The gradual winding-down of Nokia as a consumer electronics brand continues, with Nokia retail stores and Care repair centres worldwide now morphing into Microsoft sales outlets.
"Nokia retail stores will be called Microsoft Authorized Resellers and will showcase a range of Microsoft experiences and products including Lumia, Surface, Xbox and various accessories and services such as Office 365, in those markets that sell them," Microsoft said in a Wednesday blog post.
It was only a matter of time since Redmond either rebranded or shuttered the Nokia stores. After all, there aren't going to be any new Nokia-branded smartphones or tablets for them to sell.
When Microsoft bought Nokia's devices and services division in April 2014, it agreed that it would only use the Nokia brand for its smartphones and fondleslabs through November 2015. In the end, it didn't even wait that long, with the first signs it was ditching the Nokia name appearing in September 2014.
Under that same agreement, Microsoft can keep making Nokia-branded dumbphones through 2024, and it probably will – the market for cheapie mobes is still a profitable one in developing markets like Africa, India, and elsewhere.
Whether it will want to showcase them in stores alongside Lumia and Surface kit, however, is another matter.
Last northern fall/autumn, Microsoft opened a new retail outlet in Gurgaon, India, a suburb of New Delhi. That one wasn't called a Microsoft Authorized Reseller, though, but a Microsoft Priority Reseller, suggesting Redmond may be planning its bricks-and-mortar presence in different ways for different kinds of markets.
In addition to these stores, general retailers and multi-branded stores that stock Microsoft product will henceforth be known as Microsoft Mobile Resellers in Redmond parlance.
Also, while Microsoft also plans to rebrand Nokia's Care service centres, those locations will continue to honour all current Nokia and Lumia device warranties and will continue to handle service for all existing devices bearing either brand.
The Nokia stores that are making the transition to Microsoft Authorized Resellers are in Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, India, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam, and the majority of them should get their new signage and visual displays by the end of 2015.
"For many customers, particularly those in emerging markets, the rebranded stores will be their first experience of Microsoft as a consumer hardware manufacturer," the software giant said. ®