Posts tagged Nokia
The United States Department of Justice has approved the sale of Finnish smartphone maker to U.S. software giant Microsoft. Microsoft announced its intent to purchase Nokia for $7.2 billion on September 3 this year with the expectation that the deal would clear regulatory hurdles in the first quarter of 2014.
The approval from governing bodies and shareholders that must sign off on the deal appears to be a bit ahead of schedule. The U.S. DOJ made its decision on Nov. 29 (Black Friday last week in the U.S.) and was announced today according to the Federal Trade Commission. Nokia shareholders already approved the deal in a vote last month. Officials in India have also approved the deal. The final step for the merger to be finalized is for the European Commission (a governing body within the European Union) to give final approval which is expected later this week.
Microsoft is buying Nokia’s devices and services division that include nearly 33,000 employees worldwide. Microsoft will be able to use the Nokia name for several years on the smartphones the merger will produce. Nokia will remain a separate company in Finland and produce the HERE Maps product (which it will license to Microsoft) as well as retain its entire patent portfolio.
Photo: Nokia Lumia 2520 tablet running Windows 8.1 RT
View full post on ReadWrite
Nokia can finally lay claim to a tablet worthy of its brand name.
The Nokia Lumia 2520 is stunning. It has a 10.1-inch screen and it’s incredibly thin, light and comes in one of four colors (glossy red or white and black or cyan matte). I got a glossy red one and—like many Nokia products—it’s a joy to hold. With a few notable exceptions, Nokia makes really attractive and ergonomically-inclined hardware. The Lumia 2520 is a perhaps the epitome of Nokia design since it adopted the Windows operating system several years ago.
The hardware in the Lumia 2520 is nothing to sneeze at either. It employs a 8000 mAh battery that Nokia claims can get an 80% charge in one hour. The innards consist of a 2.2 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, 2GB of RAM 32GB of internal storage with MicroSD support for up to another 32GB. It has a 6.7-megapixel back camera with Carl Zeiss optics and a 2-megapixel front camera, which are both very good for full-sized tablets
Unlike its big sister the Surface 2, the Lumia 2520 has LTE cellular connectivity with a broad range of carrier support. I got a Verizon version of the Lumia 2520 and it connects as fast as any smartphone.
The screen on the Lumia 2520 is excellent, comparable to other high-end tablets with 1080p HD (1920×1080). As with the Surface 2, the screen is fairly responsive and quick though I did run into a little lag in certain apps, like Flipboard. At one pound ,5.7 ounces, it’s heavier than the iPad Air but still doesn’t feel too clunky or cumbersome.
These specs (the battery and processor mostly) are all top of the line for a device running on an ARM chip and give Nokia a respectable offering at the top of the tablet market.
Nokia’s Hooks Into The Tablet
Unlike Microsoft, Nokia is no stranger to building apps for ARM devices, and so offers a number of proprietary services that run on top of Windows RT.
Nokia HERE Maps, Nokia Music, Storyteller, Nokia Camera and the Nokia Video Director all make their way to the Lumia 2520. These are welcome additions to the standard Microsoft core apps that run on Windows 8.1 RT.
The only problem with the Nokia-specific apps is that they require the user to establish a Nokia account instead of just using the Microsoft account that Windows 8.1 RT forces users to sign up for on Windows devices. Since Microsoft and Nokia are almost the same company, the two might as well push for a single sign-on for all the apps between the two companies.
Nokia does bring a couple of third-party apps specifically to the Lumia 2520, including DreamWorks Dragon Adventure, a game based on the movie How To Train Your Dragon. It’s a location-based game where your missions and quests are dictated by your travel. It’s primarily designed for parents to give their kids on road trips.
Still Running Windows RT
If you’ve ever used Windows RT, you’re not going to be surprised or enlightened by the operating system in the Lumia 2520. Really, except for the Nokia-specific features, the Surface 2 and the Lumia 2520 might as well be the same tablet.
This is somewhat of a problem in Windows 8 devices including the Pro, RT and Phone divisions: The user interface looks the way Microsoft wants it to look. Outside of customizing hubs and tiles within the operating system, there is very little difference between any two Windows 8 devices. The hardware specifications and build quality may look different between devices, but you get the same user interface and experience on the inside.
That means that all the good and bad parts of Windows 8.1 RT come to the Lumia 2520. The good parts are Internet Explorer, a top-quality browser, and all the standard Windows-based system apps. Like the Surface 2, the Microsoft Office apps come bundled on the Lumia 2520 and can be toggled from the limited Start button on Windows 8.1 RT. If you want to turn your Lumia 2520 into a productivity tablet, you’ve got that option.
