Nokia and Microsoft aren’t quite merging. The Devices and Services business (the bit of Nokia that makes indestructible mobile phones, and underperforming smartphones) is being sold to Microsoft.
This may turn out to be a good move. Microsoft’s own multitouch hardware efforts have been floundering (looking at you, Zune HD and Surface.)
At the same time, I don’t trust Microsoft not to bugger it up. Ballmer has taken the first two steps to fixing Microsoft’s problems (admitting there is a problem and starting a reorganisation—better late than never—and preparing for his own replacement.) But the fact remains that Microsoft seems devoid of coherent leadership.
Windows RT has been an unmitigated disaster. The Xbox One, despite Julie Larson-Green’s valiant efforts in swinging the ship about, must still go down in history as one of the most heavily botched product reveals in recorded history. Microsoft’s advertising for the Surface, Windows Phone and Bing has mainly revolved around unsophisticated attacks against their better-performing competitors, and clumsy product placement in which a character in a TV show announces, “I Binged it!”
And then there’s the fact it’s Microsoft, not Nokia. The general perception of Nokia is of an old stalwart, a cheap, reliable phone that would last basically forever. The perception of Microsoft, for people (like me) who grew up in the same period, is of an irritating anthropomorphic paperclip, which gets in your way and can be invited to show off.
‘Microsoft Lumia’ doesn’t have much of a ring to it. Whether Microsoft can change that in time remains to be seen.