Nokia still as its eyes set on the mobile market, as the Finnish company is planning a comeback for late next year.

A non-compete agreement it has with Microsoft prevents Nokia from re-entering the mobile business until 2016, but the company is nonetheless busy making preparations already.

Nokia was once at the top of the food chain, but eventually, with the rise of smartphones, it lost significant ground to rivals such as Apple and Samsung. The company struggled for a good while to keep its head above the water, but never really managed to get back to the top. It spent a good while making Windows Phone smartphones for Microsoft, but ultimately sold its handset business altogether to Microsoft.

After dropping the consumer technology and mobile phone space when Microsoft gobbled up its handset business, Nokia focused for a while on other areas such as making telecoms equipment for,but is now ready to get back on track. The company is now testing new products, hiring software experts and looking for sales partners to jump back into the mobile market.

As Reuters reports, Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri is planning Nokia's return to the mobile business and preparations are already under way. However, the company will go down a different path this time - it will look enter agreements with other companies for "brand-licensing," letting its partners handle the manufacturing. More specifically, Nokia will design new phones and lend them its brand, but other companies will mass-manufacture, advertise and sell the devices in question, after paying royalties.

In other words, Nokia does plan to return to the mobile phone market, but only through licensing agreements with other companies. The company will likely face plenty of hurdles in its way back to the fiercely competitive mobile market, but such licensing deals might allow it to make a smooth slide into the segment.

While manufacturing and selling its own products would surely be more profitable, brand licensing deals will allow the company to play it safer. Such agreements may not bring in the big bucks, but they don't involve so many risks either, which means that Nokia would be able to get a steady stream of revenue without making huge investments.

Nokia holds an impressive trove of intellectual property, including numerous valuable patents it kept even after selling its mobile business to Microsoft. The company wants to take advantage of these resources and monetize its extensive patent trove.

It remains to be seen whether Nokia will manage to stay relevant enough on the mobile market just by renting out its brand, but it may have a pretty good shot. The Nokia brand still echoes, at least for now.

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