Will Nokia Become The IBM Of Handsets?

Tech industry insider and Mobile Review Editor Eldar Murtazin hit us with what could be the most shocking bit of leaked Nokia news since his infamous N8 hands-on last year. What happened? This morning Murtazin posted some crucial information regarding the ongoing Microsoft/Nokia deal on his personal blog.

What we thought we knew: As of February 11, 2011, the partnership would bring Windows Phone into the mix as Nokia’s primary OS for high-end devices, Bing would act as Nokia’s default search engine and Nokia Maps would come pre-installed on Windows Phone devices. As far as the consumer is concerned, Nokia would still be making your phones, and Microsoft would be developing your operating system, with the exception of low-end Nokia phones, which will remain on Symbian. Well, all that seems to have changed, now that Murtazin has claimed that Microsoft is in talks to acquire (or, more likely, take a large chunk of) Nokia’s handset unit. The Mobile Review editor even claims that the deal could close by the end of this year.

Now, obviously this information isn’t official, and should thus be taken with a grain or two of salt. In the case that it is true (and I wouldn’t put it past Microsoft), let’s just take a little look at what this rumored deal may mean for the future. First, it would mean that the Windows Phone platform ends up right where it started, encased in a Microsoft-built handset. This wouldn’t be that big of a deal except for the fact that Microsoft spent billions getting Windows Phone onto Nokia’s handsets, only to take over Nokia’s handsets and put the OS back on Microsoft phones. Talk about taking the scenic route.

Plus, what will happen to Nokia after this? If the original plan called for Nokia to make the phones, and Microsoft to make the OS, then the new plan puts Nokia in charge of a sentence we can’t quite Finnish. Ahem, finish. I guess all that would be left of the world’s biggest handset manufacturer would be its consulting arm, much like IBM’s business position now. In 2002, the technology manufacturer shifted away from hardware and boosted its consulting services with the purchase of PricewaterhouseCoopers to the tune of about $3.9 billion in cash and stock. Since, IBM Global Services has become the fastest-growing part of IBM’s business. Perhaps Nokia will follow suit?

Regardless, Windows Phone isn’t going anywhere and barring a total meltdown of RIM it will probably be in the #4 spot in terms of handset adoption for most of the next few years. However, a move like this could put WinPho on the map, especially in countries where the name Nokia is synonymous with quality.

[Unwired View]