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Last week, Nokia was finally acquired by Microsoft, a merger that’d been in the works for months. But now that the deal is done, there are still plenty of questions swirling around about how the two companies will move forward. One question that seems to be earning some attention is just what the combined companies will be printing on the sides of its handsets. According to some recent comments from Stephen Elop, who has been newly named as Microsoft’s head of devices, Nokia phones may not actually be “Nokia” phones for much longer.

The comments come by way of a question and answer session on the Nokia Conversations blog. There, Elop was asked about how Microsoft and Nokia would brand their phones. His reply:

“[Microsoft Mobile] is not a brand that will be seen by consumers. The Nokia brand is available to Microsoft to use for its mobile phones products for a period of time, but Nokia as a brand will not be used for long going forward for smartphones. Work is underway to select the go forward smartphone brand.”

He added:

“Now that we are One company, the marketing and product folks will lay in the plans for the shift to a consistent brand. While we are not ready to share precise details, I can assure you that it will not be the ‘Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone on the AT&T LTE Network’ … too many words! That somehow doesn’t roll off the tongue…”

So why switch it up like that? Chances are that the two companies have done enough market research to learn that neither the Nokia nor the Microsoft brand do much to inspire excitement in the minds of mobile customers. And they’re right: Nokia may have been a big deal during the first cell phone boom, but since Apple made smartphones the go-to device, Nokia’s been consistently an also-ran, despite putting out quality handsets. And Microsoft, well, Microsoft is Microsoft. The fact that the Xbox has managed to succeed so well despite its corporate parentage is something of a miracle, and one that has yet to take place in Japan, one of the world’s most important gaming markets.

Now that we know that the phones will no longer bear the Nokia name, what will they be called? Microsoft Mobile is out too, as Elop says. Does this mean that the merged companies will be putting out something with a brand new name? That might be a great way to generate some buzz in the smartphone industry, and could be an interesting path to finding new customers looking for something different.

That said, perhaps Microsoft will depend on its biggest branding success: the aforementioned Xbox.

You heard it here first: I predict that once the Nokia name is retired, Microsoft will start selling the Xbox Phone. And you know what? Despite how silly it might seem at first glance, it’s probably not as crazy as it sounds. After all, the company just announced the birth of Xbox Originals earlier today. There’s something to be said for consistency of branding, and everyone knows that Xbox is a killer brand, even if the Xbox One isn’t hitting the company’s lofty expectations just yet.

Xbox Phone. Do it, Microsoft.

[Source: Nokia Conversations via TechCrunch]

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