Nokia’s return to mobile is all but inevitable: report


Nokia’s long rumoured return to the business of making mobile phones is close to becoming a reality, according to a new a report from Reuters.

Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri has tasked his company’s 600 person strong Technologies Division with developing new Android-based smartphones, says the publication. To prepare for the relaunch, which at the earliest can occur in 2016 when a non-compete agreement with Microsoft expires, the company is attempting to hire top Silicon Valley talent. According to Reuters, Nokia’s Technologies Division has apparently posted “dozens” of job postings on LinkedIn, many of them soliciting product developers with experience launching Android smartphones to apply.

As the company and its CEO have said in the past, the company plans to do things differently the second time around.

“It says it will not repeat the mistakes of the past of missing technology trends, being saddled with high costs, and reacting too slowly to changing consumer tastes,” says the report, citing unnamed sources. “To blunt such risks, it is seeking partners for ‘brand-licensing’ deals whereby Nokia will design new phones, bearing its brand, but — in exchange for royalties — will then allow other firms to mass-manufacture, market and sell the devices.”

In other words, Nokia plans to strike a similar arrangement to the one it made with Foxconn to bring the N1 tablet to market. Any future Nokia smartphones will bear the Nokia name and be designed by its engineers, but the responsibility (and risk) of manufacturing and bringing the phones to market will fall on third-party OEMs like Foxconn. This is in stark contrast to the Nokia of old, which was once the highest volume producer of mobile phones in the world.

Several analysts, including the ones Reuters interviewed for its piece, question whether this strategy will the company return to its former glory. Companies like ZTE have had limited success licensing their brand to American telcos, as those OEMs themselves have started to manufacture cheap and compelling smartphones.

It may be too little, too late for one of the industry’s early juggernauts.