No one can say that Steve Ballmer is a lame duck CEO. While others may ride out their tenure quietly, Ballmer up and bought Nokia's devices and services unit, adding over 30,000 employees to Microsoft and arming the company with a proven--but hobbled--device manufacturer.
With yesterday's announcement, Nokia will retain three business units comprising its network offerings, HERE mapping platform, and a new business called Advanced Technologies.
Reading the coverage about Microsoft's purchase this time, I feel a sense of déjà vu. Here's a look at the official statements released in 2011, and yesterday, announcing their partnership:
2011 - Nokia would adopt Windows Phone as its principal smartphone strategy, innovating on top of the platform in areas such as imaging, where Nokia is a market leader.
2013 – Nokia Devices and Services (D&S) division brings key capabilities ("Accelerating Innovation" is the tagline).
2011 - Nokia would help drive the future of Windows Phone, where it would contribute its expertise on hardware design, language support, and help bring Windows Phone to a larger range of price-points, market segments, and geographies.
2013 – Nokia D&S brings key capabilities ("Accelerating Innovation").
2011 - Nokia and Microsoft would closely collaborate on joint marketing initiatives and a shared development roadmap to align on the future evolution of mobile products.
2013 – Clarity helps make the market for all Windows Phones ("One Brand, United Voice").
2011 - Bing would power Nokia's search services across Nokia devices and services, giving customers access to Bing's next-generation search capabilities. Microsoft adCenter would provide search advertising services on Nokia's line of devices and services.
2013 – Little emphasis on Bing aside from "Office, Skype, Xbox Live, SkyDrive, Bing at Microsoft" mentioned in "High-value services including geospatial".
2011 - Nokia Maps would be a core part of Microsoft's mapping services. For example, Maps would be integrated with Bing and adCenter advertising platform to form a unique local search and advertising experience.
2013 – Microsoft gets flexibility to integrate Nokia's HERE map platform with other experiences, becoming a strategic licensee and will pay Nokia separately for a four-year license. Microsoft will grant Nokia reciprocal rights to use Microsoft patents in its HERE services.
2011 - Nokia's extensive operator billing agreements would make it easier for consumers to purchase Nokia Windows Phone services in countries where credit-card use is low.
2013 – "This element provides Microsoft with the opportunity to extend its service offerings to a far wider group around the world while allowing Nokia's mobile phones to serve as an on-ramp to Windows Phone," said both companies.
2011 - Microsoft development tools would be used to create applications to run on Nokia Windows Phones, allowing developers to easily leverage the ecosystem's global reach.
2013 – Nothing mentioned about development tools; an empty talking point in 2011 anyway.
2011 - Nokia's content and application store would be integrated with Microsoft Marketplace for a more compelling consumer experience.
2013 – Nothing mentioned; perhaps the Nokia apps will be made available to all Windows Phone users.
So what did Microsoft get for its purchase compared to the 2011 partnership? Nokia's patents, a device hardware team, a global supply chain, and 30,000 new employees.