Last week’s launch of the Nokia 7.1 saw HMD Global take its next step in returning the Nokia brand-name to the smartphone world. Since the launch of the Nokia 8 in August 2017, the Nokia name has been on the ascendancy in Android circles.
But none of these steps involve a genuinely envelope pushing handset at the very top end. Where’s the rival to the iPhone XS and Galaxy S10 product lines?
The short answer is that there’s no real need for one in the business plan. HMD Global’s growth is predominantly in the mid- and low-range handsets. The significant sales of the revamped Nokia 3310 feature phone is a snapshot of HMD’s approach. While Apple may have cornered the high-price high-margin market nicely, the Nokia Mobile approach targets a different market and a different price point.
Given HMD Global’s startup DNA is mixed with many former Nokia employees who were around for the first wave of smartphones in the 21st century, it should not be a huge surprise that the old Nokia approach of high-volume low-margin is part of the HMD Global approach.
That doesn’t mean that the Finnish-based start-up is ignoring the higher specifications – the aforementioned Nokia 8 picked up an update with the Nokia 8 Sirocco that focused on a fashionable design and bumping up some specifications (such as a larger screen and increased memory) – but it doesn’t feel the need to play Top Trumps bingo and max out every number in the spec sheet, even if there’s a clear gap in the product naming scheme for a Nokia 9.
As a start-up there needs to be a focus for HMD Global, and the focus is not on ultimate performance… it’s on usability and affordability. I’m sure that the Nokia 9 will eventually arrive, but until then expect more handsets such as the Nokia 7.1 to deliver a package that matches the needs of millions of users around the world. – Forbes