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Following a series of rumors and refuting statements back in April, it turns out that Nokia will indeed end up designing smartphones again, according to CEO Rajeev Suri. Although exactly who the company will partner up with to manufacture its designs still remains to be seen.

Speaking in a recent interview, Suri stated that Nokia is looking for suitable partners and that the company would simply design a phone and then make the brand name and design available to others through a licensing scheme. This means that Nokia will be the brains behind its future branded smartphone(s), but it will be a third party manufacturer who ends up building and distributing the end product. This is basically what the company did when it launched the N1 Tablet back in November of last year, which was manufactured by Foxconn.

Although no operating systems were mentioned by name, we can probably safely assume that Nokia, and whoever its future hardware partners, would likely opt to use Google’s open-source, license free Android platform. As was the case with the Nokia N1.

Microsoft makes mobile phones. We would simply design them and then make the brand name available to license … Anybody who can improve the business in the long run is a good buyer.” – Nokia CEO, Rajeev Suri

The reason for the seemingly round-about root for releasing new products is partly due to the company’s contract with Microsoft. Nokia is prohibited from selling phones under its own name until the end of the year and from licensing out its brand for use with phones until Q3 2016. So although this recent news means that Nokia will be back in the picture, it likely won’t be until late next year at the very earliest. Speaking of Microsoft, several analysts expect that the company will write off all or part of the $7.2 billion that it paid for Nokia’s handset unit.

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The Nokia N1 tablet.

Despite being temporarily locked out the consumer hardware market, Nokia has continued to do business in the broader telecommunications industry. In April, Nokia acquired Alcatel-Lucent to expand its important network equipment business and the company has been closing patent deals with a number of major players in the smartphone industry.

It will be a difficult climb back into the heart of the smartphone market for Nokia, but a licensing model could end up being the smartest way to get its brand back on the shelves in a relatively short space of time. Are you hopeful about a future Nokia smartphone? What would be on your wish list?

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