No sooner had Microsoft announced a deal to acquire the handset and services business of Nokia for about $7.2 billion than industry pundits, fresh from the Labor Day holiday weekend, put away their BBQ tools and sharpened their knives, roundly panning and second-guessing Redmond's motives.
Many scratched their heads and wondered "What does this deal actually do?" since Nokia, as the only real supporter of Windows Phone, essentially is the Windows Phone company. How, asks Stratechery, does the acquisition improve upon the partnership Microsoft and Nokia put in place just two years ago? "From Microsoft's perspective, that was a brilliant deal; [Apple Outsider's] Matt Drance characterized it as 'Microsoft Buys Nokia for $0B,' and he wasn't far off. ...There is nothing further to be gained by an acquisition."
Misery loves company
Over at PC World, Mark Hachman cites Ben Franklin's "we must all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall hang separately" sentiment as a possible impetus behind the deal, but concludes that "Microsoft and Nokia may have simply thrown a rope to one another, cried 'Save me!' and jumped off a cliff in unison ... [because] the Franklin philosophy is predicated on the notion that both sides end up winning -- and there's little guarantee that will be the case."
InfoWorld's Galen Gruman less charitably notes that some have suggested "the Microsoft-Nokia pairing was an attempt to tie together two drunks in hopes they would walk straight. If so, one drunk would fall down and be cut loose as the other started feeling more sober."
Hail Mary pass
The general feeling is that Microsoft had to do something to gain traction in the mobile market. "[Ballmer] sees Google and Apple pushing Microsoft aside as the PC market continues to decline and the Nokia purchase is a Hail Mary bet to take them on playing their own game," Gruman says -- but he holds out little hope for a pass completion, much less a touchdown:
It may be Microsoft's only option, but being Apple requires a focus on quality, user experience, and platform centrism that Microsoft hasn't demonstrated. Its refusal to listen to complaints about Windows 8 and now Windows 8.1 show it may be incapable of truly listening.