Nokia CEO Seeks Partners For Smartphone Return In 2016

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Rajeev Suri tells German magazine Nokia wants to design and licence smartphones with third parties, but won’t return to manufacturing

Nokia has given the strongest indication yet that it will return to the mobile phone market once it is legally able to do so next year.

The iconic Finnish manufacturer has been unable to lend its name to any smartphone until late next year, and to any feature phone for another 10 years, as part of the £4.6 billion deal that saw Microsoft purchase its devices and services unit in 2013.

Nokia phone return

Nokia Lumia 930 MainThe company had previously explicitly ruled out a return to direct manufacturing, but with Microsoft preferring to use the ‘Lumia’ brand for its smartphones, Nokia has actively been exploring the possibility of designing new smart devices and licensing them, along with its brand, to third party manufacturers.

This would replicate the model used for the production of the Nokia N1 tablet, which was made by Chinese firm Foxconn.

“We will look for suitable partners,” Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri reportedly told German publication Manager Magazin. “Microsoft makes mobile phones. We would simply design them and then make the brand name available to license.”

A return to the industry in which it made its name would be curious given Nokia’s recent expansion of its core networking business, one of the three units it retained following the Microsoft deal. It has agreed an £11.2 billion deal to acquire French rival Alcatel-Lucent and is lining up suitors for its HERE Maps business.

Earlier this week, Stephen Elop, former Nokia CEO and the man who engineered the firm’s move to Windows Phone and the eventual sale of its mobile phone division, was leaving Microsoft.

TechWeekEurope has reached out to Nokia for confirmation of its plans, but had not received a reply at the time of publication.

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