Nokia has officially confirmed that it will move back into the hardware market when it finds the most suitable partner.
A note on the company's website said that Nokia will commence such work only when a binding agreement with Microsoft ends and when a new relationship is made.
Robert Morlino, a spokesman for Nokia Technologies, said that the return will be "complicated" but worth it.
"For 14 years Nokia was the biggest cell phone maker in the world, and the brand became a household name that evoked quality, innovation and human connection. The brand is still recognised that way by millions of people around the world," he said.
"It's not surprising that today, the question comes up all the time: will Nokia return to mobile devices? The answer is: it's complicated."
"Nokia reaffirms it currently has no plans to manufacture or sell consumer handsets" but does not rule it out... https://t.co/Z7UFliaS0M— Ben Wood (@benwood) July 13, 2015
Morlino explained that the sale of the devices business to Microsoft stripped Nokia of the capabilities that it would need to compete in the market as a sole player.
He said that a return to the market could be enabled through a tie-up with a partner that has the resources to replace the manufacturing. marketing and distribution capabilities that were lost to Microsoft.
"The right path back to mobile phones for Nokia is through a brand/licensing model. That means identifying a partner that can be responsible for all of the manufacturing, sales, marketing and customer support for a product," he said.
"We will look for the right partner who can take on the heavy lifting and work closely with us to deliver a great product. As we agreed with Microsoft, the soonest that could happen is Q4 2016, so it's safe to say Nokia won't be back (at least in phone form) before then."
Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri said in an interview in June that Nokia was considering returning to the mobile market.
Suri was speaking to Manager Magazin, reports Reuters, when he revealed the intentions. He told the paper that the firm would look to find partners for which it would design and build hardware.
"We will look for suitable partners," said Suri. "Microsoft makes mobile phones. We would simply design them and then make the brand name available to licence."
Nokia only recently denied that it intended to return to the market, and was pushed into making that very clear after an insider spoke out of turn about investment in a Chinese manufacturing facility.
"Nokia notes recent news reports claiming that the company communicated an intention to manufacture consumer handsets out of a R&D facility in China," the firm said in a statement.
"These reports are false, and include comments incorrectly attributed to a Nokia Networks executive. Nokia reiterates that it currently has no plans to manufacture or sell consumer handsets."
Nokia sold the manufacturing business to Microsoft in 2014 for £4.6bn, and signed a deal that kept it from direct competition for two years. That period will expire next year.
Good Technology's Mobility Index Report Q1 2015 in May gave Microsoft just one percent of the enterprise mobile device activation market. Apple, which has iOS devices out there, accounts for over 70 percent.
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