Nokia Brand Comes Back From The Dead

by Duncan MacRae

A year and a half after Microsoft seemingly killed off the Nokia brand for good, it looks like Nokia-branded mobile devices are about to return to the global consumer market.

Microsoft confirmed the sale of the Nokia brand to newly founded HMD global Oy (HMD), which has been set up specifically to provide a focused, independent home for a full range of Nokia-branded mobile phones and tablets.

HMD has signed a licensing deal with Nokia Technologies, the advanced technology and licensing unit of Nokia Corporation, giving HMD sole use of the Nokia brand on mobile phones and tablets worldwide for the next decade, and cellular standard essential patent licenses.

Grow global brand reach

HMD plans to leverage and grow Nokia’s global brand reach, delivering “beautifully designed, high quality products to people all over the world in line with Nokia’s brand promise”. HMD intends to spend around £344m over the next three years to support the global marketing of Nokia-branded mobile phones and tablets, funded via its investors and profits from the acquired feature phone business.

To complete its portfolio of Nokia branding rights, HMD has conditionally agreed to acquire from Microsoft the rights to use the ‘Nokia’ trademark on feature phones until 2024, and design rights relating to Microsoft’s Feature Phone Business. This deal is expected to be finalised in the second half of this year. Together, these agreements will make HMD the sole global licensee for all types of Nokia-branded mobile phones and tablets.

Ramzi Haidamus, president of Nokia Technologies, said the deal marks the beginning of an exciting new chapter for the Nokia brand in an industry where Nokia remains a truly iconic name.

He added: “Instead of Nokia returning to manufacturing mobile phones itself, HMD plans to produce mobile phones and tablets that can leverage and grow the value of the Nokia brand in global markets. Working with HMD and FIH will let us participate in one of the largest consumer electronics markets in the world while staying true to our licensing business model.”

Arto Nummela, CEO of HMD global, said: “We will be completely focused on creating a unified range of Nokia-branded mobile phones and tablets, which we know will resonate with consumers. Branding has become a critical differentiator in mobile phones, which is why our business model is centred on the unique asset of the Nokia brand, and our extensive experience in sales and marketing. We will work with world class manufacturing and distribution providers to move quickly and deliver what customers want.”

Microsoft acquired Nokia’s mobile phones business in November 2014 for £4.2bn but in July 2015 wrote off the majority of the investment as Microsoft dropped out of that market, with the Nokia brand being left unused.