How the Microsoft/Nokia deal (doesn’t) affect Android

September 3, 2013
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What we all knew would happen has finally come to fruition: Microsoft has agreed to purchase Nokia. The $7.2 billion deal, which gives Microsoft Nokia’s device and services division, as well as their patents, also sees the Windows Phone company with a true hardware entity for their fledgling platform.

As Microsoft begins the road towards bringing Nokia under their wing, we’re left to wonder what implications the deal could mean for Android. Though the news is fresh, it could still be a dud of a deal for Microsoft.

The OEM game

While Android is heavily reliant on Samsung, which has dipped their toe into the Windows Phone water, the affected party could end up being HTC. A resurgent HTC has dedicated a quarter of their lineup to Windows Phone. Even though Microsoft promises to treat everyone equally, we’ve got very little reason to think they’ll act in good faith.

This, of course, means HTC could end up focussed wholly on Android. They could put out a few phenomenal handsets each year, or go the Samsung route and douse the market with handset after handset, iterating each to death until something works out.

The deal may also leave other OEMs gun-shy about Windows Phone. It’s a struggling platform, which has just seen the parent company absorb the largest handset partner it had. That alone would be cause for concern to an OEM considering their options, and could help Android win a few more partners or devices. The licensing fees alone would scare many off.

samsung galaxy s4 vs nokia lumia 928 aa 928 tiles

Enterprise

Where this could affect everyone else negatively is enterprise. Microsoft is still the top business solution, and if they can (finally) integrate their enterprise solutions into a mobile platform, they’ve got an inroad. If Microsoft can marry desktop functionality to the phone, then effectively sell a business on why their solution is the best option, they could make some noise in a real battleground for all mobile players.

Asha

The most subliminally brilliant part of this is the lower end devices Windows Phone does not reach. Asha, Nokia’s low-end brand, has a strong imprint in emerging markets like India and throughout Asia. Asha was the money rake for Nokia while they explored the higher end Windows Phone market, and Microsoft could do the same thing with the brand.

Of course, those markets also see a huge uptick in Android device sales, at competing price points to Asha phones. Many view the gap between Asha and Windows Phone to be too wide to bridge right now, and they’re probably right. That leaves Microsoft with a diminishing return, on a dwindling feature phone segment, in emerging markets where people are hungry for more.

Nokia Share of WP

The real dirt

One thing that has flown under the radar are Nokia’s patents, which were included in the deal. Are we going to see more litigation from the Windows Phone maker now that hey have more patents under their umbrella? This tidbit of information really smacks of Google protecting themselves with Motorola’s patent trove.

Nokia has failed, and that can be directly linked to their wagon being hitched to Microsoft. Now that they’ve sold the wagon to the driver, we’ll see which road they’ll travel. We’ve seen what the two companies do as close partners, and there’s no reason to think Microsoft will be able to transcend their woes alone.

This gives Microsoft a unique opportunity, too. In plain terms, this gives them a chance to emulate Apple, and control the product end to end. From hardware to software, design to experience, they could hit an absolute home run with this acquisition.

Then again, this is Windows Mobile we’re talking about.

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