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Singaporean finn-off 'Newkia' readies Android phones

Former Asian execs shuffle deck chairs, alphabet, with new venture

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Singapore-based smartphone biz Newkia, started by a former Nokia APAC boss, has named its first global CEO to help it realise a mission to launch the Android handsets the Finnish firm never could.

Urpo Karjalainen, who was marketing and sales VP for Nokia in APAC in the 90s and recently BlackBerry’s APAC MD, will take the helm, according to CIO Asia.

Newkia was begun by ex-Nokia bod Thomas Zilliacus back in September, as soon as the news broke that Nokia’s device biz was being sold to Microsoft.

However, it appears to be little more than a name at the moment. Its Facebook page, begun on September 8, has no official communications and a search for “Newkia” returns links to car maker Kia's official sites, but nothing from the mobile biz.

Singapore-based parent company Mobile FutureWorks has a site, but no contact details at present.

Nevertheless, an “official statement” obtained by CIO Asia has Karjalainen gushing with the following canned remarks:

I see a huge opportunity for Newkia in the current market, and I am very excited to be part of creating something new built on Nokia's incredible legacy. We are building a team and an organisation that will carry forward the best know-how and the best qualities of the phones that made Nokia the world-leading mobile phone brand for 14 years, and Nokia Corporation Europe's most valuable company.

If you believe Zilliacus, the appetite for an Android smartphone built with Nokia know-how is huge.

Back in September he tweeted: “Job applications are pouring in from all over the world. Cities are offering free office space. The thirst for a new phone is huge.”

However, Newkia will face an incredibly tough challenge establishing itself once consumers get over the firm’s novelty value.

China and India were big for Nokia way back when, but while even today they represent the number one and two markets for the Lumia, there are a host of local players flooding the space with high quality, affordable Android smartphones. ®

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