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Nokia eyes 2017 to sell mobile phones again

Nokia-branded mobile phones are on sale, once again, on the Finnish company’s website, BBC News reports.

For now, the range is limited to some pretty basic models, but that should change when Android-powered smartphones and tablets are added soon.

It’s thanks to a deal with a small team based at a business park on the fringes of Helsinki, who are engaged in what will seem to many a foolhardy mission.

They call themselves HMD Global – and they believe they can make Nokia a big name in mobile phones once again.

HMD Global

A BBC correspondent met Arto Nummela, Pekka Rantala and Florian Seiche in a cafe on what is still the Nokia campus.

That very day Arto and Pekka had stopped working for the Nokia Windows mobile phone business owned by Microsoft – because they had acquired both it and the Nokia brand to start their new business.

Yes, it is complicated, but so is the recent history of what was just a few years back Europe’s technology superpower and the biggest force in mobile phones.

Nokia’s fall

After the launch of the iPhone in 2007, Nokia faltered and by 2011 was on what its first American chief executive, Stephen Elop, called a burning platform.

Then, the phone business was sold to Microsoft, which soon found it had made a disastrous purchase as the Nokia Windows combination failed to claim a significant slice of a market dominated by Apple’s iOS and Android.

Now, the Finnish business – which remained a big force in telecoms infrastructure after the sale of the mobile unit – has licensed the Nokia brand to HMD Global, which aims to take it back to the future.

Next steps

Well, they have taken over from Microsoft the declining but still sizeable feature-phone business, which still means something to millions of customers across the developing world.

“It’s declining roughly 15% a year, but it’s still a very healthy business and it’s global,” says chief executive Arto Nummela. That gives them cash flow and access to retail partners.

But the real aim is to launch a range of Android smartphones, starting in the first half of 2017.

HMD Global will not manufacture the phones – they have a deal with Foxconn, which will build them in China and Vietnam – so its focus will be on the design and the marketing.

They said they had been hand-picking the best designers in the industry, who had been “lining up” to sign up.

They are a mix of former Nokia people and other industry veterans such as Florian Heiche who came from HTC, and then “young hungry talented millennials”.

But they are entering a fiercely competitive Android market, where all sorts of companies are failing to make any kind of profit. Why should they be any different? In one word, it’s all about the brand – Nokia.

(Source: Malaysia Sun)