That is perfection. A standing ovation for you HMD. Your four phones shown in Barcelona today, they are a bullseye. They are as perfect as any 'comeback' attempt could ever be, at any industry, in any time. You have a set of hit phones on your hands. The people responsible for these 4 phones all are worth their weight in gold, do not let them leave, and do let them design more phones for you. Their judgment is immaculate. My greatest admiration for whoever is behind the retro 3310. That is the cherry on the top. So lets do the official CDB blog review of the Comeback Quartet from Nokia via the HMD company. What does 'the most accurate forecaster in mobile' say about Nokia brands's chances with these four? The sweet short simple answer is: They are back. The Jedi has Returned.
ADDENDUM on 27 Feb, 2017. I have been reading mostly silly reporting from Western tech media (some of it is actually very good) and some very interesting - almost universally positive reporting in Emerging Market media (those that publish in English, obviously). So let me make this addendum to the top, for any readers visiting this article.
The Nokia smartphones on Android, Nokia 6, 5 and 3; as well as the Nokia 3310 are NOT designed to help Nokia 'win against Apple'. That is utterly silly. They are NOT designed to win against Samsung's GALAXY class either. That is just lazy reporting. These four phones are NOT designed for Nokia to win over a lot of market share in Oceania (ie Australia) the smallest inhabited continent of rich people where under 30 million people live (NZ and Fiji included). These four phones are NOT designed for Nokia brand to make a miraculous comeback in the US market (North America is the second smallest inhabited continent by population). They are NOT designed to win in Western Europe either - which may sound odd as Finland is a Western European nation. These phones are NOT designed to win in China - that seems like a ridiculous statement to make knowing that Nokia 6 was already LAUNCHED in China (the only market that sells the phone currently).
Understand this point. These four phones are not made for small markets where there is TIGHT COMPETITION and MANY CARRIERS messing up the market. These four phones are designed to win in TEN countries. Ten countries that all are in the EMERGING WORLD (and are not China). Ten countries where there often is no local handset maker rival or the local rivals are weak (vs say China or USA where local rivals are strong). And these ten countries together account for one THIRD of the total planet's phone sales.
These ten countries are the core of Nokia best customer loyalty and satisfaction where they LOVE the Nokia brand and where both its smartphone and dumbphone brands have ruled forever. Countries like Nigeria, India, Indonesia, Pakistan and Brazil. In THOSE countries, these phones will be this year's hit phones and they will crush their competition. Do not read Western journalists pine about some fancy flagship phone and complain that these phones sit in a crowded mid-field. Don't read Western journalists write bemused articles about the 3310 when their OWN NETWORKS will not support this phone. These four phones were NOT INTENDED to win in those markets - while in some Western markets the mid-range Android Nokias will actually sell quite well (especially Europe).
Understand that these four phones were DESIGNED to WIN where it matters! Those 'low-hanging fruit' countries where more phones are sold than in the USA, more phones sold than in Australia, more phones sold than in Europe, more phones sold than in China. And these 10 countries are where Nokia brand is seen as golden (in many of these 10 countries, the Nokia brand is more valued than Apple !!!) and in these 10 countries, there is a huge loyal customer base eagerly awaiting these phones. Understand that distinction. These phones were not designed to take on Apple iPhone and Samsung Galaxy. These phones were designed to take on a market AS BIG AS TOTAL SAMSUNG and TOTAL iPHONE, combined !!!! And within THEIR intended market, these 4 phones will rule. Read this blog and understand. I am the most accurate forecaster in mobile and I made EVERY CORRECT call about Nokia in its recent past (also about Apple's iPhone and Samsung's Galaxy and Xiaomi and Huawei etc). Read this blog to understand. These phones are brilliant but not for what you and I wanted. They are briliant to achieve something quite different.
