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Nokia chairman envisions a future following Microsoft deal

With no mobile phone business, the chairman of Nokia's board acknowledges the challenges ahead but points to three product areas that he says will drive the company.

Nokia's headquarters in Espoo, Finland.
Nokia's headquarters in Espoo, Finland. Roger Cheng/CNET

What will be left of Nokia once Microsoft buys its mobile devices and services division? Chairmain Risto Siilasmaa says the company's future will be shaped by three businesses.

As a result of the recent deal between Microsoft and Nokia, 32,000 of Nokia's 88,000 employees and little less than half of its trailing 12-month revenues will move to Microsoft, Siilasmaa said in a company blog post Wednesday. The chairman called this a "transformational change for Nokia" but offered his assurances that the company will remain strong.

"Nokia will look very different without the mobile devices and services business," Siilasmaa said. "But it will be a strong company, with healthy finances and three strong businesses -- NSN, Here, and Advanced Technologies -- each a leader in technology and innovation."

First up is NSN (Nokia Solutions and Networks). Nokia's network business sells products and services to companies around the world, and Siilasmaa sees it as strong and independent.

"NSN is the mobile broadband specialist and especially strong in LTE," the chairman said. "With our strong and focused investment in R&D, we will continue to launch uniquely innovative solutions such as the Liquid Applications that was announced in Barcelona earlier this year."

Another business key to Nokia is Here, according to Siilasmaa. Nokia's Here offers real-time traffic reports, maps, and other cloud-based benefits to drivers of Internet-connected cars. On Tuesday, Nokia announced that it is teaming up with Mercedes-Benz to create maps for self-driving cars.

"Here is already available in four out of five cars with in-dash navigation and we have mapped millions of kilometers of road across the world," Siilasmaa said. "And we're committed to continue to extend our coverage."

Finally, the chairman pointed to a new business that the company will form. Known as Advanced Technologies, the new unit will focus on beefing up Nokia's patent portfolio.

"Nokia's investment in research and development also helped us build what we believe is the largest and strongest intellectual property portfolio in our industry, with around 10,000 carefully selected patent families," Siilasmaa said. "We've already established a successful patent and technology licensing operation, which we will expand to continue to drive revenue and profit for Nokia through the new Advanced Technologies business."

Despite Siilasmaa's optimism, Nokia has its work cut out for it once it loses custody of its mobile devices business. One item on the agenda is to pick a new CEO since current Chief Executive Stephen Elop will follow the mobile business to Microsoft.

Network sales and patent portfolios may not sound as sexy as mobile phones, but the new Nokia clearly will be relying on these businesses to thrive.