Handset Roundup: Mobile Music Trends; Nokia Margins; Rural Focus

– Lloyd Mathias, Director (Marketing) for Motorola’s South West Asia unit tells HT that consumers look for music clarity, storage capacity, multiple formats, availability of the latest software and wireless on the phone. Motorola’s tie-up with Sony BMG for content is not exclusive. Music is pre-loaded on the phone, and I don’t think preloaded music influences handset purchase in a country with pervasive piracy. Emerging trends: Video music, wireless music capability and video streaming. Video music? :S Mathias doesn’t comment on Mobile Tv plans, but at Convergence India, he’d mentioned plans for a pilot project.

— The N95 is helping restore Nokia’s profit margins in India and China, reports Bloomberg, and this has apparently helped keep in check the impact of lowering prices of other handsets last year – which was done in order to keep Motorola in check. Average prices in the Asiapac region (including India), increased 4.1 percent to 77 euros. India is Nokia’s third largest territory, and they have two-thirds of this market (as per a report in the Times of India). Interestingly, replacement phones account for 60 percent of emerging market sales this year. Read the full report here.

— Handset manufactures are planning to introduce low priced handsets and make them available in rural marketplaces and retail chains, reports BS. Nokia is launching a range in the 1200 series priced between Rs 1,600 and Rs 5,000, with FM radio, GPRS, camera and a cost tracker. Question is, how may in rural India will be able to use handsets anything except voice calls? Apparently, rural subscribers make, on an average, 40 calls a month.

— Much ado about music: A Sony Ericsson research claims that 76 percent mobile users prefer listening to music on the phone. 28 percent of Samsung handsets sold last year were music enabled, and in all 10 million music phones were sold in India last fiscal; Music phone sales for 2007 are expected to be 24 million. Nokia has tied up with Philips to set up music kiosks in Nokia Priority Stores, and is being piloted in Bangalore. The music phones account for nearly 28% of Samung

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