Last week’s tech news cycle was filled with announcements from various companies during MWC 2022. But Europe’s most famous mobile brand, Nokia, was barely on anyone’s lips at Europe’s biggest mobile convention. HMD Global, the current maker of Nokia phones, did introduce some new devices, but they were all very, very low-end smartphones. Nothing that can hold a candle to the likes of the Honor Magic 4 Pro and Realme GT 2 Pro. This obviously made us question whether HMD has all but given up on Nokia flagships, and we were able to get a clear — or as clear as it can get — answer from the company.
In our chat with him, Adam Ferguson, HMD’s Head of Product Marketing, Global, told us in no uncertain terms, “Making an $800 phone doesn’t make sense for us at the moment.” This is an outright admission from HMD that it’s no longer interested in chasing the flagship crowd, a suspicion we’ve all had for a long time. As a matter of fact, Adam added that HMD doesn’t “want to get involved in a massive spec war with other players” and would rather “stand for something very different.”
Why HMD stopped making flagships
In its first few years on the mobile scene, HMD Global tried to do everything. Hit every price point, conquer the feature phone segment, innovate on the high-end, maintain fast updates, differentiate by offering a clean Android One experience, and expand across global markets. All with the resources of a small start-up and while trying to revive a dead name that carries a lot of nostalgia and even more baggage. In retrospect, we can all agree that it bit off more than it could chew, and a lot of it came crumbling down around the release of the Nokia 9 Pureview in 2019.
Looking at HMD’s unit shipments and vague financial announcements, it’s clear that the company got a substantial hit in 2019 that carried over to the first half of 2020. The pandemic didn’t help, but things still started picking up. Slowly. Shipments grew, finances became healthier, and HMD has been profitable for six quarters — i.e. since Q3 2020. That’s a point of pride that Adam was happy to reiterate.
Thanks to its change in strategy, HMD has been profitable for six quarters in a row.
Q4 2021 was HMD’s most profitable quarter to date, and according to Strategy Analytics (via NokiaMob), it shipped more smartphones (3.2 million units) than in Q4 2019 (2.8 million units). Smartphone revenue grew 41% year-to-year, from 2020 to 2021. And the company’s entire shipment numbers, including feature phones, is slowly recovering from its massive drop in 2020.
Behind this rise in profitability is a change in strategy that many of us have been critical of for the last few years. Looking from the outside, it seemed that HMD …….