Back when the first Android smartphones rolled off the assembly line in 2009, they weren’t just competing against Apple. Feature-phone pioneer Nokia commanded a large chunk of the market, and it was hard at work on its own open-source touchscreen platform. We all know how that story ended. Android and Apple took over the market and Nokia floundered for years with half-baked handsets until Microsoft mercifully put Nokia’s smartphone segment out of its misery after acquiring the business last year.
But like a classic B movie, Nokia is back from the dead. Well, kind of. Earlier this year Microsoft sold the Nokia branding rights to Finland-based HMD Global, and the first fruits of that labor are due to appear in the first half of 2017. And like the Nokia N1—an iPad mini clone with handwriting-based search—they will run Android. It remains to be seen just how much Nokia is in these phones beyond the name on the rear, but it’s a good comeback story nonetheless.
You can sign up on the Nokia website for information as it’s released, but for now, the company is only speaking about its new phones in very broad terms, promising “Elegant simplicity, trusted reliability, and lasting quality,” attributes often promised and rarely delivered. But Nokia does have one thing going for it: instant brand recognition.
Why this matters: Nokia’s new tagline is “Inspired by ambition,” and it’s hard to argue with its tenaciousness. A Nokia smartphone is sure to garner a fair amount of attention within the Android community, but it’s entering an extremely crowded and competitive market. However, if the price is right it could build itself a nice little niche.