So Samsung: Be afraid, be VERY afraid. This company that came up with these 4 phones this fast, this company will breach 1% global market share by the Christmas Quarter of 2017 yes in only 10 months from now. And this company, this HMD, that designed these 4 phones - that HMD will bring the Nokia brand back into the Top 10 largest smartphone makers by Christmas Quarter of next year, 2018. Yes, Nokia via HMD will have 2% market share or better by Christmas of next year (that quarter, not the full year yet). Why? Because these four phones show that this HMD has what Nokia used to have. These four phones are 'aspirational'. Not for you and me, reading this blog. We want our flagship phones (one for each pocket). No, not for us. That time will come, mark my words; but these 4 phones are the ASPIRATIONAL phones for THEIR PRICE POINTS. That is what Nokia was best at. Apple knows only its niche market segment - and is the best at serving it. Nokia was the best at serving ALL OTHER consumers - Nokia dominated ALL OTHER PRICE POINTS except the one where Apple resided, and many years until idiot-Elop showed up - many of those years Nokia OUTSOLD Apple even at the top price range. The people who were having a heart-attack today - they were the management in Gangam, the people of Samsung HQ who have seen their eternal nemesis suddenly reborn. Nasty as ever. It will take many years for Nokia to return to near the top, but this team that came up with these 4 phones, at this time - this is where the comeback truly starts. In two years Nokia will be in every phone store and in all markets (except maybe not USA) and will be a formidable mid-tier player with always a viable desirable phone for every major price point and every major consumer segment. That is what these 4 phones reveal today.
NO FLAGSHIP (YET)
So first off, there was some gossip of a flagship class phone. None seen today. The Nokia 6, the most expensive smartphone will only cost 299 dollars (unsubsidised price) so its half-way to a proper flagship. Its specs are all consistent with a mid-tier premium phone, just slightly above a mid-price smartphone. The average price of smartphones sold last year was.. 254 dollars (as we know from the fresh TomiAhonen Phone Book 2016 that just was released two months ago). That is why the Nokia 5 costs 249 dollars and the Nokia 3 costs 199 dollars. They are hitting this sweet spot of smartphone prices from just the right 'striking distance'. How many phones are sold annually at this price band? The PhoneBook 2016 tells us that too. Mid-price smartphones (costing between 150 and 450 dollars) sold 26% of all phones last year. If we use mathematical average for allowing 25 dollar lee-way ie from 175 dollars to 325 dollars, thats 58% of this segment, so in units of handsets, these 3 phones hit the sweetest of sweet spots where 300 million smartphones are sold per year. That is a Samsung-sized market! And HMD/Nokia aimed at that - with 3 phones that will be DESIRABLE - within that price range.
So what is the Nokia 6? Runs Android, 5.5 inch screen in 1920 high def, has 16 mp main camera with LED flash (no Carl Zeiss branding) and 8mp selfie camera. Includes microSD support, FM radio, a real audio jack for headphones, NFC and fingerprint scanner, is 4G of course, has all other normal tech specs in this price level. The CPU may be a bit slow, the onboard memory is not astronomical but against that, Nokia says it has a good battery life and then comes the Nokia strenghts. As in durability. Gorilla glass and metal body (for Nokia 3 its only a metal frame with plastic body but still, at least a proper metal frame even at that price). There is a dual SIM version for the many countries where this matters and the single SIM version for those where carriers still fight against dual SIMs. Android is Nougat, and is plain-vanilla, no bloatware added. There is great sound via Dolby. So yeah. Its NOT a flagship but its nicely decked out, for a 300 dollar phone. And here is the kicker. It seems DESIGNED. It seems DESIRABLE. Take ANY rival major brand, and look at what they offer you in 299 dollars, and you get plastic and cheap and compromise. But the Nokia - against rivals that don't cost more - and are new phones now - this is a WINNER. This is DESIRABLE. That is what Nokia used to do - at every price point. Their phones were always desirable. They were not usually the cheapest but they were desirable. This Nokia 6, in the 300 dollar price bracket - is just about the most luxurious-seeming phone currently going. When it is shown in the store, for a potential buyer who compares a Samsung and LG and Huawei and ZTE (there is no Xiaomi in most countries yet) - this will seem 'the classiest'. Specs-wise you lose nothing, but this seems just a little bit luxurious. Enough - to sway a LOT of buyers. Yeah, I'll take the Nokia. Do you have it in the color of...
