I’m certainly not alone in lamenting the decline of Nokia as a mobile powerhouse. Anyone old enough to remember the 3210 – easy-to-use and with a standby time of up to 11 days – will always have a soft spot for the company that introduced us to Snake and the concept of technology that was well and truly unbreakable.
Time moves on apace, and so does technology. The once all-conquering 3210 now looks an ancient relic compared to the latest iPhone; in the intervening period Nokia has suffered from years spent behind the technology curve and a disastrous sell-out of its mobile division to Microsoft, which indelibly tainting the reputation of both brands.
Now Nokia has regrouped and is centring its business around a new target: the smart home. Building on its extensive networks business, the company has divested its other interests – including its €2.8 billion digital maps enterprise Here – and instead has invested heavily in establishing itself as a credible player in the connected living market.
Working with Withings
If Nokia wants to succeed in this brave new world, it cannot do it on its own. Its acquisition of well-regarded French wearables company Withings is a shrewd move, instantly giving the Finnish giant a recognisable brand in the internet of things (IoT).
The French company has done well for itself as an independent entity, releasing a number of elegant smartwatches, fitness trackers and even a Bluetooth thermometer. The link-up will be seen as boost for both parties, creating a well-funded branch of Nokia that will tightly focus on products that aim to improve health and well-being.
“Since the beginning, we have always prioritised the usability of our products. We ask ourselves if we are really making a difference by adding a connection to a product. Is there a clear purpose for what we do? Can we make the product simpler? The Nokia vision of creating beautifully-designed products that blend seamlessly into the everyday lives of real people, echoes exactly the same sentiment; we have a solid shared ground to build on.”
– Cédric Hutchings, chief executive at Withings
A future-ready home hub
As more and more of our homes integrate vast amounts of technology – both hardwired and wireless – we will increasingly demand more and more from the networks that underpin them and the gateways we use to access them.
Nokia believes that it has the solution with a high-powered smart hub designed to provide a nexus that unifies all the technology present in the home. Despite having perhaps the least sexy name ever given to a piece of kit, the 7368 ISAM ONT G-240WZ (we’ll refer to it as the 7368 for nostalgic and practical reasons) has a lot to shout about.
For starters, the 7368 speaks to both Zigbee and Z-Wave devices, unifying two otherwise incompatible protocols with each other. Add support for ultra-fast broadband (typically 100Mb or more) and a companion app that promises to control the home and you have a system that may well join the Google OnHub in challenging the notion that the home router deserves to be at the bottom of the technology pile in the home.
A solution for every IoT need
While it is still early days for the Nokia resurgence, its rapidly expanding portfolio suggests that it is not falling into the complacency that followed its period of dominance of the mobile phone market. From its newly announced cloud-based Impact platform (able to support 80,000 different IoT device types) to its proprietary connected devices and monitor portfolio, the company has developed a comprehensive, well thought-out plan to once more become an integral part of the technology mix that surrounds us.
If Nokia can bring the simplicity and dependability that were the hallmarks of its early mobile products to the connected home, then it might well find favour among consumers left frustrated by the overly fragmented state of connected home technology. We might not use a Nokia when we want to make calls anymore – but we might soon be using its technology to manage our homes.