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Microsoft Businesses Cellphones

Microsoft In Talks To Buy Nokia's Smartphone Division? 192

Posted by samzenpus
from the how-much-were-you-asking? dept.
lightbox32 writes "Analyst Eldar Murtazin announced today that Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer was soon to meet his Nokia counterpart Stephen Elop to finalize the purchase of Nokia's smartphone division, which would see patents, staff, and some plants transferred to Microsoft, for an undisclosed price. From the article: '“Steve Ballmer, Andy Lees and Stephen Elop and Kai Ostamo will meet in Las Vegas to finalize agreement about Nokia smartphone unit. Bye Nokia,” he tweeted on Thursday morning."
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Microsoft In Talks To Buy Nokia's Smartphone Division?

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  • This story is a lie (Score:5, Informative)

    by DCTech (2545590) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @08:18PM (#38605134)
    Nokia already said that they won't sell their smartphone division several hours ago. Why is this rumor still echoed on slashdot?
    • by sconeu (64226) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @08:20PM (#38605152) Homepage Journal
      • by alphatel (1450715) *
        As they stepped out of a potential RIM deal, MS knows this is their only option. When the opposition is leveraging iphones and androids, you can either pay to play or pray you stay.
        • I agree. I think MS has finally realized that tablet/phone is where things are going (at least for large volume consumer stuff). Win 8 needs to be a success on things smaller than a PC to really win the "we have a common feel across the form factor" kind of argument. RIM actually would have been a great deal for them: both are already trusted/dominant in their respective areas for business customers. Canada and Waterloo in particular where RIM is based has always been a great source for MS to recruit, could
          • Sorry I was thinking more of a acquisition type of scenario the RIM rumors were more of a software on RIM devices which I don't think is anywhere near as nice as an outright purchase for MS.
      • by sootman (158191)

        The suggestion that Nokia will sell off their crown jewels to Redmond has been rebuffed before, and even had an impact on the markets last year, but despite the Finns repeated denials, the rumour simply won't go away.

        Maybe their URL has something to do with the rumors not dying: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/01/05/nokia-will-sell-crown-jewels-to-microsoft/ [theregister.co.uk]

        • by rtb61 (674572)

          Maybe they are just being sly. M$ won't be buying Nokia's crown jewels, they will be buying Nokia lock, stock and barrel.

    • by MrEricSir (398214) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @08:20PM (#38605160) Homepage

      This story has been photoshopped. You can tell by the pixels and the smoke coming out of the track.

    • by Microlith (54737) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @08:20PM (#38605162)

      Because companies deny everything up until it happens.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 05, 2012 @08:21PM (#38605164)

      Because that's what Slashdot is for. A lie is set forth and geeks who think they know stuff yammer on about it for about 500 comments. Stories like this are practically a slashdot lubricant.

    • by leoplan2 (2064520) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @08:30PM (#38605224)
      They will keep denying that rumor... If they accept it, it will be a huge PR disaster...
    • by Tridus (79566) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @08:42PM (#38605316) Homepage

      Because no company has ever denied something right up until it happened, right?

      Nokia denying it means absolutely nothing.

    • by tgd (2822) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @09:22PM (#38605556)

      Nokia already said that they won't sell their smartphone division several hours ago. Why is this rumor still echoed on slashdot?

      Because it gets ad views. Duh.

    • by Skal Tura (595728) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @11:04PM (#38606146) Homepage

      because the /. staff don't check the stories?

      Besides, this is the kind of thing which i would expect to see 1st of April, not anytime else.

      Nokia's business has, and always has been, to advance mobile phone technologies through hardware innovation. Selling their smart phone business would be bit like selling your left arm.

      • by dokc (1562391) on Friday January 06, 2012 @12:07AM (#38606530) Journal

        Nokia's business has, and always has been, to advance mobile phone technologies through hardware innovation. Selling their smart phone business would be bit like selling your left arm.

        More like a selling the head and I wouldn't be surprised if they really do it.
        Stephen Elop did the *great* job as a M$ mole and he gave Nokia on a silver platter. Smartphones will be rebranded as M$ phones and Nokia brand will be sold to some Chinese manufacturer.

        • I wouldn't be surprised if Nokia was aiming to be bought by MS. I would be surprised if MS was interested in buying. If MS bought Nokia, then they would be directly competing with their own customers, which is something that historically Microsoft has avoided (well, right up until the point they decide they want 100% of a market one of their customers controls).
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        You're out of touch with reality [wikimedia.org].

      • by Tom (822) on Friday January 06, 2012 @06:46AM (#38608058) Homepage Journal

        It's not any more unbelievable than ruining your smart phone business by picking the worst available OS option and publicly announcing you are running with it no matter what.

