Nokia phones may rise again, but most likely Nokia won't be making them

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Nokia says it won’t be making phones any time soon, though it’s possible it will still be getting back into the phone business by more indirect means. On Sunday, Nokia issued a forceful statement denying recent reports that it would soon begin manufacturing smartphones out of a research and development 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,” the statement said.

Nokia cannot re-enter the smartphone market until 2016 as part of the agreement with Microsoft. The Finland-based company sold its devices and services business to Microsoft in 2013.

The impact on you at home: Don’t despair, Nokia fans. Before we ring in 2017 (or shortly thereafter) there’s still a chance you’ll be holding a Nokia-branded phone in your hands. It just won’t be made by Nokia. Instead, the company has stated it could design handsets and then license the right to produce them under the Nokia name to third-party companies. 

Two stories, one plan

The problem with Nokia’s denial is that there are actually two stories in circulation about the company’s  return to the smartphone business. Last Monday, Re/code reported that Nokia planned to design smartphones and then license those designs to other companies, who would then produce the actual handsets under the Nokia name.

More recently, media reports from China said Nokia would start producing Android-based smartphones from a new R&D center in that country.

It’s that second round of reports in the Chinese media that Nokia’s denial is aimed at.

The idea of smartphone design licensing, however, is never addressed in the denial, and for good reason. In November, Nokia Technologies president Ramzi Haidamus gave a public presentation where he said the company saw value in designing and licensing handsets.

So you may have another Nokia phone yet, it just won’t be the Nokia phone you’re used to.

Correction: This article was corrected to clarify that any plans for Nokia to return to the phone business remain unconfirmed.

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