After years of staying away from the mobile market, Nokia appears to be gearing up to re-enter it, with both smartphones and tablets. As a reminder – the company was to be barred from selling smartphones up until the end of this year, carrying the Nokia name, due to the acquisition deal with Microsoft, which went down in late 2014. Microsoft got exclusive rights to the Lumia brand, and also had rights to brand its feature phones as “Nokia”. The Finnish company did bend the rules a bit and launched a tablet — the Nokia N1
— which it was licensing other manufacturers to build and distribute, but it didn't really become a mindblowing success. One because the tablet market isn't in great shape currently, and secondly – the whole "I license it, you build and sell it" certainly places a lot of constraints in pushing a product reliably to multiple markets.
Well, a complex alliance has been formed between Nokia Technologies and a few partners in order to get the Nokia name, even for feature phones, back in the hands of its Finnish originators. Earlier, we reported about an announced deal
between Microsoft and FIH Mobile Ltd. (a subsidiary of Hon Hai/Foxconn Technology) and HMD Global (a new Finnish company, “led by some of the world’s top mobile specialists"). From this agreement, FIH will get the manufacturing facility and 4,500-man staff that was producing the Nokia-branded feature phones. HMD will get the actual brand.
Nokia has just announced that, yes, this does mean that its name is coming back to smartphones and tablets worldwide. See, apparently, Nokia and HMD are in close partnership, and the former will license its name to the latter for the purpose of distributing Nokia-branded, Android-powered tablets and smartphones around the world. It's an exclusive deal, which bonds the two companies together. Or, in a way, you could say that HMD intends to treat the Nokia name as its mobile division. The fact that they bought the brand for feature phones is a nice bonus that would help them keep the Nokia name throughout possible product lines in the future.
Who are the specialists heading HMD? Interestingly enough, the people who are about to become CEO and President of the company come from Microsoft's own Mobile division. Arto Nummela has worked at Nokia and is currently head of Microsoft’s Mobile Devices business for Greater Asia, Middle East and Africa as well as Microsoft’s global Feature Phones business. He will become CEO at HMD upon closure of the Microsoft deal. Florian Seiche has previously worked at HTC and Nokia, and is currently Senior Vice President for Europe Sales and Marketing at Microsoft Mobile. He will become President at HMD upon closing the Microsoft deal.
So, what now? HMD promises to invest $500 million over the next three years, to support the marketing of Nokia-branded phones and tablets worldwide. The company claims that it is dedicated to deliver beautifully-designed, high-quality products, in lieu with Nokia's mission.
So, one way or another, Nokia is really making a comeback to the mobile scene. Are you excited?