    • by Daniel Phillips (238627) on Friday January 06, 2012 @01:05AM (#38606786)

      Nokia already said that they won't sell their smartphone division several hours ago...

      Why would Microsoft buy it when they already got it for free?

      • by TeXMaster (593524) on Friday January 06, 2012 @05:25AM (#38607790)

        Nokia already said that they won't sell their smartphone division several hours ago...

        Why would Microsoft buy it when they already got it for free?

        Because Nokia can pull out of the deal at any time now, and considering how much their Linux and Symbian smartphones are still in high request compared to their WinPhones (which is ridiculous if you consider that the N9 is essential an EOL, and still there's people in Italy, where it's not officially sold, getting it from Switzerland just to be able to put their hands on it), they actually might realize they're doing the stupidest possible thing by tying their technology to the MS o.s. —if MS buys their smartphone division, MS has the o.s. and hardware under its control. Much cheaper in the long run. I wouldn't be surprised if patents get in the deal as well, just so that they might fight a legal battle with android phones (specifically the reason why Google bought Motorola).

    • by Xest (935314) on Friday January 06, 2012 @06:31AM (#38607988)

      "Nokia already said that they won't sell their smartphone division"

      Yet.

      Come on, the whole Nokia thing has been a done deal since Elop as their new CEO was announced.

      It's clearly been planned all along, that if the major shareholders let Elop become head of Nokia as a Microsoft puppet, and turn it into a Microsoft only shop, and make a success of it, that Microsoft will then at some later date when Nokia is fully turned around as a Windows Phone producer buy the shares.

      The whole Elop thing didn't make sense whatsoever, when he was taken on it was obvious Android was the best bet for Nokia, yet they took someone on with disturbingly close ties to Microsoft, they let him choose Windows Phone when there was no evidence it was going to be a success despite the fact Android was already succeding and could've saved Nokia too. The only argument was that Nokia couldn't differentiate with Android, but it's bollocks - Samsung most certainly has managed to.

      Really, the only explanation for the shareholders allowing such an insanely weird set of choices to go through is that they were going to get something out of it. Promises of an eventual Microsoft buyout would be the most obvious something - it's the only way many of them would ever see their money back on their investment after Nokia lost it's way and share values plummeted. Chances are they'll still get to keep their shares in Nokia's networks business when the sale is split on top.

      Elop's takeover of Nokia was a coup by Microsoft, that much was obvious. Even at the time I assumed and said there's a high likelihood it would lead to eventual takeover. This leaking of the story and subsequent denial could just as well be a tactic by the two companies to test the water on public and business opinion and see if it's safe to go ahead and do it yet.

      Sure there's a number of ways it may not happen - regulators saying no, opinion being far too negative to make it feasible, Nokia still failing to turn itself around and so on, but I'd wager the basic premise of the story has some truth to it - that there is intention by Microsoft to take it over, and will from the shareholders to let it be taken over by Microsoft. If there wasn't some degree of this they wouldn't have let it go so foolishly and riskily down the completely untested Windows Phone route in the first place when the slightly less risky option of investing in improving MeeGo was there, or perhaps more obviously, the perfectly safe Android was sat in waiting.

    • by qbast (1265706) on Friday January 06, 2012 @06:43AM (#38608048)
      Nokia also had been reassuring everybody about Symbian and Qt future until last moment before Elop declared them dead.
  • by Billly Gates (198444) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @08:21PM (#38605166) Journal

    Go tell your OEMs that you are not a competitor? Gee, that will really make them want to leave Android for Windows Phone Mango. lol

    Go look up OS/2 would be my advice. OS/2 beat the crap out of Windows 3.1 and even Windows 95. No OEM would touch it as IBM was a competitor.

    • by tsa (15680)

      Yes, pity about that. If MS hadn't existed we would have had the stuff we now take for granted 15 years ago.

    • by backslashdot (95548) on Friday January 06, 2012 @01:47PM (#38611688)

      How to acquire a company:

      1. Send one of your own executives to be target companies CEO
      2. Target company's new CEO implements total dependency on your companies product
      3. Target company's share price collapses as they lose market share
      4. Acquire target company for cheap
      5. Profit! (though possibly in this case .. loss!)

  • Apple? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @08:24PM (#38605186)
    They really do want to be Apple don't they. :)
    First the Microsoft stores, emulating (Badly) the Apple stores.
    Now jumping into the phone business.
    At least it is entertaining to watch.
    • Re:Apple? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Dan East (318230) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @08:31PM (#38605228) Homepage Journal

      Microsoft was in the phone business before Apple, albeit only from the software side. Microsoft missed some huge, huge opportunities in that arena. If only they could've ditched the stylus-centric GUI design (ie itty bitty tiny controls and no gestures) they could've held at least some ground with Windows Mobile.

