Nokia smartphones closer to a comeback? New owner makes ex-Rovio CEO hire

The Finnish company that wants to revive Nokia-branded smartphones and tablets has just found its chief marketer.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

New HMD Global CMO Pekka Rantala: "We're going to bring together a new team of talented people who can build something incredible."

Image: HMD Global

The Finnish company that wants to revive the Nokia handset brand has found its new marketing chief in Pekka Rantala, the former CEO of Angry Birds maker Rovio.

Nokia Technologies in May granted HMD Global the exclusive rights to the Nokia brand for mobile phones and tablets for the next 10 years.

That deal came just as Microsoft sold the feature-phone assets it bought from Nokia to FIH Mobile, the Foxconn subsidiary that will partner with HMD to make and distribute a range of Android phones and tablets.

For Rantala, it will be the second chance to save Nokia's handset business. Before a brief stint as CEO of Angry Birds maker Rovio, he served in several senior marketing roles at Nokia between 1994 and 2011, the year Nokia ditched its MeeGo and Symbian operating systems to focus on Microsoft's Windows Phone. By then, however, Android and iOS were firmly the dominant mobile platforms.

Rantala will have his work cut out, given the time that has passed since Nokia was a prominent name in the mobile-phone business.

Nokia dominated global sales in the 1990s but missed the switch to smartphones and never caught up with Apple, Samsung and other Android handset makers. Nokia sold its devices business in 2014 to Microsoft, which used the Nokia name for feature phones but not smartphones.

According to HMD, Rantala's first task will be to build a team of marketers and communications experts. He will also be responsible for leading the return of the Nokia name to the consumer market.

"There are very few opportunities like this, to work with a global brand with the power to touch hundreds of millions of people every day," Rantala said in a statement.

"It is a privilege to work with this unique brand, to engage with the millions of dedicated Nokia phone fans around the world and create a generation of new ones. We are going to bring together a new team of talented people who can build something incredible."

Rantala was not available to make a comment when contacted by ZDNet.

Rantala spent just over a year as CEO of Rovio, where he oversaw a large number of job cuts in an effort to scale back the company after a period of rapid expansion to support the Angry Birds franchise.

HMD plans to spend $500m over the next three years to market Nokia-branded phones and tablets, which will be funded by investors and profiles from the feature-phone business.

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