The verdict on the Microsoft-Nokia deal is as clear as mud

Microsoft had to do something to rescue its mobile strategy, but industry pundits say this deal isn't the fix that was needed

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Prolonging the withdrawal of life support

Stratechery believes the only rationale for the deal is that "Nokia was either going to switch to Android or was on the verge of going bankrupt ... and, had Nokia abandoned Windows Phone, then Windows Phone would be dead."

Therein lies the tragedy, many pundits believe. The fundamental flaw in Microsoft's mobile strategy, they say, is Microsoft's operating system. Rather than trying to keep Windows Phone on life support, Microsoft should instead abandon its mobile OS. "Microsoft's strategy pays no respects to a very stark reality: Very few people currently love Windows Phone, and doubling down on the platform via a Nokia acquisition may be throwing good money after bad," PC World writes.

"The war is over, and iOS and Android won," Stratechery says. "It would be far better for Microsoft to focus on serving and co-opting those devices, instead of shooting the most promising parts of their business in the foot for the sake of a platform that is never going to make it."

Let's hear it for No. 3

Harry McCracken over at Time is one of the few industry observers not predicting disaster. While pointing out the dubious track record of mergers in the tech industry ("Let's not even bring up HP's acquisition of Palm. Oops! Just did."), McCracken insists:

This deal doesn't necessarily need to change everything to be worth a try. Microsoft has plenty of cash, and the cash it's paying Nokia consists of overseas profits it wouldn't otherwise bring home to the U.S. for tax reasons. Windows Phone is currently a struggling number three in the smartphone platform wars; if it ends up a healthy, competitive number three, Microsoft might be happy it spent the money.

GigaOm agrees that Microsoft can afford a multi-billion-dollar gamble, but asks "can it afford to fritter away a few more years on chasing shadows? There is nothing in the deal than inspires confidence that it will turn two also-rans into champions."

Or as Google exec Vic Gundotra, who tried to woo Nokia into the Android camp, once tweeted: "Two turkeys don't make an Eagle."

Bring on the conspiracy theories

Then there are those who believe that Stephen Elop leaving Microsoft to become Nokia's CEO in 2010 was all part of a Trojan horse scheme to get Nokia into the Windows Phone camp, only to trash the company's value and make it a more attractive takeover target. As GigaOm notes, "since taking over the reins at Nokia in 2010, Elop has seen smartphone sales shrink faster than a $5 linen shirt. If anything, Elop's tenure at the top of Nokia will be remembered for the years when Nokia became irrelevant in the mobile handset business."

Perhaps the only upside to the deal, GigaOm claims, is that "this just might be the best thing to happen to Finland and the Finnish startup scene. A lot of the talent draining out of Nokia will look for new opportunities in their areas of expertise -- radio engineering, manipulating sensors and embedded systems. If anything, this is Finland's big opportunity to become the epicenter of the Internet of things."

It's not exactly the upside Microsoft had in mind when crafting the deal, I'm sure.

This article, "The verdict on the Microsoft-Nokia deal is as clear as mud," was originally published at Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.

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