Mobile telephone giant Nokia has discovered Chennai as a definite global hub in 18 months of operations, with about half of its current output heading for exports to as many as 58 countries including the Middle East, Africa and Australia.
It is lining up further expansion in India in both facilities and people, visiting chief executive officer Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo told reporters on Thursday as the Finnish giant put behind last week’s crisis over a recall of about 4.6 crore faulty batteries.
While most of the early output of the 60 million handsets produced so far were for sales in India, the scene has changed now even as India has emerged as the second biggest market for Nokia, ahead of the United States and next only to China.
“Overall, I feel manufacturing in India is a very, very good option,” Kallasvuo said on the second day of a three-day visit in which he is meeting ministers, business leaders and employees.
“India is a very good location to manufacture hardware as well (in addition to software,” Kallasvuo said.
Nokia has lined up an investment of $100 million by Nokia Siemens Networks, its joint venture with Germany’s Siemens to make infrastructure equipment, which are also being made in the $500 million Chennai facility. The factory in the suburban town of Sriperumbudur, where Nokia employs 4,700 people.
Nokia also announced recently it plans to set up a design studio in Bangalore. It also has three research facilities in India and a global network solutions centre in Chennai. “We plan to continue to invest here,” Kallasvuo said.
Nokia, aiming to capture a vast rural market, launched an affordable and rugged 1100 model specially for India, and currently has 50,000 exclusive retail outlets, in addition to multi-brand stores where Nokia handsets, enabled for nine Indian languages, are ubiquitous.
At the same time, Nokia also pushes its trendy N-series handsets enabled for music and gaming to increasingly affluent urban customers.
The Nokia CEO said India’s 185-million handset market is expected to double over the next three years and his company expected to ride the wave.
The company has plans to reach 200 million buyers in the next three years.