Microsoft buys Nokia handset business for $7 billion; BlackBerry, Enron, Mondale campaign next on shopping list

4 Sep

REDMOND, Washington—in a bold move designed to turn around the flagging fortunes of Windows Phone, Microsoft announced yesterday that it was buying the cellphone manufacturing business of Nokia for $7 billion.

“This exciting news will enable us to leverage the best cellular technology of the mid-1990s,” said Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer at a press conference. “We look forward to introducing flip phones to Microsoft customers in the coming months.”

While many experts see Nokia’s best days as behind it, Ballmer disagreed, explaining that the biggest debates within Microsoft had been whether Nokia’s technology was sufficiently mature for Microsoft to use.

“We usually like to acquire products once they’ve had ten, fifteen years of stasis, just to make sure all the kinks are worked out,” said Ballmer. “Nokia’s had the same phones for about eight years, so it’s a little new and unproven, but we’re willing to take the chance.”

If the Nokia deal is successful, Ballmer said, Microsoft would look at other organizations that “haven’t done anything in the last ten years” for possible acquisition. He cited BlackBerry, Enron (“Very stable since 2002”) and Walter Mondale’s 1984 presidential campaign as possibilities.

Ballmer, who is stepping down as Microsoft CEO at the end of the year, said he was really pleased to have “one more chance to throw shareholder cash down the toilet” before leaving the company.

One of Microsoft's customers, using Nokia's latest phone

One of Microsoft’s customers, using Nokia’s latest phone

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