Monday, November 3, 2014

Nokia Lumia to become Microsoft Lumia.. is this the end of Nokia?

A few months ago we commented on Microsoft's takeover of Nokia and the paring down of the Nokia product line to leave basically just Windows devices and not much more. The next step in this process has now been announced, with Microsoft confirming that the Nokia brand will vanish from Lumia handsets and they will be branded Microsoft instead.

If you own a recent-ish Lumia, you may have noticed that there's hardly any mention of Nokia at all these days when it comes to the software, and it is really only the label on the outside of the phone that makes it obviously a Nokia. It's pretty clear that there's not much that needs to be done to make the transition complete.

Microsoft will continue to licence the Nokia name for low-end devices such as the Nokia 130, but it seems unlikely that this will be a market that Microsoft will really pay much attention to. So, for all intents and purposes.. Nokia is dead.

Well, dead in a way. Nokia itself still exists as a technology company, and the Lumia range will continue with the anticipated launch of the Lumia 1030 rumoured to be very soon. But the Nokia that everyone knows.. the Nokia that has probably sold at least one handset to most people who have owned a mobile phone.. will be gone.

That is a monumental change in the industry. Even a few years ago it seemed that Nokia was unassailable, and the idea that the handset division would end up in the hands of arch-rival Microsoft would be ridiculous. It isn't the only fallen giant this week either, Lenovo finally acquired the asset-stripped corpse of Motorola this week, and of course over the years we've seen key players vanish such as Palm, Ericsson, Siemens, Sagem.. but Nokia is the biggest to go down so far.

What Nokia will do next is an interesting question. Nokia's long history actually starts with forestry, paper, rubber, tyres, cables and then onto electronics and eventually mobile phones and other high-tech industries. Nokia's list of acquisitions and divestments over recent years is rather lengthy, and you can see that this is a company that continually evolves and reshapes itself.

But there is one intriguing possibility.. that Nokia could re-enter the handset market in its own right. Of course, this is limited by whatever the largely secret non-compete agreement is between Nokia and Microsoft, but some of the rumours say that Nokia would be free to enter the market again in some form in 2016.

We suspect that some of these rumours are simply wishful thinking. Nokia quit the mass-market mobile phone business for good reasons, but it could well have some interesting developments under way in new markets, perhaps in wearables for example. But we will have to wait and see what Nokia does next.. that is a secret that perhaps not even Nokia yet knows.

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