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HMD targets generation-narcissist with Zeiss smartphone partenrship

Microsoft, 2015.

HMD Global, the current overseer of the Nokia phone brand, has announced a new partnership with Zeiss which promises to use photography as a means to create a ‘new’ USP for the brand.

Launching a new phone brand in such a stagnant market would be considered a brave move, but the column inches captured by HMD Global at MWC this year does indicate it might know what it’s doing with the Nokia brand. That said, launching a new smartphone which uses photography as the main selling point is another ambitious play. It’s been done before, and is mainly nailed down by Apple and Huawei, so it is a tough ask.

The new pair will aim to ‘advance the quality of the total imaging experience on smartphones’ through software, services, screen quality, and optic design. We’re a little bit speechless here. Most of the latest smartphones have cameras and software with top spec, and the camera phone marketing campaigns were all pretty much exhausted a couple of years back. There might be a little bit of logic behind the launch because of recent trends, but we’re a little bit sceptical.

“Collaborating with Zeiss is an important part of our commitment to always deliver the very best experience for our customers,” said Arto Nummela, CEO at HMD Global. “Our fans want more than a great smartphone camera, they want a complete imaging experience that doesn’t just set the standard but redefines it. Our fans expect it and, together with Zeiss, we’re delivering it – co-developed imaging excellence for all.”

On a positive side, it might be a very clever move from HMD. When you look at current trends, user-generated video is becoming more prominent on platforms like Facebook, while Snapchat and Instagram, two platforms defined by imagery, are also continuing to demonstrate their popularity. A camera as a standalone product is now pretty much redundant, but the youngest generations are proving to be as narcissistic as we all suspected just using their phones.

The clever bit is that previous campaigns for photography have primarily focused on those who would be considered enthusiasts. The videos and images which are being created for these platforms are done by amateurs who couldn’t give a sh*t about specs. As long as it looks good, or can drop a nice filter over the top, or add functionality into the image simply, they will be happy.

HMD are essentially reinventing the wheel here; there is nothing original about a smartphone which uses photography as a USP, but there might be an angle. The Nokia brand was previously built on the idea of simplicity and reliability, if this photography angle could be combined with those characteristics, as well as tapping into the sense of nostalgia we all feel when we see a Nokia phone, they might just have a chance.

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