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February 26, 2017

Comments

Huber

I do think that Nokia has made the right decisions with their Android phones, and I also do think that they have a chance in Europe and even USA - if they are able to release a flagship phone which is done right:

The most important point is the vanilla AOSP Android experience: This not only makes monthly security updates easy, but also makes Android updates cheap and easy.

Just have a look at Samsung, LG, Xioami and others: Android 7.0 came out in September 2016, but _ONLY NOW_ the SGS7 gets Android 7.0 - at a time when Android 7.11 is the actual version and 7.12 is around the corner.

What about the SGS6? When will it receive Android 7.x? In August, when the first developer previews of Android 8.0 are available for the Pixels?

For most other Android vendors, the situation is the same.

You can say that 90% of buyers don't care about this, but 10% are a whopping 150 Millions of potential customers!

Then there are the modders and enthusiasts. They like to always have the newest version of Android, they hate Samsung's Touchwiz and LG's UX. They want to root. They want to have full control over their phones period.

These may only be 1% or 2% of the market, but those are still 15 to 30 Million sales per year.

And this sector is also covered, by the Pixel phones at the high end and by the OnePlus devices. But these devices also have their drawbacks, like missing SD card support, mediocre cameras in the OnePlus phones etc.

So there _IS_ a market here. On the other hand, most companies actively make live hard for these enthusiasts. Locked bootloaders which can't be unlocked, not releasing the drivers for the hardware etc.

If Nokia releases a flagship phone with vanilla AOSP, monthly updates and quick releases for the newest Android versions _AND_ an unlocked or unlockable bootloader, I only have to flash a recovery and SuperSU and am ready to go.

If Nokia additionally provides drivers or - even better - releases the source code for their version of AOSP, you will see enthusiast flocking to these devices at all price points. So when people complain about their current phone on sites like XDA, the response will be "just get a Nokia".

So I am looking forward to Nokia'S flagship phone, and I am also looking forward to see how open and developer-friendly the new Nokia phones will be.

And honestly, it is very cheap to provide an unlocking mechanism for bootloaders and to release the source code, so I'd be dissapointed if Nokia wouldn't do this. Let's see...

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Huber

Great points and I didn't mean to dismiss that segment of the market. But the smart strategy for HMD is to first go for the biggest available market waiting to be grabbed - and that they did forcefully. The secondary market (consumers who will appreciate a clean Android with no bloatware) will also be useful but these phones were not explicitly intended to serve that side haha.

I am of two minds about the OS on the one hand, Nokia has incredible insights into how to do the user experience and probably would to the 'best' shell or overlay over Android. But there is an elegance to the 'clean' and after the long costly headaches Nokia had with decades in the OS side, this makes sense for HMD. Lets stick to our knitting, let the Google guys do the OS, we do the hardware. And then lets take the latest OS always when it comes out. Pretty smart move haha (and similar to what Motorola was attempting to do as their competitive differentiation vs the Android crowd).

Now on the flagship - I think it a pretty safe bet that if these are the first 3 Android phones, then yes, the next ones will also feature a very clean Android OS implementation. Nothing prevents Nokia from installing say a Nokia camera app that then addresses some special capabilities their tech solution may enable... But the OS I think will remain very clean and you should be happy with that side of the flagship when it comes (I expect the leaks about the Nokia 8 we have seen, are close to what it will be, and that will probably be released for November-sales globally, haha, global but not including USA necessarily).

Tomi Ahonen :-)

paul

@ Huber

> The most important point is the vanilla AOSP Android experience:

That is Pixel phones and that is it!

> This not only makes monthly security updates easy, but also makes Android updates cheap and easy.

Only geeks care about security on their mobile phones. Most of the mobile phones buyers are NOT going into a mobile phone shop and asking the most updated phone or the most secure phone. Most of the people I know do not even bother to update their update their phone with the latest patches which have been available for months.

Huber

@Paul: "That is Pixel phones and that is it!"

No. OnePlus-phones and the Motorola G4 are also _almost_ plain vanilla Android. And they do sell.

