Microsoft went shopping this morning and bought Nokia. This is a very good move. Now that Steve Ballmer and his bizarre visions of a non-future are gone, the company can move forward into areas that it should have been dominating for the past decade. The biggest of those is of course mobile – a playground where it has been proven time and time again that the only real winning strategy is to control both the hardware and the software that makes it go.
However, the hard lessons of Blackberry have taught us that controlling the hardware and the software isn’t enough. You also have to be willing to turn those assets into something that consumers want to buy, as opposed to something your upper management thinks that consumers should want to buy. There is a small but fundamental difference in those two concepts, one that a lot of top-heavy traditionally-managed companies can’t seem to see.
So. Nokia still has loads of smart and creative people who have a lot to offer and are probably champing at the bit to get back into the game. Microsoft has massive resources and a market influence that still carries a lot of weight. This could be a powerful and winning combination, if the people who have driven Microsoft into a stagnant morass of Windows-centric thinking are willing to stand back and let some action innovation happen. A lot of it will depend on how deep Steve Ballmer’s mindset and managerial poison has infected the company. If the zero-innovation gestalt can be purged along with Ballmer’s core group, this has some serious potential … otherwise, this is just a mirror image of the Research In Motion – QNX debacle, and will probably have the same sad eventual result.