Over the past year, we’ve seen the Nokia brand of Windows Phone fizzle out in terms of new devices due to the fact that Microsoft has now acquired Nokia’s old Devices and Services division, which included the Lumia, Asha, and X series of smartphones. However, despite the fact that anything you see with a “Nokia” name is under Microsoft’s care right now, it won’t be too much longer before Nokia can start using their own name in the smartphone game again. One of the terms in the agreement was for Nokia to still be able to use their name - even on smartphones devices - starting in 2016. They also retained a hefty number of their own patents out of the deal.
Does this mean that Nokia, the company itself, plans to re-enter the smartphone market again someday? Perhaps starting over with a different, more successful platform this time? It’s hard to say at this point, but I know that I’m hoping for Nokia to get another chance at success in the smartphone industry.
Nokia’s deal with Microsoft wasn’t necessarily bad. The fact that they were not only able to walk away with a good number of patents and their name, but also a big chunk of cash, means that they made money and potential plans for a future in smartphones again. Nokia as the most popular brand of Windows Phone devices was great when it came to helping Microsoft’s Windows Phone take off, but it clearly wasn’t all that great for Nokia itself. It was time to let Microsoft take some of Nokia’s struggles off of Nokia’s shoulders and fix the problems themselves. As a result, Nokia would be free to focus more on creating a truly viable smartphone running on Android’s platform, which didn’t work out so well the first few times.
I mean, that’s probably not what Microsoft was wanting Nokia to do as a result of this acquisition, but it seems like something that would be in Nokia’s best interest. For a long time there has been a serious interest in a Nokia phone running on Android. Their Android X line of smartphones were nothing short of mediocre, and when you’re competing in a sea of Android phones (especially given what Motorola’s been bringing to the table lately in terms of “low end” smartphones) you’re going to have to do more than a forked version of Android. Nobody likes those.
Despite those attempts, I feel that Nokia still has a future with Android if they truly wanted to make it work.
Nokia has one thing in the bag already, and that’s brand recognition. If you haven’t heard of Nokia, you’ve probably been living under a rock. Perhaps it’s a harsh statement, but it’s true. Nokia has been a popular brand in mobile - not just smartphones - for years now. It wouldn’t be like some strange unrecognizable (and potentially untrustworthy) brand showing up out of nowhere trying to make a name for themselves. It’s Nokia. You know them, and there’s a pretty good chance you’ve owned one of their products before.
Nokia has also been fairly consistent in how well they’ve built phones over the years. Whether it was a traditional Nokia “brick” phone or even one of the Lumia models of smartphones, Nokia phones are pretty darn tough. Not indestructible by any means, but definitely tough. That could be a big benefit in the current market where trends seem to lean towards extremely thin (and sometimes, dare I say it, bendy) phones.
The last thing Nokia has going for them is that many of their services, at least on Windows Phone devices, were pretty well developed compared to what other manufacturers dabbling in Windows Phone had to offer. If Nokia managed to bring useful features to Android (key word: useful) that could also play out well for them.
When it comes to the rest of what makes an Android device good, though, that’s where Nokia could run into some snags. Nokia is a recognizable brand name, but so is Samsung, HTC, Motorola, LG, Sony, etc. at this point. There’s a lot of competition in the Android market, so Nokia needs more than just brand recognition to succeed. They need to really bring out the stops to grab people’s attention, to create an Android phone that gives people what they need and what they want.
I feel like a Nokia and Android partnership has some massive potential, but past attempts at mixing the two have been futile at best. Hopefully, given Nokia’s close ties with Microsoft now having been cut loose, we can see the true potential of a Nokia branded Android handset.