HMD Global, the startup behind Nokia Mobile project, has been trying to conquer the Chinese market for quite some time now by launching smartphones and featurephones at rather attractive prices. While initially, smartphones showed a slight boom, the featurephones were those that kept the brand growing and alive. It seems that feature phones are going to be the only presence of the Nokia brand in the Chinese phone market since smartphones could be transferred to other OEMs or the design of the phones borrowed/sold. According to the latest find of Hikari Calyx, the well-informed source regarding the Nokia smartphones in China and elsewhere, HMD Global allegedly decided to hand over OS development to Chinese OEMs like Smartisan. This doesn’t sound like a big problem, but it seems that Nokia C3 (Nokia GamoraPlus) will be selling could be advertised in China as Smartisan C3.
We could say that the investment in the design and production of Nokia C3 needs to be paid off, so HMD Global will be selling its hardware under another brand. The whole process seems to be going on pretty well since Hikari found a lot of Smartisan rebranded apps in the GamoraPlus.
This kind of twist is nothing new in the smartphone business, but it signifies that Nokia as a smartphone brand isn’t doing well in China, which is kind of strange since there is an interest in the brand. On the other hand, the competition there is strong, and HMD didn’t push too many phones that would differentiate the Nokia brand from others. While this is shortly going to raise the budget of HMD Global and help them develop new Nokia phones, the whole operation could hurt the Nokia brand in the long run and make Nokia phones look and feel like generic ones. The best would be to stop selling Nokia C3 at all and simply move on to another project. Otherwise, this is just the use of the Nokia brand to boost sales when HMD didn’t manage to sell well. But, it is somewhat understandable that investments needs to be paid off, so a more clever planning approach should be implied to save those investments at the very beginning.
Due to some misunderstanding created, Hikari Calyx posted another tweet explaining that Nokia GamoraPlus, also known as Nokia C3, will not be advertised as Smartisan C3, nor the Nokia hardware shared or sold. That would really be bad for the brand so HMD wouldn’t go there, probably. HMD Global contacted us and confirmed that hardware won’t be rebranded, but didn’t comment on Smartisan software found.
Hikari also shared some shots of the Smartisan app running on a Nokia C3 and where you can clearly see that HMD is sharing the software development for its Chinese Nokia phones to other OEMs. Since Nokia C3 is running Build version: 00CN_1_040_B01, which is the only release you have in China, this very well verifies that Nokia C3 is running Smartisan software instead of Nokia mobile’s own software solutions, which is a bit strange.
Hikari was probably a bit unhappy with the whole handover thing, since Nokia mobile had a specially designed and recognizable software for its Chinese devices, with its apps and services, and now Nokia C3 feels like a Smartisan device.