Nokia used to be the world’s top phone-maker. Now the company wants to reclaim some of its faded glory.
Nokia ([“NOK”) CEO Rajeev Suri recently told the German business monthly Manager Magazin that the company plans to design mobile phones once again. Next year, mobile phone manufacturers will be able to license the brand.
“We will look for suitable partners,” Suri told the magazine.
The Finnish company had previously been barred from re-entering the market. In 2013, when Microsoft (MSFT) agreed to buy its phone business for more than $7 billion, it stipulated that Nokia would have to stay out until 2016. The tech giant — which hoped compete with rivals such as Apple and its iPhone, and Samsung and its Galaxy — instead picked up a loss-making business that claimed a measly 3% market share, according to Reuters. Its devices barely made a dent in the consumer world.
Clarifying the business’ reentry, Suri said: “Microsoft makes mobile phones. We would simply design them and then make the brand name available to license.”
Last week Microsoft manager Stephen Elop, who had left to lead Nokia before rejoining to steer Microsoft’s mobile handset business after its acquisition, left again. The move signaled to industry watchers that Microsoft is refocusing from hardware to software.
In fact, Nokia already has a mobile device on the market: the N1 Android tablet, which it makes in partnership with Taiwanese manufacturer Foxconn. Given that relationship, some speculate that Nokia’s new phones could be Android-based and assembled with the help of that company.
Earlier this year, Nokia bought the French-American networking company Alcatel-Lucent for $17 billion to help gain a foothold in the U.S. It is also in the midst of looking to sell HERE, its maps business. Though companies ranging from the car service Uber to German automaker BMW have demonstrated interest in the business, Suri has not tipped his hand as to who may win the deal.
“Anybody who can improve the business in the long run is a good buyer,” he said.