      • Re:Apple? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by roc97007 (608802) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @08:46PM (#38605340) Journal

        > If only they could've ditched the stylus-centric GUI design (ie itty bitty tiny controls and no gestures)

        That's right on the money, (from an ergonomic standpoint, how did anyone ever think a "start" button an eighth of an inch wide was a good idea?? [1]) although I'm not sure it's a complete explanation. My Windows 6 phone would fail periodically with a popup something like "the audio driver has encountered an unexpected error and will now terminate". If you didn't catch it when it happened and reboot the phone, on the next call the phone wouldn't ring.

        Let's savor that for a moment.

        The phone wouldn't RING!!

        The second or third time I failed to get a call while on-call, due to the audio driver malfunctioning, I had to dump the phone or risk losing my job.

        As a result, I will never, ever, EVER have another Windows phone. In my line of work it's just too risky to have a phone that may at some random time decline to RING.

        Ok, so I could be the only one to ever have that problem or problems like it, but if not, Windows 7 has a huge uphill battle to gain acceptance in the business market.

        [1] From a code reuse standpoint, it makes perfect sense.

        • Re:Apple? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 05, 2012 @09:13PM (#38605498)

          You are definitely not the only person to have that happen to them; I had the exact same issue, and made the exact same decision, including the promise to never buy a Windows Mobile product again.

          I also had the fun error that my Windows phone would randomly end calls. I would be happily chatting away and the phone would just hang up. I would joke "Windows has found your conversation tiresome and no longer wishes to continue," (said in a German accent).

          Try explaining to your boss why you almost never pick up when he calls, and then when he does call you, you hang up on him.

          Windows Mobile was far and away the worst phone experience I have ever had, and it soured me on Windows phone products forever.

          • Re:Apple? (Score:5, Funny)

            by roc97007 (608802) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @09:41PM (#38605700) Journal

            > Try explaining to your boss why you almost never pick up when he calls, and then when he does call you, you hang up on him.

            The very last call I (didn't) receive was from my boss, strategic update during a production outage. And I missed it. The next business day, I put in an order for a Blackberry Bold. My boss couldn't approve it fast enough. (He needs me to be connected.)

            • by GNious (953874)

              I've been through 3 Blackberries (2x BB Bold 9000), all have failed to receive calls on a regular basis: They crash, and then reboot to a prompt for entering PIN.

              Others having Blackberries report the same, and I've received complaints from customers that they cannot reach us at times.

              Local phonecompanies have stopped carrying Blackberries due to the number of issues these had.

              In all fairness, my HTC was actually crashing more frequently, and a previous Nokia was initially also having a some stability issues

              • by roc97007 (608802)

                I've never seen this. My Bold had other issues (mechanical problems -- the catch for the back failed, replaced phone, catch failed again, replaced phone, finally replaced it with a Tour) but I'd never missed a call. I remember a couple of spontaneous reboots but the phone always came back into a usable state. That was one of the advantages -- it would never fail in a way that required human intervention to correct, unlike the Windows Mobile phone which required manual power cycling after a hang or driver

        • What you all forget is exactly how long ago Microsoft entered the PDA/Smartphone Market.

          Back then, the screen technology was not advanced enough to handle finger-touches and gestures. They had to us a stylus in order to get accurate "clicks".
          • by roc97007 (608802)

            > Back then, the screen technology was not advanced enough to handle finger-touches and gestures. They had to us a stylus in order to get accurate "clicks".

            Yep, true, but Palm was in that market even earlier, with a single touch, stylus-based OS that was actually useful. In fact, look at the original Palm Pilot, and you will see vague prehistoric design cues that I would argue were later used in iOS and Android. Fewer wipe gestures for reasons you stated, but the same page-o-icons idea, with no hint of

            • by Belial6 (794905)
              Design cues from palm? iOS is basically the Lotus Notes 1.0 UI with prettier graphics.
        • > how did anyone ever think a "start" button an eighth of an inch wide was a good idea??

          This is the same company that, had they purchased Macromedia instead of allowing Adobe to do it, would have completely and utterly destroyed Dreamweaver within 2 versions by trying to make it work the same way as Microsoft Office, even if doing so completely borked it for the expert users whose professional lives revolved around it. Kind of like they did with FrontPage.

          Microsoft just has this obsession with trying to

          • by roc97007 (608802)

            > This is the same company that, had they purchased Macromedia instead of allowing Adobe to do it, would have completely and utterly destroyed Dreamweaver within 2 versions by trying to make it work the same way as Microsoft Office

            Microsoft used to have something called Frontpage. It was a gooey web making tool that produced the worst HTML code I've ever seen in my entire life. I shouldn't complain too much, because I made a fairly good living in '04 and '05 fixing sites created with Frontpage. Hint:

        • You know what the saddest thing is? This still happens - on Android. Random reboots also aren't unheard of... okay, my old WinMo6 phone was much worse in these respects (happens once in a blue moon on Android), but these problems are not as long gone as we should like them to be.