Windows 8.1 RT’s primary problem, though is a lack of top brand apps. Spotify, Zite, Netflix, HBO, Pandora, IMDB and their ilk are all still missing in action. The absence of those apps is a very clear obstacle to users of rival tablets who might otherwise consider switching to the Windows platform.
The Lumia 2520 also supports a keyboard, though it doesn’t come with one. The Nokia Power Keyboard is available for $149.
Mobile All The Way
The biggest advantage that the Lumia 2520 has over the Surface 2 is that it’s LTE-equipped. Rumors suggest that the Surface 2 will have a data connection next year, but right now if you want a Windows 8.1 RT tablet that doesn’t rely on Wi-Fi, the Lumia 2520 is it.
According to a Nokia Conversations blog post, the Lumia 2520 will be available through AT&T on a two-year contract for $399. If you buy a Lumia device like the 1520 or 1020, that price comes down to $199 on contract. Without a subsidy, the Lumia 2520 will retail for $499 before taxes.
The notion of going on contract for a tablet is a little bit odd. The carriers tried to attach data plans to tablets when the Motorola Xoom was originally announced, but that didn’t go well. That was partly because of the device—the Xoom was widely panned—but also that it seemed odd to sign a contract for a device that wasn’t a smartphone.
The standard way to add data plans to tablets these days is to either bundle them into a shared data plan or to pay month-to-month for the amount of data you want with the ability to add more or cancel on any given month.
That being said, the Lumia 2520 matches up favorably to the iPad Air in terms of price for a LTE-enabled tablet. A 32GB iPad Air (with no MicroSD slot) with a data connection costs $729. The same storage and data cost $499 from Nokia. So that’s is a point in Nokia’s favor.
The Lumia 2520 will be available starting November 22.
The Advantages Of The Lumia 2520
While Nokia brings a worthwhile effort to its first tablet, it is hard to get over the fact that the operating system and user interface is absolutely no different than the Surface 2.
Yes, it’s more attractive—not that the Surface 2 is ugly, it is just that Nokia is very good at making things pretty—and has LTE. But if you’re not partial to Windows 8.1 RT, there’s really no good reason to step up and buy a Lumia 2520. If you are a Windows RT fan, then you should take a serious look at the Lumia 2520 over the Surface 2.
View full post on ReadWrite
There is big. Then there is massive.
The Galaxy Note 3 smartphone “phablet” is big. The brand new Nokia Lumia 1520 is massive.
Really, this smartphone should come with a warning label: “Putting this device against your face to make a phone call will make you look ridiculous and is not practical in any way, shape or form.” The Lumia 1520 makes the iPhone 5S look like a child who is holding its mother’s hand walking through the circus. Nokia, perhaps, has gone over the deep end.
We have been over this before. The “phablet” (a smartphone plus tablet) is a completely impractical device to use as a phone. It is difficult to carry around and seemingly just gets in the way of everything. That being said, the phablet has some advantages. One friend who bought the Galaxy Note 3 (with Galaxy Gear) told me, “I love reading on this thing. I read on it all the time. Do I use it as a phone? Almost never. Always with an earpiece or ear buds. There is really no other way.”
For a comparison of just how big the Lumia 15020 is see the picture below.
From left to right: Lumia next to the Galaxy Note 2, Lumia 1020 and Nexus 5.
So, we can note that the Lumia 1520 definitely falls into this category of ridiculous, oversized phones that are conceptually designed for the Hagrid’s of the world, not the Hermione’s. Any conversation about the Lumia 1520 will start (and probably end) with the size. But to focus just on how big the Lumia 1520 and say that it offers little value to the everyday consumer would be a mistake.
More Than Massive
When the first couple of phablet devices hit the market in the last two years, the conversation on size was an appropriate focal point for a discussion. Smartphones, like the first two generations of the Galaxy Note, really started the category and other manufacturers have followed suit.
So, we have stopped being wowed by these mammoth phones that are really more like small tablets (the Lumia 1520 is closer to the size of a Nexus 7 than a Moto X). What are the benefits of these devices? More pertinent to the Lumia 1520, does the device make Windows Phone a better or different experience?
The answer to that is yes.
Windows Phone, by definition, is based on a static design principle. You can get a Windows Phone from any manufacturer out there and the home screen and app drawer (the only two homescreens on the device) are going to look basically the same. Yes, Windows Phone has the auto-updating Hubs and Tiles and the ability to resize the apps you pin to your homescreen but in the end, it all looks basically the same. If you have seen the design of one Windows Phone, you have seen them all.
The Lumia 1520 shows off the best of Windows Phone. It absolutely packs the homescreen full of everything you might want from the operating system and gives you the real estate to personalize it to your specifications. If you are a fan of Windows Phone, then the Lumia 1520 gives you the best experience you are going to get from Microsoft’s mobile operating system.
