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Nokia to sell off failed health division to Withings co-founder

Finland's Nokia is abandoning its foray into health hardware and services, selling off that unit to Eric Carreel — one of the founders of Withings, which was acquired just two years ago to form the core of the division.

The decision follows a "review of strategic options" launched in February, and is part of an "honed focus on becoming a business-to-business and licensing company," Nokia said in a Wednesday announcement. Closure of the deal is expected to come late in the June quarter, though no pricing or other terms were revealed.

Nokia bought Withings for $192 million. At the time the latter was known for products like its smartscale and the Activite hybrid smartwatch.

Under its new ownership the division quickly ran into problems, in part because of a legal war between Apple and Nokia which only resolved in May 2017. Apple removed the latter's products from sale, and Nokia cancelled a HomeKit-compatible security camera. Nokia products eventually returned to Apple storefronts, but their absence may have dealt a serious blow.

In 2017 the division brought in about $62.4 million in revenue, a tiny fraction of the nearly $27.9 billion generated by the rest of the company.

The selloff was foreshadowed by a leaked memo in which chief strategy officer Kathrin Buvac told workers that the company didn't see a way for the health unit "to become a meaningful part of a company as large as Nokia." Prior to today, some parties rumored to be interested included Samsung and Google's Nest.

Nokia as a whole has been troubled over the past decade. Though once the absolute leader in cellphones, the iPhone and Android-based smartphones rapidly ate into its share, and the mobile phone division was sold to Microsoft — where it didn't fare any better. There are once again Nokia-branded phones on the market, but these are resurrections of old designs developed by HMD Global.