By Nicole Arce
Nokia may have sold off its phone business to Microsoft, but the former leading smartphone maker in the world is not about to give up its hold on mobile phones.
At the company’s conference call with shareholders last week. Nokia chief financial officer Timo Ihamuotila stressed the value of the Nokia brand, which is widely considered one of the most recognizable mobile phone brands especially in emerging markets. Ihamuotila said the company is very pleased that it was able to negotiate the use of the Nokia brand in its own products.
“We will, of course, carefully assess what would be the best way for us to maximize the value of the Nokia brand, also taking into account that we’re in the lock-up period still in the Microsoft transaction regarding our possibility to use the brand and we have recognized that Nokia brand is the most valuable from recognition perspective in the area of mobile phones and mobile devices,” he said.
Ihamuotila’s remarks about the Nokia brand is raising speculations that the Finland-based technology company is mulling over going back into the business of making mobile phones once its agreement with Microsoft permits it to do so. Earlier this year, Microsoft completed the acquisition of Nokia’s Devices and Services business along with various other Nokia assets, including the Lumia and Asha brand names.
Under the deal, Microsoft also acquired the Nokia name and has licensed it exclusively for its own use for a limited time period. This means Nokia cannot use the brand name for its own phones until Dec. 31, 2015, after which the Finnish company will no longer have any legal barriers from releasing a Nokia-named smartphone. However, the terms of the agreement still allow Microsoft to create Nokia-branded phones until 10 years after the deal is struck.
Additionally, Nokia still faces the challenge of creating a new team dedicated to its new smartphones, since Microsoft also acquired Nokia’s entire staff for its phone division when it acquired the business in September. In order to compete with the giants of the smartphone industry Apple and Samsung, Nokia needs to dedicate considerable resources into developing a new phone business from scratch. Given the right time and funding, however, it’s not surprising if Nokia can rise from its own ashes and unveil a new smartphone in 2016.
In fact, the once premiere mobile phone maker itself has shown that it is still interested in mobile, having released HERE Maps for Android in public beta. HERE is a competent new alternative to Google Maps, which distinguishes itself by allowing users to download entire maps to save on data charges when they are traveling abroad. The release of the new maps app shows Nokia’s continuing competence in the mobile software industry and hints at the company’s choice of platform, should it decide to release new smartphones again.