Tag: nokia

Nokia about to buy Alcatel-Lucent

nokia-in-advanced-talks-to-acquire-alcatel-lucents-wireless-business-reportsNokia has announced that it is in talks to buy Alcatel-Lucent.

The deal could create a European telecoms equipment group worth over $42.16 billion, if the regulators love it of course.

A purchase of Alcatel-Lucent by Nokia could cause problems in France. French officials have promoted the idea of creating pan-European giants to compete globally, in the model of Franco-German aerospace firm Airbus. But Alcatel-Lucent is also a major employer and symbolic of French industry.

One French government official said that any deal involving Alcatel-Lucent would likely have to be structured to keep a significant French influence in the new company for the deal to pass muster in Paris.

Such a deal would put the fear of God into the market leader Ericsson

In a joint announcement, the pair said “there can be no certainty at this stage that these discussions will result in any agreement or transaction.”

The deal currently under consideration is a “full combination” that would entail Nokia making a public offer for Alcatel-Lucent stock, the companies said. The deal could still fall apart, they added.

It isn’t clear if the parties have agreed on a valuation. Alcatel-Lucent’s market capitalization stands at roughly $11.63 billion, while Nokia’s market capitalization is about €28 billion.

Talk about a merger has been going on for years.  Many have considered a good idea as it would reshape the telecommunications-equipment business by creating a company with a combined 2014 revenue of €25.9 billion and more than 100,000 employees in businesses spanning wireless communications and Internet routing.

Microsoft’s first Nokia phone is an Android

While many expected Microsoft to use Nokia as the flagship for its Windows Phone OS, it appears that might not be the case.

Microsoft has unveiled its first phone after completing its takeover of Nokia’s handset division – and the device is powered by Android.

The Nokia X2 will have some software tweaks which will allow it to connect to Microsoft’s cloud-based services. However at the moment Vole does not want to have to shell out the cash needed to adapt Nokia’s plans to a pure Redmond vision.

The move has surprised some analysts, but it does show a pragmatism in the Volish ranks. After all Android still means profit and the OS can be used to piggy back other services.

The X2 is the follow-up to the original X, launched in February before Nokia sold its mobile business. The Nokia X2 features a front-facing camera missing from the earlier model

The original model became the best-selling mobile in Pakistan and the third best-selling handset in India – and had strong sales in Russia, Kenya and Nigeria.

The new version has a slightly bigger 4.3in screen, a GB of RAM, a better battery and will cost $135 when released in July.

Volish services will include Skype, Outlook and OneDrive internet storage apps all come pre-loaded.

Microsoft also promotes apps like Bing Search, the Yammer business-focused social network and the OneNote idea jotting service, although these are optional. 

Cyber crims blackmailed Nokia

Nokia appears to have paid millions of euro to protect an encryption key of the Symbian phones being made public by a hacker.

MTV News investigative team found that in 2007 Nokia became a target of extortion and ended up paying several millions of euro in ransom.

Detective Superintendent Tero Haapala of the National Bureau of Investigation confirms that the case is still unsolved and is being investigated as aggravated extortion.

It appears that the blackmailer had acquired the Symbian encryption key used for signing. The code is a few kilobytes in size and would have meant that Nokia phones would have been jailbroken and any hacker could have placed their code under the bonnet.

At the time half of the smartphones sold in the world were manufactured by Nokia and ran on Symbian.

When Nokia paid the money it was promised that the key would not be misused. It is not known how the key ended up in the hands of the blackmailer but it is fairly likely that it was hacked.

Nokia did report the matter to the police which began to investigate the case. The ransom payment was made in the Finnish city of Tampere. The money was left in a bag at a parking lot nearby Särkänniemi amusement park.

But the drop off was botched. The blackmailer took the bag and the coppers lost track of him. Police never found the blackmailer and the case is considered unsolved. To be fair, the blackmailer honoured his agreement and the key was never revealed.  Due diligence, we’ve heard of it, Microsoft.

Elop gets $33.4 million for leaving Nokia

When Nokia CEO Stephen Elop started getting cosy to Microsoft, some shareholders thought that he was simply a stooge of the shy and soon to be retiring CEO Steve “there is a kind of hush” Ballmer.

