HELSINKI (AP) — Microsoft Corp. is buying Nokia Corp.’s line-up of smartphones and a portfolio of patents and services in an attempt to mount a more formidable challenge to Apple Inc. and Google Inc. as more technological tasks get done on mobile devices instead of personal computers.
The $7.2 billion deal announced late Monday marks a major step in Microsoft’s push to transform itself from a software maker focused on making operating systems and applications for desktop and laptop computers into a more versatile and nimble company that delivers services on any kind of Internet-connected gadget.
Microsoft, based in Redmond, Wash., is being forced to evolve because people are increasingly pursuing their digital lives on smartphones and tablet computers, causing the demand for PCs to shrivel. The shift is weakening Microsoft, which has dominated the PC software market for the past 30 years, and empowering Apple, the maker of the trend-setting iPhone and iPad, and Google, which gives away the world’s most popular mobile operating system, Android.
Nokia, based in Espoo, Finland, and Microsoft have been trying to make inroads in the smartphone market as part of a partnership forged in 2011. Under the alliance, Nokia’s Lumia smartphones has run on Microsoft’s Windows software, but those devices haven’t emerged as a popular alternative to the iPhone or an array of Android-powered devices spearheaded by Samsung Electronics’ smartphones and tablets.
Microsoft is betting it will have a better chance of narrowing the gap if it seizes complete control over how the mobile devices work with its Windows software.
“It’s a bold step into the future — a win-win for employees, shareholders and consumers of both companies,” Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said in a statement.
Microsoft hopes to complete the deal early next year. If that timetable pans out, about 32,000 Nokia employees will transfer to Microsoft, which currently has about 99,000 workers.
The proposed price consists of $5 billion for the Nokia unit that makes mobile phones, including its line of Lumia smartphones that run Windows software. Another $2.2 billion will be paid for a 10-year license to use Nokia’s patents, with the option to extend it indefinitely.