James Moore: Stand by for some fun as Microsoft strives to get its house in order with Nokia deal

 

Outlook A cynic might see the real prize for Microsoft with its $7.2bn (£4.6bn) takeover of Nokia's mobile business as the return of Stephen Elop, who could provide a tidy solution to the question of who should replace Steve Ballmer as CEO.

But Microsoft needs this to be about more than getting its man (if Mr Elop is indeed its man). Because even if $7bn is relatively small change for the company, it really wouldn't do to be spending that much just on a transfer fee, even if the Canadian Mr Elop is the business equivalent of Real Madrid's €100m man Gareth Bale.

He could be seen that way if he can make this deal work. Microsoft has been trying to become Microhard, a maker of the gadgets that run its operating system, for some time now.

So far, its efforts have proved decidedly mixed. The XBox is a winner. But remember the Zune – an attempt rival to the iPod? You probably don't.

Then there are the warehouses stocked with unsold Surface units. Microsoft's clumsily named tablet has seen some take-up among students at the cheaper end of the scale because they use it as a lightweight laptop.

But the top-spec model is on offer – buy now and you'll save 80 quid. When was the last time Apple started slashing prices like that to shift unsold product?

Nokia's mobile business may be a shadow of what it once was, but its Lumia devices at least have their fans. What Microsoft needs to do is to develop a coherent strategy around a suite of products, under a brand people like. It might help if it stopped trying to compare its offerings to what others do (look, we're better than them) in favour of selling them on their own merits (look, our product's fab, you have to own one).

Of course, if it can restore Nokia's fortunes under the Microsoft brand, the question then is how will Samsung, HTC (which has troubles of its own) and the other makers of Windows phones view the development? That said, if Microsoft can make Microhard, or Microphone, Microgadget or whatever, into a force, it might not have to worry too much about that.

This promises to be fun to watch, and you can bet that this one-time one-trick pony, (endlessly updating Windows) will suffer a few embarrassing falls before we'll be able to assess whether it has won this race.

In the meantime, poor old Nokia, eh? The Finnish titan's exiting stage left with its tail between its legs. Back to the paper plant? Not necessarily.

While Microsoft has many questions to answer, what remains of Nokia is intriguing. While it's true that $7bn is a small fraction of what its mobile business was once worth, it is now in a potentially interesting situation, with what could be a very nice infrastructure business combined with a cash pile that could be used to go out and bolster it. Finland's a chilly place in winter, but the thought of the fees that could generate will be keeping its bankers very warm indeed.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000

£13000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to be part of a ...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Are you passionate about sale...

Ashdown Group: Graduate Developer (Trainee) - City, London

£25000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A large financial services company...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Assistant - Financial Services Sector - London

£20400 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and highly reputable organisat...

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future