We are getting more tidbits kind of leaking from the 'New Nokia' handset-maker HMD company and lots of rumors and gossip and some 'signs' that foretell various matters about the shortly-to-be-announced Nokia Android smartphone series (and also Nokia dumbphones/featurephones that are coming). Because the actual announcement event is in two weeks, there isn't much sense in speculating and commenting on every rumor. But two 'classic' stories have suddenly emerged. There is a story that Nokia may relaunch the classic super-basic dumbphone model 3310. And our blog reader Asko just posted a comment (thanks Asko!) about fresh news via Finland that the N-Series brand is likely to return. That the N-Series has had its brand registered in China and then there is speculation of the naming/numbering of the N-Series to possibly follow the classic Nokia flagship naming like N95, N80 etc. I want to comment partly on the rumor story itself - and partly on the naming as a plausible strategy.
Part of this would be a kind of 'New Coke' branding/naming and distribution 'strategy'. New Coke was a marketing disaster not because New Coke was a bad product (although many loyal Coke drinkers felt so) but most of all, because Coca Cola released New Coke as a total replacement product, with a new taste, rather than a complementary product alongside the old 'Coca Cola Classic' taste. Some have said this was actually a brilliant strategy to force everybody to taste the new taste and the idea was from the start to always 'bring back' Coke Classic. But at least Coke executives have said they weren't that smart. Who knows? But the backlash from Coca Cola fans was immense - they DEMANDED the old flavor back, and Coke then ended up offering two tastes. For a long while - the EFFECT in many stores was, that the fizzy drink section had three equal-size parts, one for Pepsi, one for Old Coke, and one for New Coke. In effect, Coca Cola had managed to double its DISTRIBUTION presense at the expense of Pepsi. In terms of faste, they also then 'bracketed' Pepsi with both a 'more sweet taste' in New Coke vs Pepsi, and a 'more sour taste' in Coca Cola Classic vs Pepsi. And If I remember my stats correctly, Pepsi had its peak market share just before this strategy by Coke to split its product line.. so in the end, Coke 'won' with its 'losing' product and its 'failing' New Coke launch.
Lesson here to Nokia. Lumia on Windows is the New Coke, total failure. Nokia loyal customers want the old Nokia back. No sense trying to push new Nokia Android smartphones under a 'Lumia' branding (am sure they never considered this). BUT for at least SOME buyers, there is a kind of Coca Cola Classic aspect to some famed Nokia brands like the N-Series. Especially from the 'good old days' like when the N95 was on every conceivable tech spec miles better than an iPhone (but of course the N95 was not a touch-screen phone, and it was ugly-bulky-fat compared to super-slim iPhone). Many other Nokia brands would have this potential - the Communicator line could be revived. Some individual phones had legendary fame like N8, E7, N93, N86 etc.
I am pretty sure that Nokia would not release any N-Series phones to look ANYTHING like the massive bricks that those were back then. But they could take design cues and more likely, have the tech 'direction' of that given phone or line. The N-Series flagships would usually have supreme cameras and very wide range of media options and related tech. If say the N95 were to be 'reused' as a phone, it would seem like a logical name for a flagship level phone with some spectacular 'class-leading' specs. If you remember, the N95 was the first flagship samrtphone with 5mp camera - back when the iPhone offered 2mp. That kind of tech excellence would fit perfectly with the N-Series brand.
The N-Series brand was Nokia's premium CONSUMER brand and one for multimedia use. Internet, media, gaming, music, camera, video.. Multimedia computers, is what Nokia called the N-Series. I think this would make sense to try at least on one flagship-class phone model now - to 'attract' those who loved whatever N-series they once owned (or perhaps only aspired to) and to capitalize on the old reputation the brand once had, of tech leadership.
Would this mean all new Nokia Android smartphones to be branded N-Series. I am guessing no. Probably would make sense if that name is brought back, to try to recreate its magic as something premium, and thus only top-end devices would be labeled N-Series. Usually the Carl Zeiss optics branding would be reserve to N-Series devies and most cheaper Nokia smartphones (that might have technically identical camera parts) would not come with Carl Zeiss branding.
Again, it is mere speculation and we'll know soon. But the press stories did say that the N-Series was registered in China so it would suggest there is at least an active interest in possibly reviving the brand. If so, it should be done sooner, rather than later - because there is a lot of time from the last N-Series phones haha the N9 (the MeeGo device, most other N-Series were Symbian based).
But this could also be a 'trial balloon'. HMD might have this as an idea internally but not be sure which way to go. So they then set up some rumors, see if it catches any interest - and only pursue it if there is strong enough demand. They could just as well call the next Android phones Nokia S47 or Nokia Axumie or Nokia 4077 or whatever. They don't need to commit yet to the actual brand but when they ANNOUNCE It, that marketing material (mock-up phones, marketing materials) will then need to be in the final naming (or should be haha).
