Today it happened. Microsoft said it has reached an agreement to acquire the handset and services business of Nokia for more than $7.1 billion. This is a historical moment for Finland's economy and for Finnish business journalism.
Finland-based Nokia was once the mightiest company in the mobile phone business. It was our bride and every Finn carried proudly their Nokia-phones. Untill even Finns started buying those iPhones and Samsungs. From now one there will not be a Finnish mobile phone maker. Or will there?
The deal is something that has been speculated since former Microsoft manager Stephen Elop became Nokia's CEO and soon announced that Nokia would start to use Windows Phone as it's operating system. The general opinion is that Elop was a Troijan horse. Now Nokias market value is ruined and the price that Microsoft pays is less than they paid for Skype ($8,5 billion) and about half what Google paid for Motorola.
Elop never sold his Redmond house and his family never moved from there when he joined Nokia. Microsoft now has a pretty obvious candidate to lead the company as soon as CEO Steve Ballmer retires within the year.
Nokia plans to focus on its three established businesses: a network infrastructure business NSN, a mapping and location service HERE and Advanced Technologies, a technology development and licensing unit. The NSN has recently been the most profitable part of Nokia's business. So there might still be some sort of future for the company.
But actually Nokia is not our only smart phone company. Now our hope lies in Finland's booming startup ecosystem and especially the new phone maker Jolla. We have covered Jolla's beginning in Talouselämä a lot, but only some of the articles are translated in English. Here is one from this April.
Nokia abandoned it's open source operating system project Meego when it teamed up with Microsoft’s Windows Phone. Jolla was formed by a team of developers who decided to continue with Meego. Jolla's new headquaters in Helsinki used to be Nokia Research Center, the place where the Meego operation system was developed. Today's news sparked immediate support for Jolla in Twitter: now it is the only choice for a patriotic Finn.
Jolla's story is only in beginning. It just closed pre-sales campaign for its first phone. The first device shipments are due at the start of Q4 2013. It will be interesting to follow their story in the new post-Nokia era.