Yet, like basically everything in the Lumia 1520, there may be an aspect of “too much.”
The Lumia 1520 comes jam packed full of pre-installed apps. All of Microsoft’s apps are pre-installed on the phone including Office, OneNote, Outlook, Bing Sports/Finance/Weather/News (as separate apps), Xbox Games, Internet Explorer, People (Windows Phone version of Contacts that integrate from various social profiles and email), Windows Phone Marketplace and Windows Phone Wallet. In addition, all of the Nokia-specific apps are already there including Creative Studio, Nokia Music, Nokia Pro Cam, Nokia Screen Beamer, Nokia StoryTeller, HERE Drive+ and HERE Maps.
Coming through AT&T, the usual crapware from the carriers is also there, including the AT&T Address Book, FamilyMap, Navigator, Locker, Mobile TV, my AT&T and Radio. Then you get all the utility tools like the Calculator, along with some pre-installed third-party apps like The Weather Channel, YPMobile and Vimeo (in lieu of a decent YouTube app).
If you just bought the Lumia 1520 and turned it on, it would be understandable to say, “I just got this, where the heck did all these apps come from?”
We have written before about how Nokia must be the company that gives Windows Phone its value. That holds true with the Lumia 1520 as Nokia’s main objectives are all met: Nokia’s imaging, maps and music are all present to give users unique, quality choices that are not necessarily tied to the walled gardens of Google, Microsoft and Apple. That being said, Nokia just wants you to play in its own walled garden, but if you are used to using Android or iOS, Nokia’s features are a welcome addition to any Windows Phone.
Maybe Mammoth, But Quality Nonetheless
Phablets are a subjective consumer choice. What I find to be ridiculous may be completely reasonable to someone else. What cannot really be argued is that the Lumia 1520 takes all of Nokia’s best industrial design principles and puts them to work in its gargantuan phone.
The best decision that Nokia has made over it past couple iterations of smartphones is take wireless charging out from inside the device. The Lumia 920—considered the best of Nokia at the time—made a massive mistake by including wireless charging inside the device because it bloated the casing and made the smartphone heavy and brick-like. It is telling that Nokia’s two flagship smartphones since the release of the Lumia 920 do not include wireless charging, for both aesthetic and functional reasons.
The Lumia 1020 has a 41-megapixel camera that gives it a big bump on the back. That is not necessarily a bad thing, as the phone is otherwise fairly ergonomic. If Nokia had added the wireless charging, the focus on the camera (which is just about all that phone has going for it) would have been lessened in a more bloated device.
The same is true for the Lumia 1520. It is already huge but adding to that by making it thick as well would have been a complete deal breaker. Instead, wireless charging for the Lumia 1520 (and the Lumia 1020) is handled with an attachable case. As it stands, the 6-inch Lumia 1520 phablet can pull off a sleek and reserved look while still being just about the biggest smartphone on the market.
While on the topic of hardware, Nokia has chosen the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 quad-core 2.2 GHz processor to run the Lumia 1520. It has 2 GB of RAM and comes in 16 and 32 GB internal storage models with an expandable storage slot. The 3,400-mAh battery should keep the phone alive with its large screen for at least a full day, while providing excellent standby time. The camera is 20-megapixels and sports all of the software and hardware that often make Lumia cameras as good or better than the competition such as the image stabilization specs and PureView.
Does It Make Sense For You?
Do you like Windows Phone? Do you like really big smartphones? If you do, this brings the best of those two worlds into one device. It may take some getting used to the fact that the Lumia 1520 has to be operated with two hands. That’s okay, though, as long as you know what you are getting into.
In the end, the Nokia Lumia 1520 is a lot of smartphone—lots of screen size, lots of pre-installed apps, lots of Windows Phone. Smartphones are much like candy bars these days: you like what you like and damn everything else. It is a completely subjective decision left up to the individual. Is the Lumia 1520 better than the Nexus 5? The iPhone 5S? Those are the wrong types of comparisons to make. What the Lumia 1520 represents is a certain, very distinct flavor of smartphone. The software, hardware and experience will please those that like that flavor.
View full post on ReadWrite
Editor’s note: This post was originally published by our partners at PopSugar Tech.
Yesterday’s Apple keynote eclipsed another bit of important news: the unveiling of the Nokia Lumia 2520, Nokia’s first Windows tablet. The Lumia 2520 faces stiff competition in its own field with the Microsoft Surface 2, which, curiously, shipped on the same day as the Nokia announcement (Microsoft owns Nokia).
Nokia’s new tablet will also have to take on the just-announced iPad Air, which Apple claims is the “lightest full-size tablet in the world.”
