The announcement that Microsoft is buying out Nokia's phone division has led to plenty of questions as to how it'll affect existing Nokia owners going forward, and how the company's lineup will evolve under new ownership.
Nokia has moved to address the questions in a long Q&A with marketing head Tuula Rytilä. Read on for the answers – or at least some of them, anyway.
First off, and probably most importantly, Microsoft has bought the right to use the Nokia name for 10 years on top of the outright purchase of the Lumia and Asha brands. Nokia suggests the Lumia range will probably take on Microsoft/Windows branding, but the Asha range will continue to carry the Nokia name. Makes sense to us.
Rytilä also stresses that much of Nokia's existing base in Finland will be retained, or attempts to. In responding to the question “will Microsoft allow the Nokia staff to continue to innovate from Finland?”, she responds: “I think we’ve proven that our products have been better with Microsoft. Lumia smartphones have made us proud again. But the greatness of those products comes from two sides.
“Nokia has key Research and Development sites in Finland: Salo, Tampere and Oulu. The Lumia 1020 was developed largely in Tampere, while the Lumia 920 was mainly designed in Salo.
That expertise is the nucleus of what this planned acquisition is about.”
Quite the non-answer.
To be fair, though, it's a tough gig. Rytilä did a little better when talking about a point I raised a couple of days ago: whether the Asha line would stay true to Nokia's Next Billion philosophy under its new masters.
“Microsoft shares our vision for connecting the Next Billion,” she explained. “In ten years, we anticipate it will all be smartphones. Existing mobile phones will act as an on-ramp to smartphones.
“Microsoft has little experience in this area, which is why they are acquiring that expertise. Asha under Microsoft is likely to create a better offer for customers. Steve Ballmer has already stated that some Microsoft services that have previously been restricted to higher-end smartphones may come to Asha. They are looking into things like SkyDrive, Office and Xbox.”
Could be interesting. In the end, though, it's worth reminding yourself of Rytilä's job title – head of marketing. It's her job to paint the deal in the best possible light, to stick to a script that at all times insists Everything Will Be OK. And who knows... maybe it will be. Microsoft has $7.2bn riding on it, after all.