|The N1 is unlikely to be the last consumer product to carry the Nokia brand.|
One thing you can be absolutely sure of next year will be that a phone bearing Nokia's name will arrive on the global market. Nokia's brand is so strong that even after seven years of wilful self-destruction, re-organisation and the sale of its handset business to Microsoft, it has the kudos to power a revival, in emerging markets at least. At the end of this year the contractual restriction on a Nokia phone lapses.
The question is not 'Will Nokia release a smartphone?' but 'How much Nokia will be in the smartphone it releases?"
The N1 tablet demonstrates how Nokia could move forward. Licensing its name to near-anonymous OEMs looking to boost sales through the use of a prominent brand. Its exactly the model that Virgin uses for most of its operations worldwide. You'd be surprised by how little of operation branded as Virgin is actually owned by Virgin.
Whilst it might work for Planes, Trains and... gymasiums, the same policy isn't going to be quite so successful for technology. Haphazardly allowing the Nokia brand to be applied to products that come from different OEMs is a surefire way of destroying brand credibility.
Nokia needs to be involved to a much deeper degree. Designing the products and QCing them to ensure that they are of appropriate quality to bear the Nokia brand. It also needs to ensure that whatever it releases, be it phones, tablets, laptops or accessories, form a cohesive range of products that collectively say Nokia to potential customers.
The N1 was seen as much as a Foxconn product, then as purely Nokia. Although Foxconn manufactures for Apple you'd never here the same said about an iPhone or iPad.
Companies that license the Virgin name face stiff financial penalties for damaging the Virgin brand. Nokia needs to apply the same rigour to the way in which it delivers new products as it re-enters the consumer space.
Managed correctly Nokia could challenge Apple. Get it wrong and you're looking at the next Gateway.