HMD Global, the finnish phone manufacturer that has been quietly and steadily making Nokia-branded phones (and selling quite a lot of them) has landed a $230M check from the likes of Google, Nokia and Qualcomm. This is HMD’s second external financing round so far, having raised $100M in 2018, that reportedly made it a unicorn. The names of investors were revealed by TechCrunch in an interaction with an HMD spokesperson,
While it is of course unnatural for people to not know Nokia — the erstwhile kind of ‘smart’phone world dethroned by Android — not many know how Nokia-branded phones get out these days. Well, it is exclusively through HMD Global and all these Nokia phones now run on Android. In fact, HMD has steadily built up decent sales figures, selling 240 million devices since it began operations in 2016. These sales have happened across 91 countries and through the company’s 250K+ retail outlets globally. Those are some numbers!
Now Google investing in HMD Global does make a lot of business sense of course. There is a large number of Android phones that HMD sells, and an investment will only help further accelerate the process. But whether the deal — considering its scale and size — escapes through the lens of EU Competition watchdogs, remains to be seen. And as ironic as it may sound, the investment comes from Google, the company that owns an OS named Android, the OS that played a massive role in Nokia’s dethroning and ultimate demise.
“Since the very beginning, HMD Global has worked to build strong bonds with our strategic partners. This additional investment further validates our long-term business strategy and is evidence of our collective mission to make modern mobile technology accessible to everyone.”, said Florian Sieche, CEO of HMD Global.
For Qualcomm, the investment will be crucial as it looks to find ways to diversify business. President Donald Trump’s excessive aggressive stance against Huawei has resulted in Qualcomm loosing out in a big chunk of business. Huawei is the world’s top telecommunications company and Qualcomm supplied key components and chips for Huawei’s hardware business. This HMD investment, though small in perspective, will help Qualcomm offset at least some of that business loss. The company did a similar strategic investment in Indian telecom behemoth Jio, earlier this year.
The investment from these ‘top strategic partners’ will primarily be put to use in four key areas. Without a doubt, the first key area will be 5G. 5G is basically everyone’s future focus and so it is for HMD. Next up is a focus on digital-only offerings. Now that does not mean HMD will stop producing hardware, but it will definitely pool in more resources to its digital offerings, specially considering the post COVID-19 world that we are destined to live in.
HMD will also expand its presence in key growth markets including the recently introduced operations in Brazil, as well as Africa and India.
Last but not the least, is more focus towards becoming a mobile service provider. HMD runs a rather successful service called ‘HMD Connect’, which is an international data roaming service.