The Nokia Lumia 2520 ships with Windows 8.1 RT and comes in four colors (red, white, blue, and black), but only one model: 32GB with LTE. The Surface 2 does not offer an LTE cellular model, which may be why the Microsoft-owned Nokia decided to go ahead with a competing tablet.
The hardware is very similar to the Lumia smartphone line, and the tablet’s specs boast a high-definition display, a great rear camera, and LTE.
When can you expect the 2520? Anytime between now and December 2013, Nokia said, with a $499 price tag. We bet that the tablet will ship just in time for the holidays, so you’ll need to decide which gadget you should add to a wish list. To help you make up your mind, we pitted the Nokia Lumia 2520 against the iPad Air, spec by spec.
While the iPad Air bests the Nokia in terms of display resolution and lightweight hardware, the Lumia 2520′s price and camera are clear winners. Memory choice is limited to 32 GB on the Lumia 2520, but perhaps the LTE connection will allow for more cloud storage.
Which tablet made your holiday wish list: the iPad Air or the new Nokia Lumia 2520?
More stories from PopSugar Tech:
The Truth About Dating in the Digital Age
This Instagram Novel Is 100 Percent Real
Girls Getaway: How the 2013 Toyota RAV4 Fared
Nokia’s Refocus App Captures the Entire Light Field, Like a Lytro Camera
Candy Crush-ians, Get Ready to Be Addicted to the Real Thing
View full post on ReadWrite
Microsoft can always count on Nokia as the linchpin of devices and services strategy—good thing, too, since Microsoft is spending more than $7 billion to acquire its stalwart ally. The latest sign of the companies’ emerging codependence: Nokia’s belated entry into the market for tablets.
Today at a Nokia World event in Abu Dhabi, Nokia is unveiling six new devices, three of which are running Windows. The biggest, quite literally, of the bunch is Nokia’s first tablet to use Windows. The Nokia Lumia 2520 is a 10.1-inch tablet running Microsoft’s Windows RT 8.1 operating system on a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 2.2 GHz processor with a 6.7 megapixel camera. The Lumia 2520 will retail at $499 and will ship this quarter.
Nokia also announced two large smartphones to go with the Lumia 2520 tablet: the Lumia 1520 is a 6-inch “phablet” smartphone as is the low-end Lumia 1320. The Lumias 1520 and 1320 are Nokia’s first entrance into smartphones with screens bigger than 5-inches and sports will boast a 20-megapixel camera, the same Snapdragon 800 processor and a robust 3,400 mAh battery.
Nokia also announced three new Asha smartphones, its low-end feature phones with smart capabilities targeted at emerging markets.
Microsoft’s Two ARMs
Windows RT, the version of Windows that runs on ARM-based processors, has been a disaster so far. The Surface RT tablets the company announced last year were a major consumer dud, leading to a $900 million write down on Microsoft’s balance sheet. Microsoft’s manufacturing partners—that would be Dell, Lenovo, Samsung and Asus—have also fled from making Windows RT tablets. Currently, the Microsoft RT and new Surface 2 are the only Windows RT devices available for consumers.
Unfazed, Microsoft is forging ahead with Windows RT more or less because it has no choice. Mobile app developers are not going to build apps for Microsoft tablets based on x86 chip architecture (such as the chips that Intel and AMD make and run most Windows laptops and PCs as well as the Surface Pro tablet series). Microsoft needs an ARM-based tablet so it can build affordable and trim competitors to joust with the likes of Apple’s iPad and tablets built on Google’s Android operating system.
So we have the first ARM-based Nokia Lumia tablet running Windows RT 8.1. The Lumia 2520 will come in red, cyan, white and black and have an optional Nokia Power Keyboard that wraps around the tablet, has a trackpad and provides five hours of extra battery life, according to Nokia. The Lumia 2520 will come with Microsoft Office built-in, Nokia Music and free use of its HERE Maps product.
With the Lumia 2520 and Surface 2, Microsoft now has two ARM-based Windows RT 8.1 tablets on the market—or three, if we count existing inventory of the Surface RT that’s still for sale. Microsoft needed Nokia to build a tablet, and the power that Microsoft had over Nokia through its exclusive partnership—even before the acquisition—meant that Nokia didn’t really have a choice.
A Wide Range Of Lumia Smartphones
With the Lumia 1520 and the Lumia 1320, Nokia now has a variety of smartphones to fit just about every screen size. The 6-inch 1520 as big or bigger than other phablet/smartphones such as Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3, the HTC One Max and the LG Optimus G Pro. In the mid-screen tier Nokia has the 4.5-inch Lumia, 920, Lumia 925 and Lumia 928 as well as the Lumia 1020 with a 41-megapixel camera. The Lumia 520 is Nokia’s budget smartphone selling at $99 with a 4-inch screen.
