Nokia Sets to Launch 2 Android Phones in 2017
Nokia’s return to the mobile space is happening end of 2016 with the leaked Nokia C1
Nokia has announced that its CEO, Rajeev Suri, will be speaking at a keynote at MWC 2017, alongside chief execs of major carrier networks and app and service developers. Meanwhile, Microsoft’s CEO of its Asia-Pacific branch, James Rutherfoord, has gone on the record saying HMD Global – the firm which has acquired the rights to sell Nokia phones and is teaming up with Nokia – will launch multiple devices in the remaineder of 2016 and beginning of 2017.
According to the details sourced by NokiaPowerUser from a “Vietnamese publication”, HMD will launch “two new phone products in the fourth quarter 2016 and at least two smartphones in the early second quarter 2017.”
This statement is being interpreted as implying the first two phones will be feature phones rather than smartphones.
NPR says, “The phone manufacturing factory of Microsoft in Bac Ninh, Vietnam, is managed by FIH Mobile. As per agreement between HMD, FIH and Nokia; FIH has acquired Nokia production facilities, global sales and distribution network from Microsoft. So, this plant may produce upcoming two new Nokia phones, expected to be launched later this year.”
The Nokia brand, as rumoured, is returning to the mobile space to make Android-powered phones and tablets. The news was confirmed in a press release from the company, which is now owned by HMD, a new company set up to enable the proliferation of Nokia-branded phones and tablets.
“HMD has been founded to provide a focused, independent home for a full range of Nokia-branded feature phones, smartphones and tablets.
To complete its portfolio of Nokia branding rights, HMD announced that it has conditionally agreed to acquire from Microsoft the rights to use the Nokia brand on feature phones, and certain related design rights. The Microsoft transaction is expected to close in H2 2016.
Together these agreements would make HMD the sole global licensee for all types of Nokia-branded mobile phones and tablets. HMD intends to invest over USD 500 million over the next three years to support the global marketing of Nokia-branded mobile phones and tablets, funded via its investors and profits from the acquired feature phone business.”
Microsoft’s Nokia “thing” ends in the second half of 2016, leaving the market wide open for new Nokia handsets. The composition of the HMD is odd, to say the least. Nokia will not be investing any money in the project but it will receive royalties and sit on the board of HMD’s directors. Quite a few of Nokia’s old top brass will be returning to the fold as well.
“This agreement will give HMD full operational control of sales, marketing and distribution of Nokia-branded mobile phones and tablets, with exclusive access to the pre-eminent global sales and distribution network to be acquired from Microsoft by FIH, access to FIH’s world-leading device manufacturing, supply chain and engineering capabilities, and to its growing suite of proprietary mobile technologies and components,” said HMD in a press release.
What this means is simple: Nokia WILL return with Android phones and tablets, as well as wearables off the back of its Withings acquisition. No doubt we’ll be hearing A LOT more about this and the future of Nokia in the coming weeks and months.
Can Nokia carve a niche for itself in the Android space? I personally think they can; the Nokia brand is strong and has a lot of history. A strong release could certainly do well. But I do concede, as the Telegraph notes below, that things won’t exactly be EASY:
“Apple dominates the high-end, especially in the West, and Samsung is a fierce competitor. Asian smartphone manufacturers – Oppo, Xiaomi, Huawei, Vivo – are eating into the feature phone market that was Nokia’s playground. Other respected names, such as Sony and LG, have struggled to have a real impact on the market.
Motorola and BlackBerry, two other once-mighty phone makers, have not been able to trade on the back of their legacies: there’s no immediate reason that Nokia should be any different.”
It added: “The smartphone market, now bereft of innovation, has become ruthless, with profits difficult to come by. One suspect Nokia has missed its opportunity. We should wish it all the best, but the odds are stacked against it.”