Although Microsoft is removing the Nokia name from its upcoming Lumia smartphones, the brand will live on. Nokia is now planning to license its brand, allowing third-party manufacturers to create products and devices that use the Nokia moniker. It's a similar approach to how Polaroid licenses its own brand to let third parties create TVs, cameras, and other electronics.
Speaking at Nokia’s capital markets day last week, Ramzi Haidamus, president of Nokia technologies, outlined the company’s plan to leverage its brand now that Microsoft has acquired its phone business. Nokia is restricted on using its brand on smartphones until the end of 2016 and feature phones for another 10 years thanks to a deal with Microsoft, but it can use it elsewhere freely. "It is our goal to start licensing our brand in areas other than these two restricted areas, starting this quarter actually," says Haidamus. Nokia will use the brand "in the areas that we can and the areas where the brand is relevant."
"It will look and feel just like Nokia built it."
Nokia is now looking to incubate new products and technologies to license them out to third parties. Discussing future products with the Nokia brand, Haidamus notes that a product from a third-party "will look and feel just like Nokia built it." Nokia has a rapid prototyping team that will build concept products and demonstrate them to customers with an aim to license the technologies involved. "We will consider taking those products directly to the consumer," admits Haidamus, leaving open the option of future hardware from Nokia.
While Nokia isn’t planning to return to handsets itself, it’s possible that the company will license its name to a smartphone manufacturer after Q4, 2016. "We're not looking at a direct consumer entry in handsets per se," says Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri. "So brand licensing is the operative word." Nokia still has many designers and software engineers that can help guide third-party companies on how best to use the Nokia name.
"We have a very valuable brand," says Haidamus. "Yes it is diminishing in value, and that’s why it is important that we reverse that trend very quickly, imminently." The speed at which the Nokia brand is found elsewhere might be determined this week. Nokia’s product business head, Sebastian Nystrom, is presenting a "what’s next for Nokia" session at Finland’s Slush conference tomorrow. Nystrom has a history of mobile phone development, including helping lead the company’s Meego efforts back in 2010. If Nokia is planning to launch a new product soon then it would explain Microsoft's recent move to switch its Nokia social media accounts over to Lumia, and Nokia's hints about this week's future-looking announcements.