Sat, Nov 27, 2004 - Page 10 News List

Nokia aims for top position in Taiwan

COMEBACK The Finnish cellphone maker plans to overtake Motorola by introducing up to 40 new handset models and boosting partnerships with local operators

By Lisa Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Nokia Oyj aims to regain the top position in the NT$40 billion (US$1.25 billion) Taiwanese market next year by rolling out more models and strengthening partnerships with local telecoms operators, an executive said in Taipei yesterday.

This is seen as part of the Finnish mobile phone vendor's broader plans to recoup lost ground around the world, analysts said.

"Our goal for next year is to regain Nokia's top position [in Taiwan] ? We want to do more integration with operators," Loren Shuster, manager of Nokia Tai-wan, told reporters yesterday.

Third-generation (3G) handsets will be one of the key factors in boosting Nokia's cellphone sales next year after Taiwan's mobile phone operators open the high-speed mobile service in or around the second quarter, Shuster said.

In an operator-driven market like Taiwan's, low-priced models will be another factor boosting sales, as these models are popular among operators when offering premium handsets for new subscribers, Shuster said.

Nokia, which ranks second after Motorola Inc in Taiwan, plans to unveil as many as 40 handsets in a full range in the Taiwanese market next year, she said.

This will be twice the number of handsets Nokia launched in Taiwan this year.

The company has pitched 12 models in the local market this year, and it is expected to unveil three or four more next month, including the fashion-styled 7280, which resembles a tube of lipstick.

"It won't be easy for Nokia to catch up, as it still lags behind Motorola by 5 percent in terms of market share," said Marty Kung (龔俊光), an analyst with Market Intelligence Center (MIC, 市場情報中心).

To overtake its US rival, Nokia has to capture a market share of at least 20 percent, Kung said.

"The arrival of the 3G era may be a chance for Nokia to win back market share," he said.

Kung added that Nokia was right about cementing cooperation with operators, because service providers would rely heavily on their suppliers to make phones tailored to certain special services or functions.

But Motorola can do just as good a job as the Stockholm-based phone maker, he said.

Staunch support from users is Nokia's main advantage in the neck-to-neck race in the 3G market, despite the drawback of smaller screens found in most of its existing models, Kung said.

He predicted that Taiwan's cellphone sales will remain almost flat at around 6.6 million units next year, slightly up from his estimate of 6.5 million for this year, as the market is reaching saturation.

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