Those are words I never expected to write – certainly not in that order, at least. But the journey to reintroduce the once-mighty Nokia brand back into the ever-competitive mobile market has been a strange one to say the least.
It all started when a struggling Nokia went ahead and agreed to sell itself to Microsoft at the end of 2013, after attempts by the one-time world’s biggest phone manufacturer to go all in with Windows Mobile faltered. Microsoft folded Nokia into its mobile business, maintaining the Finnish company’s brand on feature phones, while offering up smartphones under the newly integrated Microsoft Lumia line.
In May of this year, MS dumped the feature phone side of the business, citing flagging sales, and manufacturing giant Foxconn was there to snap it up for $350 million. As that last bit was happening, Nokia signed an agreement that essentially licensed its brand to HMD Global Oy, a newly founded Finnish company that planned to create phones under the once well-loved name, which would be manufactured and distributed by Foxconn.
This week the company announced some added legitimacy to its enterprise, looping in Pekka Rantala, the one-time CEO of Angry Birds creator Rovio, who stepped down in 2015 after a rough year with the mobile gaming company. The exec, who also did a lengthy stint at Nokia from 1994 to 2011, will be joining up as Chief Marketing Officer for the company.
HMD, which is currently run by fellow Nokia vet Arto Nummela, has yet to offer more specificity on its mobile plan of attack. The Nokia deal provides the company with naming and patent rights, in exchange for royalty payments. Nokia is providing some oversight via a position on the company’s board, though it’s not investing directly in HMD, as per the deal.