back to article How Nokia is (and isn't) back in the phone business today

We have a new phone company today, and it’s European. And the badge says Nokia. So is Nokia back in the phone biz? Yes and no. It won’t spend a penny on either making or marketing phones - even at arm’s length. All that is going to be the job of a new entity, HMD Global Oy, run by present and past Nokians. From HMD we can …

  1. msknight Silver badge

    Yes yes... but still no word on operating system?

    1. Old Handle

      "From HMD we can expect a range of Android phones and tablets."

      1. Zolko

        "From HMD we can expect a range of Android phones and tablets"

        says who ? If they only make Android phones, they can stop right here, there are already too many concurrents. But if they use another OS (MeeGo, Tizen, Sawfish, whatever it's called now) then that changes the market. And I'll buy one right away.

        1. davidp231

          Problem is, if you use another OS, you have the problem of getting a decent app store going, and employing an Android runtime to get the decent ones - which is what Blackberry tried in BB10 and Jolla did with Sailfish. Both didn't go well - why bother with a phone that has a compatibility layer when you can get one that runs everything native?

          Would be much less hassle, and increase greatly uptake if they went with something that runs Android apps natively.

          If you can create a new mobile OS, and combine it with an app store that can rival that of iOS and Android, *and* convince devs to port their apps to it, you'd be in business. Which is what MS tried with Windows Phone and that didn't go all too well either.

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge
      Happy

      Well it ain't going to be Windows Phone.

  2. Richard Jones 1
    Meh

    Welcome Back Nokia IP

    If they can produce a replacement for my 6230i I will be straight round to see if it has the one feature I need, the rest is horse feathers for me and only worth anything as a gift.

    If it only churns out another lump of a smartphone then the 6230i will have to last a bit, no make that a lot longer.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Make a 4G access point with a dumb phone built in

    New Nokia should make a dumb phone - that has brick-like qualities of minimal LCD screen, week-long battery life, robustness, and reasonably pocket friendly. All the 'smart' bits come from a basic tablet which is paired / tethered to it.

    You take just the phone if you need just a basic phone - e.g. to call a taxi after a night out. You take both, and leave the phone in your bag, when you want to use the tablet at the office, on the train etc.

  4. Dave 15

    Maybe

    Maybe these guys might be brave enough to provide me with a phone of Nokia quality... i.e. if I put it on the table the screen won't craze, Perhaps if I am lucky enough they might actually try providing a phone with a keyboard or keys, a flip or a clam shell so I don't have to put up with endless they all look the same and frankly are unusable apple styled slabs with a cheap and nasty touch screen that I can't use on the move.

    1. AMBxx Silver badge

      Re: Maybe

      but how would they differentiate that from a BlackBerry ?

  5. James 51 Silver badge

    Here's hoping they fair better than Jolla. Kinda glad I waited to see if they could launch a second phone before biting.

  6. Bob Vistakin
  7. barstewardsquad
    Happy

    Optimistic?

    Vanilla Android with minimal bloat, so basically something to go up against the Nexus range. Here's hoping they can make something as good as the n95 was back in the day.

    1. davidp231

      Re: Optimistic?

      They could potentially go with Cyanogenmod as well. I'd go for one if that were the case.

      1. getHandle

        Re: Optimistic?

        Either way, "neither Nokia, Foxconn or Microsoft have equity in the new company" is an encouraging start!

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: Optimistic?

          Another report, not on The Register says otherwise:

          The division that makes them has been acquired by HMD Global, a new private equity-backed firm, and Foxconn subsidiary FIH Mobile.

          Have between them taken on the old Nokia feature phone range.

      2. Mikel

        Re: Optimistic?

        Microsoft owns Cyanogen now. Nokia isn't going to get caught in the same trap twice.

  8. Alister Silver badge

    To my mind, Nokia were the absolute champions of the intuitive GUI on their non-smart phones.

    Maybe they can bring those skill to bear on skinning Android.

    1. ScissorHands

      Also on smartphones

      They were also the absolute champions (*) in smartphones. You'd know that if you had used a Nokia N9 for any amount of time.

      (* - in the end: the S60 interface was mostly usable, then they tried to add touch to it and made it horrible.)

      1. DropBear Silver badge

        Re: Also on smartphones

        All they need to do is produce a device with a proper, LANDSCAPE physical qwerty keyboard and I'll be all over it (assuming a mortal-accessible price...)

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I have to admit,

    this deal is very confusing. From a valuation perspective, was this a fire sale? Does it relate to MS having problems selling phones in India and China so they said "screw it"? It totally messes with the messaging around Windows 10 and Microsoft's commitment to mobile. MS Enterprise sales and store reps are going to have to explain this thousands of times and what do you want to bet they have no clue because they just found out today like everyone else. Satya and his team have a lot of splainin to do. This is all very curious and negatively disruptive indeed. Is a Blackberry acquisition next?

