Mobile device maker HMD Globa l has announced a$230M Series A2– its first tranche of external financing since a $100M round back in 2018 when it tipped over into a unicorn assessment. Because late 2016 the startup has solely certified Nokia’s brand for mobile phones, going on to ship some 240M gadgets to date.
Its latest money injection is significant both for its size (HMD claims it as the third biggest financing round in Europe this year); and the profile of the strategic financiers tilling in capital– namely: < a class="crunchbase-link"href="https://crunchbase.com/organization/google"target =”_ blank”data-type=”organization”data-entity= “google”>
Google, Nokia and Qualcomm. Though whether a tech giant(Google) whose OS controls the world’s smartphone market( Android) ending up being a strategic investor in Europe’s last significant mobile OEM (HMD )catches the attention of regional competitors enforcers stays to be seen. Er, vertical integration anybody?(To wit: It’s a little over two years since Google was slapped with a$5BN penalty by EU regulators for antitrust infractions related to how it runs Android– and the Commission has said it continues to monitor the marketplace’solutions’.) In a further quirk, when we talked to HMD Global CEO, Florian Seiche, ahead of today’s statement, he didn’t
anticipate the names of the financiers to be disclosed– however a press representative had currently shared them with us so he properly verified the trio are financiers in the round.(However would not be drawn on just how much equity Google is getting. )HMD’s smart devices run on Google’s Android platform, which offers the tech giant a company service factor for supporting the mobile maker
in growing the accessibility of Google-packed hardware in key growth markets all over the world. And while HMD likens its constant (and regularly updated)flavor of Android to the premium’pure ‘Android experience you obtain from Google’s own-brand Pixel mobile phones
, the difference is the Finnish company offers devices throughout the series of cost points, and targets hardware at mobile users in establishing markets. The result is reasonably little overlap with Google’s Pixel hardware, and still a lot of organisation upside for Google must HMD grow the pipeline of Google services users(as it earns money by targeting advertisements ). Lovers of mobile history may see more than a little irony in Google investing into Nokia branded smart devices( via HMD), offered Android’s role in fatally interrupting Nokia’s lucrative mobile phone business– knocking the Finnish giant off its perch as
the world’s number one mobile maker and ushering in a period of Android-fuelled Asian mobile giants. But wait enough time in tech and what walks around oftentimes comes back around. “We’re very delighted,”said Seiche, when we discuss Google’s essential function in Nokia’s historic failure in smart devices.”How we are going to write that next chapter on mobile phones is a critical strategic pillar for the business and our chance to collaborate so closely with Google around this has actually been a really, extremely excellent partnership from the start. And then this investment absolutely confirms that– also for the future. “”It’s a vital time for the industry therefore having a clear strategy– having a clear differentiation and a different point of view to offer, we believe, is a great property that we have established for ourselves. And now is a great minute for us to double down on this,”he added. We likewise
asked Seiche whether HMD has any interest in making the most of the European Commission’s Android antitrust enforcement
choice– i.e. to fork Android and get rid of the usual Google services, perhaps switching them out for some European options, which is a minimum of a possibility for OEMs offering in the area– however Seiche informed us:”We have taken a look at it but we highly think that consumers or business customers really love [Google] services and for that reason they pick those services on their own.”(Countless dollars of direct financial investment from Google also, presumably, assists make the Google services organisation case stack up.)Nokia, meanwhile, has constantly had a close relationship with HMD– which was established by previous Nokia officers for the sole purpose of accrediting its renowned mobile brand name. (The backstory there is a provision in the sale terms of Nokia’s mobile device division to Microsoft expired in 2016, paving the way for Nokia’s brand to be returned to the mobile phone market without the prior Windows Mobile luggage.)Its investment into HMD now appears like a vote of confidence in how the company has actually been executing in the fiercely competitive mobile space to date(HMD doesn’t break out a great deal of information about device sales but Seiche told us it sold in excess of 70M mobiles in 2015; that’s a combined figure for smart devices and feature phones)– in addition to an upbeat evaluation of the scope of the development opportunity ahead of it. On
