We asked Jussi Nevanlinna, VP for Mobile Phone marketing, some of your questions about the new Nokia X family, why it’s important for Nokia and why customers will be delighted with the phones.
First of all, why now? Why is the timing now right for an Android-based smartphone from Nokia?
There are a couple of answers to that question.
To launch the Nokia X family, we needed to be able to create a product that was true to Nokia’s heritage in design and build quality. But we also needed to make it very affordable. Lots of different components had to come into place for us to create something that’s clear and easy to use, but also high quality and within people’s financial reach.
The other answer is that the market itself is moving. We’re the number one manufacturer in growth markets in the ‘entry-level’ and ‘feature phone’ categories. But a lot of those people are now aspiring to smartphone products. There are a significant number of users worldwide who are about to experience the Internet through a mobile device. As you can imagine, we want to be ready for them.
The Nokia X family is based on the Android Open Source Platform (AOSP). Does that put the future of the family at the mercy of Google?
To fully explain, this is a Nokia smartphone that runs Android apps. At its heart, we have AOSP on top of which we have added Nokia design and usability expertise to create the user interface that people see. Then we have added Nokia experiences like HERE Maps and Nokia MixRadio, and Microsoft services like Skype, Outlook.com and OneDrive. What we don’t have is Google services: this was deliberate. Instead, we have implemented Nokia and Microsoft services to create something truly differentiated.
So who is the target audience for the Nokia X family?
These are global products, which will be available pretty much everywhere except North America, Korea and Japan. We have a particular focus on growth markets – for example, India and China, Thailand and Indonesia then over to Egypt, Kenya and Nigeria, and South America, especially countries like Brazil, and Mexico. They are all places where we’re seeing this big shift from feature phones to affordable smartphones.
Our Nokia X family customers are young, social, very aspirational and are fans of Nokia. They love our brand and our product design. And they also love Android apps: the quantity and choice is very appealing to them.
So we’re offering them the best of three worlds:
Nokia design and build quality; Microsoft cloud services; and Android apps.
Does the X family compete with the Lumia family and maybe mean lost sales for Lumia?
Our approach to compete in the affordable smartphone market is twofold. While Lumia remains our primary smartphone platform and we continue to push the prices down, Nokia X addresses price points that are generally lower than those reached by Lumia, and we’ll keep pushing the Nokia X prices down even further.
In fact we see Nokia X as a stepping-stone to Lumia. With Nokia X we are bringing people the best of Nokia and Microsoft services and experiences, making a future switch to Lumia natural.
Some might see creating an Android-based device as strange considering that the plan is for Nokia’s devices and services business to join Microsoft soon?
I can’t speak on Microsoft’s behalf; what I can say is our strategy with Mobile Phones has been, and remains, connecting the next billion. Microsoft is equally focussed on ‘mobile first; cloud first’. As I have explained, getting people exposed to and loving Microsoft and Nokia services in the affordable segment creates a natural pathway to Lumia, which is designed to be the pinnacle smartphone experience.
Technology becomes cheaper all the time. When it becomes possible to create a Lumia for $100, will the X family be retired?
I think the key word is ‘family’. We will be announcing more products in the family over the course of the next year, and the price range it covers will change to suit the markets. We will be taking Nokia X into even more affordable price points.
What do app developers need to do to make their Android apps available for the Nokia X family?
The short answer is: nothing. In the vast majority of cases, Android apps will run very well on the Nokia X family, out of the box.
Furthermore, we’re working with developers to make it very easy to submit apps into the Nokia Store. In most cases, they simply republish their apps to Nokia Store .
Where apps depend on functionality that isn’t on the Nokia X family devices, like Google Maps, we’ve created API plugins for the Android SDK to allow developers to simply tick the box to use HERE Maps instead.
And what advantages can developers and customers gain by using Nokia Store?
Android developers stand to make big gains by supporting the Nokia X family. We have heard many times that they find it hard to monetise their apps. One reason for that is, in emerging markets, people are a lot less likely to have credit cards. The Nokia Store offers in-app payments through operator billing, and we have the largest network of operators signed up for that. It’s been shown through experience that when operator billing is available, then revenues increase by up to five times.
That’s one reason the Nokia Store offers a better alternative. The other is from the user’s side. The Nokia Store is curated. The apps are screened and scanned so you won’t bump up against malware or inappropriate content. So they can shop in our store with confidence and security.
And worldwide, people are very comfortable with using third-party app stores that aren’t owned by Google. In Russia, the Yandex Store dominates the Android marketplace. In China, Google Play isn’t available, so all app purchases are through third parties. So you see, non-Google stores are already the norm for most Android owners.
Thank you, Jussi, for your time! And keep asking questions, folks – we’ll endeavour to get you the answers.
Updated September 30, 2015 11:54 pm