Ballmer is leaving soon and one of his biggest failures was the lack of a coherent mobile strategy. With the $7.2 billion acquisition of Nokia’s smartphone business, things might get a bit better – but we’re afraid it’s too little, too late. Nokia makes top notch smartphones, its industrial design is excellent and so is build quality. Windows Phone is probably the best OS Microsoft currently has on the market.
So what’s the problem? Timing.
Unfortunately Microsoft dropped the ball on mobile six years ago and although WP8 is an excellent piece of software, it’s still struggling to compete with Android and iOS. Had it been ready a couple of years earlier, the mobile landscape could have been a lot different. We’re just not sure Microsoft can pull off a miracle at this late stage in the game.
Under the all-cash deal 32,000 Nokia employees will join Microsoft, including CEO Stephen Elop. Last week we ran a funny filler about British bookies who gave Elop a good chance at becoming the new Microsoft CEO following Ballmer’s departure. Nobody took it seriously, but now it seems the bookies we’re better at the guessing game than analysts and industry insiders.
Although it's too late, don't write off Redmond just yet. With new leadership and the combined talent of Microsoft and Nokia, it could work in the long run. Also, the fact that the deal was reached under Ballmer's tenure should help his successor whoever it may be. He or she won't have to face the music if it all goes badly wrong, Ballmer will.