Nokia To Re-Enter Consumer Electronics Market

Two years after selling off its mobile device operations, one-time industry leader Nokia appears to be edging closer to a return to consumer electronics.

Mnet 191543 Nokia

Two years after selling off its mobile device operations, one-time industry leader Nokia appears to be edging closer to a return to consumer electronics.

The Finnish telecom giant on Tuesday announced a nearly $192 million purchase of Withings, a French company that makes connected health devices.

Nokia officials said that the acquisition "leverages the power of our trusted brand" in the Internet of Things market, which fueled speculation that the company would put its name on fitness watches, smart thermometers, wireless blood pressure monitors, baby monitors and other connected products.

"We have said consistently that digital health was an area of strategic interest to Nokia, and we are now taking concrete action to tap the opportunity in this large and important market," said Nokia President and CEO Rajeev Suri.

Nokia was once the giant of the cellular phone revolution, accounting for more than 40 percent of the mobile phone market at recently as 2007.

But as its market share was eroded by rivals and, eventually, by smartphones, Nokia instead focus on technology and network operations.

In April 2014, the company sold its mobile phone business to Microsoft, which dropped the Nokia name entirely. The deal prohibited Nokia from selling its own mobile phones through the end of 2015, and the company quashed rumors last year that it aimed to return to the handset market.

Instead, Nokia officials lauded Withings' product line and noted that mobile health is expected to be "the fastest-growing health care segment from 2015-2020."

"Combining their award-winning products and talented people with the world-class expertise and innovation of Nokia Technologies uniquely positions us to lead the next wave of innovation in digital health," said Nokia Technologies President Ramzi Haidamus, whose division will house Withings after the deal closes later this year.

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