The Lumia 1520 and Lumia 1320 come as Microsoft just released Windows Phone 8 Update 3 that allows for manufacturers to build smartphones with screens larger than 5 inches along with a variety of new features.
Between all the screen sizes and prices, Nokia has its bases covered while hitting just about every major cellular carrier in the United States and Western Europe.
It’s taken Nokia a couple of years to build out its full portfolio of Lumia smartphones, but when you take a step back and look at the full spectrum of devices, it is impressive what the company has been able to produce since the first Lumia was announced in October 2011. Of course, that’s still no guarantee that the company can make headway against the iPhone and Android juggernauts.
View full post on ReadWrite
Nokia wants developers to build great apps for Windows Phone… and keep updating them after they are published. Like almost all of the other major mobile device and operating system makers, Nokia is willing to reward developers for building premium apps.
But Nokia’s incentive program has a twist: it’s been gamified. Nokia’s “DVLUP” incentive program rewards developers for building and updating their Windows Phone apps with marketing and distribution support to help Windows Phone users discover their app. The system is set up like a game (hence the gamified buzzword), with developers competing in quizzes and contests about Windows Phone app development to earn points—called XP—that can be used to redeem marketing tools and support from Nokia.
DVLUP has been in beta since November 2012 and is now just reaching the public realm for developers. The program is free and developers can sign up with a Windows Live ID.
Nokia’s Jason Black describes it in a post on the company’s Conversations blog:
Since it first began nearly one year ago, DVLUP has been designed as a rewards program that makes the most of a “gamification” model, whereby members are encouraged to compete—with one another, and to test themselves—earning badges and points (known as XP), completing quizzes and challenges related to app development, and then being able to collect some serious rewards for their hard work.
If you’re a fan of Nokia phones—and apps in general—DVLUP leads to numerous high quality apps and games being released on an ongoing basis. As a result, you as an owner of a Nokia device get access to new apps that you know have been made by developers who seriously care about their work.
View full post on ReadWrite
Microsoft and Nokia—now the tightest of friends, following Microsoft’s $7.2 billion bid for the phone maker’s devices and services arm—could well have had it in for each other had things gone otherwise. Nokia, it turns out, already had Android running on its Lumia smartphones as an experiment (says the New York Times), while Microsoft was testing its own smartphone based on its Surface tablet (says the Verge).
Alas for the fratricidal possibilities that now we’ll never see.
View full post on ReadWrite
Nokia is now a part of Microsoft. When the dust settles, the new Microsoft will have its guns aimed directly at Google and Apple.
Microsoft has made a big deal recently of transition itself to be a “Devices and Services” business. Buying Nokia’s device business is the easiest way to make that transition happen in one kit and kaboodle. Microsoft expects the deal to be approved in the first quarter of 2014.
Game Of Phones: Apple Vs. Google Vs. Microsoft Define Next Decade
First, Microsoft becomes a vertically integrated device company with the capability to design everything about its mobile products from the operating system to how the hardware looks and runs, along with the manufacturing chops to build and distribute those devices itself. Microsoft didn’t just buy an existing unit and the sales that go with it, but an entire operation that it can integrate top to bottom.
This is just like Apple does with its iPhones and iPads. And like Google has started doing with Motorola and the Moto X smartphone. Nokia as part of Microsoft sets up a direct battle between the three computing giants that will dictate how gadgets are made, used and sold for the next decade.
“This acquisition is a clear stepping stone in Microsoft’s transition from a software company to a software-led multiproduct company,” said Forrester research analyst Ted Schadler in a blog post this morning. “Apple pioneered the model of vertical integration in devices: device+software+services. Google quickly mastered it. Microsoft has now proven that it is willing and able to make the tough decisions to make a vertically integrated product a cornerstone of its business model.”
Patents Wars: Is Microsoft Weaponized Or Will There Be A Forced Détente?
Microsoft strengthened its patent portfolio by licensing Nokia’s 30,000 utility patents and directly acquiring 8,500 design patents. With these patents come all of Nokia’s previous licensing and patent agreements with a variety of companies in the mobile industry including Qualcomm, Apple, Motorola, IBM, LG and others. The patents cannot be ignored and give Microsoft a distinct strategic lift when battling both Apple and Google (and, to a certain extent, Samsung) in patent courts across the globe.
Microsoft seems to have taken the opposite route in acquiring the use of Nokia’s patent portfolio than Google did when it bought Motorola in 2011. Google’s acquisition was seen at the time as mostly a patent play, subsuming some 17,000 patents (with 7,000 pending at the time) to defend its Android mobile operating system against lawsuits from the likes of Apple, Microsoft and Oracle.
