Last night Microsoft announced they intended to buy or license all the parts of Nokia's mobile business that matter. That will either make them a vertically integrated player in the smartphone business like Apple or BlackBerry, or the stewards of some janky Franken-licensed business like Google and Motorola, or more likely, something in between. So what does that mean for Apple, and for the iPhone and iPod business?
- There are a lot of Microsoft products that people want on mobile. Windows isn't one of them. Rather than a beachhead, it's proven to be a barrier. Unless and until Microsoft understands that, it makes no difference whether Nokia's phones (and tablets) are first or third party.
- Nokia helped Microsoft attain more marketshare than they likely would have otherwise. It's unclear what, if anything, Windows Phone helped Nokia attain other than a cleaner demise for Symbian and Meego.
- If there's any room on the shelves between Apple and Samsung, it's going to other Android devices, not other operating systems. The third option is "Droid" in Verizon's case, not Windows Phone.
- Microsoft buying Nokia isn't Apple buying NeXT. Steve Jobs and the influx of talent from the NeXT team reshaped Apple culture as much as OS X did its computers. Stephen Elop and Nokia haven't shown anything that could "fix" what's been ailing Microsoft in the consumer space.
- Indeed, Elop is Microsoft culture. He left Microsoft for Nokia, greatly reduced the value of the company, and is now selling it back to Microsoft for a steal.
- Not every company needs to be, or should even want to be Apple. Consumer electronics is sexy and it gets the headlines, but it's only one facet of technology. This purchase smacks of Microsoft once again feeling inferior to Apple, for no good reason, and doing what Apple does rather than being who Microsoft is.
So, in short, while you can never rule out any company as talented and wealthy as Microsoft, when it comes to how it will affect Apple, the iPhone, and the iPad, the sad answer is about as much as HP buying Palm did.
We'll have ongoing coverage of everything related to the Microsoft/Nokia sale at our sibling site, Windows Phone Central.