I recently made a two-week trip to India. As soon as I landed, I felt an instant nostalgia in a form that I wasn’t expecting. This wasn’t my first trip to India and nostalgia in India for most people is usually made up of the vibrant smells of spices or hearing holy Vedic chants. For me, it was the once-ubiquitous Nokia ringtone. “Duh duh duh duh, duh duh duh duh, duh du du du duh” was constantly in the background.
It evoked powerful memories of my first and many successive handsets – in fact I only said goodbye to Nokia in 2007 due to the release of the iPhone, along with so many others. Yet here Nokia was often used to mean handset, a terrific testament to the power of the brand, when the brand has diminished in many other parts of the world. Or so I thought…
Those of you who read my last blog know that I was in Cape Town a couple of weeks ago, attending Africa’s largest telecom event, AfricaCom. Walking around the exhibition, I bumped into some familiar faces from what was Nokia Siemens Networks which became Nokia Solutions and Networks (NSN) after Nokia acquired Siemens’ stake in August 2013. The familiar blue branding on the business cards also invoked a feeling of nostalgia, and a clear statement that in this sphere too Nokia remains a powerful player with a strong brand.
Return to consumer electronics
With all this in mind, maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised by the announcement that Nokia Technologies has returned to consumer electronics with the Nokia N1 Android tablet, which will go on sale in China at the beginning of 2015. The company is not making the device itself, but has licensed its brand, design and software to a third-party, Taiwan’s Foxconn – one of Apple’s iPhone manufacturers.
It’s a smart move to leverage the brand where it is still strong in consumer electronics; as Sebastian Nystrom, Head of Products, Nokia Technologies, said,
“This is a great product for Nokia fans and everyone who hasn’t found the right Android tablet yet”.
Also, it removes the headache of the huge cost base of manufacturing, distribution, supply-chain management etc., yet gets the company into market. Licensing the brand also removes many of the difficulties of technical partnerships, which in the past have proved challenging, such as the Symbian venture.
Even so, I was surprised earlier this month as Microsoft unveiled the first Lumia model without the Nokia brand. Microsoft has indicated it will continue to use the brand on its feature phones, which it has the right to do for a decade under the terms of the $7.2 billion takeover. It isn’t clear if Nokia Technologies’ announcement will affect those plans.
Whatever the future holds for current and former Nokia divisions, the nostalgia factor has certainly done it for me. I can’t wait to try out the new tablet.