"Only geeks care about security on their mobile phones."

Also no. Only geeks care about unlockable bootloaders and rooting. But there is a market for phones which are always up to date security-wise and feature-wise, and this is a much bigger market.

Like, when people see my phone where I have changed the DPI via Android Nougat's built-in settings. No need to root, no need to tinker. Just go to Settings --> Display and set it to your liking.

Then I'm asked how to do this, and I have to say "you need Android 7.x for this" And suddenly people _ARE_ interested in their Android version.

Also, don't forget that there is such a thing as _MARKETING_. Just make sure that people know that they can go to Settings --> About phone and check their security patch level. Do you think that they feel comfortable to see "July 2016" in February 2017? When they use Android Pay or online banking? I don't think so.

Huber

@Tomi: "I am of two minds about the OS on the one hand, Nokia has incredible insights into how to do the user experience and probably would to the 'best' shell or overlay over Android. But there is an elegance to the 'clean' and after the long costly headaches Nokia had with decades in the OS side, this makes sense for HMD."

Since Nokia uses almost pure vanilla AOSP, it should be quite easy for them to provide a theming engine. OMS/ Substratum comes to mind, which is open source.

With such a theme engine, you can change colors, icons and whatnot by downloading the according themes from the Google Play Store.

If Nokia is really clever, they make their theme engine compatible with OMS/ Substratum, so they have literally hundreds of themes ready at launch.

Mike

@all

They are fine now with selling phones with vanilla android, butt further on the way it will become harder and harder. Not only because of possible pressure from marketdroids that want to increase margins by reselling some preinstalled bloatware, which happened to Motorola when acquired by Lenovo. I hope they will manage to fight out that one. But even when introducting own and needed apps, like camera app, this will require much higher than usual coding quality to be able to add such a thing and keep such demanding promises about updates. Every single own app, especially HW related, requires testing and very often changes with new android releases. Fingers crossed, but this may be very hard to do, and the better phone, the harder to achieve that.

Huber

@Mike: In Europe and the USA at least, some carriers will demand that some bloat is added. I don't think that Nokia will be able to avoid this - only Apple could "force" these carriers to not bloat their phones. Nokia lacks the power to do so. This of course also means that updates are delayed by the carriers or not released at all.

But what Nokia CAN do is to provide the possibility to update the phones independently of the carrier via some Nokia tool. On Symbian, this was possible back then via the OVI suite, so I'd assume this can also work on Android.

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Paul, Huber, Mike

Paul - good points about most consumers not caring about security & updates. Obviously there will be a niche market (that can be large) of those who do care haha.. but I agree, most don't.

Huber & Mike - about the bloatware and especially the carriers demanding it (valid point!). First on the camera app, gosh yeah, shows how far its been since I did any coding. Of course yeah, then if you do regular updates to OS, and you have your own camera (or other) app then occasionally THAT needs to be updated or modified and gosh, that adds to that headache and testing etc.

But about the carriers. Totally agree yes, this is especially what American and many European (and some richer Asian) carriers want from manufacturers. And HMD is in no position to say no. There will be bloat (haha). BUT.. this is AGAIN the genius of this strategy. These 3 Android smartphones will be 'interesting' to Western telcos yes, but they will not go crazy about them. But now go read the reviews in the Emerging World press - these phones will JUMP OFF THE SHELVES. They will sell like hot cakes. The carriers usually don't care much about bloatware and for these phones, they will be fine to accept them into the market as is. That is one THIRD of the world's phone market, covered by haha, 10 sales guys. And they will be 'order-takers' in those markets - the carriers (and independent handset retailers) will all stand in line to sign the paperwork to get the first deliveries when the phones are out. Those 10 countries they will utterly love these phones. And they will ALSO love it that HMD is 'talking to their needs' especially with the 3310 (Which will also have a nice profit margin for their retail vs most no-name ultra-cheap dumbphones).

