Carl Zeiss AG is a German optical system manufacturer founded in 1846. Not long after that, Nokia was founded in Finland in 1865. In 2005, both this giants collaborated in the making of the very first N series device, the N90. This was the birth of superior imaging on a mobile device which created the path for even greater devices with Nokia branding and Zeiss imaging. Pick any Nokia phone with great imaging and it certainly has Zeiss lenses. Such were the collaboration between both of them that Nokia and Zeiss were almost synonymous.
While Zeiss wasn’t actually exclusive to Nokia as they also have collaboration with Sony intermittently , for the greater part Nokia made Zeiss relevant in the mobile arena. It is only quite recently that names like Leica, Hasselblad started to make their ways to mobile device and Zeiss realize that if they need to stay relevant in the mobile market, they need to look for alternative partners.
While I cannot comment much on their collaboration with Sony for their Xperia series, the collaboration with Vivo is certainly something that made me wonder. Why isn’t Nokia doing the same?
So, why did Zeiss ended their collaboration? Before proceeding further, this article is written based on the news reported first at Nokiamob which has more details on this matter.
The Nokia Paradigm
The rise of Nokia in the mobile arena , the supremacy it held in the imaging department is something many of us remember.
While many things can be attributed to the subsequent downfall of Nokia, its rebirth was not what many of us expected.
What started out great and promising is turning into a nightmare for many. While the internal issues are unknown , HMD Global is seen as a company that lacks direction, and the will to follow through what they promised. While a certain group of people may justify their performance by highlighting the profitability of the company, in all honesty, a profit made by cost cutting isn’t actually a profit. These are actions of a failing management which if not restructured ,will bury the company forever.
So, can we actually blame Zeiss for the current predicament? While its hard to swallow the truth, Zeiss is doing what any other sensible company would do. In order to maintain the brand name and quality, Zeiss is ready to move in any direction required unlike HMD Global.
How deep is the integration?
This is something that is hard to say. Is it just the optics? Do they calibrate the output of the images? How far does Zeiss influence the final product?
I don’t really know the answers to above. The Pureview team were in charge of the image processing algorithm for most part of the Pureview devices under the previous management.
Having collaborated together for nearly 17 years, it is possible that Zeiss would have had inputs on the image processing which would have become the backbone of Nokia’s imaging algorithm. The inputs of both companies would have assimilated well enough that is had to distinguish where Zeiss ends and Nokia starts.
Lumia 950 left, Nokia XR20 5G right
Lumia 950 left, Nokia XR20 5G Right
Despite nearly 6 years of gap between them, the Pureview processing algorithm yields superior results on a much older hardware.
My take on this issue and more samples of images in my video below.
The lack of Zeiss in future Nokia products may be offsetting for some. But companies like Apple and Samsung are doing just fine without such branding. Hardware is just part of the equation and a good software is equally prudent. But at where Nokia or rather HMD Global is, software is where they lack the most.
In September, there could be 2 possibilities. We might get to see Zeiss branded optics on the newer X series. Remember the mythical Nokia 7.3 or whatever it was called internally? There is a very small possibility that this device gets rebranded as a new X series. Unfortunately, the probability for this is very low as the design language would not fit into their current lineup. But truth be told, the so called generic designs like those on the G11/G21 might be reserved only for the lower midrange device and Nokia might be retaining unique design for their upper midrange offerings. The second possibility is that the devices in September are all brand new line up, probably with a new design language and for the first time offering Pureview branding without Zeiss optics. If HMD Global decides to go all ultra budget in September, do expect the current design language with a camera module which lacks Pureview branding and Zeiss branding altogether.
Whatever comes in September, I believe this will be the ultimatum for the remaining Nokia loyalist. With current Nokia phones getting more and more distant than the original Nokia DNA, HMD Global needs to return back to their roots to what makes a Nokia device Nokia.
As usual, do catch me in twitter and lets build a strong Nokia community together https://twitter.com/theoriginal086.