Android anxiety drives Microsoft's purchase of Nokia

14 September 2013 by Steve Blum
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When you have to buy corporate affection.

Finally, there’s a plausible explanation for Microsoft’s purchase of Nokia last week: an Android phone was under development, on the only major mobile product line that supports its Windows operating system.

It couldn’t have been because Microsoft wanted to hire away the management team that took Nokia from world domination to being a life member of the sub-five percent market share club. I believe that Steve Ballmer thinks that he can scream loud enough to make Finnish engineers turn out hip, frictionless iPhone clones. But Microsoft’s board includes adults who know how to spell Blackberry and, in any case, would probably point out that even Apple isn’t doing that anymore.

Fear is a powerful motivator, though. Nokia makes about 80% of Windows-powered phones. If it defected to Android, Window’s market share – which, if only by default, has just edged past the Blackberry OS – would sink out of sight.

Any hope that the deal meant that Microsoft had found a secret pathway back to relevance is completely gone. Microsoft’s Office software package is still the big kahuna of productivity applications, but that’s the only bright spot.

Its Surface tablets are underwater, Linux is slowly but surely crowding Windows out of the booming cloud computing sector, and the personal computer side of the business is being squeezed between slowing sales and tentative moves by manufacturers towards alternative operating systems like, gee, Android.

Now it turns out that Microsoft grabbed Nokia to keep any of the other kids from playing with it. When the only way you can hang onto your friends is to buy them, your days on the playground are numbered.