Mi­crosoft’s move to ac­quire Nokia’s de­vice di­vi­sion is a stroke of ge­nius and will likely pro­vide the cor­po­ra­tion with its next CEO, along with a col­lec­tion of some of the finest smart­phone tech­nolo­gies and tal­ent in the game.

Finweek English Edition - - TECHNOLOGY - Si­mon Din­gle

Mi­crosoft has made its most ag­gres­sive move in mo­bile to date by of­fer­ing $7.2bn for Nokia’s hand­set di­vi­sion. The ac­qui­si­tion will change the smart­phone mar­ket fun­da­men­tally, bol­ster­ing Mi­crosoft’s po­si­tion amid the dom­i­nance of Ap­ple, Google and third­par­ties like Samsung, while Black­Berry pre­pares to be sold off in pieces. The tim­ing is great and comes with an ex­tra large cherry on top in the form of Nokia CEO Stephen Elop.

This is the sec­ond big an­nounce­ment for Mi­crosoft in as many weeks, fol­low­ing the news that CEO Steve Ballmer will step down from his po­si­tion in the next year.

Ballmer said that he must step aside as Mi­crosoft tran­si­tions to a ‘ de­vices and ser­vices com­pany’. It seems ob­vi­ous, to me any­way, that Ballmer’s suc­ces­sor will be cur­rent Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, who was at Mi­crosoft be­fore join­ing the Fin­nish smart­phone man­u­fac­turer.

This is the real prize for Mi­crosoft. Yes, it will now get Nokia’s ex­per­tise in cre­at­ing mo­bile phones and its wide range of ser­vices, in­clud­ing lo­ca­tion and map­ping, Nokia Mu­sic and some of the f in­est de­sign and en­gi­neer­ing tal­ent in the in­dus­try, but it will also get the man who took Nokia from a race to the bot­tom in the smart­phone arena and gave it a f ight­ing chance. Some­one who has a shot at tak­ing a soft­ware li­cens­ing busi­ness and trans­form­ing it into some­thing ca­pa­ble of tak­ing on Google and Ap­ple.

The ac­qui­si­tion, which will take place for con­sid­er­ably less than Mi­crosoft paid for in­ter­net tele­phony com- pany Skype – for per­spec­tive, will see the trans­fer of 32 000 peo­ple from Nokia to Mi­crosoft, more than half of which work in man­u­fac­tur­ing. Mi­crosoft also cited Nokia’s Asha range of af­ford­able, emerg­ing-mar­ket smart­phones as an ex­cit­ing part of the deal.

The game is on. Mi­crosoft’s share price jumped 7% on the news of Ballmer’s de­par­ture and is likely to emerge from its decade-long slum­ber in the wake of the Nokia deal. It’s now clear who will oc­cupy third-place in the ma­tur­ing smart­phone mar­ket.

Risto Si­ilas­maa

The writer owns shares in Mi­crosoft. Steve Ballmer Stephen Elop

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