Microsoft-Nokia: A marriage of mobile mediocrities

Partnership between two lumbering giants not likely to shake smartphone market, unless you count laughter


Nokia chief executive Stephen Elop welcomes Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer with a handshake at a Nokia event in London

This just in: The Titanic and Hindenburg have joined forces. The mobile phone partnership between Microsoft and Nokia -- in which Nokia will adopt Windows Phone as its primary smartphone strategy -- is a case of two stumbling, lumbering giants uniting in the hopes of becoming a nimble market leader -- or at least a credible player. (Also see: Nokia partners with Microsoft, adopts Windows Phone 7) Even the latter prospect is highly unlikely, given the respective cultures and recent track records of these companies in the smartphone market, not that either of them are really in the smartphone market. Oh, plus Steve Ballmer still is CEO of Microsoft. Think it's just me? Here's Wall Street's early take on the deal: Shares of Finnish mobile device maker Nokia (NYSE: NOK) are down 1.24, or 11.4 percent, to 9.64 in early trading Friday, while shares of Microsoft are relatively unchanged at 27.61, up 11 cents, or 0.4 percent. But that's only because Bill Gates hasn't woken up yet. When he does, he'll be on the phone to his broker with an urgent "sell" order before he even gets out of bed. And I bet he'll use an iPhone or a Droid. In other words, after a week during which chief executive Stephen Elop vowed to take dramatic steps to save Nokia from its "burning platform," Wall Street has concluded that Elop would have been better off turning around and running back into the flames than partnering with Microsoft. It's as if Elop actually read my recent post about his "secret 10-point plan to save Nokia" and chose the one option I was kidding about. Dude, No. 4 was a joke! Honest. When it comes to humor, though, I'm a rank amateur compared to the author of Friday's "Open Letter" from Elop and Ballmer. Check out these hysterical gems: Together, we have some of the world’s most admired brands, including Windows, Office, Bing, Xbox Live, NAVTEQ and Nokia. Bing? One of the world's "most admired" brands? Even a search on Bing for "world's most admired brands" disproves that. Though I did find an article near the top of the search results about "the world's most admired companies," written by Fortune's Stanley Bing. Maybe they're counting that. There are other mobile ecosystems. We will disrupt them. That collective quaking you feel emanating from Apple and Google headquarters is actually giggling. Success requires speed. We will be swift. OK, now I know this whole thing is an Onion spoof. Why didn't someone tell me before?

Chris Nerney writes about the business side of technology market strategies and trends, legal issues, leadership changes, mergers, venture capital, IPOs and technology stocks. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisNerney.

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