At Nokiamob, we’ve been very lucky to had a chance and interview Alberto Matrone, VP of HMD Global for Eastern Europe – long time Nokia guy with huge experience in the mobile phone business. Matrone started working for Nokia back in 1991 and stayed there till the sales of Devices and Services department to the Microsoft. He then continued doing the same job in Microsoft and now he is giving himself again for the Nokia brand at HMD Global. If you want to find more about him just visit his LinkedIn profile, but I will just add that Mr. Matrone is genuine cool guy, open person and we had pleasant one-hour chat.
I asked you to send us some questions and used much of it to compose a list of questions which I never asked directly since this was really a chat more than some official interview. I would love to give you sound recording of the chat, but I was speaking quite loudly since I didn’t trust my laptops microphone, so it is not pleasant to listen to my voice. I will just summarize the chat for you and share with you what Mr. Matrone shared with me.
Mr. Matrone said that the first year in HMD was very interesting and pretty much hard. He was traveling a lot and eagerly waiting for Christmas holidays. The first problem for HMD was to see how the market will react to the Nokia comeback, and luckily, everything went well. He said that the market has changed and that the Android market is very competitive, but Nokia is positioned in a right way on the market. HMD is really taking care of the market reaction and they are forming their business according to the customer and market activities.
When asked how much of Nokia spirit did he brig with him to HMD, he said that much of his knowledge and experience gathered during all those years in Nokia and Microsoft is still with him, but times have changed and to push the Nokia brand, everybody needed a bit of a different approach, since young generations, or millennials are now in charge of this particular business and HMD needed also new, young people to help them refresh the strategy of the approach to them.
He also shared that HMD is basically market driven, so they will push more to those markets where Nokia brand is more recognized, and could deliver more. But, that doesn’t mean that other, smaller markets, are not taken into the consideration. Marketing there is just done differently. Markets of greatest interests for HMD are India, China and Africa, where Nokia is still a strong brand, and where Nokia feature phones are recognized well. Matrone also stated that HMD still takes much care of feature phones and won’t be abandoning that part of mobile phone industry. They will follow the development of the mobile phone networks, mentionig the more popular 4G network for feature phones. And we already know that (3310 is 4G phone now).
Mr. Matrone couldn’t comment much on new Devices, but he said that HMD will rest a little bit for Christmas and prepare for 2018. which will be interesting for us. He mentioned that HMD’s designers and R&D personnel are working constantly on bringing new devices to life, and that there are many interesting things we will see in the future. He confirmed that HMD is designing new devices and developing new technologies. FIH is in charge of production of the devices, but also advises HMD on how to make production process simpler and doing testing of new technologies and devices. Nokia is also included, but Nokia takes more care on brand at the moment, than on devices. I also asked if they are planning on deeper collaboration with Nokia health and he answered that they are working together but couldn’t comment on any kind of deal. He mentioned that HMD is working closely with Google and developing some technologies with them.
We briefly mentioned Windows Phone, and when I said it was a bit of a mistake for Nokia going that direction, he didn’t agree and said that WP was actually good product. I kind of agreed with him, because initially WP was great OS but with later updates it became rather bad and at the end unsupported by Microsoft. Nokia Lumia Devices, especially the 920 and 1520 are, in fact, amazing pieces of hardware.
HMD is now concentrated much on 2018 and this year will give them direction for the market strategy of 2019. HMD is planning to bring Nokia brand among top five phone brands and we will definitely see more of HMD and Nokia in the future.
When asked about CES, Mr. Matrone said that HMD will be there doing meetings with US customers and partners, so HMD won’t be showing devices there, but Nokia Health will be there with Nokia phones also.
At the end, we spoke about the presence of the Nokia devices on the market and different marketing channels. Since HMD started selling Nokia devices just one year ago, they didn’t use all the marketing channels, but they are going to invest more in the future years and be more present on different channels (web stores, shops, operators).
We ended our chat by discussing about Bothie, and the meaning of it. Mr. Matrone said that he is using it and it is great way to express yourself and show what made you do the selfie. He is also teaching his colleagues and his family to be more bothie and less selfie and spread the word about it, and be Bothie evangelists.
It has been fun to chat with Mr. Alberto Matrone, and I’m thankful for the opportunity given. By knowing him, I can say that HMD has a bright future, at least in Eastern Europe.