Nokia has announced that it has initiated a 'review of strategic options for its Digital Health business', and it looks like it's bad news.
This review announced includes Nokia's consumer and enterprise products, which covers its hybrid smartwatches, smart scales and digital health services. While the announcement by Nokia suggests the review 'may or may not result in any transaction or other', things are clearly not going as planned and there's a possibility it could end up closing the doors on the division.
In the latest development, Nokia chief strategy officer Kathrin Buvac told employees that the company sees no future in its health tech business, as per a memo seen by The Verge.
Here's the key paragraph:
"In its entirety, our Digital Health business has struggled to scale and meet its growth expectations. Currently, we don't see a path for it to become a meaningful part of a company as large as Nokia. Thus, we are conducting a strategic review to determine the best next steps for the business. Once we know more about possible future steps, we will inform impacted employees, as well as engage employee representatives in line with local legal requirements and practice, where needed."
So it doesn't sound hopeful. Buvac added that the plan is for Nokia to move forward as a business-to-business and licensing company in telecoms and industrial automation. We've asked for clarification on what this will all mean for the company's latest products, the Nokia Steel HR and the yet-to-ship Nokia Sleep.
Read this: Where Nokia Health went wrong
It's only two years since Nokia acquired French startup Withings for $191 million to help make a bigger push into digital health. During that process it has been relaunching Withings' connected health devices with Nokia branding including the Nokia Steel HR, which launched in late 2017, and more recently the Nokia Sleep monitor, which replaced the Withings Aura.
Despite the leaked memo, the last word from Nokia was that any further announcements regarding its Digital Health business will be made when appropriate. If it does take the decision to scuttle its wearable business as part of the review - and that looks very likely at this point - it will certainly be a loss. Nokia's hybrid smartwatches are some of the best, and while its revamping of the Health Mate companion app is still very much a work in progress, it did look like it was set to evolve into a richer platform for tracking health and fitness.
We hope we're not pouring one out for Nokia's wearables when the review is complete, but the writing, it seems, is on the wall for another tech company's ambitions to become a major player in the world of digital health.