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Nokia Bananas over new ‘Slider’ Phone

Nokia is banking on a recent resurgence in the smartphone market and a revival of one of its biggest hits of the 1990s, the 8110 ‘slider’ phone to relaunch the brand. In a market currently dominated by Apple’s iPhone, Nokia is seeking to claw back its old credibility and design flair.

Nokia 8 is available in April and the revamped 8110 in May. The 1990s throwback model comes in two colour choices, classic black or banana yellow, a twist on its curved shape and how its keyboard slid out, inspiring the nickname ‘banana phone’.

Set up by ex-Nokia executives who have licenced the famous brand, HMD Global — as the year-old company is known — has focused on mid-priced Androids and even sub-$100-priced phones since entering the smartphone market.

Chief Executive Florian Seiche said HMD has sold around 30m phones after introducing 11 new phone models over the past year. It has also announced two new models, plus refreshed versions of three phones first offered last year.

“We feel great about the momentum we had in 2017 and that gives us the confidence to double down in 2018,” Seiche told reporters at a briefing in London ahead of the product launch.

Mobile phone market tracker Counterpoint Research said Nokia phones surged during 2017 to become the world’s No. 1 seller of low-cost feature phones and No. 11 in smartphones after only entering the market last year. On a combined basis, Nokia now ranks as the No. 6 mobile phone seller, Counterpoint calculates.

HMD’s strategy is to use distribution partnerships with 600 top mobile operators and retailers in selected markets around the world to offer reliable, affordable products with the latest innovations, plus monthly Google security updates on all phones.

Europe remains the biggest region for Nokia phones sales, according to Seiche with India, Russia and Indonesia its biggest country markets.

The Nokia 8 is the company’s flagship phone, priced at 749 euros (£661) and designed to compete with Samsung’s and Huawei’s premium models. A new, 4G-ready version of Nokia’s 8110 is priced at 79 euros (£70).

Nokia Corp, once the world’s dominant phone maker, sold its handset business to Microsoft in 2014 and is now focused on telecom network equipment.

HMD took over the Nokia feature phone business from Microsoft in 2016 and struck a deal with Nokia Oyj to use the brand on smartphones.

  • With additional reports from Reuters

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