Nokia is making a comeback, for real. If you hadn’t heard of Nokia, chances are you’ve missed the most critical part of mobile phone revolution. Go ask your parents about Nokia phone and notice the immediate smile printed on their face. The Nokia was the first piece of Star Trek technology, since one’s childhood Casio digital watch, that you carried around every day.
If you, for some reasons, still couldn’t imagine how cool it was to carry a Nokia phone around, do yourself a favour by watching 1999’s “The Matrix”. Watch how Keanu Reeves “Neo” depends on the Nokia 8110 to contact the “real world”, while the “Resistance” was searching for “The One”. The model has a slider which allowed the phone to expand to reveal the dial pad.
Nokia was today’s iPhone but much cooler. Unlike today’s smartphone, Nokia phones were light, sleek, reliable and were worshiped as the future phones. More importantly, Nokia had a battery that did not need charging every night. In fact, Nokia was so important that between 1998 and 2007, the gadget contributed a quarter – 25% – of Finland’s economic growth.
And who can forget its legendary ringtone, not to mention Nokia’s most popular mobile game – Snake. If you think Candy Crush is awesome, you should go back in time to see how awesome the free game Snake was. Today, Nokia still exists as a company but as a brand, Microsoft had done an awesome job screwing the Nokia.
When cash-rich Microsoft dumped a whopping US$7.6 billion for Nokia in 2014, Nokia was pretty much game over. The Nokia deal was nothing more than a pet project of Steve Ballmer. At the time, billionaire Ballmer had nothing better to do but buying a new toy with the purpose of giving tough time to Apple.
It was a huge mistake from the beginning when Microsoft went into hardware business with the acquisition. Ballmer was driven to purchase Nokia because he was jealous of Google and Apple’s success. In July last year, Ballmer and Microsoft were forced to eat humble pie – writing off the US$7.6 billion investment and cutting 7,800 staffs from its mobile division.
Nokia was pronounced dead in 2015. But the Finnish mobile phone refuses to die. Today, Microsoft announced that it’s selling its feature phone business for US$350 million in a group deal to FIH Mobile, a subsidiary of Chinese hardware manufacturer Foxconn, which manufactures iPhones for Apple, and a newly formed company called HMD Global.
The deal includes Microsoft’s entry-level mobile device assets and the Nokia brand name, as well as its manufacturing facility in Hanoi, Vietnam. Expected to be finalized in the second half of this year, the deal will enabled HMD to sell Nokia-branded feature phones as well as Android-based smartphones and tablets.
HMD Group, a newly-formed Helsinki company plans to invest US$500 million over the next 3 years in marketing the devices, which will run Google’s Android operating system. Nokia, in returns, will receive royalties from the sales. With the purchase, HMD now owns the rights to use the Nokia trademark on feature phones until 2024.
All remaining feature phone assets, including sales, manufacturing and distribution, will be owned by FIH Mobile Limited. Meanwhile, Microsoft will continue to develop Windows 10 Mobile and keep its Lumia brand of phones. Rumours have it that Microsoft may be working on a Surface phone to leverage on the success of its tablet and laptop line.
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