          Haven't used WinPhone7 or iOS long enough to see it happen there though... and don't get me wrong - I love Android, and there is no alternative, because it allows me to do whatever the **** I want - but there *are* still mission-cri

        • by amorsen (7485)

          As a result, I will never, ever, EVER have another Windows phone. In my line of work it's just too risky to have a phone that may at some random time decline to RING.

          While your example is way worse than other smartphones, approximately all of them are crap at actually receiving calls. Many of them miss the first call notification from the cell phone network and so they only start ringing after the second notification, 7 seconds later. If you then aren't very quick at responding, you risk that the caller hangs up, thinking that you are unavailable.

          You would think that with preemptive multitasking this would never be a problem, especially in the day of 1GHz phone CPU's.

          • by lindi (634828)
            One way to improve reliability is to have more than one phone tied to the same number.
    • Re:Apple? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by lucm (889690) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @09:52PM (#38605744)

      They really do want to be Apple don't they. :)

      First the Microsoft stores, emulating (Badly) the Apple stores.

      Now jumping into the phone business.

      At least it is entertaining to watch.

      Nah Microsoft wants to be everything, not just Apple. It became clear to me once I saw that in SharePoint there is a button "I Like It". (And as usual it's big, annoyingly friendly and takes a lot of screen real estate).

  • Qt (Score:5, Insightful)

    by c++0xFF (1758032) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @08:40PM (#38605304)

    Here's hoping such a deal (if it's not just a rumor and actually goes through) doesn't touch Qt. I was happy when Nokia bought it, but I really, really don't want MS to get control over Qt.

    I guess it comes down to corporate structure. Is Qt part of the smartphone division? The two are closely related (and it's why Nokia bought Qt to begin with), so I wouldn't be surprised.

    • Nokia cut Qt mostly loose when sent Maemo to the rubbish bin.

      Maybe some real Trolls (from Trolltech) can comment on the current level of autonomy.

      If something evil happened to the Qt ownership, the code could still be forked, couldn't it?

      • Re:Qt (Score:5, Informative)

        by Microlith (54737) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @08:59PM (#38605420)

        The agreement still stands, and since it's LGPL you could fork from the last LGPL version and still use it in commercial projects. Of course, losing corporate support would be crippling to no small extent, which is one reason the Qt people have been working overtime to separate Qt from Nokia as much as they can short of being spun off.

  • Not plausible (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gadget_Guy (627405) * on Thursday January 05, 2012 @08:43PM (#38605330)

    Is there any point in posting an unsubstantiated rumour by someone who has previously claimed that the deal was happening back in May and that Nokia's phone division would be sold by the end of 2011 [businessinsider.com]? Nokia is predominantly a phone maker, and I really can't see them wanting to sell the main business of their company to anyone. What would be left of the company?

    And would Microsoft really want to spend the claimed $19 billion [businessinsider.com] on a division that has yet to prove that anybody wants to buy one of their Windows phones? And Nokia have the connections with the carriers that is required to get the phones into the retail system. Given the way Windows phones haven't really been pushed by the carriers, I would think that they need the sales team at Nokia. Buying the patents and manufacturing plants only solves part of the problem - and that assumes that there is a problem in the first place that requires the purchase.

    Finally, I don't think the other phone companies like HTC, LG, and Samsung would feel happy about Microsoft moving into their territory. This sale would only cause friction with those companies, is an expensive risk, and provides no benefit considering that Nokia are already committed to selling Microsoft's platform now.

    • Re:Not plausible (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Microlith (54737) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @08:53PM (#38605374)

      Is there any point in posting an unsubstantiated rumour by someone who has previously claimed that the deal was happening back in May and that Nokia's phone division would be sold by the end of 2011?

      Eh, if it happens in the next couple months he's not far off in corporate-acquisition-time. He nailed the forced move of Nokia to Windows Phone back months before it happened and people said the same things about him then.

      Nokia is predominantly a phone maker, and I really can't see them wanting to sell the main business of their company to anyone. What would be left of the company?

      Nothing, but I suspect that Microsoft is, by far, the party with the most power here. They have a friendly CEO in charge and a pliable board, willing to do as they say. What would be left? A shell of a company, loaded down with restrictions that would bar them from entering the smartphone space and, for spite, from ever using the patents they sell with Linux.

      And would Microsoft really want to spend the claimed $19 billion on a division that has yet to prove that anybody wants to buy one of their Windows phones? And Nokia have the connections with the carriers that is required to get the phones into the retail system. Given the way Windows phones haven't really been pushed by the carriers, I would think that they need the sales team at Nokia. Buying the patents and manufacturing plants only solves part of the problem - and that assumes that there is a problem in the first place that requires the purchase.

