Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri, while speaking to German publication Manager Magazin, revealed the company's plans to re-enter the mobile phone business late next year. 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."
To recall, Nokia launched the Nokia N1 tablet as the company's first mobile product after the Microsoft acquisition. The terms of the Microsoft-Nokia deal had stipulated the Finnish company couldn't use the Nokia brand on smartphones till Q4 2016, and on feature phones for 10 years. The 2016 time-frame of a possible smartphone launch from Nokia does not actually come as a surprise, and we can expect the Finnish firm to wait till the end of the year to avoid legal tussles.
Nokia next year can be expected to make an agreement with a manufacturer which will be responsible for manufacturing, distribution, and sales of its smartphones. The Finnish company followed the same strategy with the N1 tablet launch where the company signed a brand-licensing agreement with Foxconn.
To remind our readers, post the acquisition of its devices and services business by Microsoft, Nokia was split into three companies - Nokia Networks (the telecommunications wing that just announced a takeover of Alcatel-Lucent), Here (the company's navigation, mapping, and location services subsidiary), and Nokia Technologies (the company responsible for licensing of Nokia's portfolio of patents and developing new products such as the Nokia N1 tablet and the Z Launcher).
(Also see: Nokia to Buy Alcatel-Lucent in All-Share Deal)
Despite several reports claiming that Nokia is gearing up to re-enter into the consumer smartphone market next year, Nokia had denied return to phone manufacturing earlier this year.
In a recent development at Microsoft, four senior Microsoft executives, including former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, are leaving the company in the top-level shake up.
Written with inputs from Reuters