The Nokia 5 and Nokia 3 do the EXACT same thing in slightly lesser price ranges and with slightly less tech specs, but matching quite perfectly what that price point tends to bring in terms of major specs. None of the 3 Android Nokia smartphones make any clear 'omission' or stupid choice. I'd have liked a removable battery yes, but that is not a deal-breaker and neither is not being waterproof. The non-removable battery has now become so normal, that it makes sense (cheaper to manufacture, less chances of pirated batteries spoiling the brand's image etc). And waterproof is not yet expected at this price point but I hope they will do it in the flagship class coming later.
MicrosSD, FM radio, dual SIM - these are all staples of consumer expectation in the markets where this will sell like hotcakes (and not appreciated in the USA where reviewers will not bother singing their praises about these things). What are the low-hanging fruit countries for Nokia? Its not, strange-as-it-may-seem China, even though the Nokia 6 was rush-launched there in January. No, the lowest hanging fruit for Nokia are India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Egypt, Brazil, Russia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, South Africa and Vietnam. The Nokia smartphone brand market share (prior to Elop nonsense) was at 70% or better in these 10 countries and the Nokia DUMBPHONE brand was also the brand leader in each of these markets. Their total handset market size is 639 million handsets sold per year !!! (Again, detail we get from the TomiAhonen Phone Book 2016 that just came out two months ago, costs only 10 Euros, get your data now, 180 pages, 100 charts and tables, every single data point you ever wanted to know about mobile phones... all current as of December 2016 ie 2 months ago). That is just shy of one THIRD of the total planetary mobile phone market, in just those 10 countries. And those 10 countries will LOVE this set of phones. They will go gaga over them. Watch THEIR press and THEIR reviews. Their mobile operators/carriers and their retailers will be rushing with their orders now. They KNOW their own home markets and they KNOW how their customers will react to this trio of smartphones and they KNOW their COMPETITION will carry all 3 smartphones.
Then there is China. China will be good for HMD/Nokia but in China there is a huge array of entrenched domestic competition with cut-throat pricing. Nokia will not become the market leader in China again (it was before Elop destroyed the brand). But this trio will help Nokia get back into the game also in China. China is obviously the world's largest smartphone market. Then we have Europe. Nokia will do well in Europe with these but it will need a lot of cooperation from the local carriers/operators and handset retailer distribution. That is where the brilliance of the 3310 comes in.
WINS IN STORE
The way the 3 Android phones are designed is pure Nokia insight into how you win INSIDE the store (nearly half of all handset buyers have changed their mind when inside the store, compared to what phone they thought they would be buying). What is it that consumers WANT? The most? Screen size and camera. That is what these 3 Android phones do extremely well. The wide angle 8mp selfie cam will impress in the store. The BRIGHT large screen displays will seem... 'brighter' in the store.. These phones are DESIGNED to win when two or 3 phones are considered side-by-side inside the store, when all phones cost nearly the same. And that is where the impressive 'expensive' looks will help. Immeasurably. If an unknown brand tries to be 'luxurious' you will feel very suspicious. Can this brand I never heard of, be that good? Is this some kind of trick? But when a known premium brand like Nokia - does a metal 'premium' body - especially after the plasticky-Lumia experiences (and Asha) - this will SEEM like really impressive phones - at THIS PRICE POINT. These consumers CANNOT AFFORD an iPhone or top-end Galaxy. They will be comparing these Nokia Android phones to other smartphones that will only cost 250 dollars plus/minus a few dozen dollars either way. Go and see what is available at 299 US dollars and then see the specs, and see the finish. And compare to the Nokia 6. Or do the same for Nokia 5 or 3 These three Android phones were designed to WIN INSIDE THE STORE. They will be EASY for the sales rep to showcase and highlight 'why' that Nokia smartphone is a great value and why its is 'better' than whatever alternative the customer was just considering from Huawei or ZTE or Samsung or some local brand. That is where this set is brilliantly designed. In the store it is difficult to 'experience' the faster CPU speed haha. But a camera and large screen - they are obvious advantages, as is microSD support and the headphone jack and the other goodies Nokia is tossing into these packages. If HMD can get the carriers to just stock a few of these phones per store - they will SELL LIKE HOTCAKES (in the 10 countries I mentioned, and at these price brackets)
3310 IS THE JEDI MOVE
Whoever came up with the idea to do a 'retro 3310' among HMD - that person deserves double his or her max bonus. That is not just a stroke of genius, it is truly a Jedi move. It is so much marketing perfection, future marketing books will include this as must-read case studies of MBA classes. It is the ultimate marketing move. And it will be viciously profitable for the HMD-Foxconn partnership too.
