Nokia, the once reigning king of the mobile industry, has announced plans to re-enter the smartphone market. CNET has reported that Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri (above) made the announcement during a press event at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. "There's no timeline, there's no rush. It could happen in 2016, it could happen later."
Nokia was once the biggest-selling mobile phone manufacturer, a title they held from 1998 to 2011 until the company was unable to adequately respond to the pressure of both the iPhone and the Android operating system. That lead to the company partnering with Microsoft to solely produce Windows Phone devices, leaving its in-house Symbian OS behind. That partnership lasted until 2014 when Microsoft purchased Nokia’s mobile division for just over $7 billion.
As per the agreement between the two companies, Nokia was barred from making smartphones for a while. “The soonest that could happen is Q4 2016,” the company stated last Summer. “So it’s safe to say Nokia won’t be back (at least in phone form...) before then.”
In the meantime, Nokia has been busy with other things: restructuring its business, selling off its HERE mapping division, acquiring network equipment manufacturer Alcatel-Lucent, and working on advancements with 5G technology. The company has even released a few devices in the form of the N1 Android tablet and the OZO virtual reality camera (pictured above). While there was previously talk of Nokia re-entering the smartphone business, the topic was always somewhat of a touchy one.
Rajeev Suri’s statements at MWC confirm that the company does, in fact, want to get back into the game. In order to do that, they need to find a partner to work with to build these devices while Nokia controls the design aspects, similar to how the N1 was developed with Foxconn. “We want to be in a position to design the devices in question with appropriate control measures in case they don't meet expectations.”
While Nokia says that they’re not in a rush to sell phones again, they’re likely using this time to figure out a good strategy for the company in such a fast-moving market, but don't hold your breath for a smartphone launch later this year.