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Nokia launches in Cambodia

NOKIA plans to launch its first office in Cambodia today in a bid to ‘bring it closer’ to the domestic population after seeing regional sales decline in the second quarter, compared to last year.

Nokia’s Indochina general manager, William Hamilton-Whyte, said yesterday that the new office, to be opened in Delano Tower, Veal Vong commune, Phnom Penh, is aimed at building both brand and market awareness for the Finnish firm.

“The new office brings us closer to the Cambodian market,” he said at the capital’s InterContinental Hotel.

Initially employing four people, the office hopes to help boost domestic distribution of Nokia handsets.

The firm was the market leader for sales of mobile handsets in Cambodia, he said.

Nokia’s worldwide operating profit for the second quarter declined 15 percent year on year, but still totalled €660 million (US$849 million) according to an interim results report released yesterday.

Its Asia-Pacific second-quarter sales declined to $1.986 billion, 2 percent less than the same period in 2009, but represented a 15 percent increase over the first quarter.

“Net sales in the second quarter 2010 [worldwide] were adversely impacted by the competitive environment, particularly in the high end of the market,” the release added.

High-end phones, including those from Nokia’s rivals, are becoming increasingly popular in Cambodia.

Hello launched the first prepaid Blackberrys from Canada-based Research in Motion two months ago. Some five mobile operators are now providing 3rd Generation (3G) services in Cambodia.

Hamilton-Whyte said the firm plans to launch its Nokia C3 smart phone in the Kingdom today.

The phone, which has a full keyboard and internet access, would be targeted at young people interested in social networking.

But high-end products are best aimed at a niche market.

“If you’re selling a US$600 handset, you’re selling it in the city,” he said.

Hamilton-Whyte said the firm could do a better job of selling products beyond traditional handsets, but he declined to provide sales figures.

“Nokia does need to work on solutions and services,” looked to further sales from its online store by selling software for mobile phones, he said.

“Agricultural workers in India are using phone applications to find out about the price of crops and the weather, things that affect their business,” he said.

Cambodia’s largely rural population was more price- and brand-sensitive, he said, and built-in handset features such as flashlights and radios were important sellers particularly for people living off the electricity grid.

Nokia handsets would continue to be sold through K Thong Huot (KTH) Telecom Company, the firm’s existing partner, he said.

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