I agree bloatware will be an issue - but here HMD will most certainly prioritize those markets that are eager to go, and willing to take the base phones now, rather than the more advanced Western markets that will want some customization. So we may well see these 3 Android smartphones launched in many say European markets in Q3 not Q2, and probably not in the USA at all. It won't matter in the market share because the success is that much stronger in those 10 best countries.

PS - I added an addendum to the blog article on the top to discuss this side in more detail.

Tomi Ahonen :-)

zlutor

@Paul: "You also said a flagship phone would be out in MWC" - after hostile movement of Samsung - withholding the whole(!) first batch of 835 SoCs - what could have been announced?

Either an inferior product - naysayers would instantly come in to blame Nokia - or delayed flagship.

HMD went for the latter one...

zlutor

@Huber: "The most important point is the vanilla AOSP Android experience"

AOSP is stand for Android Open Source Project - has nothing to do with Nokia devices (outside of China).

AOSP = the pure Android, without any Google services

What HMD is offering is _pure_, _stock_ Android: no extra software but the one released by Google (obviously including all Google services _on top_ of AOSP)

David Doherty

Hi Tomi/Aryan,

Brilliant post as usual. Great to see Nokia back in the game.

The 3310 sister phone is a great idea but I get the feeling they've already launched a sister device with the dual SIM model.

Perhaps the launch priority should've been the 3310 with 2G and a 3310 World version (with 3G and at a much higher price for the Nokia fans in affluent countries that want to show their loyalty) and then the Dual SIM model at a later date (especially as there will be plenty of DIY kits you can add to add dual SIM capabilities).

They could've started selling the 3G version online today in markets that are price insensitive and without the network reception issues. In countries with 3G that are increasingly refarming 2G I don't think it would be a good idea to buy a 2G mobile for a child or parent that can't access most of the mobile networks as these customers (while making small network demands) do have a heightened need for reachability that could be compromised by the lack of 3G.

As a side note the lack of 3G is also a bit inconsistent with and counter to the 'other' Nokia's expensive 5G marketing message being communicated at MWC17.

Huber

@zlutor:

"Android" is just a trademark of Google.

AOSP means "Android Open Source Project" ==> This is the OS itself.

If you install the proprietary Google Apps on top of AOSP, you can ask Google if you may use the "Android" brand. You have to follow some rules, then you get the permission.

But you can also fork AOSP, like Samsung, LG etc. does and still get the rights to the "Android" brand (again you have to follow some rules)

As an enthusiast, you can download AOSP for your device (if somebody has developed it)

Example of AOSP for the Sony Xperia Z2 tablet by the independent developer rcstar 6696 (download link): https://mega.nz/#F!6RgEQJDK!xsZfjKz0xmViD_x2AFKrrQ!2YAzGYaB

To get "Android", you have to additionally install the Google Apps, e.g. from here: http://opengapps.org/

The Google Apps are the same for any Android device with the same Android release, only the AOSP-based part is different.

This is why I write "AOSP" - it's about the underlying OS of the device, not about the Google Apps which are the same for any Android 7.1-device.


E.Casais

"the lack of 3G is also a bit inconsistent with and counter to the 'other' Nokia's expensive 5G marketing message"

No inconsistency at all if you realize that:

a) The 3310ng is squarely targeted at third-world countries where 2G remains the workhorse of mobile communications.

b) HMD does not believe that it can bring 3G or 4G capable _basic_ phones at the right price soon enough, before the market for basic phones as such is nearing extinction and is replaced by entry-level smartphones.

c) The _real_ Nokia is talking and developing 5G; the devices like the 3310ng brought to market _are_ _not_ from Nokia, but from HMD/Foxconn, which licensed the _brand_ from the real Nokia for their handsets.

zlutor

@Huber: yes, AOSP is the OS itself - that's why I said HMD does not provide AOSP stuff but pure 'Google Android' - no HMD specific modification at all
Long story short AOSP means Android without Google services AFAIK...
https://source.android.com/source/faqs.html

Anyway, the thing is here HMD does not do any modification ensuring all new updates of the used OS will go to the devices with no delay.
No need to update HMD specific sw according to the new OS versions...

