At the beginning of the week, reports suggested Nokia was planning a return to the smartphone business. Today, the Finnish company has issued a statement denying it has plans to manufacture or sell consumer handsets:
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.
We didn’t cover the initial rumors, though we did discuss why they were difficult to believe: Nokia has lost many engineers and designers to Microsoft and other firms, it has no smartphone operating system of its own to work with, and as goes for any new entrant into the smartphone market, it’s worth remembering the competition is particularly fierce in the space.
Furthermore, while the Nokia brand name is valuable, the company is barred from licensing it to third parties until the second half of 2016. Those limitations are part of the terms Nokia agreed to when it sold its mobile division to Microsoft.
Nokia also just bought Alcatel-Lucent for $16.6 billion, suddenly turning itself into a European tech giant. Furthermore, the company may be planning to spin off or sell its Here mapping service. In other words, Nokia has its hands full trying to figure out where to take its business next, and it’s not just sitting around contemplating — it is very much taking action.
All of this said, we have to point out that Nokia’s statement above is carefully worded, just like any tech company would do. It doesn’t mention anything about licensing the brand so that others can manufacture and sell Nokia phones.
Most importantly, it uses the words no plans and currently. Nokia’s plans could change tomorrow.