Google’s Nexus line of phones is now dead. But Nokia, under the stewardship of HMD Global, could well bring back elements of what made Google’s Nexus phones so popular with users. Things like stock Android, fast updates and competitive pricing.
In a recent release, HMD noted it is putting in place a new strategic partnership with Google and Foxconn to further its gains in the mobile space during 2017/18.
“Most of the smartphones in the market do not have the Android OS in the way it should be,” said HMD Global’s vice president for the Middle East and North Africa Per Ekman.
“Vendors are adding a skin on top of the OS. Consumers have the right to have the latest version of the OS, and we will be pushing the latest version and the patches as soon as it is available from Google.”
“We and Google will jointly enhance the Nokia brand to put the right kind of inputs into the phone, including Google Assistant,” he said.
Nokia’s current phones – the Nokia 3, Nokia 5 and Nokia 6 – all run a pretty clean version of Android. But these handsets appear to be just the tip of the iceberg; HMD wants to get Google onboard to help push its Nokia agenda and that should be music to the ears of any Nokia/Android fan.
This particular route, if done correctly, could create quite a USP for the Nokia brand inside the Android space, as no other manufacturer has perfected getting Android updates out in a timely fashion.
If Nokia – either through its own blood, sweat and tears or via assistance from Google – can create a means by which to push Android updates out in a timely fashion, ahead of other players in the space, it would almost certainly find itself with a lot of new friends.
Android updates – or, not getting them – is still a big stickling point for a lot of Android users. No one brand has nailed it yet. And this is mostly down to the nature of the Android ecosystem; Google’s partners are always focussed on what comes next, not supporting older handsets.
If Nokia can find a way around this, I will be very impressed. The only real question now is how it is going to actually do it?
And God knows Google needs another, more manageable Android partner; one that can be groomed and play ball. Samsung is Google’s biggest Android partner by a country mile, but the South Korean tech giant makes no bones about how much it wants to get away from Android and Google’s authority.
TizenOS was the first step in Samsung’s path away from Google’s Android OS and the launch of Bixby, a direct competitor to Google Assistant, was another. Samsung wants to have complete control of its handsets and the software they run. This is how it becomes more like Apple and makes more money. Android, while necessary at present, is stopping them from doing this and this puts the company in a very tricky position.
Plus, the Nokia brand is still immensely popular with millions of people the globe over. Just look at the frenzy HMD created in the run up to MWC with the launch of the rebooted Nokia 3310 – one of the best marketing tricks EVER – and its trio of Android-powered Nokia phones.
Search volumes around Nokia’s Android phones are huge as well, and this tell us two things: 1) A LOT of people are very interested in the Nokia brand and 2) once Nokia does release a proper flagship phone, a lot of people, providing it is a solid release, will likely buy it.
No wonder Google’s interested in working more closely with HMD to bring Nokia back into contention.