This is my gut feeling (have zero numbers or facts to prove any of it). I think there is an older user segment who hated Windows, don't like Android or Apple, would love an honestly-Symbian-Nokia N-Series device, even if bulky and 'ugly' but if it roughly did what the 'good old Nokia' did; They may well still be on their last Nokia N-Series and keep replacing its battery to buy another 18 months of life into it. I am certain there is SOME size to this type of customer, is that half a million, is that 5 million, or 15 million, who knows. And if HMD now gives an Android phone - but one that has SOME of the beloved Nokia 'staples' to it - say a replacable battery, mircoSD slot, plus great specs - and perhaps some really 'familiar Nokia U/I aspects, so the touch screen & controls would seem 'incredibly familiar like the old Nokia (vs standard Android) - I think most of those customers would 'come home' and buy this N-Series device now. In a heart-beat. As long as it's a fair price say in the $400-$500 dollar range (not say $800).
Here HMD would then have an interesting option. It could make the N-Series deliberately 'fat' and bulker than its other models - to then include say a replacable battery (which it might not have on the 'real flagship' that might be say waterproof). And HMD could also test cautiously the potential to escape the vice of the form factor where every phone supposedly has to be wafer-think like a phone version of a barbie-doll. Some market will exist for this phone by its brand alone, that would give latitude to test (similar to how, for one cycle, the Communicator brand would give HMD some latitude to experiment with a QWERTY keyboard slider/folder phone form factor if they were that brave haha, perhaps later say year 2018).
I'm pretty sure the phones we'll see in the Android Nokia comeback announcement by HMD will all be slab Android 'clones' by form factor all rather standard slab touch-screen devices. Perhaps (if we're lucky) the one with the best camera might have a camera hump, but other than that, I don't expect more 'wild' physical form factor 'experimentation'. Not at this stage - for the smartphones.
Now what of that 3310. Haha, that was a shocker! (I used to have that phone too, gosh it was an indestructible and essentially perfect phone for that era. Had Snake...) First off, again this could be a trial balloon. See if it catches fire. Secondly, it mechanically SO simple, gosh it could not cost more than what, $5 to manufacture and HMD/Nokia/Foxconn could sell it easily for $10 and probably sell for $20 and sell a ton and make an ENORMOUS profit per phone.
I would expect a 'facelift' in the style of the Volkswagen New Beetle vs Old Beetle and for the guts to be modernized (to what modest degree necessary). Vs the old phone, it would almost automatically come now with FM radio. A light feature is a huge selling point in the emerging world markets. Camera is so cheap I would put a small 1mp or so camera on it, and that means also then a modest color screen. BUT I'd keep the SIZE of the phone so close to the original, that anyone who currently owns one, when given this new 3310 but not having his own to compare, will feel 'this is the same size'. That the buttons all are in the same place and about the same size. In reality it could be say 5% smaller length/width wise and say maybe 10% thinner - it would still be a MASSIVE phone vs any rivals - but gosh, there would be a lot of buyers who would love HMD/Foxconn for giving the that phone. With a replacable battery of course (dual SIM probably in most markets in today's world).
Silly as it sounds, that could be the best selling phone of the featurephone side of the Nokia Return strategy. But not unlike the Volkswagen Beetle or the Mustang or the Mini, there is a real following to that phone. And many of its close siblings in the Nokia family. Make sure its clock and alarm work the same way, make sure it still comes with the standard Nokia ringtone and Snake... It would sell yes. In the many millions for sure. That is not a bad idea, gosh not at all. The clever sneaky bit would be to 'train' the consumer to become addicted to more Nokia tech via this retro-phone- most importantly obviously the camera. That gets you to microSD and then the user who HATES CHANGE - when you eventually offer that user the basic Android Nokia 3340 - with a slightly better camera but one that still has much of the beloved 3310 - that customer can be migrated - where today a jump to an Android Huawei Xiaomi LG something would be far too much of a leap.
With that, it remains to be seen. We'll know in two weeks. Lets hope for a triumphant return of our beloved Nokia brand to our pockets, and to show leadership once again for the industry. Leadership not in how to screw customers and lock them into proprietary tech solutions but a phiosophy of connecting everybody and enabling and empowering people. I can't wait :-)
Oligatory plug - as its still the fresh edition. All handset industry stats in TomiAhonen Phone Book. I have a 4-for-2 offer on my stats volumes now, before the Almanac 2017 edition is released. See more here.