NOKIA IS FLOGGING its Nokia Health division back to former owner Eric Carreel, and we're guessing that Carreel has done pretty well out of it.
The former Withings brand was forming the backbone of Nokia's emerging health division. But after significantly underperforming - Nokia only released one completely new product during its tenure - the company put the whole project under review.
Quite what Nokia was thinking given that so many fitness devices have fallen by the wayside in the past five years is not entirely clear.
Both Samsung and more notably Google had been looking at taking on the mantel, which in the case of the latter would have finally been a worthy place for what are, for our money, some of the best wearables on the market. But a deal was never reached, and now it looks like Withings is to return to independent control.
"Nokia announced a review of strategic options for the Digital Health business in February 2018. The planned sale is part of Nokia's honed focus on becoming a business-to-business and licensing company," the firm said.
Nokia licences its current smartphone devices to HMD Global. It's not been confirmed if it plans to licence its name back to Carreel or whether we'll see the Withings name revived.
There's also an elephant in the room about how much Carreel paid to take back his former charge. He made €170m from the sale, and we're guessing that the buyback was a lot less. Nokia Health only made €52m in trading last year, and the new-old owner will need to work hard to pull sales out of the toilet.
Nokia did revamp the app during its tenure and continues to support all the former Withings products, but only one device - an updated Nokia Sleep was launched as a replacement for the Withings Aura.
Other products were simply rebadged or refined, and whilst they were still better than most other rival devices, they remained stagnant in a market in desperate need of innovation.
Hopefully, we'll see a Withings renaissance when the deal closes in the summer. µ
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