the latter front US-led geopolitical tensions in between the West and China do look poised to create a tail-wind for HMD’s company. Mobile chipmaker Qualcomm, for example, is dealing with a loss of organisation, as United States federal government restrictions threaten its ability to continue selling chips to Huawei; a major Chinese device maker that’s become an essential target for US president Trump. Its interest in supporting HMD’s growth, for that reason , looks like a way for Qualcomm to hedge versus United States government disruption targeted at Chinese companies in its mobile phone maker portfolio. While with Trump’s recent threats against the TikTok app it seems safe to presume that no tech company with a Chinese owner is
general quality of experience as crucial differentiating elements vs the Android hoards.”We have actually been really clear and really consistent right from the beginning to pick these core concepts that are close to our heart and really carefully related to the Nokia brand itself– and absolutely quality, security and trust are key elements,” he informed TechCrunch.”This is resonating with our carrier and retail clients around the world and it is certainly likewise a core essential differentiator that those partners that are taking a longer term view clearly see that same opportunity that we see for us moving forward. “HMD does use making centers in China, as well as in a variety of other areas all over the world– consisting of Brazil, India, Indonesia and Vietnam. Asked whether it sees any supply chain dangers related
to continued use of Chinese manufacturers to construct’safe ‘mobile hardware, Seiche responded by claiming:”The most crucial [ element] is we do control the software experience totally.”He pointed particularly to HMD’s acquisition of Valona Labs earlier this year. The Finnish security startup performs all its software application audits.”They basically control our software to ensure we can live up to that trusted requirement,” Seiche included. Landing a significant tranche of new financing now– and with geopolitical tension between the West and the Far East shining a spotlight on its worth as alternative, European mobile maker– HMD is considering expansion in growth markets such as Africa, Brail and India.(Presently, HMD stated it’s active in 91 markets throughout eight regions, with its devices ranged in 250,000 retail outlets worldwide.)It’s likewise looking to bring 5G to gadgets at a higher series of price-points, beyond the existing flagship Nokia 8.3. Seiche also stated it wishes to do more on the mobile services side. HMD’s first 5G device, the flagship Nokia 8.3, is because of land in the United States and Europe in a matter of weeks. And Seiche suggested a timeframe of the middle of next year for releasing a 5G device at a mid tier cost point.”The 5G journey once again has begun
, in regards to market adoption, in China. Today Europe, US are the key next opportunity– not just in the premium tier but also in the mid segment. And to get to that as fast as possible is one of our goals,”he stated, keeping in mind joint-working with Qualcomm on that.” We likewise see great chance with Nokia in that 5G shift– since they are also working on a lot of private LTE
releases which is also an interesting location considering that … we are also really highly present in that big enterprise section,”he included. On mobile services, Seiche highlighted the launch of HMD Link: An information SIM aimed at travellers– suggesting it might expand into additional connection uses in future, creating more collaborations with providers.”We have actually already launched several services that are close to the hardware service– like insurance coverage for your mobile phones– but we are likewise now looking at connectivity as a fantastic area for us,”he stated.”The very first pilot of that has been our worldwide roaming but our company believe there is a play in the future for customers or enterprise clients to get their connection straight with their device. And we’re partnering also with operators to make that occur.””You can see us more as an enhance [to providers],”he included, arguing that business”dynamics”for providers have actually also changed substantially– and client acquisition hasn’t been a linear video game for a long time.” In a similar method when we speak about Google Pixel vs us– we have a various footprint. If you look at providers where they get their customers from today is already today a mix in between their own direct channels and their partner channels, and once again. And actually why wouldn’t a mobile phone gamer be a natural great partner of choice likewise for them? I believe you’ll see that as a pattern, potentially, evolving in the next couple of years. ” Article curated by RJ Shara from Source. RJ Shara is a Bay Area Radio Host (Radio Jockey) who talks about the startup ecosystem – entrepreneurs, investments, policies and more on her show The Silicon Dreams. The show streams on Radio Zindagi 1170AM on Mondays from 3.30 PM to 4 PM.