Do these patents mean that Microsoft will be on the offensive in trying to limit Apple and Android devices from reaching the market? Probably not, in either the short nor long term. Nokia has successfully navigated the patent landscape without many major court cases (with the exception being with Taiwanese manufacturer HTC) by coming to agreements with the major players in mobile with a variety of licensing deals. Microsoft and Apple also have a mutual agreement to not attack each other on the patent front. So, Microsoft and its cadre of patents could create a détente between Apple, Google and its manufacturing partners and other mobile players. Each have the capability to sue the other over very specific issues meaning that patent lawsuits could become zero-sum battles.
“It is about wanting to avoid the potential litigation around monopoly that Microsoft could face (Nokia patents are licensed by many other vendors) and also avoiding the legal hassle of enforcement, since now essentially a holding company (Nokia that’s left over after acquisition) will deal with that,” said mobile analyst Jack Gold of J.Gold & Associates in a note. “Much cleaner just to license the patents without the baggage.”
Microsoft’s Place In The Smartphone Manufacturing Ecosystem
Juniper Research expected Nokia’s smartphone shipment to be 6% of the market in 2013. With the sale not expected to be final until the first quarter of 2014, that number is not going to change substantially.
For Microsoft, its Windows Phone 8 mobile operating system has not made huge gains Apple and Android. In the second quarter of 2013, Microsoft had 3.3% of the smartphone operating system marketshare with 7.4 million devices shipped. Android held the global lead with 79% of devices shipped with Apple steady at 14.2%, according to research firm Gartner.
The 7.4 million Windows Phones shipped last quarter can be attributed almost 100% to Nokia, if Gartner’s numbers are correct (Nokia-reported sales numbers for the second quarter were squarely at 7.4 million). Microsoft licenses Windows Phone to other manufacturers (Samsung and HTC being the major ones) but none have become popular with consumers. For Windows Phone, Nokia is the one and only partner that matters.
Now that Microsoft owns Nokia, there is little reason for other manufacturers to license Windows Phone. Microsoft may try to keep other manufacturers in the fold (the way Google has with companies like Samsung, HTC, Huawei, LG, ZTE even after the Motorola acquisition) but it is more likely that Microsoft will move towards a more centralized process in the same mode that Apple does with the iPhone.
“The steadily diminishing investments by other Windows Phone licensees has left Microsoft with essentially a single bearer of the standard—Nokia—and they now appear poised to adopt a vertically integrated strategy more akin to Apple’s,” said Forrester research analyst Charles Golvin.
The question for Microsoft will be whether having Nokia around to build smartphones will extend to alienating its other manufacturing partners that build laptops and tablets based on Windows 8. Nokia has been rumored to build a Windows RT tablet to be released this fall. At Microsoft’s Build developer conference in June, the company showed off a litany of tablets, laptops and dual-mode devices that can essentially be bother laptop and tablet. These came from a variety of manufacturers such as Lenovo, Acer, Dell and others. Nokia will be leading the design of its tablets with its own hardware division going forward, activating Nokia’s well of talent for the purpose.
“[The alienation of smartphone manufacturers] may even extend to tablets, as Nokia will probably now assume the leadership position within Microsoft of designing and building tablets (especially in light of the rumored Nokia RT tablet),” Gold said. “Microsoft may gain a competitive posture against Apple (which in my opinion is vulnerable to attack on this front), but it may not easily achieve what it is looking to do.”
Microsoft’s Fate is Now Firmly In Its Own Hands
Microsoft is not going to become a “Devices and Services” company overnight. It takes a long time for a ship the size of Microsoft (and even bigger with Nokia now in tow) to correct course once the rudder is moved. Between the company’s massive “One Microsoft” reorganization, the eventually “retirement” of CEO Steve Ballmer, the integration of Nokia and the naming of a new CEO, Microsoft is going to be in a state of flux for the foreseeable future.
When it all settles down, though, Microsoft will have all the tools it wants to turn itself into a success… or failure. It will have the hardware designers, engineers, marketing and distribution in house for its smartphones and probably tablets. It will have Windows 8 and its manufacturing partners. It will have its cloud services through Azure and other services like its Office suite of apps. It will have Bing to add as its Web linchpin to all those devices. Add all the legacy enterprise tech (including new additions like Yammer) and Microsoft has everything it needs to transition into the 21st Century of innovation and technology.
But no clear guarantee of success.
Google has been contemplating the future of the Web, services and mobile devices and has a very competent strategy for the future, with fail-safe mechanisms in place in case of disruption. Apple may be vulnerable on a short term basis to market fluctuations, but is still the singular global powerhouse in mobile devices and computing. Samsung is a wild card manufacturer that can adjust to market conditions on the fly and perform extremely well. Amazon, Facebook, Intel, IBM and others lurk on the edge of big time technology and make billions of dollars doing so.
