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MWC 2017: HMD Global eyeing top spots with Nokia brand

Paul Withers
March 14, 2017

Wraps taken off new devices as manufacturer remains defiant on its brand strength

HMD Global has claimed it can once again make Nokia one of the biggest smartphone manufacturers in the world, while being a serious contender in the UK within the next 12 months.

The first admission was made by HMD Global CEO Arto Nummela as he unveiled the global availability of the Nokia 6, as well as the new Nokia 5 and 3 smartphones.

An updated version of the Nokia 3310 was also shown off. The feature phone, which is one of the best-selling mobiles ever, was first released in 2000 and has achieved sales of 120 million units.

Nokia was once a goliath of the mobile phone space and regularly accounted for as much as 40 per cent of the global market but that share has plummeted alarmingly over the years, particularly since the introduction of the Apple iPhone in 2007 and continued rise of Samsung with its Galaxy S flagship range.

Last May, Nokia signed a 10-year licensing agreement with Finnish company HMD Global to create Nokia-branded smartphones and tablets.

Aiming for the top

“This is a huge milestone for us,” beamed Nummela. “We are going to work with the best of the best in the industry.

“We are very humbled to be part of this but at the same time very ambitious. Now we are here, and the story unfolds further.

“This is just the beginning of the journey. We are aiming to be one of the top smartphone players in the industry throughout the world.”

Speaking exclusively to Mobile News in her first media interview since joining HMD Global, UK general manager Sarah Edge is confident Nokia can once again be a top brand in the region for both feature phones and smartphones within the next 12 months.

All four handsets will go on sale across all major retailers and mobile operators in the UK from Q2, with the Nokia 6 launched with an exclusive partner, which she declined to name at this stage.

The devices will be distributed by Exertis, which it signed a partnership with last month as part of plans to “reignite” the Nokia brand and drive sales.

Trying something new

Edge: ‘Nokia can be a serious contender in the market next year’

Edge claims Nokia’s UK ambitions can be achieved through continued strong brand strength, as recent research showed that it is still recognised by 96 per cent of people spanning all ages. She added that its devices will provide customers with some of the best smartphones at affordable prices.

The trio of new smartphones are cased in a single piece of aluminium and the partnership with Google to include Android means they will also receive monthly software and security updates.

“Over the next year, I would love to be looking at the market and thinking that Nokia is a serious contender in both the feature phone and smartphone spaces,” said Edge.

“There isn’t a huge amount of technological revolution in the market at the moment. There is a bit more apathy in the UK market and people are perhaps getting a little bored.

“By coming in with great handsets and the Nokia brand, it could give us a unique opportunity because people are ready for something different. If we can shake up the market, we could have some really good opportunities.”

“We are very ambitious but  we also have to be humble. It is a tough market and we are well aware of that. We give consumers quality at price points that consumers want and deserve.

“We will take it one step at the time, get the basics right first and be a good partner and want our customers in the UK to want to work with us.”

New appeal

The Nokia 6 was the first Nokia-branded smartphone from HMD Global to go on sale when it was released in China in December, and saw significant success. It received 1.3 million registrations for the device in three days, with a customer satisfaction score of 96 per cent.

Edge is hoping to replicate that success in the UK as part of its drive there this year, claiming there will be a “big focus” on the device when it launches.

She added that research from its success in China has shown that many more first-time Nokia users are prepared to switch to the manufacturer.

“We would love to appeal to our loyal fans but also to a new generation. When we launched the Nokia 6 in China, we achieved some really great results – 70 per

cent of the people that bought it were under 30, so we have a lot of love there.

“We’re seeing this younger audience interested in the Nokia brand and whether that is because they have fond memories or are looking for something different, something that is a cool brand.

“There is a great opportunity for us to get new fans on board. I would love to be able to replicate our success in China. There will be a pretty big focus on the Nokia 6 in the UK market, and we will be working with one exclusive retail partner on that.”

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