Ever since Stephen Elop went from running the Microsoft Office division to head up Nokia there have been rumours of Microsoft circling the rotting carcass that is the Nokia business. I still think Nokia makes the best looking phones, arguably better than the latest Apple designs, so Microsoft makes logical sense for Nokia, especially since they use the Microsoft mobile operating system. However, what if Apple were to buy Nokia with their patents, mapping services and great hardware design skills? It’s not as crazy as it sounds:
This past July, Envision IP took a look at that portfolio and found that, in the US alone, Nokia had almost 16,000 patents around telecommunication in the US alone (and another 20,000 patents outside of the US). With an average 13 years left on those patents, they include some of the building blocks for the next generation of mobile telecommunication services: building blocks technologies like GSM (which was mostly developed by Nokia), 3G, and now LTE are all part of Nokia’s patent portfolio. A 2011 survey showed that Nokia was the largest patent holder for essential technologies relating to LTE.
Maps? Yes, maps. Over the last few years, Nokia has made a number of bets on location and mapping, with the 2007 U$8 billion acquisition of Navteq. This acquisition made Nokia the largest provider of mapping services in the world. In fact, the company provides mapping services to Google, UPS, Fedex, and many of the largest players in the automotive industry. When looked at in contrast to the recent release of Apple maps, it seems that this investment is one that would greatly benefit Apple and allow it to quickly catch up and surpass Google.
Of course, an acquisition of Nokia would have quite an impact on Microsoft as it tries to make its way back into the mobile space. With Nokia as its most important partner, Microsoft’s hope to become a likely contender for consumers’ hearts might be dealt something pretty close to a deathblow. The company would remain a strong players in the areas it has power in but its attempt at getting a strong footing in the mobile space would be the setback that kills its ambitions there.
Meanwhile, the increase in the size of the patent portfolio Apple would control would probably have a large impact on the company’s lawsuits against Android manufacturers.
If you consider that Nokia is only worth $10 Billion and Apple has $100 Billion in the bank they could buy Nokia without skipping a beat. You destroy Windows Phone, kick Android in the patent cajones and solve the mapping issue in one convenient payment.