vendors that form the ‘Big Five’ of the handset market. Today there are over two dozen handset vendors in the country (one analyst takes the count to over 70!) and these new, local vendors won’t leave this opportunity to hurt Nokia’s market share.

We are already hearing strategies being developed to ‘educate’ the trade (distributors and retailers) about how Nokia’s batteries ‘explode’ and chargers ‘shock’. It is only a matter of time before that perception trickles down to end-consumers.

On a personal note, I really appreciate the steps Nokia has taken to safeguard its consumers, but will that be enough to maintain its stronghold on the market for too long?

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