HMD/Nokia’s smartphones join Google’s Android One program ‘leading the charge’


Alongside HMD’s big bet on reviving the legendary Nokia brand and business through a licensing deal and a new wave of handsets that it is unveiling today at MWC in Barcelona, the company also announced another interesting piece of news: it has entered a new partnership with Google, where HMD/Nokia is now a leading participant in Google’s Android One — a program where Google has aimed for less fragmentation among Android smartphones by specifying hardware, the Google UI and a commitment to regular security updates.

The Android One deal will see a slate of Nokia’s of Android-based devices — the Nokia 8 Sirocco, Nokia 7 Plus and the Nokia 6, all running Android Oreo — come into the program in one go, a first for any Android OEM, and it signals an interesting shift.

“We’ve created a unique partnership with Google and it makes sense that we should strengthen that partnership today,” said Juho Sarvikas, CPO of HMD Global, in his presentation today.

HTC, an existing leader of the Android One pack, has been struggling in its own handset business in the wake of selling a part of its business to Google. As of today, Xiaomi’s Mi A1 is the handset displayed on the Android One homepage, but from what Xiaomi has told us, the company has no plans to launch any new handsets this week at MWC.

With none of the other prominent handset makers like Samsung or LG announcing Android One devices — other Android One launches around MWC consist of two handsets from Spanish company BQ and another smaller existing Android One partner announcing a new device later this week — this leaves Nokia effectively “leading the charge” on Android One at the moment, as one source close to Google described it to TechCrunch, and HMD itself also spelled out — at a pre-briefing ahead of MWC at Google’s offices in London.

“Nokia is becoming the lead partner for Android One,” Pekka Rantala, EVP and CMO of HMD Global said in an interview. “We didn’t have the capabilities of going for it [before but now] we are going portfolio wide.”

Android One has actually been around since 2014, but last year it got a boost with a stronger focus on security and a wider range of partners, but Nokia will now take the lead on this, Jamie Rosenberg, the company’s VP of Android, confirmed today.

“We are excited to have Nokia as a partner,” said Andrei Popescu, and engineering director at Google, at the briefing. “We have done a lot of work to optimise for this experience, and we think this is going to be really good.”

There is still a question mark, of course, over whether HMD will manage to turn the smartphone tides, with or without the Android One designation.

While smartphone purchasing has been tailing off for the last several years, a small handful of brands — led by Apple and Samsung — have taken the lead in terms of sales globally, and the once-mighty Nokia has well and truly dropped out of that race.

Nokia got its start as one of the trailblazers in mobile, and then smartphones, with its own Symbian OS. Once the leader of the global smartphone market, the entry of Google’s Android and the wave of OEMs that this unleased, alongside Apple’s iPhone, quickly eroded that position. Nokia eventually shifted all of its smartphones to Microsoft’s Windows Phone, before abandoning all that and now turning to Android in a much smaller and more modest turn.

“We are so much more agile than ever before,” Rantala said, positively. “That is the top of mind. Working in partnership with Google, there are so many more things that are possible.”

HMD confirmed to TechCrunch that Google is not investing in the company has declined to disclose how it is capitalised although the company is closely linked with Foxconn, which manufacturers its Nokia devices.

More TechCrunch

Zen Educate, an online marketplace that connects schools with teachers, has raised $37 million in a Series B round of funding. The raise comes amid a growing teacher shortage crisis…

Zen Educate raises $37M and acquires Aquinas Education as it tries to address the teacher shortage

“When I heard the released demo, I was shocked, angered and in disbelief that Mr. Altman would pursue a voice that sounded so eerily similar to mine.”

Scarlett Johansson says that OpenAI approached her to use her voice

A new self-driving truck — manufactured by Volvo and loaded with autonomous vehicle tech developed by Aurora Innovation — could be on public highways as early as this summer.  The…

Aurora and Volvo unveil self-driving truck designed for a driverless future

The European venture capital firm raised its fourth fund as fund as climate tech “comes of age.”

ETF Partners raises €284M for climate startups that will be effective quickly — not 20 years down the road

Copilot, Microsoft’s brand of generative AI, will soon be far more deeply integrated into the Windows 11 experience.

