Bonum Certa Men Certa

Microsoft's Nokia 'Deal' is More Like a Takeover, Patents Pose a Problem

"In private a government delegate compared Microsoft’s public affairs methods with the scientology cult." --FFII member in attendance

Summary: Microsoft's entryism at Nokia expands with a new deal, the addition of former Microsoft veteran Chris Weber, firing of older management, and potentially patents too

ELOP is a very hated man right now, and not just among Linux advocates (there is a whole article in The Register about just that). The state of Nokia's stock speaks volumes (Nokia is down sharply). For the uninitiated, here is the press release from Nokia. There is also one from Microsoft and a video announcement. So much was written and is still being written about it in the press; moreover, since we expected this all along, there is not much to add. In chronological order, here are some pointers to posts we wrote since Elop had first entered Nokia:



  1. Microsoft President Quits, But is Nokia the Next Victim?
  2. Microsoft Passes More of Its Executives to the MSBBC. What About Nokia?
  3. Microsoft Insiders Galore: BBC, Nokia, Others Already Damaged by Microsoft Hires
  4. Taking Over Linux, by Proxy
  5. Linux Battle in Mobile Phones Becomes Primarily Legal, Not Technical, Due to Software Patents
  6. Linspire/Ballnux in Tablets; HP Possibly Experiments With Vista 7 in Slate After Abandoning It, Then Hiring From Microsoft
  7. If You Can't Beat Them, Hijack Them (Microsoft Joins Nokia and It Already Shows)
  8. New Article Says Nokia Might be Bought by Microsoft After Appointing Microsoft President as CEO
  9. Entryism Watch: Yahoo! Keeps Being Abducted by Microsoft Executives, HP Cancels Android Projects After CEO Appointment From SAP
  10. As Expected, Nokia and HP Betray Linux Under Microsoft-sympathetic New Leadership
  11. Head of Microsoft Romania Quits, Entryism Revisited
  12. Microsoft's Favourite 'Reporters' Are Attacking Nokia, Pushing it Into Microsoft's Arms
  13. Will Elop Choose the Future (Linux) or His Past (Microsoft) for Nokia?
  14. Analyst Wants Microsoft's Elop (Now Nokia CEO) to Shoot Down Linux Programmes
  15. Microsoft Disruptors Versus Linux Smartphones Domination
  16. Report: Nokia's New CEO From Microsoft About to Fire Existing Nokia Executives
  17. Poisoning Mobile Linux With Microsoft Staff and Mono
  18. Microsoft's President Elop is Allegedly Killing Linux Inside Nokia/Intel, Just When MeeGo Gets Android Compatibility (Updated)
  19. Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg Confirm Elop Speaks With His Old Colleagues at Microsoft


This new deal with Microsoft did not shock us as we had expected it with great disdain for several months and we explained its implications (some people did not comment on it until the ninetieth minute). In this post we'll limit ourselves to new information. Dr. Glyn Moody quotes a comment that agrees very much with what we've worried and warned about: "perfect trojan strategy: msoft puts elop w nokia; nokia embraces windows phone; nokia shares tank; msoft buys nokia"

Another aspect of it is the patent ownership we alluded to in the previous post. If an analogy helps, think of CPTN in the context of Novell. See posts such as (also chronologically ordered):



Apart from sarcasm about Nokia's Windows phone (picture), there is very harsh criticism that includes a good post from Eric Raymond, titled "The Smartphone Wars: Nokia’s Suicide Note". Here it goes: "Stephen Elop has jumped his company off the burning platform, all right. And, I judge, straight into the fire.

“It’s the way Elop has failed to resolve Nokia’s drift and lack of a strategic focus.”
      --Eric Raymond
"No, the choice that seals Nokia’s doom isn’t the tie-up with Microsoft (though that’s problematic enough, and I’ll get back to it). It’s the way Elop has failed to resolve Nokia’s drift and lack of a strategic focus. Instead of addressing this problem, Elop plans to institutionalize it by splitting the company into two business units that will pursue different – and, in fact, mutually opposing – strategies.

"After the brutal clarity of the “burning platform” memorandum, this is deeply disappointing. And not viable. One of my commenters voiced my very thought: the death spiral begins now.

Yes, Microsoft loves a "death spiral". It is a term that Microsoft uses internally. In this case, Microsoft has nothing to lose and Nokia has everything to lose. They privatise the benefit and socialise the risk, to to speak. If Nokia goes under, that too is a win for Microsoft. The same scenario applies to deals between Microsoft and companies like Yahoo!, Corel, Novell, and others. It's parasitic and exploitative. Here is one way of putting it:



Lets start with the obvious. Microsoft wins massively. One of the biggest wins in history. The whole PC industry is singing in chorus that the future of the PC is mobile. Microsoft which built its massive and profitable empire on the PC, was never able to do so in mobile (their peak market share was about 12%, and they currently have 3% but that includes the about-to-be extinct Windows Mobile. Microsoft's new OS, the one Nokia will adopt, called Phone7 has only 1.5% in Q4. Nokia had 33% for the whole year; Who is the winner here?).


