Going into this year’s Mobile World Congress, the contents of HMD Global’s Nokia press conference were relatively unknown. Compared to the likes of Samsung or LG, relatively little was known going in. Sure, a few spec-sheets had leaked here and there - as they always do. However, HMD’s biggest surprise - the reloaded Nokia 8110 4G - still proved to be an unexpected delight with the crowd of press and analysts present for its reveal.
We caught up with HMD Global General Manager for Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia Mark Trundle in the aftermath to talk about the company’s prospects heading into the rest of 2018 and what to expect from the newly announced Nokia 8110, 6, 7+ and 8 Sirocco.
2017 was a big comeback year for Nokia. In Australia, HMD debuted the Nokia 3, 5, 6, 8 and 3310 3G. Abroad and during the last quarter of 2017, HMD proved the best-selling phone vendor in Vietnam and most Middle Eastern countries. Globally, they reportedly outsold vendors like Google, Sony, HTC, and OnePlus.
So, you have to ask, where is 2018 going to take the Finnish company? What comes next?
According to Trundle, “It’s been 15 months of operations and when we came to this journey we said to ourselves that there was a couple of key pillars that we differentiate on.”
“Number one - and this stays consistent from last year to this year - we’re very much focused in terms of portfolio strategy on products that are going to deliver against real life experiences. Elements such as two-day battery life, having polarized screens across our entire range for outdoor readability are elements we believe are delivering us against these real life experiences.”
“Number two, last year a key focus for us was ‘how do we drive differentiation through unique craftsmanship and refinement of our products. The 3110 was a key example of that. We listened to consumers, we brought out some of the nostalgia through the Nokia Originals. We’re going to see that continue with the 8110 announcement.”
“The big piece for - and, I guess, the important piece - is that we’ve always been always been pure and secure Android. We went with a stock Android approach last year. Android as Google intended, with Android services front and center. Yesterday’s announcement really solidifies the next logical step."
"We’re already pure, secure and up to date but now we’re endorsed by Google so Nokia 3 and above will all go forward on Android One and it just means that, from our point of view, the brand is the most important piece for ourselves and now we’ve got a brand fully endorsed by Google.”
“Android One is the best of android. Full stop,” he says.
“There’s been a lot of learning in the last year about what we do well and what we need to built on this year, expanding that portfolio, bringing in new price-points and then having that Google endorsement - they’re kind of the key focus for ourselves going forward.”
Even the company’s new “true flagship” Nokia 8 Sirocco runs on Android One, though it does utilize the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor found in last year's Nokia 8.
When asked why HMD didn’t bump this aspect of the device up to incorporate the new Snapdragon 845, he says “we’ve evaluated a lot of this and I guess when you look at the optimized imaging capabilities of the experience at the right pricepoint, we’re confident that the 835 on our proposition to customers.”
Trundle confirms that the regular Nokia 8 will continue to be sold alongside the Sirocco, which will be exclusive to JB Hi-Fi.
He says “JB have been a great partner for our sales for the last twelve months.”
The Sirocco is also the first HMD-designed Nokia phone to drop the headphone jack. It’ll come bundled with a USB-C to 3.5mm converter.
“When you look at the design, you’re looking at almost 95% screen. It’s 2mm deep at the edges.”
“It makes sense," he says, though “we still give consumers the option, of course.”
As for whether HMD plan on exploring new categories with the Nokia brand going forward, he says “it’s an interesting one I think but we’re looking for consumer feedback.”
“Part of the reason that we announced the 8110 was that when we started on the journey 15 months ago to market, we went to our partners, we went to consumers, they said give us 3110 please. We’ve been doing very similar studies through this year, and that’s why we’ve announced the 8110.”
For a longer look at everything that happened at this year's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, click here.
Disclosure - Our coverage of MWC 2018 was sponsored by Intel who covered the cost of our flights and accommodation.