Speculating about the future of Nokia’s phone business has become a favorite pastime for the tech media these days, it seems. Ever since Nokia were virtually forced to sell their phone manufacturing business to Microsoft, there have been rumors on and off about them getting back into the business at some point in time. Last week, there was a report from Re/code quoting ‘two senior Nokia executives’ that Nokia has concrete plans to get back to smartphones once the obligatory Microsoft-imposed embargo on using the Nokia brand is lifted in 2016. Till then, Nokia is contractually obligated not to use their brand on any phones. Then just the other day, there were reports in the Chinese media that quoted the head of Nokia’s network equipment business in China, saying that Nokia is planning to get back to the smartphone business once again.
These reports, coming as they did within a span of just a few days, got so much attention, that today, the Finnish company deemed it fit to issue a statement just to deny those reports. The official statement on the company website said “Nokia notes recent news reports claiming the company communicated an intention to manufacture consumer handsets out of a R&D facility in China. These reports are false, and include comments incorrectly attributed to a Nokia Networks executive. Nokia reiterates it currently has no plans to manufacture or sell consumer handsets.”
The fact however, is that these rumors of Nokia coming back to the handset industry are just refusing to die. Whether there are any merits to these reports or these are just wishful thinking on the part of people who grew up with Nokia handsets and would love to see them back in business, is hard to say. Nokia had already taken their first tentative steps towards coming back to the consumer electronics business, by launching a Nokia branded Android tablet in China, dubbed the Nokia N1. While they did not manufacture the device, it still gives us an understanding that they’re not completely giving up the ghost on making a comeback – either through manufacturing, like they’ve always done, or through brand licensing, like they did with the tablet, which was manufactured by Foxconn – the same company that is responsible for Apple’s iPhone.