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Nokia to Start Designing Handsets Again as Soon as Next Year

Back in April, we were wondering if Nokia’s purchase of Alcatel-Lucent could be a sign of Nokia planning on a return to the handset business, but we decided it was pretty unlikely. Here’s a more clear sign of Nokia planning on reentering the handset market, though — Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri saying so.

According to a Reuters report, Suri told a German magazine in an interview that “we would simply design [handsets] and then make the brand name available to license,” indicating that the company would look for partners to manufacture the handsets. As we learned earlier, Nokia’s non-compete agreement with Microsoft and Microsoft’s rights to the Nokia name on handsets both expire at the end of this year, meaning Nokia could return to designing handsets no earlier than 2016. It seems they’ll do just that, and they might even be able to get former executive Stephen Elop back. Elop joined Microsoft after the sale, but is now leaving his position as Microsoft phases out the Nokia name from their devices.

Should you get hopeful for a return to the days of unbreakable Nokia phones, though? Maybe. The old division might be gone, but there’s room for hope — Nokia didn’t sell their patents, opting to give Microsoft extended license to use them as part of the deal. The intellectual property still belongs to Nokia, and now that they’ve used the Microsoft money to get a lot bigger with the Alcatel-Lucent purchase, they might be better positioned to make a run at the handset market than they were before the Microsoft sale. Savvy moves.