Nokia smart­phones at­tempt come­back

Cur­rent owner of Fin­nish hand­set brand eyes mar­ket re-en­try next year

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - BUSINESS - By MENG JING mengjing@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Nokia will make a come­back next year with a plan to launch new smart­phones.

But whether the gad­gets will rekin­dle in­ter­est among Chi­nese con­sumers for the Fin­nish brand re­mains to be seen, said an­a­lysts.

They pointed out that brand rep­u­ta­tion alone can­not help Nokia re­gain lost glory or mar­ket share as China rep­re­sents the world’s most com­pet­i­tive smart­phone mar­ket.

HMD Global, which now owns the hand­set brand, an­nounced on Thursday it is plan­ning to rein­tro­duce Nokia in the mar­ket in the first half of 2017. On the anvil are new smart­phones that will run on Google’s An­droid op­er­at­ing sys­tem.

“We be­lieve that the time is right for re­newal in the mo­bile in­dus­try. The mar­ket is fa­tigued and flooded with un­dif­fer­en­ti­ated prod­ucts. Con­sumers are look­ing for a tech­nol­ogy with a clear pur­pose, some­thing that is use­ful, ex­cit­ing, branded and trust­wor­thy. So, our ap­proach will fo­cus on true, core user ex­pe­ri­ences and a ded­i­ca­tion to qual­ity,” said Flo­rian Se­iche, pres­i­dent of the Fin­land-based HMD Global.

“With our pas­sion­ate team, startup at­ti­tude, a brand with a 95 per­cent world­wide aware­ness and a unique, as­set-light part­ner­ship ap­proach, we be­lieve we are per­fectly placed to forge a new way in mo­bile,” he said in a state­ment.

The com­pany, which has se­cured ex­clu­sive rights to use the brand for smart­phones from Nokia Oyj for the com­ing 10 years, hopes that con­sumers will re­mem­ber the qual­i­ties that made the com­pany the lead­ing hand­set maker of the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Ac­cord­ing to a re­port in the QDaily on Fri­day, Nokia’s first come­back smart­phone will tar­get the mid-to-low end. The new Nokia smart­phones will tar­get global con­sumers ini­tially. But Chi- na, the world’s largest smart­phone mar­ket, is a pri­or­ity for HMD Global.

Ac­cord­ing to a com­pany source, who wanted to re­main anony­mous, con­sumers in China will be among the first in the world who will be able to buy the new phones.

How­ever, Xiang Li­gang, in­de­pen­dent an­a­lyst and CEO of the tele­com in­dus­try web­site cc­time.com, said Nokia hand­sets’ fu­ture in China ap­pears rather bleak.

“In terms of pro­duc­ing mid-to-low end smart­phones, Nokia won’t be able to beat China’s homegrown brands,” he said.

“Many of Chi­nese brands, such as Huawei and Xiaomi, have re­ally big ship­ment vol­umes. The more they pro­duce, the more they will be able to re­duce the cost.”

Ac­cord­ing to Xiang, Nokia does have a very rec­og­niz­able brand, but so do Mo­torola, Sony and LG. “In the highly com­pet­i­tive smart­phone in­dus­try, you need to have a re­ally cut­ting-edge tech­nol­ogy to come back and stand out. The rep­u­ta­tion of the brand is not enough,” he said.

James Yan, re­search direc­tor at Counterpoint Tech­nol­ogy Mar­ket Re­search, said brand equity may give Nokia a foothold in the mar­ket ini­tially, noth­ing more. “That won’t nec­es­sar­ily trans­late into good busi­ness. The most im­por­tant thing for Nokia is to build a strong sales net­work. The magic will only hap­pen when its sales chan­nels have strong con­fi­dence in the brand,” he said.

We be­lieve that the time is right for re­newal in the mo­bile in­dus­try. The mar­ket is fa­tigued and flooded with un­dif­fer­en­ti­ated prod­ucts.” Flo­rian Se­iche, pres­i­dent of the Fin­land-based HMD Global

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