Opinion Articles

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Two reasons Microsoft will buy Nokia

James Rosewell writes:

Microsoft have been talking about Mango, the upcoming upgrade to Windows Phone 7 incorporating their battery-friendly flavour of multi-tasking and 499 other new features. They’ve also welcomed Fujitsu, Acer and ZTE to the Windows Phone fold. However there was no significant news from Nokia and Microsoft. No timeframe for handsets, nothing in fact. Both companies are being tight lipped about the partnership at the moment.

So what could the future have in store for these two companies?  Microsoft have apparently already paid Nokia $1 billion to persuade them to use Windows Phone 7 instead of Symbian. Presumably Google didn’t put as much on the table for Android. The fruits of this investment are unlikely to appear until 2012 when we’ll see many new Nokia Windows Phone 7 handsets, Windows 8 and quite probably a hybrid version for tablets and touch screens all sporting the Nokia logo.

But this arrangement seems only half thought through. What about Microsoft Xbox and Nokia’s massive dominance in developing countries, particularly India?

Nokia is the number one brand of all brands in India. For many people, their first experience of a telephone and the internet was associated with Nokia. One billion people live in India and there is an emerging middle class with disposable income used to using Microsoft Windows. A lax approach to copyright law has certainly helped Microsoft establish mindshare.

Sony, with the Xperia Play, has shown a mobile smartphone for gaming can be built and is perfectly usable. It makes a lot of sense for Microsoft to release an Xbox mobile phone targeting developing countries. Who better to do it with than Nokia?  The back catalogue of games will drive profit if they’re not overpriced. They’ll almost certainly have an Xbox mobile phone for the US and European markets out this year anyway.

Nokia have failed to gain market share in North America. Microsoft were born there and have big brand presence. Focusing on Windows Phone branding with Nokia second could be a very smart way to increase market share. Maybe even lose the Nokia brand altogether.

How much could such a deal cost?  Let’s say Microsoft pay a premium for Nokia and a figure of $35bn is needed. We already know Microsoft have this sort of money because they tabled this much for Yahoo! a year or so back. Given Apple’s success with a combined hardware and software offering, there’s even a precedent to persuade investors. Not buying Yahoo! could be the best thing that Microsoft ever did.

Author: The Fonecast
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