      If they do it, I imagine they could always work out a "discount" of some sort. But most importantly, they have someone who can part the company out to get MS the best deal, rather than having to buy the whole company and all the stuff they don't want (dumbphones, symbian, the N9/Maemo legacy.) Microsoft would probably redouble their efforts to be like Apple, which is why they'd probably also take all the sales teams as well.

      Finally, I don't think the other phone companies like HTC, LG, and Samsung would feel happy about Microsoft moving into their territory. This sale would only cause friction with those companies, is an expensive risk, and provides no benefit considering that Nokia are already committed to selling Microsoft's platform now.

      If I were going to fling (more) barbs in Microsoft's direction, I expect they'd leverage the patents they have to raise the "price" of Android even further above Windows Phone 7, and constrain the options of other vendors so that they have no choice but to compete directly with MS or pay them a ton of cash.

      • He nailed the forced move of Nokia to Windows Phone back months before it happened and people said the same things about him then.

        (Forced move?) Did he really do the same thing then: make the same prediction six months apart?

        Nothing, but I suspect that Microsoft is, by far, the party with the most power here.

        I don't think so. Microsoft's phone OS has been flatlining, and without Nokia on board then they have no hope of resurrecting the platform. Microsoft needs Nokia more than Nokia needs Microsoft.

        What would be left? A shell of a company, loaded down with restrictions that would bar them from entering the smartphone space and, for spite, from ever using the patents they sell with Linux.

        Do you really think the shareholders of Nokia would stand for a deal that prevents the world's largest phone company from taking part of the most lucrative part of the mobile/cell phone market? I don't think that this would

        • Re:Not plausible (Score:5, Interesting)

          by symbolset (646467) * on Friday January 06, 2012 @12:04AM (#38606518) Journal

          Microsoft needs Nokia more than Nokia needs Microsoft.

          This is not true. Microsoft spins off many billions of profit each year, mainly from Windows and Office. They could dump 5 billion a year into mobile just to keep the dream alive. They pour something like 2 billion a year just into Bing and their other online efforts. They could keep this up forever. I don't think doing so is going to do them any good, but they can.

          Sendo had the same problem. It didn't work out well for them. [theregister.co.uk]

          While doing research for this comment (sad but true, I do research for /. comments as if I were an actual credible analyst) I went to look at Nokia's financial statements to see how long they could hold out with a failing smartphone business. What I found is a grand surprise: I find that Nokia [google.com] has been hugely bulking up the cash portion of their balance sheet [zacks.com]. They now have $16B cash and equivalents - a level they haven't seen since 2008 when their market cap was 3x what it is now (Currently $20B), and $4B more cash than they had a year ago. The annual run rate on last quarter's profits is $10B. That means less cash you could buy the Nokia business for $4B net of cash - patents, employees, hardware, manufacturing, real estate, the whole magilla. This brings the price of Nokia's earnings as a business (about $10B/year) less cash to about 40 cents. For 40 cents a buyer could buy $1/yr of profits. $1 buys what the company is accumulating in cash each year. That's a screaming deal - and with that much cash to leverage lots of the '80's LBO kings could get financing on that deal. It's a hell of a lot better deal than $8B for Skype, who never made any profits ever.

          After reflecting on the above paragraph, TFA becomes plausible. Somebody's probably buying Nokia because at this price it's like buying a money tree at the price of five months' harvest. I see that you can buy a call option with a 7/21/2012 strike price of $6 for $.71, or the in-the-money $5 call for $1.14. Both of these look like a good deal to me, and I'd probably take the in-the-money one in case there was no bidding war. Naturally takeovers usually buy a company at a premium over the day's stock price.

          I am not an investment advisor - especially not yours. I don't hold a position in any of these companies. This is just for fun.

          If Google can buy Moto Mobi and get away with it, why can't Microsoft buy Nokia - especially when it's such a screaming deal?

          Despite what the market thinks of Elop's plans (and my own prognostications) his austerity program does seem to be bearing fruit even if his strategic choices seem to be lacking.

          • That's interesting. You need a girlfriend. Or a hobby.

            But lots of companies are bulking up on cash these days, not much else to do. Nobody seems to want to spend it - they can't figure out how to actually use it. So they keep it for a while until the economy starts to move again.

