Nokia confirms plans to return to the smartphone market next year

Nokia is widely expected to release new smartphones next year, after selling its handset division to Microsoft in 2014.

Now in a press release Nokia has confirmed the rumours, nothing that it is looking for a partner it can license its brand to, who can then take on “all of the manufacturing, sales, marketing and customer support for a product.” Such a device would not hit the market before Q4 2016.

Such a move is normally seen as cheapening a brand, but Nokia notes they would “would work closely with them to guide the design and technology differentiation, as we did with the Nokia N1 Android tablet” and that Nokia would only enter into the venture if the eventual device makes them “proud to have bear the Nokia brand, and that people will love to buy (it).”

This is of course in the end an Android story, but Microsoft Mobile still caries a lot of goodwill from its Nokia heritage, and having Nokia actively competing in the market with Microsoft handsets may have an impact.

On the other hand, with Microsoft scaling back its own operations and inviting OEMs in, maybe we will once again see a Nokia handset running Windows Phone.

Now would that not be ironic.

Read the press release below:

Nokia comments on media speculation about mobile devices

The following has been posted by Robert Morlino, spokesman for Nokia Technologies

July 13, 2015

For 14 years Nokia was the biggest cell phone maker in the world, and the brand became a household name — one that evoked quality, innovation and human connection. The brand is still recognized that way by millions of people around the world, which is incredibly gratifying and a huge compliment for the people who helped create it. So it’s not surprising that today, the question comes up all the time: will Nokia return to mobile devices? 

The answer is: it’s complicated. 

Let’s take it from the top. As you probably know, we sold essentially all of our Devices & Services business to Microsoft in April 2014. With it went all of the enormous manufacturing, marketing and channel distribution capabilities you need to be in the business of making & selling phones.

The Nokia that exists today remains focused on the connected world, through mobile network infrastructure, location & mapping services, and technology development & licensing. We also aim to continue bringing our iconic design capabilities and technology innovation to the mobile space, and in the form of amazing products people can someday hold in their hands. However, we’ll do it in a completely different way from before. 

The right path back to mobile phones for Nokia is through a brand-licensing model. That means identifying a partner that can be responsible for all of the manufacturing, sales, marketing and customer support for a product.

If and when we find a world-class partner who can take on those responsibilities, we would work closely with them to guide the design and technology differentiation, as we did with the Nokia N1 Android tablet. That’s the only way the bar would be met for a mobile device we’d be proud to have bear the Nokia brand, and that people will love to buy.

To summarize, we will look for the right partner who can take on the heavy lifting and work closely with us to deliver a great product. As we agreed with Microsoft, the soonest that could happen is Q4 2016 — so it’s safe to say Nokia won’t be back (at least in phone form…) before then.

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