By Prince Osuagwu
Sometime last year, Nokia flagged off anti-counterfeit campaign drawing many stakeholders into it. But for sometime now, nothing seems to be heard about it. Has the counterfeiters overwhelmed you?
Nokia has not relented in the efforts. We will continue to fight the ills of counterfeiting genuine products until the last counterfeiter is exterminated. However counterfeit of products is not limited to Nokia products, it is all over the ICT sector and even beyond. All kinds of products from pharmaceuticals to electronics are all suffering that scourge. Why it looks as if this fight is Nokia’s, is because we like to be at the forefront of safeguarding the market we operate in.
We have been working in collaboration with government, market associations, and other interest group and the bottom line is to create a forum, where the public would be educated on the tactics of counterfeiters.
For instance we are now flagging off a new campaign meant to nip this scourge in the bud. Apart from this promotion, there is also a campaign, where we deploy materials on how to identify originals of our products. We circulate it through Nokia dealers and merchants. We also have similar messages sent out via the radio and TV. We have also partnered with telecom operators, on codes that can help users of our phones identify originals. The code is hidden at the pad on the back or under the battery and all it takes a user is to text the IMEI number of the phone to 3321 and instantly a response confirming that it is an authentic Nokia phone or not would be received.
What makes the promotion attractive to your consumers
Yes, the promo itself served to reward our loyal customers who make use of Nokia devices. we have put some very good prizes including a star prize of a brand new car, a Nokia phone and also the opportunity of traveling to Dubai on a trip for two.
You could get one month free internet access and to Nokia, this is very strategic and compelling for Nigerians in general. Nokia wants to connect another 1 billion people to the internet. This would be very useful especially now that unlucky innocent people are being arrested along with yahoo yahoo boys at cyber cafes.
At least lucky winners would be able to have their own phone that have capacity to get on internet.
Can you tell us exactly how much counterfeit has eaten into your market share?
Everybody seems to face Nokia with this question when the issue of counterfeits is raised. Its not out of place though because we know that success is easy to be copied or emulated. There are more Nokia phones sold daily than any other phone in the world. But the counterfeit loss in itself is fake. If you can recall the container loads of fake drugs being burnt at the port and estimate the loss to the economy, to employment, tax to government, health hazards to the people, you can see that it is far from calculating it in naira and kobo.
The concern is just beyond the loss of market share to Nokia. So, what we are doing now is to preserve the interest of those that have come for the brand. I think that the market share loss might just be insignificant.
What are the specific things you think can hit at counterfeit so hard?
We believe that if there is no demand, there will be no supply. when people are aware of the danger that they are paying for when they buy fake products, and that they can get original Nokia devices as low as they can get the counterfeited brands, they will no longer go for them. and the market share of such device will drop. What we need is high level of enlightenment and advocacy. If you go to any of our outlets, it does not cost you anything to get the information you need. we have hand bills and leaflets there for people to read with directional signs. All these were put in place to make sure that you make informed decisions not to patronize counterfeit devices but to patronize original ones.
What are your strategies to play above competition?
We are not blind to competition and that is why we will continue to break new grounds. For instance in the area of high earned phones, Nokia is more a challenger. We are humble enough to acknowledge the things we see in the open market because if you put all the phones together, no manufacturer can sell up to five percent of the volume of Nokia phones in Nigeria or anywhere in the world.
But today, we have devices for the low income, the middle, and the high income, the same way we have not only significant individual player, but a collection of different players who are trying to compete. As a leader of the market, you don’t look at the rear mirror, but at the future and that is why Nokia is looking at the bigger markets. There is bigger gain out there than the little things people are trying to copy. We are trying to pursue the next billion people and people will automatically copy the things we do.
You decided to partner with Microsoft as platform for your smart phones when Android is making all the waves. I don’t know why you took that decision
If you look at the big picture, there is no operating system today that has more people in the world connected to it than the Microsoft Operating system. If you check properly, you will find out that in the future there is going to be a convergence on mobile applications. Hand held devices are th future of technology in the world. people will watch TV, get their news, contact friends, do business via mobile handsets. A lot more people in the world today are already used to window systems and it will be easy for them to migrate from their desktop, lap top to the mobile devices segments.
If we combine that strength of the amount of millions of people who are using the window operating systems, bring them to a company that will produce millions of devices going into the market, then you have a big partnership that will only give convenience to the general population.
The fact is that in the future mobile phone solution is going to be in the platform that people are familiar with and come to think of it, people start with what they know, if they want to experiment.
If you see the Nokia phone the keypad is like computer keyboard, the operating system is similar to the operating system they are using. So, there is synergy. And it is that synergy that will make the market go forward.
You talked about connecting 1 billion people, is the company moving away from phone manufacturing to other things?
Well, the Nokia campaign has moved beyond just being a devices manufacturer. We are a solution company, that is why if you look at an average Nokia phone, you will have OVi applications Microsoft exchange, communication, chat and so many more solutions that are part of the experience of using the device. But to answer your question directly, we have partnership with operators, just as we have partnership with Microsoft, we also have with different operators around the world.
What we are now saying is that our very viable partners should use devices that are enabled. We have a trend of making durable, affordable and very capable devices that can reach the people through the network.
In specific terms, how much has Nokia made as a market share profits in the Nigerian market?
I can’t give you the company information up to the share profit except what I can establish and what the evidence are verifiable. It has legal implications. However, I will tell you that Nokia has an impressive market share and that is why we are on top.