Nokia is plotting a return to making Android phones in 2016. A re/code report says the company is just waiting out the end of its contract with Microsoft, which bars it from making any new hardware until next year.
The driver of this is Nokia Technologies, which is one of three businesses that didn’t join Microsoft when it acquired the Nokia devices business for about $7 billion. It hasn’t been dormant since then, creating the Z Launcher and an Android tablet design called the N1.
This indicates the model that Nokia may use going forward - instead of rebuilding its manufacturing and distribution base, which it sold to Microsoft, it would design and license products and then farm out manufacturing to other companies.
There’s a lot of mystery as to what we may actually see next year, if anything at all, but Nokia has a good track record when it comes to phone design. The rumors indicate that, if nothing else, Nokia is mulling how to stay relevant and make a splash next year.
The story behind the story: Nokia was once a titan of the mobile phone industry, especially in Europe where practically everyone had one of their phones. But as the iPhone and Android took over, it was slow to move away from Symbian OS. The embrace of Windows Phone didn’t help much either, though it showed it could still build appealing hardware. Newer Lumia phones that run Windows are still coming, but those are now under Microsoft’s supervision.