If you had any doubt that Nokia wants to return to the phone business in 2016, allow CEO Rajeev Suri to extinguish them for you. "We will look for suitable partners," Suri told the German language Manager Magazin.
The company could still back off from its hopes and dreams, but it sure looks like Nokia's phones will rise from the ashes in 2016. As previously reported, Nokia wouldn't try to rebuild the devices and service business it sold to Microsoft. "Microsoft manufactures mobile phones. We would only design them and license the brand name," Suri explained. Instead, third-party manufacturers would pay for the rights to make Nokia-designed phones and sell them under the Nokia name.
Rumblings about this plan have been going on for some time. In late 2014, Nokia Technologies President Ramzi Haidamus said there was value in designing and licensing handsets. Then, in April, Re/code reported that Nokia was already pushing ahead with the plan and even going so far as to start designing products for next year.
Nokia cannot enter the phone market until 2016, a stipulation that was part of the agreement with Microsoft.
Why this matters: Before its rapid demise, Nokia was the largest handset maker in the world. Like other once-dominant companies including BlackBerry and Palm, Nokia failed to adjust to the post-iPhone reality. When it finally did change course, the company made a bad bet by exclusively producing Windows Phones. Nevertheless, Nokia was always hailed for its quality designs. The licensing plan gives Nokia a chance to play to its strengths. Even though the bulk of that design talent is no longer under Nokia's umbrella, Nokia Technologies, the division that would work on new smartphones, is supposedly working on some great new ideas.
More smartphone demise
While Nokia is planning a comeback as a handset designer, it also appears to be firmly closing the door on creating its own platform again. In April, when Nokia announced it wanted to acquire Alcatel-Lucent for $16.5 billion, it also said it may sell off its Here mapping business.
A solid map platform such as Here would be a key part of any smartphone platform, which requires features such as location support for third-party apps and built-in navigation. In early May, reports said Uber was looking at Here, but the latest scuttlebutt says Nokia would prefer to accept a bid from an alliance between three German car makers including Audi, BMW, and Daimler.
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