What is the 3310? The original 3310 was the phone that introduced many of the world to Nokia's popular Snake game (thanks to reader MIke for correction on this). It was a near-indestructible phone (a dog ate one, it rang inside the dog's stomach. Then later the dog pooped the phone out - it still worked. That is the legendary 3310). It was not a smartphone. The retro 3310 is also not a smartphone. So this is a dumbphone. To call it a 'featurephone' is somewhat a slight to more advanced featurephones but yes, it has a camera and color screen. This retro 3310 is technically a featurephone. Featurephone, you say potato, I say tomato! Its a dumbphone. So its not even 3G (neither was the original iPhone). It has a 2mp camera (BTW so did the original iPhone). The original 3310 did not have a color screen. This one has a 2.5 inch color screen - which is NOT a touch-screen! It is operated by T9 yes, you have to press 3 times to get an alphabet letter - you remember those old style phones? That is how this phone is operated. It is not a smartphone, it is not one with a touch screen. But you know what? Actually 47% of ALL PHONES IN USE TODAY still operate on the basic keypad. Yes, only 53% of all phones in use are touch-screen phones, 47% are operated by keyboard. You know your crazy uncle. You bought him a smartphone for Christmas and he hated it, he took it back to the store and exchanged it for a dumbphone instead. Yes, there are millions of such customers. Many who have dumbphones - ASPIRE to have a smartphone yes. But also - an INCREASING proportion of those who still use a dumbphone - hate or fear or don't know how to use a touch-screen - and will LOVE the 3310.
So what is the retro 3310. It is as similar to the original 3310 as the New Beetle from Volkswagen is to the original VW Beetle. It has the apperance but is different, you see the family resemblance definitely yes. That to you and me, today is a disaster. For those customers who STILL USE THEIR OLD 3310 - or another old T9 based Nokia - it is a God-send! It is what they have hoped and dreamed of. It is EXACTLY what they wanted from 'their Nokia'. It doesn't do the fancy internet and touch-screen and those frightening apps and all the nonsense. It is a basic phone, doesn't even do 3G. It does voice and text. That's it. It has an FM radio (hey that's a great addition - in our family there is only the one FM radio that came on dad's new phone!). Does it have battery life? Gosh yes, 22 hours talk time, one MONTH of standby time. And the battery is removable (so you can carry a spare to double your battery life). Wow, this is THE phone for the Emerging World where reliable daily electricity is not guaranteed! That is all you need - if you are for example illiterate - 800 million adults in the world are illiterate - but most of them do now use a mobile phone. They have no use for Facebook or Twitter. But they will love this phone from Nokia.
Some consumers fear smartphones. This is a dumphone. Some consumers hate touch screens. This is T9. Some consumers don't want to pay any extra for anything they don't use. This is nearly as basic as it gets. Some consumers hate phones that are too small for their hands. This is not the tiniest phone made. Some consumers demand long long LOOONGGGG battery life. This is the king of that. Some consumers break their phones all the time and want a durable phone, so durable you can hit a nail like it was a hammer. This is a Nokia. Duh. Some consumers NEED voice and SMS but on MULTIPLE devices. They don't NEED the internet or apps on more than one device. Think of a taxi driver who has GPS and big screen phablet as his GPS device - as the primary phone. But that connects to one network. What if customers want to call him from other networks (to use their bundled minutes or lower tariffs). That is why almost all taxi drivers have phones on all networks. And except for the primary phone - the others need nothing but voice & text. Thats it. And incredibly long battery life. And SINGLE-HANDED operation!!! (you're driving a car). This retro 3310 is PERFECT as the SECOND phone for taxi drivers for example. What if you're a parent, afraid to give your child the first phone (dropped in the toilet forgot it at Macdonalds, ran up a 500 dollar phone bill on the mobile internet and apps, etc). This is the perfect FIRST phone - ultra-durable, cannot go to the internet to get too much mental pollution and its cheap (Update - I am seeing some reports that the 3310 will come standard with Opera Mini browser but the official HMD/Nokia website does not mention this in their specs. It MAY have a basic browser for slow speed 2.5G network use and modest internet browsing but that would just about be enough to do Facebook...). But its a Nokia. And it has the camera...
