Nokia finally speaks out on potential return to handsets

Following intensified speculation about its return to the mobile handset business, Nokia has finally offered formal comment on the likelihood of that happening.

In a public statement Robert Morlino of Nokia Technologies, which is the IP licensing arm of the current Nokia, said “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.”

So at best Nokia would have some kind of background consulting role, while all the hard work would be done by someone else, maybe a Chinese manufacturer desperate for differentiation. However Morlino also noted that part of the Microsoft deal was a commitment for the remainder of Nokia to stay out of handsets until Q4 2016, so even this limited prospect is distant.

The demise of Nokia Device has been a protracted affair, finally drawing to a close when Microsoft wrote off its acquisition entirely last week. Almost from the moment Nokia got into bed with Microsoft and shifted to Windows Phone as its main smartphone platform the search for the old Nokia – i.e. the one that dominated the handset market for years – was underway.

It’s generally acknowledged that Nokia set new standards when it came to handset hardware, but with the advent of the modern smartphone era phones became much more about software and internet access, resulting in hardware innovation peaking at the touchscreen rectangle paradigm it looks set to remain at for the foreseeable future.

Now that the Nokiasoft era is over, what remains to be seen is how much vestigial equity is left in the Nokia handset brand. While it probably wouldn’t have made a decisive difference Microsoft might have done a bit better if it hadn’t binned the Nokia brand as soon as it got the chance. A year and a half is a long time in mobile, however, and it’s hard to imagine the market being swept up by the resurrection of the Nokia handset brand in 2017.

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