Nokia-resurrect Newkia gets warm reception

Nokia-resurrect Newkia gets warm reception

Summary: Following his interview with ZDNet, Newkia's investor Thomas Zilliacus says he received several e-mail from Nokia employees asking to join the new company and has been offered free office space to set up in Finland.


If you've read my piece about Thomas Zilliacus' plans to start a new company called Newkia, and rejoiced that Nokia designs may finally run on the Android OS, then you'll be happy to hear the startup has been garnering much interest. 

A former 15-year Nokia veteran, Zilliacus was adamant the Finnish handset maker would have seen a much better fate if it had taken the Android route, rather than one tied exclusively to Windows. In fact, he was so certain Android was the missing link that he created Newkia the day Microsoft announced plans to buy over Nokia's devices and services unit for US$7.2 billion. 

Core to his plans for Newkia--"New" plus "Nokia", yes, it can't get any more blatant than that--was to bring over as many Nokia employees and expertise as possible, ranging from smartphone design to logistics to manufacturing. 

The Monday after my story went up, Zilliacus dropped by my office for a visit and had several more nuggets to share. Thanking me for the coverage, he said he had received some 50 e-mail messages from Nokia employees on the morning after the interview was posted, with their CVs attached, asking to join the new company. 

Grinning widely, he also revealed the mayor of a Finnish city called to offer him free office space in support of his plans to retain an R&D facility in the country. He explained that this would better serve Nokia employees who prefer to remain in Finland and do not wish to move to the company's headquarters in Singapore, where he himself has lived for 27 years.

He said members in Newkia's core management team, including its CEO, have been identified. He won't be heading the team, serving mainly as a consultant and investor, as he will be busy prepping his other investment and social media aggregator, YuuZoo, for its IPO next month. 

Asked if Windows Phone was anywhere on Newkia's roadmap, he didn't completely rule it out. He admitted he had yet to try out the Microsoft platform, but said the company's primary focus would be Android.

On my request, during his office visit, Zilliacus brought along a Nokia prototype that never made it to market, but which he had boldly said would have matched up to the Apple iPhone. Built as early as 2003, four years before the first iteration of iPhone was launched, the handset had a full touchscreen and ran on a system similar to Nokia's old Symbian OS. The screen rotated based on the position of the phone--a function which Zilliacus reminded wasn't common among handsets at that time.

The Nokia prototype built in 2003 which Zilliacus said was comparable to Apple iPhone but was never launched. (Photos credit: Aloysius Low/CNETAsia)

While it was about the same length as the iPhone, the prototype was thicker and heavier--but remember that this was built a decade ago in 2003. And despite sitting somewhere in Zilliacus's drawer all these years, it could still boot up after I inserted my SIM card and was functional...I was still able to make a call using the phone. 

Smartphone design needs to start getting bold, again

I'm keen to see what Newkia, armed with former Nokia employees and know-how, can come up with. If the lukewarm response to Apple's new iPhones is anything to go by, smartphone options in the market today are way too uniformed and increasingly boring. 

Walk into a phone shop today and you'll see a lineup of options that sport the same rectangular shape, full touchscreen, single's a major yawn fest. 

I've owned about 10 different handsets since I bought my first mobile phone in 1995, including Ericsson's iconic flip phone T286, Nokia's "butterfly keypad" 8250 and 6210 Navigator, Motorola's Razr v3, and Sony Ericsson's Experia Mini Pro. They all looked different, and I remember spending weeks trying out the various models available at that time before deciding on the final one. 

That's no longer the case today. In fact, I held on to my previous handset for over two years because the available options bored me. It eventually conked out and I had to replace it.

During its heydays, Nokia offered an eclectic range of designs including several that were truly bizarre, but they were each different, unique, and bold. That's something you don't see much anymore because smartphone makers today choose to chase shipment numbers, and fear straying too far from the commercially proven. 

So I'm stoked to see what "the new Nokia" has to offer and hope it stays true to Nokia's old roots. Newkia's goal is launch its first handsets within a year and it should hurry, before Microsoft comes to its senses and decides its handsets should be OS-agnostic.

Topics: Smartphones, Android, Nokia


Eileen Yu began covering the IT industry when Asynchronous Transfer Mode was still hip and e-commerce was the new buzzword. Currently a freelance blogger and content specialist based in Singapore, she has over 16 years of industry experience with various publications including ZDNet, IDG, and Singapore Press Holdings.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Worthless

    This article is not even worth any good comment. Newkia will suck.. .Nokia still rules.. and will get better being on Windows Platform! Nokia + Android combo doesn't fit in most of the Nokia fans head. Symbian or Windows.... in which Windows phone will become more of necessity due to its features.
    Nikhil Gangavane
    • this comment

      is not even worth any good comment. blah blah blah... yada yada yada... and la la la!
    • What you said ?

      I dont know , what you said ..
      But your comment is not even worth reading.
  • That's alleged to be comparable to an iPhone?

    I think this guy's a bit of a dreamer. I am sure many employees may be considering their options, but in my opinion, and if it were me, this is one option I'd probably be inclined to take a pass on.
    • +1

      Ram U
      • Great...

        2 morons agreeing with eachother.

        And you both would know how much about this phone to make a comment?
        Gotta love when someone makes a stupid comment as if they're an expert and they've never even held the item in question.
    • Did you check the date

      It was 2003
      • Yep, I did see the date

        But that doesn't excuse the claim. There were some great mobile devices in 2003, such as Windows Pocket PC OS, and the Palm Pilot. Claiming that this thing, which certainly did not exceed any of those things, let alone reach ahead to 2007, was somehow a 2003 "iPhone" is as laughable in a 2003 context as it is in the present day.

        If you want to see a thing that truly reached ahead, go look at Douglas Engelbart's 1968 presentation on the coming computing age. This, that ain't.
  • Prototype comparable with iPhone?

    That is BS. The biggest problem at the time was the lack of proper capacitive touchscreen. Before iPhone only resistive ones were available and they required stylus to use them. Non-stylus screens sucked. They had no accuracy.
    At the time Windows Mobile was the better mobile OS but it suffered from instability and other problems. Look at any low end android handset to get an idea.
  • Wow already destined to become the next

    failing near zero margin hw vendor in the race to the bottom. Makes little sense.
    Johnny Vegas
  • Hey Mr. Zilliacus, check out HTC first!!!

    Have any of them checked out news about HTC? What are they going to do differently? Get real people!!!
  • Why do people keep bringing up this Newkia fantasy?

    Newkia is no closer to being what Nokia was or could have been, than a stick is close to being a smartphone.

    Whatever Newkia comes up with, and which uses any of the original ideas from Nokia or any IP from Nokia/MS, will automatically fail, before it even goes to the drawing table. This Newkia Zilliacus is nothing but a shyster, who doesn't even have the time to dedicate to his "idea", which just goes to show that even he doesn't have any expectations for Newkia making it. He's a publicity hog, and nothing else.
  • Yeah!!!

    So lets not try anything new!!! Lets just stick with the same old tired 3...Samsung, Apple and same old shitty Microsoft with their pathetic offerings.
    I've never seen such stupidity in only a few comments.
    Most people with a brain in their head want more manufacturers and new ideas...that benefits us. If it flops, so what? I'm looking forward to what Newkia, Jolla, Ubuntu and the rest of them can bring to market.
    It will kick the crap out of what Redmond is shuffling out...