  10. Bob Vistakin
    Coat

    Splain this then

    Here's that Microsoft commitment to mobile you mentioned.

    1. Gordon 10 Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Splain this then

      Errr that's mobile not mobiles

  11. J J Carter Silver badge
    Boffin

    Easy to guess the strategy

    HMD Global Oy - "Will you buy us now?"

    Nokia - "Let's see how things work out..."

    HMD Global Oy - "Will you buy us now?"

    Nokia - "Let's see how things work out..."

    Repeat ad-nauseum!

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Easy to guess the strategy

      Replace HMD Global Oy with Microsoft and Nokia with HMD Global Oy and you'd be right.

  12. Christian Berger Silver badge

    What will be their selling point?

    I mean we are at a point where we have a nearly level playing field. Even large manufacturers like Samsung and Apple are feeling the heat from lots of little Chinese company nobody even heard of a year ago.

    Most software ways to differentiate themselves from stock Android only make the product worse as nobody likes bloatware installed on their systems. Adding a decent hardware keyboard would be potentially interesting, but I doubt Nokia would be courageous enough at this point.

    Nokia has lost their chance. They would have had everything to shape the future, but decided to chase the iPhone... just like the rest of the industry.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: What will be their selling point?

      Best way to differentiate from stock Android is to not use Android.

      Keep the kernel, lose the google cruft.

      1. Christian Berger Silver badge

        Re: What will be their selling point?

        "Keep the kernel, lose the google cruft."

        Of course, however marketing won't like a system that's that bare bones. My current hope is actually on the Pyra https://pyra-handheld.com/boards/pages/pyra/ and potentially on the "Pocket Chip".

        1. fatbuddha

          Re: What will be their selling point?

          dog. that Pyra is fugly, non?

          1. werdsmith Silver badge

            Re: Pyra

            It's a geek's wet dream, though €745 is going to make it a pipe dream for me.

    2. Mikel

      Re: What will be their selling point?

      They still have some great engineers. Or at least know where they are.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What will be their selling point?

        > They still have some great engineers. Or at least know where they are.

        I know you said engineers, but at least where the designers are concerned if this is true then they're still at Nokia:

        "Nokia kept a chunk of its best designers at Nokia, and Microsoft fumbled retaining the rest"

        The deal to offload the failing devices business to Microsoft for $7.2Bn looks better and better with every passing detail...

        Frankly, with mobile phones becoming almost commodity devices these days, a firm's (industrial) design chops should be valued more highly than those of it's engineers (Foxconn will most likely take care of the engineering, in any case). You can command higher prices for better designed gear.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Do Nokia need to differentiate?

    Ignoring their PureView camera tech (which I assume they still have), the goodwill alone should be enough for healthy smartphone sales.

    There are enough "toxic" or untrustworthy mobile manufacturers out there (Apple, Samsung, HTC, OnePlus etc.) that Nokia - being fondly remembered by a legion of adults, though maybe not kids - should see healthy sales simply by offering a competitive device that isn't screwed up in some way (please don't dick about with the GUI too much). If it's got knockout features, they'll clean up.

  14. Mystic Megabyte Silver badge
    WTF?

    SMS feature request

    On my old Nokia 6310 it would tell me when a SMS had been sent. This is important because where I live sometimes a SMS will arrive 24 hrs. after being sent*. On my new "smartphone" it only shows when it was received :( Well duh' I just heard it beep so that when it got here. WHEN WAS IT SENT!

    *Oddly, If I send a SMS to New Zealand (in the other hemisphere) it will arrive almost instantly.

    1. imski

      Re: SMS feature request

      *Oddly, If I send a SMS to New Zealand (in the other hemisphere) it will arrive almost instantly.

      Well, that's because it could be tomorrow there already...

      1. R Callan
        Happy

        Re: SMS feature request

        But we are not living in the past, irrespective of the old joke.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wow some people here...

    Are asking for what already exists.

    As for me, I want a true Scandinavian product.

    1. It must have awful instructions.

    2. The name absolutely has to be beyond the realms of general pronounciation.

    3. I have to drive 2 hours to get to a place in some shit tip town like Croydon to get one.

    4. Delivery must be £30 no matter how much or how little I order.

    5. Breakfast at the shop has to be £1 and unavailable by the time I get there.

    And finally...

    6. The battery must be removable.

    Nice to haves...

    7. The air in the sealed box has to be pumped into the container from a can of fermented pilchards.

    8. The phone has to smell of pigshit and bacon.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wow some people here...

      Next you'll be wanting an Allen-key in order to put it together…

    2. getHandle

      Re: Wow some people here...