A 2 mp camera. And 2.5 inch color screen. Who does THIS type of specs on this type of phone? Nobody else does. Sony, Motorola, they've already exited the dumphone space. Lenovo, HTC, Apple haha never even were there. Samsung, Huawei, ZTE are giving lip-service to the dumbphone segment. Suddenly Nokia does a DESIRABLE dumbphone. Which at a 49 dollar price point gives a ton of the most valuable things a consumer in THOSE 10 MARKETS appreciates. Like dual SIM, like FM radio, like microSD support. But lets talk about that camera. Many who still use an ancient Nokia dumbphone (yes there are still some original 3310 phones still in use in most networks) will not particularly 'like' that fancy camera they are getting. Many will say its way too much - but will end up buying this phone anyway. Its not 'too much' but it is 'borderline' for many. They will say - I have no need for this camera on my phone. I would have preferred it not be included and the device be 10 dollars cheaper. But they will buy it anyway. And that is the JEDI MIND TRICK. So first, lets be clear - MOST consumers DO appreciate a free camera and for a consumer who can barely afford to buy a 49 dollar phone every 2 years - they do NOT own a separate digital camera. Their current mobile phone is the most expensive gadget they own and it does not have a camera. For MOST who aspire to this phone - they will love not just that it HAS a camera - but gosh, its a 2mp camera - it TRULY is 'worthy' of that 'expensive' price tag. That is what you expect if you pay a massive 49 dollars for a new phone (without contract) and possibly had to save 6 months of your salary to afford it (plus sell the old phone to make up part of the price).
But MANY people who have never owned a camera, have no idea what it means and how useful it is, and what those MEMORIES will mean, months and years later. They will learn. Some will try that fancy camera right away - since it is on that new Nokia phone, and it costs nothing to try it, the pictures do not cost anything why not? But many will FORGET it exists and not bother to use it or learn it. And their use will be VERY gradual - driven by their younger relatives. If its their own kids, or their grandkids, or even their grand-grandkids they will LEARN because the youth will ASK them to take pictures. And they will learn and they will UTTERLY FALL IN LOVE with this camera on this phone and that 'massively big' screen. That is the Jedi Mind Trick with the design of the Retro 3310. Not to put apps on it. Not to put the internet on it. But to put the CAMERA on it. Because think of your phone today. What if you lost its pictures. Yes, you probably have them stored on a cloud storage somewhere - but imagine if THAT storage is suddenly 'destroyed' by say a global virus attack. Imagine if your own cameraphone pictures were suddenly gone. All you have are those pictures that you happened to save somewhere else or print out or somehow post on Facebook or whatever. Imagine the loss you would feel. Now think of someone who has NEVER had a camera before, and two years from now EVERY PICTURE THEY HAD EVER TAKEN IN THEIR LIFE, is on that Nokia 3310 phone? They will want their NEXT phone to be a Nokia with that camera quality (and a microSD card slot and Bluetooth 3, to move the old pictures to the new Nokia in about 2 years from now).
EVERYBODY WAS KUNG FU FIGHTING
And now think of HMD's challenge. Stephen Elop destroyed Nokia's CARRIER RELATIONS and its RETAIL CHANNEL DOMINANCE. Whatever wonderful phones HMD can design and Foxconn can manufacture, are facing a hopeless task in reaching the SCALE of the retail presense that Nokia had only six years ago. That is where this 3310 is the true marketing masterstroke. Trying to convince skeptical carriers to promote and stock the Nokia 6, Nokia 5 and Nokia 3, after all the long series of broken promises before, with the Lumia launch, the N9 MeeGo un-launch, the Lumia relaunch, the Lumia re-relaunch, the Nokia sale to Microsott and proper Microsoft push of Lumia and the firing of Elop and the non-Elop Microsoft 'lets try this one more time' re-re-re-relaunch of Lumia. The carriers will not love the idea of trying yet another Nokia play - they even once helped market Nokia branded Android smartphones for a brief moment before those popular phones were then taken away (by the Eloppian madness). No matter what HMD and Nokia now say, there is a lot of bitterness, years of wasted effort and a long long long line of broken promises that will take a long time to heal. No matter how 'sexy' the Nokia 6, the Nokia 5 and Nokia 3 may seem - they will not get 'typical' Nokia type of support from the retail channel - thanks to the total poisoning of the well by Elop who openly feuded with his retail channel.