            • by symbolset (646467) *

              I have a wife and five kids - and we're starting on grandkids now. I live in my own house that I almost own free and clear, and am not posting from my mom's basement subsisting on Hot Pockets so your insult falls flat. This is my hobby. Maybe I'm too much into it but everybody's got their thing and this is mine. What you enjoy doing with your idle time isn't my business, and what I do with mine isn't yours. To me this is more fun than World of Warcraft or Star Trek Online, or whatever it is that trips y

              • by drinkypoo (153816)

                Maybe I'm too much into it but everybody's got their thing and this is mine. What you enjoy doing with your idle time isn't my business, and what I do with mine isn't yours. To me this is more fun than World of Warcraft or Star Trek Online, or whatever it is that trips your trigger.

                Well, speaking for those who enjoy actual analysis in my comments, thank you. It never ceases to amaze me how many comments are made without research, including some of mine. I strive for improvement, however. It's amazing how many questions in comments you can answer with wikipedia.

            • by symbolset (646467) *
              Second reply, sorry. Companies and people hoard their cash for a number of reasons. One of those reasons is to take advantage of opportunities when things are on sale. Like now, when Nokia is on sale for 90% off.
      • This puts a huge hole in the "'your' flavor linux" side, I wonder who will fill it.
      • by steelfood (895457)

        I expect him to be partially correct. In a way, Nokia has already "sold" their smartphone division to Microsoft, so I don't expect Microsoft to unnecessarily purchase all of the overhead of actually manufacturing a phone.

        More likely, a patent licensing agreement is going to come out of this along with revenue sharing agreements and some marketing agreements. Microsoft is probably going to buy the rights to market Nokia smartphones in North America or some such.

        Considering Nokia's CEO is sympathetic to Micro

    • They might just want to buy the patents and pull an Apple and try and use patents to block competitors imports. If you can't earn a monopoly, force one!
    • Re:Not plausible (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Dracos (107777) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @08:59PM (#38605418)

      If this does happen and anyone is surprised by it since Elop took over, they're idiots.

      The Nokia/WP7 partnership has already done damage to Nokia. MS knows (or or expected) that WP7 wouldn't gain traction, and that they'd have to buy a handset maker to make it competitive. Now that Nokia has submitted to their doom, MS can become an OEM for almost peanuts. I'm surprised that Ballmer didn't let Nokia bleed out longer.

      The people within Nokia that have carrier relationships would be kept on and assimilated to doing sales the Microsoft way. Redmond may have their flaws, but sales really isn't one of them... they need to get their foot further in the door with the carriers.

      Plus, none of the other OEMS really screamed when Google bought Motorola Mobility.

      • If this does happen and anyone is surprised by it since Elop took over, they're idiots.

        And if it doesn't happen, then what are they?

        The Nokia/WP7 partnership has already done damage to Nokia

        The damage to Nokia started long before the Windows Phone deal. The Symbian OS had stagnated, and while it was successful it was not famous like iOS or Android. (I still think my old Symbian phone was better than my iPhone in a lot of respects like multitasking and web browser.)

        But Nokia lacked direction the with Maemo which got merged with Intel's Moblin to become MeeGo. But their efforts with MeeGo went virtually unpublicised and never sold well. The only reaso

        • Re:Not plausible (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Microlith (54737) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @09:57PM (#38605782)

          But Nokia lacked direction the with Maemo which got merged with Intel's Moblin to become MeeGo.

          They produced the N9, which was "MeeGo compatible" and based on Maemo. It has apparently sold quite well and met with extremely favorable reviews. They had a direction and had to fight to get where they did due to the Symbian camps in the company interfering. Had that problem been solved and Maemo/MeeGo been pushed to the forefront instead of WP7, I doubt that Nokia's ability to compete would have been questioned. Problem is that would take a CEO with a vested interest in Nokia's success and independence and I don't believe Elop ever had that.

          • by oh2 (520684)
            Sold well? Who bought it ? I hardly know anyone anymore who owns a Nokia phone, just eighteen months ago half my friends had one, hell I had a N900 myself. I had high hopes for the N900, sadly Nokia didnt...
            • Re:Not plausible (Score:5, Informative)

              by TeXMaster (593524) on Friday January 06, 2012 @05:30AM (#38607804)

              Sold well? Who bought it ? I hardly know anyone anymore who owns a Nokia phone, just eighteen months ago half my friends had one, hell I had a N900 myself. I had high hopes for the N900, sadly Nokia didnt...

              Many people with N900 didn't get an N9 because the N9 is EOL. Despite this, though, there are markets where the N9 has not been officially sold (like Italy) that have to go look for their N9s eslewhere (e.g. Switzerland) _and they do_ (there are quite a few online Italian shops that sell imported N9s).

              Nokia expresselly killed their Linux line of phones, by making the N950 a "developer preview" only and only releasing the N9 in "selected" market. _Despite_ this, and their Lumia phones being everywhere, the N9 is still in high demand.

      • Dracos wrote "If this does happen and anyone is surprised by it since Elop took over, they're idiots."

