Mon, 22 Mar 1999

Nokia hanging on for Indonesian turnaround

By Sylvia Gratia M. Nirang

SINGAPORE (JP): Finnish telecommunications firm Nokia is keeping attuned to Indonesia's cellular market prospects despite the country's terrible economic woes.

Nokia Mobile Phones senior vice president for the Asia Pacific, Nigel Litchfield, told The Jakarta Post that he believed the recession would be short-lived and the Indonesian market would grow quickly once the economic troubles passed.

"We haven't changed our products introduction schedule in Indonesia. We continue to invest in the Indonesian market in terms of building the brands, spending money for advertising our products," he said after the launching ceremony for a new product lineup.

The country remains one of Nokia's important markets in the world despite the crisis, he said, because the cellular producer was convinced it would emerge the leader in the industry when the crisis was over.

Litchfield said the firm's sales in the country increased last year although there was a slowdown in growth of cellular phone sales.

"We are very pleased about our sales in Indonesia last year and we see that our sales in Indonesia will continue growing this year. Indonesia is one of the key markets for Nokia. It has a very high population, a population which is very acceptable for new products and services.

"With such a huge potential, no international cellular phone company can ignore the Indonesian market."

The general manager of Nokia Mobile Phones Indonesia, Alexander Lambeek, said the growth in numbers of cellular phone users in the country exceeded rates in other nations in the region before the crisis struck in July 1997.

Lambeek said 1998 marked a milestone for Nokia because it led the world's mobile phone industry and Indonesia's.

He claimed Nokia beat its closest rivals Sweden's Ericsson and the U.S based Motorola in the Indonesian cellular market. He would not disclose its share of the Indonesian market nor the value of its sales.

"The economic crisis has created many opportunities for us. While most of our competitors are sleeping, we continue launching new products which make us lead the industry. We are currently the first in the industry and will maintain our position when the crisis is over."

Litchfield said introducing different models of new cellular products was one of the company's important strategies in maintaining its market foothold in the world.

"All phones launched today will be introduced in Indonesia exactly at the same time as they are in other parts of the world," he said.

Nokia unveiled on March 18 its latest technology in an outstanding new range of mobile phones before reporters invited from across the region.

"Nokia - Mall of Life @ Tangs" was held in Tangs shopping center. It showcased Nokia's latest Total Mobility Office solutions and an inspired range of personalized mobile phones.

New products

The Nokia 7110 dual band Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) 900/1800 media phone is the world's first media phone based on the Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) in Mobile Media Phone (WWW:MMM).

It is designed for easy access to the Internet content from a mobile phone. It can access text information that is available on the Internet, such as news, weather reports, stock prices, e- mail, flight schedules or wireless banking and electronic commerce. The Nokia 7110 can also access the CNN mobile, a wireless news service developed by CNN in cooperation with Nokia.

It is the first of the firm's phones to enable Chinese language input from the phone keypad. The Chinese version of the Nokia 7110 has over 9,000 Chinese characters in its vocabulary.

The Nokia 7110 is also smaller in size than other cell phones, including the Nokia 6110. Weighing 141 grams, its standard three- volt battery delivers talk time of up to four hours and 30 minutes; its standby time is up to 10 days (260 hours).

It supports 34 languages and has 35 ringing tones. It has a built-in dictionary, which assists in quickly picking up the right words. It can also continuously learn new words from users.

The fun and cleverly designed Nokia 3210 is a dual band phone which comes with seven different colors of changeable front and back Xpress-On colored covers to be customized to the users' personal taste.

With a built-in battery and antenna, it is one of the slimmest phones on the market. The semi-fixed Nickel Metal Hydride battery gives up to four hours and 30 minutes talk time and up to 260 hours standby time.

The Nokia 3210 has 40 ringing tones. Users of Nokia 3210 can personalize their own ringing tones with the ringing tone composer. Every phonebook entry can have individually selected ringing tones.

It has 34 language options, catering to various markets worldwide. In Asia Pacific markets, language options include both simplified and traditional Chinese, Indonesian, Malay, Vietnamese, Tagalog and Thai.

The display of both the Nokia 7110 and 3210 is 80 percent larger than the Nokia 6110. The firm said it was to make reading easier to meet demands of Asians.

"The Nokia 7110 and the Nokia 3210 will be available in Indonesia in the third quarter of this year, while the rest of the products launched in Tangs will be introduced in Indonesia a few months later," Lambeek said.

Last year in Indonesia, Nokia introduced the Nokia 6110, a phone designed for high-end business people and the elegant Nokia 8810 chrome edition. Early this year, it launched the Nokia 9110 communicator.

Lambeek said the three products sold successfully in Indonesia.

At Tangs, Nokia also launched its first Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) mobile phones in the Asia Pacific, the Nokia 5180 and the Nokia 6185. Weighing in at 149 grams, both the Nokia 6185 and Nokia 5180 offer up to two hours and 55 minutes talk time and up to four days standby time with a standard battery.