At the Vienna 2018 event, organized especially for CEE region, I had a chance to once again chat with HMD VicePresident for EE region, Mr Alberto Matrone. Alberto is such a cool guy and it is always nice to speak with him about the HMD, his Nokia past and he was happy to answer questions about new Nokia portfolio, HMDs marketing development and their future strategies. Together with me was the colleague from Croatia that also had some great questions, so I’ll just give you a recap of a 20-minute session with Alberto.
The first question was about HMD, is it still Startup or Corporation, and is the production of Nokia phones is the only focus or will they go toward 5G and IoT business.
Alberto said that HMD is still a Startup since in that way they are much quicker in decision making, and can be more dynamic and adjust with ease to market condition. HMD is not established as a corporation with strict rules and command chain. They have the chain of command, but are reacting to market as a Startup company. He said that he spent a lot of time in the Nokia and that when he is speaking with journalists, customers and consumers he, or HMD as a whole, is still perceived by them as part of Nokia. Regarding the 5G and IoT, Matrone said that HMD is following technology development and that R&D people are constantly working on new models. He even mentioned that engineers are developing various devices that are following the development of technology, Decision about whether a device will be unveiled is market driven.
The second question was about pushing the limits of what HMD can currently show and are we going to see more? Since first Nokia devices went from 6 down and this year we saw from six up, what does that say about HMD and general feeling inside the company?
Mr Matrone couldn’t answer about the next generation phones, but he said that HMD planned on releasing a different form factor from Nokia 7 launched specifically for the Chinese market. Their wish is to slightly upgrade their portfolio and will continue doing that in coming months.
Continuation of this question was about devices the devices in the price range of €200 – €250, is that concept was forgotten, or we’ll see something new?
Alberto mentioned that the new Nokia 6 is just a start, but the regeneration of the portfolio is market driven and some markets will require Nokia 1 and other will need Nokia 3 or some different model, and they will continue developing devices for the requirement of the specific market.
The third question was about his workdays spent in Nokia and how different is it comparing to HMD?
Again, Alberto mentioned that he came to Nokia when its brand just in the beginnings and he has been there when the brand was on top and when it started falling thanks to the Burning platform memo. Later he transferred to Microsoft and he loved working for that company, but when the idea of bringing Nokia back to the smartphone business arose, he was more than happy to jump into the whole story since it represented a challenge for him and he wanted to see what can be achieved. And HMD achieved a lot and HMD is an enormous success according to Matrone. The main difference between Nokia and HMD is that when he organized the CEE event he asked Florian Seiche to be present at the event and Florian came, in Nokia that couldn’t be so easy to achieve.
4. When asked about the usage of Sailfish OS for a feature phone, Alberto couldn’t give me the answer since he is not in charge of that kind of deals, but he mentioned that HMD cares a lot about software development and they will continue improving products.
When asked about the possibility of HMD taking the health department of Nokia, Alberto couldn’t give a straight answer, but he mentioned that accessories are an important part of a business and that HMD will be growing its ecosystem. which means that we’ll see more accessories in the future time. He pointed that the consumer not only wants the phone, but also some products that can be connected to his phone, cover, BT headset, etc., and all these accessories are helping the sales of Nokia products. A fun (nostalgic even more) moment was when Alberto took out of his pocket Nokia BH-121 BT headset from Lumia days, and he told us that he is using it with his Nokia 8 Sirocco that doesn’t have a 3.5 mm jack. He said that he tried various BT headsets that Nokia launched before and that they are all working perfectly with Sirocco.
5. Next question was about what will differentiate future Nokia phones from others, and what about the US market, is HMD gonna be present there.
Mr Matrone said that innovation will be the main driver that will push the products to consumers. He said that innovation is not just in technical solutions, but also in design, software used, etc. what we could see in Nokia 8 Sirocco where new design approach was implemented, or “Bothie” before, or Android One software program used for all devices. Matrone also mentioned that innovation is needed for some demanding markets as Chinese where the competition is high, but he mentioned that they are doing well there.
Regarding the question about the US market, he said that if you want to go there you need to be relevant and have a device that will be appealing for a carrier to spread there. The US market is in their focus and they will be present there.
Thanks again to Alberto for giving me and Nokiamob a chance to chat 🙂