Microsoft wants to make Windows an AI operating system, launches Copilot+ PCs

Hello and welcome back to TechCrunch Space. For those who haven’t heard, the first crewed launch of Boeing’s Starliner capsule has been pushed back yet again to no earlier than…

TechCrunch Space: Star(side)liner

When I attended Automate in Chicago a few weeks back, multiple people thanked me for TechCrunch’s semi-regular robotics job report. It’s always edifying to get that feedback in person. While…

These 81 robotics companies are hiring

The top vehicle safety regulator in the U.S. has launched a formal probe into an April crash involving the all-electric VinFast VF8 SUV that claimed the lives of a family…

VinFast crash that killed family of four now under federal investigation

When putting a video portal in a public park in the middle of New York City, some inappropriate behavior will likely occur. The Portal, the vision of Lithuanian artist and…

NYC-Dublin real-time video portal reopens with some fixes to prevent inappropriate behavior

Longtime New York-based seed investor, Contour Venture Partners, is making progress on its latest flagship fund after lowering its target. The firm closed on $42 million, raised from 64 backers,…

Contour Venture Partners, an early investor in Datadog and Movable Ink, lowers the target for its fifth fund

Meta’s Oversight Board has now extended its scope to include the company’s newest platform, Instagram Threads, and has begun hearing cases from Threads.

Meta’s Oversight Board takes its first Threads case

The company says it’s refocusing and prioritizing fewer initiatives that will have the biggest impact on customers and add value to the business.

SeekOut, a recruiting startup last valued at $1.2 billion, lays off 30% of its workforce

The U.K.’s self-proclaimed “world-leading” regulations for self-driving cars are now official, after the Automated Vehicles (AV) Act received royal assent — the final rubber stamp any legislation must go through…

UK’s autonomous vehicle legislation becomes law, paving the way for first driverless cars by 2026

ChatGPT, OpenAI’s text-generating AI chatbot, has taken the world by storm. What started as a tool to hyper-charge productivity through writing essays and code with short text prompts has evolved…

ChatGPT: Everything you need to know about the AI-powered chatbot

SoLo Funds CEO Travis Holoway: “Regulators seem driven by press releases when they should be motivated by true consumer protection and empowering equitable solutions.”

Fintech lender SoLo Funds is being sued again by the government over its lending practices

Hard tech startups generate a lot of buzz, but there’s a growing cohort of companies building digital tools squarely focused on making hard tech development faster, more efficient and —…

Rollup wants to be the hardware engineer’s workhorse

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is not just about groundbreaking innovations, insightful panels, and visionary speakers — it’s also about listening to YOU, the audience, and what you feel is top of…

Disrupt Audience Choice vote closes Friday

Google says the new SDK would help Google expand on its core mission of connecting the right audience to the right content at the right time.

Google is launching a new Android feature to drive users back into their installed apps

Jolla has taken the official wraps off the first version of its personal server-based AI assistant in the making. The reborn startup is building a privacy-focused AI device — aka…

Jolla debuts privacy-focused AI hardware

The ChatGPT mobile app’s net revenue first jumped 22% on the day of the GPT-4o launch and continued to grow in the following days.

ChatGPT’s mobile app revenue saw its biggest spike yet following GPT-4o launch

Dating app maker Bumble has acquired Geneva, an online platform built around forming real-world groups and clubs. The company said that the deal is designed to help it expand its…

Bumble buys community building app Geneva to expand further into friendships

CyberArk — one of the army of larger security companies founded out of Israel — is acquiring Venafi, a specialist in machine identity, for $1.54 billion. 

CyberArk snaps up Venafi for $1.54B to ramp up in machine-to-machine security

Founder-market fit is one of the most crucial factors in a startup’s success, and operators (someone involved in the day-to-day operations of a startup) turned founders have an almost unfair advantage…

OpenseedVC, which backs operators in Africa and Europe starting their companies, reaches first close of $10M fund

A Singapore High Court has effectively approved Pine Labs’ request to shift its operations to India.

Pine Labs gets Singapore court approval to shift base to India

The AI Safety Institute, a U.K. body that aims to assess and address risks in AI platforms, has said it will open a second location in San Francisco. 

UK opens office in San Francisco to tackle AI risk

Companies are always looking for an edge, and searching for ways to encourage their employees to innovate. One way to do that is by running an internal hackathon around a…

Why companies are turning to internal hackathons

Featured Article

I’m rooting for Melinda French Gates to fix tech’s broken ‘brilliant jerk’ culture

Women in tech still face a shocking level of mistreatment at work. Melinda French Gates is one of the few working to change that.

2 days ago
I’m rooting for Melinda French Gates to fix tech’s  broken ‘brilliant jerk’ culture

Blue Origin has successfully completed its NS-25 mission, resuming crewed flights for the first time in nearly two years. The mission brought six tourist crew members to the edge of…

Blue Origin successfully launches its first crewed mission since 2022

Creative Artists Agency (CAA), one of the top entertainment and sports talent agencies, is hoping to be at the forefront of AI protection services for celebrities in Hollywood. With many…

Hollywood agency CAA aims to help stars manage their own AI likenesses

Expedia says Rathi Murthy and Sreenivas Rachamadugu, respectively its CTO and senior vice president of core services product & engineering, are no longer employed at the travel booking company. In…

Expedia says two execs dismissed after ‘violation of company policy’