      Kalu

  16. Ugotta B. Kiddingme Silver badge
    Joke

    " HMD Global Oy"

    so... Nokiaussie?

  17. Simon Rockman

    Communicator

    Something with a communicator form factor - Android, Windows, whatever - please.

  18. Sandtitz Silver badge

    "Only" four?

    "Only four new Lumia devices have limped out of the door in the past year, all running Windows 10 mobile."

    Presumably the author writes about phone models and not the total number of sold devices...

    Anyhow - how does this compare to other manufacturers? Have Google and Apple produced more models in the past year?

    1. arctic_haze Silver badge

      Re: "Only" four?

      Are you joking? Samsung had something like 13 Galaxy line models since this January

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samsung_Galaxy

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "It’s hard to imagine how HDA, the “new Nokia” phone company, can differentiate its Android phones and slabs from anyone else’s Android phones and slabs."

    I'll tell you how... make it as tough as old boots with rock solid reliability.

  20. J J Carter Silver badge
    Facepalm

    It needs a rock-solid OS

    I'm thinking OpenVMS

  21. Bad Beaver

    Endless pain, endless strain

    I am sure many people will love yet another rectangular Android choice, I am just not one of them. So much hurt.

    Regardless, the working adults of this world need business class devices that help them with _getting things done_. This is a trainwreck like Blackberry still exists. So how would that work for "Nokia"?

    • Keys are key. Literally.

    • Skin that droid! Add a well working interface (geez, just thinking about the UI from the N9's Harmattan rotting away in some IP-drawer is making me sick) that does not make one aggressive by just looking at it.

    • At least provide the illusion of being shielded from the mighty eye in the sky.

    • Have more than 24h of batterylife.

    • Have expandable storage.

    • Have a decent camera without any "EDOF" shenanigans.

    • Finally: Try not to be everything to everybody with one device.

    So pretty much like a Priv but better in terms of specs, build and general attention to detail. It cannot be that hard. Good Lord, why is it so hard?!

  22. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

    It isn't even slightly difficult to differentiate

    1) removable battery

    2) landscape hardware keyboard

    3) open source hardware as far as possible from day one

    4) commitment to provide fixes for a period of <n> years, that don't depend on the carrier

    5) HDMI port, *multiple* OTA micro USB ports

    6) Android desktop computing support (plug in monitor, keyboard, mouse - there's your environment). Ship phone with a mini HDMI to DVI cable, and two micro USB to USB cables.

    6a) optional expansion of desktop computing support - better mail client, file synchronisation, yadda, yadda.

    7) Car standard GPS support (i.e. Google maps with a bit of area pre-loading, display of speed, and speed cameras)

    No-one offers all of that at the moment, and my personal obsession with hardware keyboards aside, it would probably sell.

    1. Bad Beaver

      Re: It isn't even slightly difficult to differentiate

      So pretty much a Nokia E7 with some more or less minor adjustments. I'd buy that in a heartbeat.

      1. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

        Re: It isn't even slightly difficult to differentiate

        Upgrade the screen in the E7, and obviously completely different internals, but in terms of form factor - doesn't look bad.

        Surprised no-one is commenting on your desktop being your phone, it is very obviously the way things will go.

        1. Bad Beaver

          Re: It isn't even slightly difficult to differentiate

          People used to freak out when I hooked up a mouse to my E7. HDMI was also nice to have.

          That phone, with current specs, a better camera and some additions (SD card, replaceable battery)

          -> Gimme. Now.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It isn't even slightly difficult to differentiate

      Make the battery into a big chunky thing that comprises the entire rear of the phone. 10000 mah. All the oldies will buy it just to last days between charges.

  23. Danny 5

    sign me up

    I am still having daily annoyances with my Lumia 950 and now feel safe to conclude that it's really a piece of crap. Sign me up for a new, Android based Nokia any day, because Microsoft have proven once again they are incapable of creating anything worthwhile in the world of mobile computing.

    I am never going to use another windows mobile device again. Surface is like Apple products to me, overpriced and not worth my money. The only reason i stuck with the Lumias was because i loved the Nokia versions of them, the Microsoft version is a generic piece of crap and not worth a cent.

    Please make it like the real Nokia devices were, no generic crap please. Have some guts with the design.

  24. Dr_N Silver badge

    Z-Launcher

    Check out Nokia's home screen front-end for Android for a taste of things to come.

    Very neat.

  25. Parveen2019

    Its HMD Global not Old Nokia

    Within 1 month a new Nokia 6.1 + stopped charging. I have not seen such a shameless and indifferent organization and management who are so unapologetic for holding the phone at service center from 21 days and without any commitment on getting the phone up and return to customer.

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