        I agree. How do Nokia's actions make sense if this in NOT true?

      • by mjwx (966435)

        Plus, none of the other OEMS really screamed when Google bought Motorola Mobility.

        Because of the open nature of Android. Motorola was already a competitor, Google buying them didn't change anything as Google still needs other OEM's.

        Now the likes of HTC and Samsung aren't going to complain if M$ buys out Nokia because the only one not doing a completely half arsed effort on WP7 is Nokia. HTC's bread is buttered by Android. Samsungs bread is buttered by Android and non-smartphones. They fear ZTE, Huawei

    • Re:Not plausible (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Junta (36770) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @09:00PM (#38605422)

      On the first part, I would have no trouble believing that Nokia would sell themselves completely to MS. I wouldn't think selling their phones separately would ever happen, but Nokia is pretty well going to do anything that MS asks of them at this point unless their leadership changes away from the MS cronies in place now.

      Which makes this story even less plausible, why would MS buy the cow while they get the milk for free? In Nokia they have a partner that is pretty well willing to bet their whole business on MS and do exactly what MS would have them do if they owned them, without the complications of an acquisition, particularly in fairly MS-hostile territory of EU.

      In terms of other manufacturers being 'happy' with MS, I think the handset makers are likely not particularly pleased with how the WP7 ecosystem is set up anyway. By design, the hardware manufacturers are relegated pretty much to producing the exact same equipment with the same exact software, chips and screens as their competitors. There is pretty much zero room in the WP7 ecosystem for any differentiation, making it pretty much a pure commodity business with race-to-the-bottom margins. I think MS has most of them scared enough to at least participate by making a few handsets to hedge their bets in case of an Android collapse, but there seems to be pretty much no enthusiasm among manufacturers or carriers with MS and Nokia the only ones actively really *pushing* the platform.

      • by tomhudson (43916)

        making it pretty much a pure commodity business with race-to-the-bottom margins

        That pretty much describes most businesses. Including computers, cars, and crops.

        • by Sir_Sri (199544)

          right, and lots of big companies fled, or are fleeing the hardware production business in computers, most of the car makers nearly went bankrupt, had massive consolidation or are in part owned by the government (in germany), and crops are subsidized by the government to keep them in business.

          As to MS- Nokia. I doubt it. If I was MS I'd be using a pile of money to persuade Nokia and RIM to produce better products, and fold RIM into WP8, as the business oriented product. RIM has thrown their lot in with a

    • by chrb (1083577)

      And would Microsoft really want to spend the claimed $19 billion [businessinsider.com] on a division that has yet to prove that anybody wants to buy one of their Windows phones?

      Why not? How many billions do you think Microsoft spent on its Xbox division before it became profitable? Remember that originally they were going up against the established behemoths of the videogames industry: Sony and Nintendo. There was no guarantee that Xbox would ever be successful. It was estimated at the time that MS was absorbing $1 to $2 billion of losses in the first year alone just on subsidising Xbox console sales. There have been increasing calls from investors for MS to either put its cash in

      • by chrb (1083577) on Friday January 06, 2012 @12:03AM (#38606510)

        And would Microsoft really want to spend the claimed $19 billion [businessinsider.com] on a division that has yet to prove that anybody wants to buy one of their Windows phones?

        Just to add to this point: Microsoft paid $8.5 billion for Skype, a company that has never made a profit, and is not expected to any time soon. These kind of purchases are strategic, and aim to expand market share indirectly by forming synergies between different products; they don't have to be directly profitable in the short-term.

    • by phorm (591458)

      And would Microsoft really want to spend the claimed $19 billion [businessinsider.com] on a division that has yet to prove that anybody wants to buy one of their Windows phones?

      The first thing that came to my mind was: Patents.

      Of course it would depend on what patents there were to be had. Nokia has been around in the phone market (and others) for a long time... but $19b is still a sh*tload of money even for MS.

  • But... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bmo (77928) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @08:48PM (#38605344)

    I thought they already "bought" Nokia by having their cuckoo-CEO Stephen Elop installed as chief ramrod and bottle washer.

    Could this mean that Microsoft isn't sure that Elop is going to stick around and that the board might get rid of him? Oh that would be fun to watch.

    --
    BMO

    • Re:But... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Nerdfest (867930) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @09:09PM (#38605466)
      It means he's done enough damage to the stock price to make it affordable. It amazes me that what they did is considered legal.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Desler (1608317)

        Nokia lost 80% of their stock value high of ~40 bucks in Nov of 2007 to under 10 dollars in March of 2009 and it was riding in the low teens until Elop was announced as joining. Any :"damage" he has done was far less than Nokia was already doing to itself during the prior 3 years before Elop came along.

      • by Tom (822)

        Most of the things happening in the big business world are amazing for the fact that they're not life sentence offences. The media only reports on a fraction of them.

