HMD Global Oy hires former Rovio CEO Pekka Rantala to market Nokia devices

Pekka Rantala

The Finnish firm planning to relaunch Nokia-branded handsets said it has hired former Rovio CEO Pekka Rantala as chief marketing officer.

HMD Global Oy, which was founded earlier this year, bought part of Microsoft’s feature phone business in May and plans to spend $500 million to market Nokia-branded phones and tablets over the next three years under an exclusive, 10-year licensing deal. The handsets will be manufactured and distributed by FIH Mobile, a Foxconn subsidiary.

The move was part of a larger deal that saw Microsoft sell its feature-phone business to FIH for $350 million.

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Rantala served as senior vice president of global marketing at Nokia before joining Rovio as CEO in 2015. His tenure at the helm of the creator of Angry Birds was short-lived, though, and he stepped down after only a year that saw him impose deep layoffs and a restructuring.

Rantala’s first priority will be to recruit marketers, brand specialists and communications personnel “to engage mobile phone users,” HMD said in a press release.

“Pekka has an important mission to rejuvenate the Nokia brand in mobile phones,” HMD CEO Arto Nummela said in the release. “He is an experienced consumer marketer who knows how to run global operations and teams, and is passionate about the Nokia brand. Branding has become a critical differentiator in mobile phones, and 96% of global mobile phone users are familiar with the Nokia brand, our unique asset.”

HMD plans to offer Android-based smartphones and tablets under the Nokia brand. The arrangement allows Nokia to return to the hardware segment without having to endure the razor-thin margins that most device manufacturers tolerate in an increasingly competitive worldwide smartphone market. And it could enable Nokia to tap emerging markets where its brand is still respected but where cheap Android phones dominate.

HMD has yet to say when it will bring its line of Nokia products to market, but said it “will make further announcements about its plans and product roadmaps in due course.”

For more:
- see this HMD press release

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Microsoft sells feature-phone business for $350M as Nokia returns to mobile devices
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