With Microsoft's epic mishandling of Nokia's mobile business coming to an end today, a new chapter for the storied Finnish brand is about to begin. Nokia has just announced that it will license its brand and intellectual property to a newly created company called HMD global, which will work to produce and sell a portfolio of Android smartphones and tablets.
HMD global is based in Finland and will be led by Arto Nummela, a Nokia veteran who moved to Microsoft when the latter company took over the former's mobile business. The new company has agreed a conditional deal with Microsoft to acquire the rights to use the Nokia name on featurephones along with some related design rights. Nummela will be installed as CEO once that transaction is completed, which is expected to happen by the end of June.
Foxconn's participation in this is also interesting. Its subsidiary FIH Mobile is the company that today picked up the remnants of Nokia's former featurephone business from Microsoft for $350 million. HMD global and FIH already have a collaborative agreement in place "to support the building of a global business for Nokia-branded mobile phones and tablets." The Nokia N1 tablet was built by Foxconn in partnership with Nokia and the new HMD venture, while claiming independence, appears to be a formalization of that budding relationship.
A new Android hardware maker with an old familiar name
Nokia will have a seat on the board of directors at HMD global and it will furthermore "set mandatory brand requirements and performance related provisions." The ideal outcome from today's business machinations will be a new hardware company that has all the design expertise of Nokia and all the manufacturing acumen of Foxconn, via its FIH Mobile subsidiary. And this will all have to be integrated with Nokia's own push into wearable devices in the wake of its acquisition of Withings.
It's kind of convoluted behind the scenes, but for the consumer the upshot is simple: Nokia featurephones are making a comeback alongside a new range of Android smartphones and tablets. Yes, the dream of the perfect Nokia Android phone lives on.