This time around, the rumour's being rekindled by Eldar Murtazin, the Russian editor-in-chief of Mobile-Review.com. He has a pretty good track record regarding Nokia, and has often had very, very early access to device prototypes and other information. However, as always, a firm pile of salt should be readily available at all times when reading this.
"Steve Balmer, Andy Lees and Stephen Elop, Kai Ostamo will meet in Las Vegas to finalize agreement about Nokia smartphone unit," he tweeted. The deal is apparently so that Microsoft also gets a few manufacturing plants, and, of course, an extensive patent portfolio. The Nokia name is set to disappear from the Microsoft smartphones that would follow from this acquisition.
It would leave Nokia with its feature phone business, networking equipment, and an assortment of other activities. While many think this would mean the end of Nokia, I highly doubt it will be - the company is 140 years old, has survived multiple crises and product transitions (they started out as a paper company, after all). Nokia will survive, even without smartphones, but that doesn't make it any less tragic.
This deal certainly wouldn't surprise me in the slightest. It's becoming ever more clear that all those naysayers were right, back when the Microsoft-Nokia deal was announced. Stephen Elop is a mole, with only one goal: to drive Nokia into the ground, so that Microsoft can swoop in and acquire the interesting parts for a relatively low price. The N9 demonstrated that Nokia did have an option besides the failing Windows Phone 7, and that the deal with Microsoft wasn't a necessity at all.
We'll have to see how it all pans out over the course of 2012, but this doesn't seem like a crazy prediction. Sad.