As Motorola, TCL and Samsung expand their 2021 smartphone line-up in Australia, serious questions arise for the Nokia brand.
Country Manager for HMD Global, James Robinson, a former Telstra employee, called his PR assistants, who demanded written questions, when we came to ask him about the brand’s success in Australia.
Nokia smartphones are a licensed smartphone brand now owned by a European company called HMD Global.
When we recently approached Robinson for comment on the company’s situation in Australia, he declined a telephone interview; instead, his assistants, Sydney-based PR Group Adhesive, sent us an email requesting written questions.
I have been in the tech industry for over thirty years and am still wary of executives who need to call their PR assistants, or seem unable to answer questions about their own business without having to get sanitized. their responses through a public relations hack.
We declined to provide written questions, but were wary of why he hides behind protecting a PR firm when its competitors openly talk about their business to ChannelNews.
A search of the Australian Securities & Investment Commission database did not reveal any records for a company called HMD Global – which operates Nokia’s website in Australia and is the company that named Adhesive PR on its account.
Nokia is a registered trademark of Nokia Corporation, licensed by HMD Global to be affixed to phones and tablets manufactured by FIH Mobile, a Foxconn subsidiary.
This company is not registered in Australia.
What we found was a company called HMD Mobile Australia Pty Ltd, but there is no mention of this company on the Nokia or HDM Global websites that promote their smartphones to Australian consumers.
The director of this company is a certain Qiong Zhou, whose address is listed at Espoo Finland, the address of HMD Global.
In 2019, the HMD Mobile Australia business achieved sales of $ 2.5 million in December 2019; revenue fell to $ 2.3 million at the end of 2020.
Profits also fell from $ 37,842 in 2019 to $ 17,545 in 2020 as the company struggled to generate the capital needed to invest in marketing.
In comparison, distributors of the Alcatel brand owned by TCL achieved sales of $ 97 million in 2019. They sold over 800,000 Alcatel smartphones in Australia in 2019.
Australian corporate law states that companies in Australia must be registered with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).
ASIC told ChannelNews that it is an offense to conduct business in an unregistered business.
In March 2021, PR agency Adhesive claimed it had been named the benchmark PR agency for HMD Global, the owner of Nokia phones, in Australia and New Zealand, despite lacking registration. local name HMD Global in Australia. .
Adhesive said at the time that they would manage the PR, influencer and social media activities for HMD Global, which appears to have also failed to provide contact details for consumers in Australia on their Nokia website.
We asked James Robinson to confirm whether the HMD Mobile entity is owned by HMD Global. He did not answer.
We also want to know under which entity the company trades in Australia and which local entity a consumer would sue if they had a claim against the company.
Adhesive is the same PR agency that acts for Sony, which has been exposed repeatedly for its questionable behavior. They were also the PR firm of failing Chinese firm Huawei Mobile, which often lied to the media.
On three occasions, Sony Mobile has denied that its mobile business was going to be shut down, it was ultimately shut down.
Globally, Nokia is one of those brands that has lost more market share than it has gained over the past 20 years, with Apple and then Samsung taking shares away from Nokia, which ultimately left. the smartphone market.
Last week, brand licensee HMD Global released a “rugged” Nokia smartphone for traders, which its PR firm deemed more appropriate for the Australian newspaper reader than a publication aimed at a professional worker.
The HMD Nokia XR20 is a large smartphone with a 6.67-inch Full HD display that the company is trying to sell for $ 897. It’s basically the same as a $ 499 TCL, Samsung, or Motorola smartphone which, if you add a $ 59 premium BodyGuardz protective case, offers the same protection as the more expensive Nokia device.
After falling from first place in the Australian mobile phone market, the company is now wallowing in the bottom of the market, with brands such as Motorola and TCL taking market share away from the European licensee.
Recently, the company was forced to raise capital as the market shifted to 5G.
In 2020, HMD Global decided to raise US $ 250 million to fund new handsets and R&D investments, with Google and Qualcomm investing in the global company.
The Finnish mobile phone company had already established a partnership relationship with Google.
In 2014, Microsoft acquired Nokia’s mobile phone division for $ 7.2 billion.
But after the Windows Phone failed to become popular, Microsoft got rid of the company in 2016, selling its multi-function phone assets to Taiwanese electronics maker Foxconn and newly formed HMD Global for $ 350 million.
Responding to the largest round table in the company’s history in four years, CEO Florian Seiche said: “This significant investment with some of the closest strategic partners really allows us to accelerate our journey into the future. .
Cuttlefish hailed the launch of the Nokia 8.3 5G, the company’s first 5G device, as the key to the company’s success.
Referring to mid-2020, he said: “We think the second half of this year (2020) will see a wider set of 5G phones on the market, and we think the true mid-range range will likely be. in the first half of the next year. “
Although keen to emphasize the closeness of its relationships with its leading partners, HMD has not disclosed the individual amounts that have been invested. Instead, Seiche maintained that the contributions of the three were “each of the very important parts of the total”.
Robinson did not explain why Nokia is doing so poorly in the Australian market where the brand is well known.
He also didn’t explain why existing Australian Nokia users have to wait for Android 11 updates.
Recently, the company has delayed Android 11 updates for most of its phones.
HMD initially announced its Android 11 update delivery schedule in October of last year.
At the time, three Nokia phones were slated to receive Android 11 before the start of 2021, with the rest of the recent product line slated to follow in the first half of 2021.
That timeline was already a bit slow, given that HMD Global isn’t making many significant changes to the Android operating system, but HMD couldn’t even maintain that timeline.
The Nokia 8.3 5G was the company’s first device to get Android 11, and its update came in February 2021, instead of Q4 2020.