Back to the future: Nokia prepares for mobile comeback

Mon Aug 10, 2015 2:05am EDT
 
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By Eric Auchard, Jussi Rosendahl and Leila Abboud

FRANKFURT/HELSINKI (Reuters) - Nokia NOK1V.HE is hiring software experts, testing new products and seeking sales partners as it plots its return to the mobile phone and consumer tech arena it abandoned with the sale of its handset business.

Once the world's biggest maker of mobile phones, the Finnish firm was wrongfooted by the rise of smartphones and eclipsed by Apple AAPL.O and Samsung 005930.KS. It sold its handset business to Microsoft MSFT.O in late 2013 and has since focused squarely on making telecoms network equipment.

Now Nokia boss Rajeev Suri is planning a comeback. He must wait until late 2016 before he can consider re-entering the handset business - after a non-compete deal with Microsoft expires - but preparations are underway.

The company has already dipped its toe into the consumer market; it has launched an Android tablet, the N1, which went on sale in January in China and days ago unveiled a "virtual-reality camera" - heralding it as the "rebirth of Nokia".

It has also launched an Android app called Z Launcher, which organizes content on smartphones.

Meanwhile its technologies division has advertised on LinkedIn dozens of jobs in California, many in product development, including Android engineers specializing in the operating software Nokia mobile devices will use.

Nokia had also planned to lay off about 70 people at the division, according to a May announcement, but a company source told Reuters that the figure had since been halved.

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The Nokia headquarters is seen in Espoo, Finland, July 28, 2015. REUTERS/Mikko Stig/Lethikuva