But no handset maker bothers to APPEAL to dumbphone buyers. In those 10 markets that I listed, dumphones accounted last year for 60% of all phone sales! Globally smartphones outsold dumphones by 3 to 1 but in these 10 markets as a whole - dumphones still rule today. 60% of that phone market is a market of 160 million phones. In JUST TEN COUNTRIES. Thats nearly an iPhone-sized market by unit volumes (but obviously nothing like that in revenues haha). The 3310 will be a HIT phone in ITS SEGMENT. It will be DEMANDED by consumers. And nearly every carrier/telco still sells at least some dumbphones (a few have ended dumbphone sales and only sell smartphones). Similarly many countries have ended 2G phone sales (the retro 3310 is not a 3G capable phone, it is yes, and ancient 2G standard phone). But for THIS SEGMENT of 2G phones under 50 dollars and not-touch screen - there is butkus. There is nada. There is nothing from any BRAND that bothers to pursue this segment. Whatever the carriers/telcos and the retail channel may feel about their experience with Nokia recent smartphones - they will LOVE HMD for giving THIS SEGMENT - where 60% of THEIR CUSTOMERS spend their money - a DESIRABLE phone. From a 'major brand'. The 3310 will be HMD's bestselling phone and it will be a profit engine both for HMD and for Foxconn. But most importantly - no retailer in the Emerging World can afford to NOT stock the 3310. And since they are taking the 3310 they might as well take a few of the other 3 Nokia smartphones ALSO....
HMD's biggest challenge was NOT to design a desirable phone - a challenge they ALSO had - and wow have they done that within these price points. HMD's biggest challenge is the retail channel that Elop destroyed. How to rebuild THOSE bridges. They cannot get global scale without retail - just look at Xiaomi. It took Apple brand four years to build a global presense and get most carriers to support their phone. HMD needs the retail comeback. And while the three Android smartphones are priced and designed well enough to sell very well in their price points - that is not enough to overcome the years of bad will generated by Stephen Elop. What WILL soothe those sores, to an incredible degree - is the REACTION the world will have to the 3310 - in those domestic markets in those 10 countries I just mentioned. This retro 3310 is the true masterstroke. It tells me the marketing and design people at HMD are truly ready to go, they are ready to prove to the world that there is one more comeback in store with the Nokia brand - and this team will bring Nokia brand back into the Top 10 in smartphones, in less than 2 years from now.
Bravo HMD. Bravo! We want more! This is as good as you can possibly hope for. Ignore any nay-sayers in the press who wanted a flagship now. Take your time and do the flagship with the same level of extreme meticulous detail as you put into these four phones so far. You will make all us Nokia fans so proud with what you will achieve. Keep your eyes on the desirability aspect - per segment you want - and proceed only when you are totally satisfied that segment will love your phones. You don't need to sell one unit in the USA, if you can capture the low-hanging fruit just waiting to give you their money, in India, in Nigeria, in Brazil, in Indonesia, and the other 6 countries, you are golden. These four phones are perfection in terms of understanding the marketing and design effort needed for the Nokia brand to be able to come back. Now here's to the NEXT phones. An Nokia 8 as your first flagship, a Nokia 2 to pursue the lower end of the Android family and please say yes to those inside you team who are suggesting 'should we try a Retro Communicator'? Yes please do it! And do a Pureview, put something like a 50mp sensor and give us the modern Android variant of the 808 Pureview (but in a sexy black all-metal expensive-seeming camera body of course). PS PS if you haven't finalized 808 Pureview Retro phone yet - pls include the standard tripod mount screw - SELFIE STICKS USE IT. Show the world that you understand their desires even today, in the selfie-stick age.
PS my Almanac was also just released on Friday. Get the 2-for-1 bundle of both the new Almanac and new Phone book, see more here.