After years spent fading away in a Microsoft-controlled wilderness, Nokia is looking to resurrect its consumer brand via a third party. There will be new phones and tablets, and they’re reportedly coming to Australia. Here’s what we know so far.
The Finnish telecommunications vendor was once the king of the phone industry. It still has strong brand recognition and a brace of nostalgic fans, which helps to explains this fanciful announcement.
“We are proud to announce that the Nokia brand will be returning to the worldwide mobile phone and tablet market,” Nokia explained on its website. “Under a new agreement, Nokia Technologies has granted HMD [the rights] to create a full range of Nokia-branded smartphones, tablets, and feature phones for the next decade.”
In a departure from its brief liaison with Microsoft, the new smartphones and tablets will be based on Android. The exclusive licensing agreement is also global, which means we should see some models make their way to Australia.
During its announcement, Nokia went to pains to assure customers that the next generation of Nokia products would be “innovative”. This seems pretty unlikely. The company that Nokia has been licensed to is a Finnish startup without much capital to work with. It will also have to pay Nokia royalty payments for sales of Nokia-branded mobile products, covering both brand and intellectual property rights.
According to Nokia, HMD intends to invest over US$500 million over the next three years to support global marketing of Nokia-branded mobile phones and tablets. This will be funded via its investors and profits from the acquired feature phone business. Hmmm.
This whole thing reminds us of when beloved computing brands like Amiga and Commodore 64 get “resurrected” as overpriced PCs. Perhaps they’ll be bundled with Symbian emulators? That would actually be kind of cool.
What do you think of Nokia’s announcement? Could this be the beginning of an unlikely comeback or is it destined to be a sad and ignoble footnote to a once-great company? Share your thoughts in the comments.
For those interested, here’s the full release:
Nokia signs strategic brand and intellectual property licensing agreement enabling HMD global to create new generation of Nokia-branded mobile phones and tablets Espoo, Finland – Nokia has announced plans that will see the Nokia brand return to the mobile phone and tablet markets on a global basis. Under a strategic agreement covering branding rights and intellectual property licensing, Nokia Technologies will grant HMD global Oy (HMD), a newly founded company based in Finland, an exclusive global license  to create Nokia-branded mobile phones and tablets for the next ten years. Under the agreement, Nokia Technologies will receive royalty payments from HMD for sales of Nokia-branded mobile products, covering both brand and intellectual property rights. HMD has been founded to provide a focused, independent home for a full range of Nokia-branded feature phones, smartphones and tablets. To complete its portfolio of Nokia branding rights, HMD announced today that it has conditionally agreed to acquire from Microsoft the rights to use the Nokia brand on feature phones, and certain related design rights. The Microsoft transaction is expected to close in H2 2016. Together these agreements would make HMD the sole global licensee for all types of Nokia-branded mobile phones and tablets. HMD intends to invest over USD 500 million over the next three years to support the global marketing of Nokia-branded mobile phones and tablets, funded via its investors and profits from the acquired feature phone business. Nokia-branded feature phones remain one of the most popular choices of mobile phone in many markets around the world today, and HMD will continue to market them as part of an integrated portfolio alongside a new range of smartphones and tablets. HMD’s new smartphone and tablet portfolio will be based on Android, uniting one of the world’s iconic mobile brands with the leading mobile operating system and app development community. As also announced today by FIH Mobile Limited (FIH), a subsidiary of Hon Hai Precision Industries (trading as Foxconn Technology Group), the remainder of Microsoft’s feature phone business assets, including manufacturing, sales and distribution, would be acquired by FIH. HMD and Nokia Technologies have signed an agreement with FIH to establish a collaboration framework to support the building of a global business for Nokia-branded mobile phones and tablets. This agreement will give HMD full operational control of sales, marketing and distribution of Nokia-branded mobile phones and tablets, with exclusive access to the pre-eminent global sales and distribution network to be acquired from Microsoft by FIH, access to FIH’s world-leading device manufacturing, supply chain and engineering capabilities, and to its growing suite of proprietary mobile technologies and components. Nokia will provide HMD with branding rights and cellular standard essential patent licenses in return for royalty payments, but will not be making a financial investment or holding equity in HMD. Nokia Technologies will take a seat on the Board of Directors of HMD and set mandatory brand requirements and performance related provisions to ensure that all Nokia-branded products exemplify consumer expectations of Nokia devices, including quality, design and consumer focused innovation. HMD would be led, once the Microsoft transaction closes, by Arto Nummela as CEO, who previously held senior positions at Nokia and is currently the head of Microsoft’s Mobile Devices business for Greater Asia, Middle East and Africa, as well as Microsoft’s global Feature Phones business. HMD’s president on closing would be Florian Seiche, who is currently Senior Vice President for Europe Sales and Marketing at Microsoft Mobile, and previously held key roles at Nokia, HTC and other global brands.