Hot on the heels of the news that Microsoft has spent $7.1 billion on Nokia, the company behind Windows Phone has had a go at explaining the acquisition by releasing a typically Microsoft PDF. With Nokia not exactly setting the world on fire with its handsets, and coming fully loaded with its own problems, the once proud phone manufacturer was already working extremely closely with Microsoft and with all its eggs in the Redmond firm’s Windows Phone basket, talk of a buyout has been doing the rounds for a long time. The fact that it actually happened has still come as a surprise to many, however.
Almost sensing that fact, Microsoft has set about explaining its decision to splash the cash, and it’s not just because they wanted Stephen Elop back at Microsoft!
While Microsoft is pleased that Windows Phone is now sitting in the number 3 slot when it comes to mobile operating systems, the company says that it will continue to provide solutions for both iOS and Android. That said, it believes that it cannot afford to rely on either platform too heavily in case either Apple or Google make changes to their solutions that lock Microsoft out in the future. With that in mind, having its own hardware and software could potentially be an important situation for Microsoft to be in.
Microsoft also says that, owing to the strength of the competition, it needs to offer a top class alternative to iOS or Android, and controlling the hardware is one of the ways that it can achieve just that. It’s an approach that Apple has famously taken since Steve Jobs returned to the company way back when, and it’s one that Google also seems to understand – the Nexus line and Motorola’s acquisition is the company’s way of trying to keep control of Android in some small way. Whether it succeeds is open to debate, though.
The way we see it is quite simple. Nokia needed Microsoft long term, and Microsoft wanted not just the hardware chops that Nokia possesses but also its huge war-chest full of patents. Nokia is believed to hold some of the most important patents in the industry, and now they’re Microsoft’s. In a game where patents can make or break a product release, having a stash of your own can come in very useful indeed.
Of course, Microsoft having tighter control over Nokia hardware is all well and good, and it arguably already had as much control as it could want via the existing deal in place between the two companies, but the real issue isn’t the hardware but the software. You could put Windows Phone on an iPhone 5 or Galaxy S4, but it would still have the same problems that it has on any current Windows Phone device – the ecosystem.
If Microsoft can get that sorted out quickly though, things could get really interesting pretty quickly. Whether Nokia can help it do that though, we’re not really sure.
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