Rumours of Nokia getting back to handset business started coming out ever since it sold off its handset business to Microsoft in 2014. However, Nokia repeatedly denied these rumours. In fact, so much was the impact, that it had to issue an official press release to justify its stand. Since then, the company has been pretty quiet, focusing on technology development, licensing and it’s mapping business.
However, a recent statement by Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri, given to a German magazine (via Reuters) points towards what could just be the comeback of sorts for the Finnish company to its handset business, sans the hardware part. Speaking to The Manager, Suri said
We will look for suitable partners, Microsoft makes mobile phones. We would simply design them and then make the brand name available to license.
Speaking on the rumors of Nokia selling off part or all of its mapping business to German premium carmakers and silicon valley internet companies — all of which are showing an interest in purchasing it for obvious reasons, Suri said
Anybody who can improve the business in the long run is a good buyer.”
which is basically a polite way of saying that yes, we are looking for buyers, but are not ready to share any info quite right now.
What it pertains, is that Nokia is not jumping back into the handset business — at least not in the manufacturing segment it was involved with earlier. Instead, the company is planning a more subtle and off the field approach and in-lieu of directly making and labelling smartphones, the company will depend upon other manufacturers in the field to construct the devices — which will then be labeled and marketed by the company under the Nokia brand name.
The company has already tried something of the kind, when it launched the N1 Android tablet back in 2014 which was manufactured by Taiwanese contract manufacturer Foxconn. Nokia is restricted from using its brand name on phones until Q4, 2016 under the terms of its agreement with Microsoft, so we assume that we will have to wait until 2016 end before another device bearing the Nokia insignia hits the market.
The reason behind this may be Microsoft’s shift in focus from its newly acquired hardware business back to its software business — something which may be prompted by the fact that in spite of spending $7.2 billion to acquire Nokia, the software giant managed to occupy only 3% of the smart phone market. As another sign of changing winds, Microsoft manager Stephen Elop — who was a driving force behind the acquistion and even played Nokia CEO for a certain time — has already been ousted.
Well, regardless of the corporate intricacies involved in the matter, one thing I can be sure of, is the fact that I’ll be glad to have the Finnish company back in any avatar — probably just for the sake of memories associated with my first handheld device, if for nothing else.