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Of Course Microsoft Is Rebranding Its Nokia Phones

It makes business sense; Microsoft's deal with Nokia only allowed it to use that brand during an 18-month transition period.


Microsoft is indeed planning to phase out the Nokia brand in its smartphone business.

That it is doing so, though, shouldn’t come as any sort of surprise.

First, Microsoft is trying to position itself and Windows as a player in mobile, not preserve the Finnish phone brand.

Second, and perhaps more importantly, Nokia remains an independent company and Microsoft was only licensed to use the Nokia name on Lumia smartphones for a transitionary period. (Under the deal, Microsoft can use “Nokia” on feature phones for 10 years, but the brand is licensed for smartphones only for 18 months after the deal’s close.)

Nokia itself can eventually start using its brand on mobile devices should it so choose, but not until 2016. Currently, Nokia is focused elsewhere, with three main businesses: Its NSN network equipment business, its Here mapping unit and its patent licensing operation. It does maintain an “advanced technologies” office that could some day crank out new phones under the Nokia moniker.

By contrast, Microsoft owns the Lumia brand free and clear, having acquired full rights to that name as part of the Nokia deal.

The bigger deal is how Microsoft plans to sell more Windows Phones of any brand. The company has not been able to make much of a dent in the iOS/Android duopoly since acquiring control of the hardware unit, though it has managed to add a number of other Windows Phone hardware makers after dropping its license fees to zero and easing other hardware requirements.

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