Nokia’s 10-year decline is stark, however its model recognition is powerful

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Nothing notably Earth-shattering debuted at Cell World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona — the same old array of smartphones had been unveiled with Samsung taking high billing, internet neutrality emerged as a speaking level because of FCC chair Ajit Pai’s attendance, and the 5G steamroller trundled into second gear with some attention-grabbing early improvements rearing their heads.

However buried throughout the hullabaloo of Samsung flagships and guarantees of a future 5G utopia, HMD World — the “dwelling of Nokia telephones” — unveiled not one, not two, however 5 new Nokia-branded telephones.

Constituting 4 smartphones, one among which was the Nokia 7 Plus flagship, in addition to a nostalgia journey within the type of the reimagined Nokia 8810 “Banana Cellphone,” it was clear that the Nokia cell phone model is right here in a giant method.

Above: Nokia 8810 “Banana Cellphone”

Reborn?

For those who’ve adopted Nokia’s cell phone saga over the previous few years, you’ll already know the background story, however right here’s a fast recap. Nokia itself not makes telephones — in 2016, the Finnish firm helped set up a brand new enterprise automobile referred to as HMD World that might guarantee Nokia’s cell phone model lives on by means of a licensing association. HMD World principally develops the Nokia-branded smartphones and have telephones, with Foxconn subsidiary FIH Cell taking good care of manufacturing duties.

So Nokia (the corporate) has no direct position in growing these telephones, apart from lending its well-known title to the handsets. In any case, why would you utilize the corporate-y “HMD World” nomenclature in your gadget when you may have a superbly good legacy cell phone model, acknowledged by billions, at your disposal?

Although it’s nonetheless early days, issues appear to be understanding moderately properly. In December, HMD World marked its first full yr of its 10-year licensing deal with six smartphones and 5 function telephones available on the market. Throw into the combination the additional 5 new gadgets introduced at MWC final week, and Nokia will quickly have 16 new cell gadgets in the stores world wide. And early numbers have been encouraging.

In December, one analyst at Counterpoint Analysis reported that Nokia-branded telephones had been the eighth hottest globally by way of shipments in Q3, whereas it was apparently the top-selling model within the Center East and quantity three within the U.Okay. It’s price noting noting that these figures bundle each function telephones and smartphones collectively.

Final month, nonetheless, the identical analyst reported promising figures for This autumn, noting that Nokia smartphones particularly had outsold HTC, Sony, Google, OnePlus, Lenovo, and a number of different manufacturers. Apparently, HMD World shifted 4.4 million Nokia smartphones within the earlier quarter.

These numbers aren’t concrete, however they’re promising. And HMD World was clearly trying to strike whereas the iron is sizzling with the 5 new telephones introduced at MWC. Nevertheless, it’s necessary to not get too carried away, as a result of Nokia’s latest footprint places it at only one p.c of the general smartphone gross sales market share.

Furthermore, it’s price wanting on the greater image to remind us of how we received thus far.

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The timing of the most recent launches was notable by way of historic context — the Nokia cell phone model has launched into fairly a downward trajectory over the previous decade.

In February 2008, a Gartner report pegged Nokia because the world’s primary cell phone model by far, accounting for round 40 p.c of all smartphone shipments the earlier yr. Nevertheless, Apple had solely simply shipped the primary iPhone in mid-2007, and the primary commercially obtainable Android cellphone didn’t hit the market till late 2008. And with the smartphone warfare solely simply starting, Nokia snapped up Symbian in 2008 to spice up its personal ambitions within the burgeoning house.

What occurred subsequent was fast. It’s at all times attention-grabbing to take a look at sure tech firms’ share costs across the time that the iPhone and Android gadgets beginning rolling out. Within the case of Nokia, its shares slid nearly vertically between October 2007 and October the next yr, its inventory value dropping greater than half. By 2011 the corporate was in Microsoft’s pocket because the duo fought to push a 3rd power within the smartphone working system realm, and Nokia’s inventory value hit an all-time low in 2012.

Above: Nokia shares

By 2014, Nokia’s cell phone enterprise was owned outright by Microsoft, however by the next yr Microsoft had taken a $7.6 billion writedown on the acquisition. And in 2016 Microsoft just about washed its palms of the entire sorry Nokia episode.

It’s at this level that Nokia realized it must begin once more from the underside up, as a result of it didn’t have the mandatory manufacturing infrastructure to supply {hardware} at scale. However what it did have was a model. A robust model that thousands and thousands of individuals over a sure age acknowledge. It didn’t matter who really made the cellphone — all that mattered was that there was a transparent Nokia badge on the cellphone.

What now

Whereas many had written the entire HMD World / Nokia escapade off as a misplaced trigger, armed with a robust model, a combination of mid- and high-end Android telephones, and a touch of nostalgia with the Nokia 3310 and the just-announced 8810, what we have now is a reputable try at reviving the once-mighty Nokia cellphone model.

However one swallow doesn’t make a summer time. Or, in HMD World’s case, a few affordable quarters and a brand new slate of telephones don’t imply world domination. However what this does present is the facility a model can maintain over customers.

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