Microsoft announced tonight that it will buy Nokia’s devices and services division.
This is the part of Nokia that makes smartphones (and soon) tablets.
Microsoft will pay 3.70 billion Euro for Nokia’s devices business. That’s nearly $5 billion is U.S. dollars. Microsoft will also pay an additional 1.65 billion Euro ($2.2 billion U.S.) for the rights to Nokia’s patents.
All together, the deal will cost Microsoft about $7 billion U.S.
Microsoft will also take on about 32,000 Nokia employees. Nokia’s CEO Stephen Elop will transfer to Microsoft too. (Elop used to work at Microsoft before becoming the Nokia CEO.)
The joining of Microsoft and Nokia isn’t a huge surprise. Nokia is the only manufacturer that exclusively uses Microsoft’ Windows Phone 8 operating system for its top-tier smartphones. Meanwhile, Microsoft has struggled to gain significant market share for Windows Phone as Android and the iPhone continue to dominate.
Nokia’s flagship Lumia phones are most likely the best-selling Windows Phones today. The company sold 7.4 million last quarter. A lot of those sales are due to the fact that Nokia attacks the low-end of the smartphone market with cheaper devices. It also makes high-end phones like the Lumia 920, 925, and 1020.
This can also be another sign that Microsoft is taking its transition from a software company to a “devices and services” company much more seriously. Until last year, Microsoft did not make any major products (besides the Xbox) itself. That changed with its line of Surface tablets that run the new Windows 8 operating system. The company announced that it was making the transition to a company that provides both devices and services.
But Microsoft has yet to make a smartphone of its own, despite numerous rumors that it had plans to. By buying Nokia, Microsoft now has its own manufacturer that it can work closely with.
Microsoft’s purchase isn’t likely to annoy other manufacturers that make Windows Phones either. Most of those manufacturers (Samsung, HTC, etc.) have been able to make more money from Android devices than an alternative operating system like Windows Phone 8. Nokia is the only manufacturer that relies almost entirely on Windows Phone 8.
Finally, there’s Elop. He’s one of the names that have been floating around as a potential replacement for Steve Ballmer as Microsoft’s CEO. Ballmer announced last month that he plans to retire within a year. A special team of Microsoft board members is now on the hunt for a new CEO.