Nokia Confirms Comeback as Smartphone and Tablet Brand, But There's a Twist

On May 18, 2016 - 12:05 PM, Helsinki Time or May 19, 2016 - 4:05 AM, Manila Time, the legendary Finnish tech titan Nokia officially confirmed its return to the mobile devices industry via a strategic agreement covering branding rights and intellectual property licensing with HMD Global Oy (HMD), a newly founded company based in Finland.

"Today marks the beginning of an exciting new chapter for the Nokia brand in an industry where Nokia remains a truly iconic name. Instead of Nokia returning to manufacturing mobile phones itself, HMD plans to produce mobile phones and tablets that can leverage and grow the value of the Nokia brand in global markets.," shared Mr. Ramzi Haidamus, President of Nokia Technologies. (source)

Nokia Comeback 2016

While Nokia will provide HMD with branding rights and valuable patent licenses in exchange for royalty payments, the former #1 handset maker in the world will work with FIH Mobile Limited (FIH), a subsidiary of Foxconn Technology Group as well as the remainder of Microsoft's feature phone business assets for the manufacturing, sales and distribution of upcoming Nokia-branded mobile devices.

According to Mr. Vincent Tong, Chairman of FIH: "We are looking forward to fostering a strong and long-term collaboration with HMD global and Nokia. We are impressed by the experience and expertise of the HMD management team and are committed to supporting them with our manufacturing, technology and supply chain capabilities, to capture market opportunities together in the future."

So as I see it, unlike its business model during its heydays in the late 1990's to early 2000's, Nokia - moving forward - will no longer be crafting and assembling its own handsets and slates but will simply collect royalties from HMD after giving its name and licensing its patents to devices that it will help conceptualize and development with FIH. Nonetheless, the Finnish Giant reassures consumers that new Nokia-branded mobile devices 'will exemplify what consumers have come to expect from all Nokia devices, including quality, design, and innovation'.

Additionally, Nokia has confirmed that its future smartphones and tablets will run Android operating system, 'uniting one of the world’s iconic mobile brands [...] with the leading mobile operating system and app development community.' (source)

As of writing, Nokia Technologies has yet to give an exact date for the formal launch of fresh gadgets developed under these new partnerships. The company simply noted that 'there is still much work for them to do so we'll need to wait a bit longer to see what the next wave of Nokia phones and tablets look like.'

In Q4 2016, the clause in the Microsoft acquisition contract preventing Nokia from releasing smartphones without the Redmond Giant's supervision and approval will finally expire. The contract, which achieved fruition starting in April 2012 with the release of Nokia Lumia 800, failed to make Microsoft's Windows Phone OS a strong mobile platform competitor to Apple's iOS and Google's Android operating systems in terms of commercial success and size of app market.