After years of multiple corporate makeovers, Finland-based Nokia, once the world's largest seller of mobile phones, plans to re-enter the market in 2017 with a new lineup of Android-powered smartphones.
HMD Global Oy, a new Finnish brand that is now the sole global licensee for all Nokia devices, made the announcement today. The company said it plans to release a fresh generation of Android smartphones in the first half of next year through a "unique" strategic partnership with Nokia, Android OS developer Google and FIH Mobile Limited, a subsidiary of the Foxconn Technology Group known for its manufacturing of Apple's iPhones.
The news points to HMD's ambitions to become a viable competitor to today's top smartphone companies: Samsung, which surpassed Nokia as a leader in 2012 and currently holds nearly one-fourth of the global smartphone market, and Apple, which controls just over 13 percent of that market. Nokia also plans to continue its current production of non-smart, so-called "feature" phones.
Aiming for 'A New Way in Mobile'
"We believe that the time is right for renewal in the mobile industry," HMD Global president Florian Seiche said in a statement today. "The market is fatigued and flooded with undifferentiated products. Consumers are looking for technology with clear purpose that is useful, exciting and with a brand they can trust, so our approach will focus on true, core user experiences and a dedication to quality."
Nokia's smartphone roadmap is making its debut just over six months after HMD announced it had signed an exclusive, 10-year licensing agreement for the company's mobile phone and tablet brand. That announcement came as Microsoft revealed it was shedding the Nokia devices and services business, which it had acquired in 2013.
HMD CEO Arto Nummela, a former Nokia executive, told Reuters that his current company wants to be "one of the key competitive players in the smartphone business."
Noting that the Nokia brand remains widely recognized worldwide, Seiche added in HMD's announcement that he believes his company is "perfectly placed to forge a new way in mobile."
Needed: 'Significant Investment, Quick Market Scale'
HMD said one key to its long-term plans is its partnership with FIH, which it called "a global consumer electronics manufacturing and technology powerhouse" with "world-class R&D capability." HMD is also pinning its expectations on Android, the mobile operating system developed by Google that is currently used by 86 percent of the world's smartphones.
In addition to the strengths brought by FIH, however, HMD "will need to invest significant amounts of money in marketing its Nokia products and must achieve significant scale in the global smartphone market quickly if it's to create a profitable and sustainable business," CCS Insight mobile industry analyst Ben Wood wrote today in a blog post.
"We believe the key to the company's success will lie in offering products that match the original Nokia attributes of quality, ease of use, reliability and distinctive design," Wood said. He added that his firm is "bullish" about the company's prospects and recently predicted the Nokia brand could achieve a 5 percent share of the global Android smartphone market by 2019.