Nothing particularly Earth-shattering debuted at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona — the usual array of smartphones were unveiled with Samsung taking top billing, net neutrality emerged as a talking point thanks to FCC chair Ajit Pai’s attendance, and the 5G steamroller trundled into second gear with some interesting early innovations rearing their heads.
Constituting four smartphones, one of which was the Nokia 7 Plus flagship, as well as a nostalgia trip in the form of the reimagined Nokia 8810 “Banana Phone,” it was clear that the Nokia mobile phone brand is here in a big way.
If you’ve followed Nokia’s mobile phone saga over the past few years, you’ll already know the background story, but here’s a quick recap. Nokia itself no longer makes phones — in 2016, the Finnish company helped establish a new business vehicle called HMD Global that would ensure Nokia’s mobile phone brand lives on through a licensing arrangement. HMD Global basically develops the Nokia-branded smartphones and feature phones, with Foxconn subsidiary FIH Mobile taking care of manufacturing duties.
So Nokia (the company) has no direct role in developing these phones, aside from lending its famous name to the handsets. After all, why would you use the corporate-y “HMD Global” nomenclature on your device when you have a perfectly good legacy mobile phone brand, recognized by billions, at your disposal?
Though it is still early days, things seem to be working out reasonably well. In December, HMD Global marked its first full year of its 10-year licensing deal with six smartphones and five feature phones on the market. Throw into the mix the further five new devices announced at MWC last week, and Nokia will soon have 16 new mobile devices available to buy around the world. And early numbers have been encouraging.
In December, one analyst at Counterpoint Research reported that Nokia-branded phones were the 8th most popular globally in terms of shipments in Q3, while it was apparently the top-selling brand in the Middle East and number three in the U.K. It’s worth noting noting that these figures bundle both feature…
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