Nokia: Our new Android phones are on track for 2017 release

Nokia's return to the smartphone market will happen in 2017, the company has now confirmed to investors.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Nokia has officially confirmed that its smartphone comeback is happening in 2017.

Image: Nokia Technologies

Never again will a phone be made in a Nokia factory, but the company has assured investors that Nokia-branded phones will be hitting the market in 2017.

The forthcoming devices from Finnish firm HMD get a brief mention in slides presented by Nokia Technologies execs at the firm's capital markets day.

The page outlines Nokia Technologies' two-year outlook. Nokia Technologies is the group responsible for licensing the Nokia brand, as well as the mobile technology and patents that it developed since the 1980s.

"Nokia brand's return to smartphones," the unit says of its 2017 plan. As it highlights elsewhere in the document, the new Nokia-branded phones are part of Nokia's brand licensing model, where Nokia plays an oversight role over brands and patents, while Foxconn handles R&D and manufacturing.

HMD, which has a 10-year license to use the Nokia brand for phones, is responsible for developing, marketing, and selling Nokia-branded phones and accessories. HMD has committed to spending at least €500m on marketing over three years.

HMD may begin selling as many as three Android-powered Nokia phones next year, with a product launch expected to occur before the end of this year.

Big profits are hard to find for Android handset makers, but Nokia sees itself tapping into a brand licensing smartphone market that was worth €300bn in 2016.

Nokia also continues to look for ways to exploit its huge patent portfolio, which, thanks to Alcatel Lucent, has expanded to 31,100 families across connectivity, services and applications, fixed and optical networks, and hardware.

Nearly 10,000 patent families come from Nokia Technologies, while 3,700 are from Nokia Networks, and 17,500 are from Alcatel Lucent and Nokia Bell Labs.

The company told investors that at the end of 2016, it will have an annual run rate from licensing its patents and brands of €800m ($851m). That figure is based on just 30 percent of its patents having been licensed to firms that include Apple, Qualcomm, and Samsung.

It believes that the remaining 70 percent of patents could be used to extract revenues from the €300bn ($320bn) smartphone market where it no longer directly operates.

However that run rate is markedly less than the €950m ($1.01bn) it said it would have by the end of the year when announcing an expanded licensing deal with Samsung in July.

Besides smartphones, Nokia is expecting to license its patents to the automotive and consumer electronics segments next year.

The company is also eyeing a stake in the virtual-reality and health markets via its respective acquisition of Withings and its OZO VR camera launch earlier this year.

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