In 2014 Microsoft finalised the takeover of Nokia’s handset business, absorbing the entire mobile division, eventually disassembling it to fit better into Microsoft’s structure and slapping what remains of Nokia with a no-compete clause that ends in 2016. Nokia is left without their manufacturing arm, without Symbian or Meego or any of the other OS projects they were toying with and they’re a name brand only in the mobile market. At the Mobile World Conference held in Barcelona, Spain, the company outlined their future and how they were now going to find their feet.
In the keynote address for Nokia’s short conference at the trade show, CEO Rajeev Suri went over some of the details of what the company has been doing behind the scenes to restructure itself. Suri said that they would be focusing on the creation and enhancement of new technologies like H.265 decoders for mobile and the creation of graphene circuits, one of the possible replacements we have on the table now to replace the use of silicon in computers.
Like many other mobile companies, Nokia is now looking to the Internet of Things, a largely untapped market that will soon have big-name brands like Samsung and Apple gunning for market share. Nokia makes a lot of things that are unrelated to the phone market and this is a natural progression for them.
In addition to the creation of hardware to accerlate H.265 playback in mobile and embedded devices, Nokia is also looking to further their work in the LTE-M standard, which will bring many savings in battery life and heat output. LTE-M is particularly important for the embedded market because the high speeds will enable things like home automation to be remotely controlled over the internet. With some of the applications being remote CCTV monitoring, you’ll need all the bandwidth you can get to make the service work smoothly.
Although this will affect mobile devices with LTE chips in them some time in the future, right now it’ll be a benefit to Nokia’s wireless networking business, where they sell turn-key base station hardware for GSM, 3G and LTE network providers.
If companies didn’t already know and understand too many things about you already from data mining, Nokia will help them make even more sense of the weird Google searches you sometimes do at night. The company will work on launching a platform called “Predictive Marketing” which will help companies analyse big data sets to help make sense of things and determine what new products to focus on and how to advertise things to people better.
Finally, in a Q&A session with the press, Suri admitted that the latest Nokia N1 tablet, the company’s first device running Android created without input from Microsoft, is an experiment to see if licensing the Nokia brand to other device manufacturers was a viable idea. Nokia’s main strength with the public is the brand name – many Lumia devices sold well in European markets because of the strong band of Nokia fans across the EU (which was also the reason why Microsoft bought Nokia in the first place).
Suri says that the N1 will be their first test in making and maintaining and Android device and they will explore other options for hardware in the future. My guess is that Nokia will look closer at shipping rebranded products with Android on them bearing Nokia’s brand and device-specific customisations. The N1 tablet is made and co-designed by Foxconn, so we can expect more devices of a similar nature in the near future, at least until Nokia’s no-compete clause in the mobile handset market is up.