Microsoft to drop Nokia brand

Software giant Microsoft plans to drop the Nokia brand from its marketing following its recently completed acquisition of Nokia’s devices and services business.

The firm’s newly-appointed executive vice president  for the Microsoft Devices Group division Stephen Elop, who was formerly CEO at Nokia, explained on the Conversations at Nokia blog that while Microsoft is allowed to use Nokia’s brand name for its handsets for a period of time, the firm plans to do away with it in the near future. The firm also recently set up the Microsoft Mobile Oy unit, but Elop explained that the business is merely a legal construct that was created to facilitate the merger with Nokia.

“Nokia as a brand will not be used for long going forward for smartphones,” Elop said on the blog. “Work is underway to select the go forward smartphone brand.”

“While we are not ready to share precise details, I can assure you that it will not be the “Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone on the AT&T LTE Network” … too many words! That somehow doesn’t roll off the tongue…” Elop added.

The move may stifle Microsoft’s plans to grow in emerging markets where Nokia’s brand is particularly strong. Jussi Nevanlinna , vice president for product marketing for Nokia Mobile Phones recently told that the affordable smartphone market is growing four times quicker than any other segment of the smartphone market, and that most of this growth is coming from emerging markets.

“We are the leading brand in these markets and people know and recognise the brand and our brand preference is high. At the same time, our distribution cover in those markets is very wide. So that’s a really good starting position as a lot of this growth is coming from markets where we have strong distribution and a strong brand.”

Elop also explained on the Nokia blog that when the device maker decided in 2011 to focus on Windows Phone it was due to concerns that a decision to pursue Android would “put it on a collision course with Samsung”, which had already established  a leading position in the Android smartphone market.

“That was the right decision, as we have seen virtually all other OEMs from those days pushed to the side,” said Elop. “Today, we are using AOSP (Android Open Source Project) to attack a specific market opportunity, but we are being thoughtful to do it in a way that accrues benefit to Microsoft and to Lumia.”

Nokia has said it intends to use its fresh line of Android handsets as a platform to entice users onto Windows-based smartphones.

This is the main reason why the Nokia X series sports a tiled user interface not dissimilar to the Metro UI found on Windows 8, according to Peter Wang, VP platform & technology delivery at Nokia.

Speaking to in Barcelona in February, Wang said that Nokia’s device UI “is a big differentiator,” which is why the Android-based X devices look very similar to the Lumia range in terms of UI and also look very different to all other Android interfaces.

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