So, Nokia kills Symbian (that's one competitor less for Microsoft) and Nokia's reasons for avoiding Android (by its own explanation) apply exactly to Vista Phony 7, so they can easily be viewed as lousy excuses. The issue of distinguishing oneself cannot be resolved with a Microsoft platform that is used by other hardware companies too. Stephen Elop is lying through his teeth to justify an atrocious deal with his colleague/boss Stephen Ballmer. Ballmer sent him there amicably (see the official statement from him) and now they shake hands for the cameras, ushered by sympathisers like Andrew Orlowski, the MSBBC, and Microsoft booster Preston Gralla. Now, watch who else is joining:

Following Nokia‘s strategy shift announcement, the Finnish mobile phone giant has just announced that it has appointed former Microsoft executive Chris Weber as President of Nokia Inc. (United States), and head of Markets, North America.

That means Mark Louison, a long-time Nokia employee who was appointed that role back in March 2007, is out to “pursue new career opportunities”.

Weber comes to Nokia from his own consulting business, but he’s mostly known for his career at, yup, Microsoft. Weber was with the Redmont-based software juggernaut for 16 years – he held several senior executive positions in sales, marketing and professional services.


They are likely to appoint some more Microsoft cronies.

Just as Nokia adopts Windows Phone 7 as 'primary platform' (despite Vista Phony 7 failing in the market) we learn that Nokia's Linux efforts are at great risk (no official word about their death yet). "NOKIA PICKS WINDOWS" says this one headline among several similar ones. MeeGo/Qt are discussed in [1, 2] and Fab says: "Former Microsoft executive and Nokia CEO Stephen Elop has chained Nokia’s fortune to his former employer’s: Nokia is now effectively the main delivery platform for all Microsoft mobile and entertainment technologies. Although Nokia is denying this, this will probably spell the end of both MeeGo and Symbian — most likely sooner than later."

This is slowing down Linux development and harming KDE too. Nokia is currently one of the top contributors to Linux, so for Microsoft to disrupt Nokia would mean harming Linux in servers and desktops too. Here is what The H says:

What that MeeGo-related product is, was not disclosed. Notes on the Nokia's reorganisation in another part of the announcement offer a suggestion though; the company announced it was reorganising into two divisions: Smart Devices and Mobile Phones. The Smart Devices division will include "Symbian Smartphones" and "MeeGo Computers"; this may indicate that Nokia's future plan for MeeGo is on non-phone devices, a strategy reminiscent of previous Nokia tablets such as the Nokia N770 and N800; these ran the predecessor of MeeGo, Maemo.


In the Techrights main IRC channel we've discussed this many times today and there are many good responses in Identi.ca too (see our IRC logs from around 8AM onwards). This is an example of market distortion by Microsoft and a chain reaction will follow, just like done back in the days with Novell, shortly before the patent assault began, first with FUD, then with lawsuits.

Techrights has stressfully anticipated this deal with Microsoft but was a lot more concerned about patent provisions. To put a positive spin on what just happened, at least no patents are being passed to Microsoft (for now), however Nokia can end up like Novell with the CPTN scenario and Nokia can also sue companies that sell Android devices using its large patent portfolio applying to software and hardware alike. Nokia is pushing Windows, not Android or even Linux, so such lawsuits can be invoked by former Microsoft executives inside Nokia. "Elopocalypse" is the hashtag for this whole nightmare deal and Jeff Waugh posted some interesting thoughts about it, e.g.: "So it sounds like MeeGo will be used for tablets, mobile Internet devices (if that category even exists in 2011) and perhaps other form-factors… but then, check out the choice of words: “project”, “exploration”, “related product”. Elop all but confirmed the loose end nature of the project during the CEO Q&A.

"There’s no commonality whatsoever between MeeGo and the Windows Phone 7 platform (unless Nokia do something very clever with Mono, but I can’t see Microsoft allowing it), so now Nokia has Symbian, MeeGo and Windows Phone 7 for different device profiles… a confusing story for developers, don’t you think?"

“Intel have lost their 800lb smartphone hardware gorilla… does it make sense to continue investing in MeeGo?”
      --Jeff Waugh
He also wrote: "Then you have to consider Nokia’s partners in the MeeGo project: Intel and the Linux Foundation.

"Intel have lost their 800lb smartphone hardware gorilla… does it make sense to continue investing in MeeGo? Just for tablets or netbooks? Who else is going to jump on board, particularly since the HP webOS announcement this week?"

Where does the Linux Foundation stand on this, having preached co-existence with Microsoft in one form or another? Will Intel take over MeeGo? What happens with trademarks? What does Intel and the recently-added AMD have to say? "What MSFT is doing to Nokia would be illegal in most European countries. They are practically overtaking company for $0," gnufreex wrote in IRC. "This is hostile takeover. They stole entire company."

Here is something that Techrights readers can do to help. Sign this new petition which states:

We want Free Software based phones.

We pledge never to buy a Windows Phone from Nokia, or even to develop for it.


Petitions can help Nokia see what's coming or make its shareholders sue the company for committing suicide (one of our readers called it "assisted suicide" by Microsoft, "euthanasia", or Elop-"Kavorkian"). If Elop can be proven to serving Microsoft rather than Nokia, he too can suffer a blow. But customers and prospective/potential customers need to organise and make themselves heard.

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