It has been a good few weeks for Microsoft in the mobile market. First of all, and as long expected, the firm got hold of Nokia’s phone business and access to its patents for the reasonable sum for $5.44bn.
This move will allow Microsoft to really focus on taking on Apple and Samsung in the mobile space, especially with its Windows Phone platform now starting to gain traction in a number of key markets.
The deal for Nokia was seen as bad news for BlackBerry, though, as it removed another potential buyer for its ailing business from the market. Microsoft could have been interested in snapping up some of its hardware or patents, but obviously thought otherwise. Given Redmond’s close relationship with Nokia, this is not surprising.
Microsoft will have considered its position finally set in the mobile market with the Nokia buy. However, BlackBerry's letter of intent to sell to Fairfax Financial Holdings will have been met with glee and seen as a perfectly timed fillip for its forward momentum.
The deal was not a huge surprise, especially as the firm put itself up for sale earlier this year, but it will allow Microsoft to start actively targeting existing corporate customers on BlackBerry.
Microsoft will feel confident that it can convince these firms to its platform. Indeed, V3 has already noted how some companies, such as Delta Airlines, are buying Windows Phone devices for staff and no doubt more will follow given Microsoft’s clout in the business arena.
While in the past BlackBerry may have been considered the safest platform for corporate communications, now Microsoft boasts services such as ActiveSync, and with the bring-your-own-device culture well established, IT teams have to be more flexible in what devices staff use.
Furthermore, the second benefit for Microsoft is that in the longer term it very much appears that the market is now set as a three-horse race against Android and Apple devices. Microsoft, with its huge cash balances and strong enterprise history, will fancy its long-term chances at competing with its rivals. As it demonstrated with the launch of new Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 devices this week, has no intention of giving up on the hardware market.
However, even Microsoft will have been taken aback by the success of Apple over the weekend, after nine million new iPhone devices were sold to eager fans. No doubt many of these people will include executives wielding the devices in work this week, and winning around these people may be all but impossible for Microsoft.
But as the demise of Nokia and BlackBerry this month has shown, the mobile market is rapid and unforgiving, and you only have to fall a year behind on the innovation curve to be left behind. Microsoft, Samsung and even Apple will no doubt all be well aware of this. Let the race begin.
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