To Our Readers

The global mobile handset market has shown impressive growth. According to Gartner, Inc., global mobile handset sales to end users reached 1.6 billion units in 2010, a 31.8% increase over 2009. While Nokia continued to be the market leader with 28.9% market share, the company saw its market share drop by 7.5%. This erosion in market share can be attributed to its below-average smartphone strategy. In 2010, Nokia’s share of the smartphone market dropped 6.7 percentage points from 2009. During the same period, its rivals such as Apple and RIM strengthened their position in the mobile handset market with their strong smartphone sales. Buyers with more disposable income and those in places where networks are fast enough to support smartphone features were rapidly opting for smartphones. In advanced markets such as the US, there seems to be a clear trend of more consumers opting for smartphones. Smartphones accounted for 19% of global mobile handset sales in 2010 (up by a whopping 72.1% compared to 2009). It is amply clear that companies that are unable to come up with a credible smartphone strategy will see their market share erode in the coming years.

The ‘Case in Focus’ in this issue is about Nokia and the problems that it faced in 2010. Since 2007, Nokia had been struggling, as it had largely failed to make a serious dent in the highly lucrative smartphone segment. While its lower-priced phones were doing well in developing markets, the company began to lose customers in the high-end mobile phone market. Nokia also failed to establish its presence in the world’s largest smartphone market – the US. The problems for the Finnish giant became so intense that in September 2010, it was forced to bring in Microsoft’s Stephen Elop as the President and CEO. The case study details the challenges faced by Elop in reinvigorating Nokia and maintaining its market leader position. The task is by no means easy, as Elop will have to establish the company’s presence in the smartphone segment, competing with well-entrenched rivals such as Apple, RIM, HTC and so on.

The next case is about the Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation’s ambitious East-West Metro Corridor Project. This integrated rapid mass transportation system project had run into various problems. There were also questions raised about the financial viability of the project as the existing North-South Metro Railway Corridor has failed to meet the initial forecasted demand and was making continuous losses since its inception. The case study offers the reader an opportunity to appraise the project taking into consideration Social Cost Benefit Analysis (SCBA) and risk analysis aspects.

In this issue, we have an illustrative case study that describes the various HR aspects related to privatization of Rede Ferroviária Federal, Sociedade Anonima. The privatization of the ailing public sector rail transport company in Brazil involved workforce restructuring and also decisions on incentive schemes and training and development of those who had been laid off as well as of those retained. This issue also has a fictitious case study that offers readers the opportunity to get into the shoes of a Sales & Distribution Manager and challenges them to come out with a sales and distribution strategy for an upstart in the pharmaceutical industry in India.

-- Debapratim Purkayastha