Nokia will be an important piece in the Microsoft machine but just the ability to build your own smartphones does not mean that the company will find victory in the mobile industry. There are just too many external forces to contend with, all of which push the envelope on a quarterly basis.
“At the end of the day, Microsoft has to compete on the attractiveness to the end user for its products, and just having a device producer on board doesn’t get them there,” Gold said.
View full post on ReadWrite
The return of prodigal Nokia CEO Stephen Elop to Microsoft’s executive team as part of the acquisition of Nokia’s handset and services unit is raising questions about Elop’s role within Microsoft moving forward, both near-term and long-term, as well as how this will affect Microsoft’s recent “One Microsoft” management reorganization scheme.
Under the One Microsoft plan, all operating systems were merged into a single Operating Systems group under Terry Myerson. Qi Lu heads up the new Application and Services group (which handles products like Bing, Office, Exchange, SharePoint and Skype) and Satya Nadella runs the Cloud and Enterprise group, overseeing Windows Server and Azure, among other products.
But the person most effected by today’s news will be Julie Larson-Green, who was named as lead for the Devices and Studios group as part of the One Microsoft plan. Larson-Green’s team was to handle Surface, Xbox, games and entertainment development and production. Now, it seems, Larson-Green may be seeing her role as executive VP getting diminished already.
The Nuts And Bolts Of Merging
According to a memo from Steve Ballmer to Microsoft employees last night, what Microsoft wants to do with Elop is create an expanded Devices team that will envelop the existing Devices and Studios group and many of the incoming Nokia employees. Elop will report directly to CEO Ballmer.
Larson-Green, for now, will continue to helm the Devices and Studios team pushing out the expected Xbox One and Surface revamp this fall, Ballmer indicated.
“Julie will be joining Stephen’s team once the acquisition closes, and will work with him to shape the new organization,” Ballmer continued.
Meanwhile, several key Nokia players will also be reporting to Elop in his new role as head of the Devices group: Jo Harlow will continue to lead the Smart Devices team and Timo Toikkanen, will continue to lead the Mobile Phones team. Stefan Pannenbecker will lead Design.
There are other aspects of Nokia’s business that will have to be merged, such as marketing, sales, finance, HR… all of the cogs that help large companies keep on running.
According to the tentative plan outlined by Ballmer, Nokia’s sales team will remain intact, but will report to Microsoft COO B. Kevin Turner. Nokia’s marketing will be folded into Microsoft’s newly integrated global marketing group.
Where things get fuzzy for the integration are in areas of manufacturing and figuring out a unified customer support infrastructure. That will be the big job ahead for Microsoft Corp. VP Tom Gibbons and Nokia EVP, Operations Juha Putkiranta, who will be leading the integration efforts on behalf of their respective companies.
Elop As Future King?
Putting Elop inside Microsoft as a direct report to Ballmer is an interesting move in itself. Since Microsoft is re-tooling itself as a “devices and services” company, it was widely believed that Larson-Green would be one of the lead internal candidates for Ballmer’s job as CEO. This made sense from an operational standpoint as well as a professional one, since Larson-Green is regarded as a smart and savvy leader.
That possibility seems very much in doubt now. The wording of the memo from Ballmer seems to indicate that Larson-Green will be reporting to Elop, which would accordingly elevate Elop to the best heir-apparent position within Microsoft for the CEO job.
According to an interview with Ballmer by The Verge, Elop has been up for the Microsoft CEO position as an external candidate. He will continue to be in the running as an internal candidate.
Given Elop’s tenure as former head of Microsoft’s Business Division from 2008-2010, he certainly has the background to take on the lead role at Microsoft. But Elop’s work to date at Nokia has been less than stellar, even after he chose to enter a strategic partnership with Microsoft in 2011 and sell Windows-based smartphones.
Sure, it makes sense for a company that wants to remodel itself into a devices company to hire someone who’s run a devices company already.
But when Elop took over Nokia just shy of three years ago Nokia’s global smartphone market share was around 35%. Now, it’s around a mere 4%. In 2010, its market cap was over $40 billion. Three years later, Nokia’s market cap is $14.6 billion. And since Elop took over, more than 40,000 employees were handed their pink slips in sweeping waves of layoffs.
Is this the kind of management Microsoft really needs?
View full post on ReadWrite
In one fell swoop today, Microsoft is becoming an extremely different type of company. Microsoft is pushing hard to recreate itself as a “devices and services” company and today it took a very big step in that direction by buying, you guessed it, Nokia’s mobile devices and services division.
