Meet HMD Global, the Team Bringing Nokia Phones Back

 
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Meet HMD Global, the Team Bringing Nokia Phones Back

Highlights

  • HMD Global has licensed the Nokia brand for mobile devices
  • The first Nokia-branded Android phones will release in first half of 2017
  • Upcoming Android phones made "in tight collaboration with Google"

It’s not often that the fate of a 150 year old brand rests on the shoulders of a company that’s barely six months old. But that’s exactly what’s happening, with HMD Global announcing everything’s in place for it to develop mobile devices under the Nokia brand name for the next 10 years.

HMD Global Oy was formed in May 2016 with the aim of securing the licensing deal and to bring the iconic Nokia brand back to the mobile market. Nearly all key HMD executives have a Nokia connection - with many of them having worked at both Nokia and Microsoft Devices in the past - and you can sense their excitement at bringing the Nokia name where they feel it belongs. While Nokia is not an investor in HMD, it does have representation on the HMD board, and will receive royalty on every Nokia-branded device that the company sells.

Gadgets 360 spoke to HMD CEO Arto Nummela, President Florian Seichem, and CMO Pekka Rantala, who refused to get into the specifics related to the upcoming Nokia Android phones and the price points that the company aims to target at launch, but we did touch upon a wide variety of other topics. Here are excerpts from the interview conducted on Thursday.

Gadgets 360: Will the new phones have the Nokia logo?
Arto Nummela, CEO: “Absolutely. That is the fundamental heart of this. We will have Nokia-branded devices. They are truly Nokia, inside out. We have licensing agreement for using Nokia brand in our communication, in our product, in all the aspects of this business. This is true Nokia. We are brining Nokia as it is into the market.”

Pekka Rantala, CMO: “We are really lucky to be in a position to write the next chapter of Connecting People [the iconic Nokia slogan]. Next chapter for the story of the Nokia brand that has been out there for more than 150 years. This is the true brand, not a trademark. And this is by far the most iconic brand ever in the mobile industry.”

What is Nokia bringing to the table?
Nummela: “We are not only licensing the brand, we are buying the capability on the IPR side, IPR protection for us, and then we are also looking for collaboration to utilise the unique technologies Nokia has in-house to enhance the user experience.”

Editor’s note: What these technologies are was not elaborated upon, and a follow-up query confirmed that technologies such as PureView, for example, will remain with Microsoft.

What will be the Nokia Android experience be like?
Nummela: “We are in tight collaboration with Google in terms of the Android experience and the main highlight of Nokia device is easy to use and we are not going to clutter our device at all. It will be the perfect execution of Android and we will disclose at our first product launch.”

On hiring old Nokia/ Microsoft team members
Nummela: “We are getting absolutely the best people from the Nokia background. We are also hiring outside the Nokia context, to make sure we are going to be ready for the challenge. Particularly in India we have extremely distribution channel - partnership model as well as very close strategic collaboration with online players. I personally know all the key retailers in India as well as online players, we are eager and very well positioned to start the journey in India.”

Plans for India
Nummela: “India will absolutely be our focus market going forward. Nokia loves India, and India loves Nokia.”

Plans for manufacturing
Nummela: “FIH [FIH Mobile Limited, a subsidiary of Hon Hai Precision Industries, popularly known as Foxconn] has invested a huge amount of money. Hon Hai bought a factory from Microsoft for the feature phone lineup and the necessary engineering talent to go with it. In India, Foxconn already has a manufacturing site for Nokia-branded feature phones, which we will continue to utilise going forward.”

BlackBerry’s Android phones have received a tepid response. Any concerns Nokia’s re-entry will be the same?
Nummela: “We are fundamentally in a completely different position [compared to BlackBerry]. We have a unique setup, very strong access to the market, extremely eager consumer base that are waiting for truly Nokia Android devices in the marketplace. And we will have very patient and fundamental support for our strategic partners.”

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Kunal Dua

Editor by day. Editor by night. Wannabe writer. Full-time cynic.

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