Microsoft and Nokia: The Saddest Names in Tech Unite

How pundits are reacting, and how Microsoft is explaining itself
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 3, 2013 1:40 PM CDT
Microsoft and Nokia: The Saddest Names in Tech Unite
Steve Ballmer, left, chairman and CEO of Microsoft, and Stephen Elop, CEO of Nokia, introduce Nokia's newest smartphone, the Lumia 920, equipped with Windows Phone 8, on Sept. 5.   (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

Why did Microsoft buy Nokia's phone business? We now know Microsoft's answer: The computing giant released a 30-slide presentation today arguing that the move will improve Microsoft's margins on Windows phones, which will allow it to invest more in the platform, which will accelerate sales and market share growth, the Washington Post reports. But John Herrman at Buzzfeed has another explanation: "Fear of dying alone." Here's what he and other pundits are saying:

  • The presentation "manages to sound both insane and uninspiring, outlining modest goals that still sound unrealistic," Herman argues—like capturing a whole 15% of the smartphone market. "It's a fitting end for the close of Microsoft's Ballmer era, during which the company … missed out on the most important change in consumer electronics in decades" while remaining profitable in unglamorous ways.

  • Like everyone, Microsoft is trying to ape the Apple model, MobileOpportunity observes. But it's not so sure that's a good idea. "There already is an apple," the blog points out, and other software/hardware hybrid companies, like Palm and BlackBerry, have been crushed under its heel. Maybe Microsoft should have tried to patch up its tried-and-true strategy of licensing its OS.
  • The move risks complicating Microsoft's crucial relationships with other PC and device manufacturers, one analyst tells ZDNet. But he adds that "Microsoft needed to make a bold move" or face "certain terminal decline," and that the price it paid for Nokia "seems extremely reasonable."
  • Meanwhile, Matthew Yglesias at Slate digs up a fairly interesting memo from Nokia CEO (and, perhaps, Microsoft heir apparent) Stephen Elop, in which he uses the story of a Deepwater Horizon worker leaping from the burning oil platform—a seemingly desperate, yet necessary move—to explain the company's shift from its own failed OS to Windows Phone. Of course, Yglesias notes, that move "was basically a total failure." To read the full parable, click here.
(Read more Microsoft stories.)

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