Microsoft passing on Nokia for Surface tablets -- it's a branding thing

Microsoft is entering the hardware market with its own Surface tablets. Some are wondering why the company didn't rely on its hardware partner, Nokia, to build the Surface together. Simple, it's a branding thing.

Surface No Nokia

The Surface tablets wowed the tech world when Microsoft threw its surprise unveiling party. The sleek Windows tablets with distinctive kickstand and thin keyboard cover captured the attention of a lot of folks.

With Microsoft entering the PC hardware business with the Surface, some are wondering why the folks in Redmond didn't team up with Nokia to build them. The alliance between the two companies is strong, billions of dollars strong, yet Microsoft passed on Nokia to make the Surface tablets.

Why did Microsoft leave Nokia out of the Surface strategy? It's a branding thing. Microsoft is finally taking control over the Windows brand by offering a top-level tablet in the Surface. The hardware will carry the Microsoft logo in addition to the Surface logo, and the company must take that very seriously.

Had Microsoft allowed Nokia to build the Surface that branding would have been watered down. Nokia would no doubt have insisted that its logo accompany Microsoft's on the hardware. Such co-branding would not have sent as strong a message to the world that Microsoft wants to send. We are building the best Windows tablets ourselves.

Nokia has admittedly been working on at least one tablet of its own for a while, so this is certainly awkward for them. Microsoft not only passed them by with the Surface, but will end up competing directly with them. Talk about a double-whammy to Nokia.

It is great that Microsoft is producing its own hardware for showcasing Windows 8. The OS is a radical departure for the platform and needs outstanding hardware to show it off. Microsoft has done that with the Surface, and all on its own. It is Microsoft's brand through and through, and that's the way it should be.