  • Still missing Borg Gates.

    Billcutus?
  • by Spykk (823586) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @08:56PM (#38605396)
    Slashdot would be much more pleasant if all the headlines that end in question marks were removed.
  • QT? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nurb432 (527695) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @09:03PM (#38605440) Homepage Journal

    If this were to happen, what about QT?

    The phone division i don't think anyone cares about at this point. I didn't even know there still was one :). But we would NOT want QT to fall into the wrong hands.

    But if this is BS like it seems to be.. then who cares.

  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @09:38PM (#38605666)

    As the old saying goes - "Why buy the cow when you're getting the milk for free?"

  • by jimmydigital (267697) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @10:13PM (#38605878) Homepage Journal

    I'm not laughing.. but Microsoft is still a joke. First they pre-announce a super smart phone a year before it's said to be out and now they are trying to buy their way into the smartphone market from another company that can't compete with Apple. How many phones have they already tried to launch that all failed miserably? Yea.. good luck with that. I'm sure the next phone venture will be worth every penny.

  • What if they did? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MrCrassic (994046) <deprecated@em a . il> on Thursday January 05, 2012 @10:47PM (#38606076) Journal
    Nokia's strong point (or given their performance lately, least weak point) is very much in their mobile phone business. If you look at their latest quarterly earnings [nokia.com], the net sale of mobile phones decreased (-14% from last) significantly less than their smart phones (-39% from last). On top of that, their smartphone sales dropped significantly in NA since last year, presumably because of the competition in the market and their lack of a real offering lately.

    Furthermore, it's pretty clear (as in their only choice at the moment) that they will use Windows Phone as their only smartphone platform and are dropping any commitments to any alternatives they had on the shelf. There is a good chance they will make deep system changes in their ROMs to enhance the experience as well, further enveloping their relationship with them. I doubt they will commit to Android sometime down the line, since (a) Elop has obvious ties with MS and (b) it will be way more work for them to "Nokia"-ize the UI to make it appealing to people like every other manufacturer did.

    So what if they sold that division to Microsoft? Their bread-and-butter won't change and won't be influenced by the move. Microsoft won't build any devices; if anything, they will have an easier hand in making sure the hardware gels perfectly with Windows Phone to make the experience as awesome as possible. Both companies would be better positioned to compete with Apple and Android since they will be able to use them as the "Nexus" of Windows Phone and, if they don't step on Nokia's toes, provide an awesome experience that neither company can match AND have manufacturer variety that gives people just enough choice to be appealing without being overwhelming. It's a win-win, though I'm probably being naive and overly simplistic.

    I know the news is fake, but I'm really excited about this collaboration. I love Nokia and I think this will finally make them relevant again if they don't let Microsoft run the hardware design show too much. They already did the right thing by setting a tight hardware baseline; Nokia can handle the rest.
  • by Trogre (513942) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @10:48PM (#38606084) Homepage

    Even if this were true (I really have no idea if it is), what would Microsoft stand to gain? I mean, they already effectively control the rotting carcass of Nokia through their puppet Elop.

    • by Alex Belits (437) *

      Maybe Elop is about to be fired or sued, or (not sure about laws in Finland but they can't be as executive-friendly as in US) charged with industrial sabotage or fraud?

  • by strangeattraction (1058568) on Friday January 06, 2012 @12:01AM (#38606484)
    They became M$'s bitch the moment they hired an ex-M$ CEO. The only surprise here is why did it take so long?
  • Another company that made agreements with MS bites the dust.

    Too bad, Nokia were the most free-software friendly CE company ever. I don't think there will be others like them anytime soon, seeing how the tides are turning.

    They could have shown the way to other manufacturers about how to make really open hardware, and about effectively contributing to upstream projects.

    Instead, they ended up on the exactly opposite side of the spectrum of freedom, and their end will be forever associated with... Windows

  • logical (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Tom (822) on Friday January 06, 2012 @06:30AM (#38607984) Homepage Journal

    That really was the next logical step. They've already ruined any hopes of Nokia ever getting back into the game with their mole who turned them on windows mobile as the OS of choice, now taking official control of the mobile arm of Nokia really is nothing new, it's just going the whole nine yards.

    Most likely future: MS will pour a couple billions into it, like they did with the xbox, bleeding money quarter after quarter. They will be waiting (and bleeding money) until their competitors make a blunder (like Sony did with the PS3) and then stand ready to take over market share with their 2nd rate product simply because it's there and it has marketing muscle. They will probably buy up a couple App providers along the way and make them windows-mobile-exclusive (hello, Bungie).

    Why? Because Balmer has no vision and isn't the guy to come up with anything resembling a new strategy. We will see what we've seen them do virtually everywhere else.

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