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New Speculation Around Microsoft and Nokia

I must admit that today, I was hoping to provide some commentary on Steve Ballmer’s CES keynote – particularly around anything that he was planning on saying regarding tablets/smartpads.  Too bad Mr. Ballmer chose to completely overlook this emerging market during his high profile presentation.  That was a bit of a drag and an even greater surprise.

However, CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo (whom I have been a fan of for years) interviewed Mr. Ballmer today and asked him point blank:  “Why not just acquire RIM?”  A few minutes later she followed up her first question with “Why not just buy Nokia?”

Hmm…this is something I have thought about for quite some time…heck, I have even shared some of my thoughts around Nokia, particularly around how Nokia should license Windows Phone 7.  But Microsoft buying Nokia?  That would cost about (I’m guessing) $50 billion….assuming a 30% premium over the market cap.  That’s pretty close to the $40 billion war chest that Mr. Ballmer has.

So the question is, does Microsoft want to follow the Apple/HP/RIM strategy of owning the whole stack, or do they want to continue the way they did things historically and/or follow the Google approach of licensing the software.  As you know, I think that in the long run, Google will be in a boat load of trouble because of all the fragmentation it has allowed/encouraged.  Microsoft has been a lot wiser in its second mobile go-around…especially as compared to the Windows Mobile 6.x fragmentation mess.

I found a very good article that makes the argument for Microsoft buying Nokia.  As I have said before, some sort of deal makes sense given Mr. Elop’s new position at Nokia….but that would be at the very least having Nokia licensing the Windows Phone 7 platform.  Buying Nokia outright would be a HUGE gamble….now mind you, Microsoft has been making some “big” gambles as of late (e.g., Kinect) and has had success.  Microsoft is also known for being at its best when its back is against the wall.

Is this where Microsoft finds itself in the mobile world?  Can you envision Microsoft completely changing its game plan and building its own mobile hardware?  What are the implications (in your mind) from an enterprise mobility perspective?

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