John A

I think Nokia will be a big brand again maybe not in 2017. But in 2 years possible. I like the fact they going for "stock android" and not trying to put some Nokia skin on it.
HMD Global will of course to build up relations with dealers and distribution again after Elop and Microsoft destroyed it.

As they pointed out in the MWC 2017 event 74% of those who bought a Nokia 6 in China have never own a Nokia before or have no special connections to the "old Nokia" brand. So it are not just nostalgia.

Withings with connected devices, smartwatches changes its name to Nokia aswell.
The team in HMD Global seems like smart and competent people, so they have big chances to succés.

chithanh

I think the lack of 3G is not a problem in most markets. There are only few countries which plan to eliminate 2G.

With technologies like GL-DSS it is more likely that a majority will end 3G first, especially in emerging markets with large 2G population.

About the 3310 price, I think it is too high to become a hit of the proportions that Tomi seems to expect. $49 is three to five times as much as the basic dumbphones sold today.

@zlutor
Whether you build the device firmware from AOSP or from some manufacturer codebase doesn't matter as long as you meet the compatibility requirements. Then the manufacturer can choose to preinstall Google Play Store etc.

John A

Some news at the distribution, they will make the Nokia devices localy in India for that market:

http://www.fonearena.com/blog/213307/new-nokia-android-phones-to-be-made-in-india-and-launch-in-june.html

Will keep the price down. And in UK they have a deal with Carphone Warehouse:

http://nokiapoweruser.com/carphone-warehouse-carry-nokia-6-exclusive-3-5-3310-posts-first-look-video/

So it seems things starting to take off fast now for HMD Global with distribution deals.

Antonio

Dear Toni,

Your recent comment about Nokia's country strategy is both very sharp and interesing from a global marketing perspective. Spot on!

I would also like to add that re-launching the 3310 is a coup de grace of marketing genius. it is rare to see marketing brilliance at this level. It creates a media buzz like nothing else - free marketing - it tells the world that Nokia is back and back with a vengeance and finally it links the new stuff with the extremly strong brand heritage from the past 20 or more years.

The phones appear to exude the historical Nokia quality, I only miss waterproff and replaceable battery (maybe they are replaceable - I couldn't tell).

The market is interesting again!

David Doherty

Hi Tomi/Aryan,

Brilliant post as usual. Great to see Nokia back in the game.

The 3310 sister phone is a great idea but I get the feeling they've already launched a sister device with the dual SIM model.

Perhaps the launch priority should've been the 3310 with 2G and a 3310 World version (with 3G and at a much higher price for the Nokia fans in affluent countries that want to show their loyalty) and then the Dual SIM model at a later date (especially as there will be plenty of DIY kits you can add to add dual SIM capabilities).

They could've started selling the 3G version online today in markets that are price insensitive and without the network reception issues. In countries with 3G that are increasingly refarming 2G I don't think it would be a good idea to buy a 2G mobile for a child or parent that can't access most of the mobile networks as these customers (while making small network demands) do have a heightened need for reachability that could be compromised by the lack of 3G.

As a side note the lack of 3G is also a bit inconsistent with and counter to the 'other' Nokia's expensive 5G marketing message being communicated at MWC17.

Posted by: David Doherty | February 27, 2017 at 02:25 PM

E.Casais

"are we finally ready to admit that it's not "all that" of a feature? "

Not at all.

A battery pack solves _only one_ of the issues addressed by a removable battery: restoring the charge in
of a battery that is down without having access to a charger and an electric plug.

It does _not_ solve the problem of revamping a mobile phone whose battery has seen its capacity going down to unbearable levels because of intensive usage. For that, you must replace the battery. And sealed batteries make it more difficult, even near impossible without sending the whole phone to a specialized outfit.

Besides, a battery pack is bigger and heavier than a spare battery.

The sole convincing justification for a sealed battery is waterproofing -- but most devices with a sealed battery do not even provide that feature...

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