Nokia announced at Mobile World Congress back in February that it would be sunsetting the Withings brand this summer. After giving fans of the French connected health device maker sufficient time to mourn, the brand name is finally officially being removed from its existing product lines. All Withings products will be branded Nokia from here on out.
The transition will be marked by a few other key changes, as well: a few products are going away, a few new ones are being introduced, and some existing ones will see fixes for longtime issues.
For starters, the company is killing one key Withings product. The Aura sleep tracker will disappear alongside the Withings brand. The company won’t say why it’s pulling the plug, beyond the fact that the device was “on the market for a while” (launching in 2014), and Nokia is “looking for other opportunities” in the connected health space. From the sound of it, the product was just too niche to keep alive, which has likely only become more the case as sleep tracking is standardized on wearables.
The transition will also see a redesign of the Nokia Health Mate app and the addition of two new hardware products: the Nokia Body BMI scale and Nokia BPM+ blood pressure monitor. Both are really slight variations of existing Withings products. The rest of the line is set to make the transition unscathed. Though one key product will do so a bit later than the rest.
The Withings Steel HR hybrid smartwatch is going to take a couple of months to return to market with the new branding, courtesy of some quality assurance issues. The delay is remarkably similar to one the product experienced at launch, though Withings CEO-turned-Nokia-VP Cédric Hutchings tells me that the two issues are unrelated. The initial problem appears to be production related, whereas the new one has to do with some hardware issues.
Some of the already-shipped watches have experienced condensation problems, causing water to fog up the glass covering the watch face. The issues have been pretty well documented online, though Hutchings echoes the company’s line on the problem, stating that it has only impacted a small number of devices over all. Nokia has apparently already begun implementing the fix, but it will still take longer to actually bring the product to market.
“We want to make sure that all of the products that are carrying the Nokia brand are up to the quality standards of Nokia,” Hutchings tells TechCrunch. “We are finalizing the production process to make sure we address every occurrence of some issues we’ve seen in the past. It’s taking us a couple more months to bring the Steel HR to the market.”
It’s understandable that the company would want to lead with its best foot forward. The Withings acquisition marks the return of Nokia to consumer brands after a notable absence. It’s timed alongside the release of HMD’s new handsets, though those products are Nokia in name alone. Even so, the company does see those devices as playing a part in its return to the consumer space.
Nokia isn’t tipping its hand about any further moves into the consumer space, but a rep from the company did tell me that these pieces are “definitely part of a broader vision,” which, on the face of it, does seem to imply that the company is considering an even more deliberate step into the consumer space after largely existing as a networking and telecom company for the last few years.
Nokia’s brand awareness is still extremely high among consumers after years of dominating the mobile market. Even so, memories are short in the tech world, so if the company wants to capitalize on name recognition, now is the time to do it.