By Shalini Pandey
Nokia is all set to make its comeback with its much-anticipated model Nokia 8, launching any time by the end of this month. The Android device has been highly anticipated and marks Nokia’s return to the smartphone market after a series of Windows devices. Nokia is now in a position where it must compete against well-established brands in India like Apple, Samsung, Oppo, Vivo, Gionee, Mi, etc., at affordable and mid-range prices.
The flagship device will also run the latest version of Android 7.0 out-of-the-box., making it a tough rival to handsets like the Samsung Galaxy S8 and the upcoming iPhone 8. The rationale behind Nokia’s comeback in 2017 years after it left the competitive smartphone market remains the question in everyone’s mind.
Blunders and missteps
After the iPhone and Android devices entered the smartphone scene, they changed the entire industry. Nokia was the techno-giant to beat at the time, but it quickly found itself struggling to maintain its market share. On February 11, 2011, Stephen Elop-led Nokia announced its partnership with Microsoft to use Windows Phone instead of Android to differentiate the company from competitors.
Following which the phone business was sold to Microsoft, but it was a disastrous purchase as the Nokia-Windows combination failed to claim a significant slice of a market dominated by Apple’s iOS and Android. The first Nokia Windows Phone was the Lumia 800, released in November 2011. While initially, sales of the 800 and similar devices were good, competition from iPhone and Android was a major problem. Poor Lumia sales led the company close to bankruptcy in mid-2012. The Lumia 920 and Asha phones increased the company’s market share but didn’t do much for Nokia’s profits.
The beginning of an era
Finally, in September 2013, Nokia announced it would sell its mobile devices division to Microsoft and fulfil the plan of Microsoft’s then-CEO Steve Ballmer to produce more hardware. As part of the deal, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop would return to Microsoft. In 2016, Microsoft decided to sell Nokia’s feature phone business to Foxconn subsidiary FIH Mobile and a Finnish firm called HMD Global. At the same time, Nokia announced a partnership with HMD Global, which would become the sole licensee of the Nokia brand for phones. This made HMD Global the only manufacturer of both Nokia feature phones and smartphones.
HMD Global took over from Microsoft the declining but still sizeable feature-phone business, which still means something to millions of customers across the developing world. It will not manufacture the phones, due to the deal with Foxconn. Foxconn builds them in China and Vietnam, ensuring that HMD Global’s focus will be only on the design and the marketing.
The anticipated comeback
Nokia is entering a fiercely competitive Android market, where many companies are failing to make a profit. Why should they be any different? Would Nokia be able to revive its lost glory? Nokia remains one of the most recognised mobile phone brands on the planet. While every other new entrant to the Android system has to fight to find a place in the market, Nokia has a name for itself. “The Nokia brand is a true brand with 150 years of history. In all corners of the world it’s recognised as the true industrial mobile phone brand”, says Mr Arto Numella, HMD’s chief executive.
With the launch of Nokia N series, HMD Global will be hoping it can capitalise on this trust and stand out in the incredibly crowded Android smartphone market, which is characterised by cutthroat competition and a sea of design similarity. The phone is expected to be priced at INR 44,999, which is quite reasonable considering the similar phones of Samsung and Apple that retail at a much higher price. Forget cheap and cheerful throw-away phones, Nokia is where you will now turn for a premium smartphone experience with advanced imaging technology you can’t get anywhere else. That is the message from HMD Global—it will be seen if Nokia has its Uber moment or not.
Featured Image Source: Evan Blass/Twitter
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