Ever since Stephen Elop became CEO of Nokia we knew this outcome was inevitable. It was his job to make it as easy as possible for Microsoft to acquire the vital parts of Nokia, and here we are: Microsoft is acquiring Nokia’s devices unit for 3.79 billion euro, and another 1.65 billion euro for its patents. It’s a bit of a complicated deal in that Microsoft buys the Asha feature phone brand and Lumia smartphone brand outright, but will only license the Nokia name for current Nokia products; the Nokia brand will remain under the control of Nokia the company. This means Nokia as a phone brand is effectively dead.
In addition, Stephen Elop will return to Microsoft. I’m sure entirely coincidentally, Ballmer announced recently that he’s stepping down.
All this was as inevitable as the tides rolling in. Nokia has been going downhill and has stagnated ever since the announcement it would bank its future on Windows Phone. It went from being the largest smartphone manufacturer to an also-ran, which is made painfully clear by the fact that Microsoft paid more for Skype than it does for Nokia’s devices unit.
A painful end for a once-great phone brand. This was the plan all along, and in essence, Nokia’s board has executed it masterfully; the Finnish company has switched core markets several times in its long, long history (it started out as a paper company), and the unprofitable phone business was a huge liability for the company, despite claims by some that Nokia was doing just fine. Nokia’s board has masterfully gotten rid of this money pit so it can focus on the parts that are profitable.
And, as always, the next Lumia will turn it all around.