While Microsoft is still basking in the glow of the announcement of their new Windows Phone 7 software, the company isn’t just hoping to wedge its way into the mobile market by selling a platform for other people to put on non-Microsoft hardware. According to a new report, Microsoft is in the market for an existing smartphone company to jump start their efforts.
Among the prime targets, say analysts, are Nokia or RIM (Research In Motion), makers of the popular BlackBerry PDAs.
“It’s something I know they’ve talked about,” Toan Tran, an analyst at Morningstar, tells Reuters. “To really compete in this business, Microsoft needs to get into the hardware business, where they are able to control the entire user experience.”
“Apple has shown that’s the model that works,” Tran added. “In a consumer device, people just want something that works, they don’t want something as complicated as a PC.”
If Microsoft did make such a move, it would be a drastic departure from the company’s initial success in the computer business. Rather than sell expensive and easily outmoded hardware, the company has maintained a focus on producing software.
Analysts estimate a purchase of Nokia would set Microsoft back about $51 billion, while RIM would be considerably less expensive at $39 billion.
Microsoft has had mixed success with non-computer hardware in recent years. Their Xbox and Xbox 360 gaming systems have been wildly popular, selling nearly 40 million units of the latter (not to mention proprietary peripherals like controllers and hard drives). Meanwhile, the company’s Zune MP3 player has never managed to cut into the market share enjoyed by Apple’s iPod products.
Does Microsoft need to make a move like this to survive in the market? Or should they continue to focus on software?