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Nokia's grand plan to win the hearts of Nigerians again

In this conversation with the man leading the charge, Joseph Umunakwe, we learn about Nokia's Nigerian history, and some insights into the future.

You know it, you just know it when you hear that tune and see those hands holding each other. Almost every Nigerian household that had a phone had a Nokia Phone, with a 70% market share globally.

Then one day, it looked like all the Nokia phones were swept away by the smartphone tides. What is actually fact is that Nokia never really left.

We had an interesting conversation with Joseph Umunakwe, the man leading the charge for Nokia in West, East and Central Africa.

“Nokia has always been in the market,” Joseph said, “our phones never went out of circulation.”

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When the smartphone tide took Nigeria, it came with an expensive wave, but Nokia already had the mass market on lock down, with the budget-friendly options.

That didn’t last for long, because as more smartphones entered the market, especially with the Android wave, prices dropped, and slowly, smartphones became mainstream.

Nokia tried to give this market a shot when Microsoft came on board. That didn’t turn out well, and Nokia seems to have put that phase behind them, permanently.

“In a every book there are chapters. So what we have done is to open a new chapter for Nokia smartphones,” Joseph said.

He spoke about this new phase with the enthusiasm of a man with a shiny new tool. And it’s not hard to understand why he’s especially enthusiastic about this new phase.

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Joseph oversaw Microsoft’s push for the smartphone market in this region, so he knows better than many what the struggle must have been like, vying for space in a fiercely competitive market alongside the Android, Blackberry, and iOS.

“We did a test run in China and it was phenomenal. In Hong Kong, we first launched Nokia 6. It sold out in 23 seconds, then we went global.”

According to various online reports, the Nokia 6 did sell out in less than a minute in January, although it is not known how many devices were put up for sale by the company at the time. But generally, the phone has received mad love even in Nigeria, especially for people looking for performance and affordability in one package.

“Since then,” Joseph went on, “it’s been really amazing in terms of the buzz, the followership and excitement from our fans.

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There has always been the question about whether Nokia can thrive without the nostalgia it brings to people who grew up knowing the brand, but Joseph answers that question.

“One surprising thing we found in China was that, when we were launching, we were thinking majority of the customers would be those that had previously used Nokia.” Then the surprising thing happened. “More than 70% of the customers who purchased our devices were millennials, people that never used Nokia before. So that tells you how strong the brand has been.”

According to Joseph, brand awareness for Nokia in Nigeria is at 96%, and although it’s not known the metrics used in the survey, it’s hard to disagree.

“Irrespective of what is happening with other brands,” Joseph said, “there’s been a strong level of acceptance and to even make it better when we launched the Android which is something consumers have been asking us to do for a while.”

Talking about Android.

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It was simply impossible for the Microsoft OS to beat Android, and by the beginning of 2017, 2 billion devices were already running on the Android OS.

Since going 100% pure Android, Nokia is now selling in 80 countries globally, with positive reception across board.

None of this changes one fact, the market is tight, and the competition is stiff. Joseph insists they have a solid advantage;

“We have very deep insights into the market . We know the consumers and we have strong understanding of them. We have taken account of the result of our consumer research and identified the key points for the consumers in the market.”

One asset that Nokia has more than most, is clearly data and customer insight, and that’s not all. Nokia is in fact, a global brand, and in that regard, it trumps a lot of local competition. Another advantage they’re banking on is the fact that they stuck to pure stock android.

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Death to the Bloatware.

Bloatware is all the useless (or next-to-useless) software that several Android smartphone companies try to force us to use, when we could just be sticking to options already provided by Google. The consequence of this is that the phone gets to perform below par.

So Nokia said heck, we’ll stick to the pure stuff.

And it seems to be paying off, Nokia smartphones seem to be getting more popular, and it appears to be getting better. Speaking with a few users of the Nokia 5 and Nokia 6, two midrange offerings, the feedback has been mostly positive.

According to Joseph, the guiding philosophy for Nokia’s new drive has three pillars. The first is to deliver performance for daily use. Then to create premium devices, no matter the price range. And lastly to always stick to pure, and updated Android.

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Is Nokia ready to take on the big league?

Now, when a new smartphone wants to take on the market, they like to choose Unique Selling Points, for the simple reason that it’s very easy to get lost in the smart sauce.

Nokia is bringing an old weapon into this new war; the Zeiss camera. Zeiss is one of the biggest names in camera lenses. For context, they also make camera lenses for the Space industry.

“Why take a selfie when you can take ?”

It’s what you see everywhere you see anything related to the Nokia 8. It clearly means they’re very proud of it. While there’s some skepticism about whether a bothie camera is any use, one question lingers;

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Is the skepticism about this camera because we think it’s not any good, or because we just can’t re-imagine new ways to use this camera?

Perhaps, this is why the Nokia 8 is marketed heavily as the Creative’s device. Because every time, Creatives just do their thing, and people just jump on it. Nokia. Users will also be able to stream live to Facebook and Youtube without any third party apps.

We’ll just have to wait and see how much people vibe with this.

The third is the sound. The OZO sound. This tech is designed solely to make the experience more immersive when watching 4K video.

The icing on this super cake is the processor, the Snapdragon 835, one of the fastest processors in the market for 2017.

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Will Nokia be able to keep up? Even though they’re doing pretty well currently in the smartphone market, only time will tell.

One thing is certain, it looks like they’re in this for the long haul.

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