Microsoft is paying $7.17 billion to bring Nokia into the fold, including the design, manufacturing and distribution of both smart and feature phones and the right to license many of Nokia’s patents, as well as the Nokia name and a host of mobile services.
What didn’t Microsoft buy with its $7 billion in cash? Nokia itself, including most of Nokia’s non-smartphone related property (cellular infrastructure and HERE Maps, for example). Many people will say, “Microsoft bought Nokia.” This is true because Microsoft did buy a good portion of the Finland manufacturing company, but Nokia itself will still exist independent of Microsoft.
So, what exactly is Microsoft getting? Let’s break it down.
What Microsoft Actually Bought
Officially, Microsoft is buying Nokia’s “Devices and Services” business unit. That simple designation is the whole hog: everything from manufacturing and distribution, design, operations, sales and marketing teams and related support. That business unit comprises of approximately 32,000 people that will become Microsoft employees when the deal officially closes.
More specifically, Microsoft is buying Nokia’s Smart Devices unit. This includes the Lumia brand of smartphones running the Windows Phone operating system. Nokia shipped 7.4 million Lumia smartphones in the second quarter of 2013. The Smart Devices unit includes the manufacturing and design of the Lumia line along with the distribution, sales and marketing teams.
Microsoft didn’t just buy the Lumia brand, it bought the people that actually put it together. This is extremely important for Microsoft because it could not possibly think to create its own manufacturing processes and supply chain on its own and hope to make a significant dent as a “devices” company any time soon. In this case, the processes that Microsoft is getting from Nokia are as important as the resources (the sales and revenue of Nokia phones).
Nokia’s Mobile Phones business unit is also part of the deal. This is Nokia’s still robust (but shrinking) feature phone business and includes Nokia’s Asha line of cellphones. Nokia’s feature phone business sold 53.7 million units in the second quarter, second to Samsung worldwide.
Microsoft could have done without the feature phones business unit of Nokia. Yet, to buy the manufacturing processes of Nokia, it had to take the feature phone and Asha units along with the smart devices unit. Microsoft sees the feature phone unit as a way to expand Microsoft services to millions of Nokia users worldwide as a way to “on-ramp” users to Windows Phones. Microsoft will be able to use Nokia’s brand on feature phones for 10 years.
The acquisition is also a bit of a talent acquisition for Microsoft, as it is bringing in most of Nokia’s executive leadership team, including Nokia CEO Stephen Elop who will transfer to being Microsoft’s head of its Devices unit. Elop is still considered a candidate for the CEO role of Microsoft.
In addition to Elop, Microsoft is will bring in Jo Harlow to continue leading Nokia’s Smart Devices team, Juha Putkiranta to lead the Nokia integration into Microsoft, Timo Toikkanenen to lead the feature phone Mobile Phone division and Stefan Pannebecker to lead the device Design team. Gus Weber, Nokia’s marketing head and former head of all of Nokia’s U.S. sales, will come to Microsoft and continue his roll as Nokia sales chief.
Microsoft also bought the rights to license Nokia’s robust patent portfolio for 10 years. Microsoft is specifically buying 8,500 of Nokia’s design patents, and will also make its patents available to Nokia for its HERE Maps unit. Nokia will also transfer its patent licensing agreements, including its big one with chipmaker Qualcomm, to Microsoft. Other patent agreements transferred to Microsoft includes those with IBM, Motorola Mobility (owned by Google), Motorola Solutions. Nokia also passes on patent agreements with Apple, LG, Nortel and Kodak to Microsoft.
What Microsoft Didn’t Buy
Nokia will continue to be a company outside of Microsoft and will retain rights to its brand and management thereof. If Microsoft were to buy all of Nokia, the acquisition cost would have been more than double what Microsoft paid for the devices side of the business and included many aspects of which Microsoft would wants no part. Eventually, Microsoft would eventually have to sell off those unwanted Nokia parts piecemeal. In this—better—arrangement, Microsoft will be able to license the Nokia brand for existing devices.
The HERE Maps team will stay with Nokia. HERE Maps is a subsidiary of Nokia that employs about 6,000 people. Nokia will make HERE Maps available to Windows Phones and feature phones as part of a four-year license that Microsoft will pay for separately. This preserves a revenue stream for Nokia and also allows Nokia to sell HERE Maps and services to other companies.
Microsoft didn’t acquire Nokia’s entire patent portfolio, either. It bought the design patents outright but will license Nokia’s 30,000 utility patents patents for 10 years.
By not acquiring the entirety of Nokia’s patents, Microsoft was able to keep the acquisition cost of the Devices and Services down while preserving future assets for Nokia.
View full post on ReadWrite