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Microsoft’s €5.4bn acquisition of Nokia’s devices business was both long predicted and a bolt from the blue, coming so soon after its chief executive Steve Ballmer announced his retirement. Here Mr Ballmer explains the logic of the deal to investors.
Why now? The key seems to be Microsoft’s ambition.
Since it joined forces with Nokia in mobiles in 2011, neither company has prospered. Microsoft remains a distant third to Google and Apple in terms of operating systems, while Nokia’s share of the smartphone market has collapsed from 17 per cent in 2011 to 3 per cent in the first half of this year, according to Gartner.
“We know we are number three in the market, we’re not number two or one and we need to accelerate,” Steve Ballmer, chief executive, told the FT’s Richard Milne.
After thirteen years in the role, the ever-quotable Steve Ballmer will step down as Microsoft chief executive within twelve months. Here are some of his most memorable soundbites:
On the iPhone: “There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance. It’s a $500 subsidized item.” (April 2007)
Microsoft’s attempt to introduce consumers to the wonders of touch with Windows 8 amounted to a rough shove. The operating system’s poor reception has prompted a rethink and details of an updated version were unveiled on Thursday.
Windows 8.1, available as a preview from June 26, will bring back features familiar to and missed by Windows 7 users, including a Start button – but no Start menu – and the choice of not beginning their bootup experience with the touch-optimised “Modern” tile interface.
But for hundreds of millions of PC users, the start button in the bottom left corner of the Windows screen has been an invaluable navigation tool – which is why Microsoft looks to be on the verge of reversing course over Windows 8 and bringing it back.
Microsoft has closed a patent licensing deal with ZTE, one of the top five manufacturers of Android smartphones.
The deal is Microsoft’s first with a leading Chinese company, marking an important milestone in the software giant’s multi-year campaign to squeeze licensing revenues out of smartphone vendors and manufacturers.
“Experience has taught us that respect for intellectual property rights is a two-way street,” said Horacio Gutierrez, general counsel for Microsoft, “and we have always been prepared to respect the rights of others just as we seek respect for our rights.”
There seems to be a sea-change underway in the willingness of companies to admit when they have been the victims of cyber attacks. More have been coming forward, even when they appear to have no legal obligation. But the timing and nature of the disclosures differs greatly.
Take Microsoft’s apparent admission that it has succumbed to the same attack that has hit several other big tech companies. Compared even with Apple, traditionally the tech industry’s most secretive company, its disclosure was both late and light on detail.
Microsoft’s Surface Windows 8 Pro tablet is on sale from Saturday, costing 50 per cent more than its equivalent Windows RT forerunner – from $900 rather than $600 in the US for the 64Gb versions.
At first glance, the two look identical in their size and dark titanium design, but Microsoft is providing quite a few more features for the money. Whether they are enough to justify this price for a tablet is debatable. A review after the jump.