The deal is with Nokia, not HMD Global Oy
A few days ago the news about Xiaomi and Nokia’s co-operation and patent agreement broke on the internet. And like clockwork, everybody was excited at the possibility of a possible Xiaomi/Nokia superphone. Who wouldn’t be? The prospect of being able to buy a low-cost smartphone developed with the famed Nokia brand sounds enticing.
Unfortunately, the truth about the deal with Nokia and Xiaomi is more boring than people realize. First things first – Nokia as a brand no longer have a mobile division. They no longer make phones – the Nokia-branded devices that you see in the wild are all made by HMD Global Oy, who has the license (and therefore the right) to make and sell Nokia smartphones. If Xiaomi is looking to collaborate with someone to make a Nokia/Xiaomi branded phone, they’d be talking to HMD Global Oy, and not Nokia.
Second – the agreement is more about settling patent disputes that prevent Xiaomi from selling smartphones in the West. Xiaomi is no stranger to patent disputes, having been sued by Ericsson in India for allegedly violating several patents related to 3G, EDGE and AMR technologies. Nokia has been banging the patent wardrums for some time now and has taken on tech giant Apple in Europe and the US for patent infringement, so it’s only wise for Xiaomi to partner up with them to sort out any potential patent violations now before starting to market their phones in the West, where intellectual property rights have more weight compared to their home country of China.
Of course the partnership also opens doors for Xiaomi, giving them a unique partner as they explore new areas such as the Internet Of Things, AR and VR as well as AI.
The key takeaway is this: there’s no Nokia/Xiaomi superphone incoming, at least not yet – the deal is more in line with Xiaomi officially expanding in Europe and the US.