From Angry Birds to Nokia phones: what’s not to like?

Nokia billboard

The company behind the planned revival of the Nokia brand for mobile phones has just brought the former CEO of Rovio into its fold. It’s an interesting move: as many of you will remember, many moons ago Rovio invented a game called Angry Birds that once enjoyed a similar level of hype to Pokémon Go.

HMD Global, which is working to bring the Nokia name back into the mobile device market, this week appointed Pekka Rantala as its CMO. Rantala stepped down from Rovio last year after just one year at the helm and presided over what CNET described as a “tumultuous time” at the company. After pursuing what turned out to be an over-ambitious expansion of the Angry Birds mobile game franchise, Rovio was forced to cut jobs and costs.

Now, Rantala is in charge of reviving a mobile phone brand whose future appeal to consumers remains something of an unknown quantity.

On the positive side, the CMO does bring 17 years of experience at Nokia’s mobile device business to HMD Global, and he has gained masses of experience in various consumer businesses.

However, it’s still not yet entirely clear who will buy Nokia mobile phones. So far, HMD Global said it plans to produce smartphones and tablet PCs based on the Android operating system after gaining the right to use the Nokia brand. Perhaps there will be an element of nostalgia creeping in -- for many of us, a Nokia device was probably the first mobile phone we bought.

However, the varying fortunes of the mobile phone makers that currently enjoy the kind of market shares that Nokia once had only serves to show how fickle consumers are. The lustre has even come off Apple iPhones in recent times, while Chinese manufacturers such as Oppo and Vivo are pursuing highly aggressive strategies that have seen them rise to the top with impressive speed. The equally rapid fall from grace of Xiaomi shows how quickly this can change.

It’s to be hoped that Rantala will bring some marketing smarts to the new Nokia phones and win back old fans and gain new ones for the future devices. As the saying goes, he does rather have his work cut out. --Anne