But it turns out that Elop has done rather well for himself out of having Microsoft buy the company. Not only is he now the executive vice president (EVP) of the Microsoft Devices Group overseeing an expanded devices business that includes Lumia smartphones and tablets, Nokia mobile phones, Xbox hardware, Surface, Perceptive Pixel products, and accessories, he is also $33.4 million richer.

With the Nokia/Microsoft deal officially closed last week on April 25, it was revealed that Elop was paid $33.4 million in cash and shares after he left Nokia, and thanks to rising Nokia share prices, he got more than expected.

Elop himself is returning to the software giant after the deal closed on Friday, and based on Nokia’s share price in September he had been in line to get around $26 million for the early termination of his contract.

Elop’s severance payment includes just over $5.55 million in cash when he stood down as Nokia chief executive in September and led the phone unit from then until the closing of the deal with Microsoft.

The unit’s operating loss widened to $424.39 million in the first quarter of this year. Microsoft paid 70 percent of the total severance payment, and Nokia the remaining 30 percent, Nokia said in its 2013 annual report.

All up, it is a good result for Elop. Not only does he return to the Vole Hill in triumph, he is stonkingly rich and in a stronger political position in Microsoft. 

Nokia boss denies he was Ballmer’s plant

As Nokia started to snuggle up to Microsoft, the dark satanic rumour mill claimed that the Nokia CEO Stephen Elop was a Trojan Horse who had been planted in the phone company to subvert it to the way of the Vole.

The theory was that Elop, who used to work at Microsoft, would slowly turn the outfit into a Microsoft subsidiary which would later be bought out by Steve Ballmer. The theory gained some traction when Elop dumped Nokia’s Symbian business and moved to become a Windows only shop. At the time, Windows was nowhere on the telephone world stage.

Now that Elop is back working at Vole and Nokia is part of the glorious Volish empire, people are starting to ask “was he really a plant” and part of Steve Ballmer’s cunning, but evil, plan to take over the company.

ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley wrote that former Nokia CEO and current Microsoft exec Stephen Elop was quizzed about this during a question-and-answer session.

He was asked if he was a “Trojan Horse” at Nokia whose job was solely to bring the company’s value down enough for Microsoft to buy it on the cheap. Elop defended his decisions.

“We could not see a way that Symbian could be brought to a competitive level with, for example, the iPhone that had shipped three years earlier!” Elop wrote in defending his decision to unceremoniously axe Symbian, which at one time had been the world’s leading mobile operating system.

“As for the Trojan horse thing, I have only ever worked on behalf of and for the benefit of Nokia shareholders while at Nokia. Additionally, all fundamental business and strategy decisions were made with the support and approval of the Nokia board of directors, of which I was a member.”

Some shareholders at Nokia’s general meeting last November openly bashed Elop while describing his tenure at the company as a “triple-A flop” that put Nokia on “the road to ruin” and led to “the funeral of Nokia phones.”

However to be fair to Elop, the company was tanking.  We can remember writing stories working out how long Nokia could last before its cash ran out.  Elop was in damage limitation mode most of the time. Leaving Symbian was a no brainer and if he had gone to Android he would have been competing against nearly everyone.  He would also have to pay royalties to Microsoft to use the IP installed in Android. Elop’s first move to save Nokia was collecting $1 billion from Microsoft to run its operating system which was clever – sadly it was not enough. 

Microsoft to kill Nokia brand

It seems that the days of a Nokia phone are past and the brand will become a dead parrot once Microsoft has its claws in it.

Nokia flogged its devices and services business to Vole last year and the deal has been jumping through the various regulatory hoops ever since. Microsoft expects to close the deal later this month and when it does, Nokia’s phone business will thus be renamed.

Vole has not made an official announcement as yet, an email sent by the company to suppliers reveals that Nokia’s phone division will be renamed Microsoft Mobile Oy. The Oy is not an exclamation of threat, Oy is just Finland’s equivalent of Ltd.

The division, Microsoft Mobile, will stay in Finland as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Vole. Official business address will be changed from Nokia HQ on Keilalahdentie to Keilaranta in Espoo. Apart from the change in legal address, another change after close of the transaction would be the removal of Nokia’s logo from purchase orders.

Microsoft will assumes all rights, benefits and obligations of Nokia’s devices and services business, including its agreements with suppliers and partners, Microsoft is telling its suppliers that they can also continue to do business with Nokia, for example on Advanced Technologies, NSN and HERE Maps, for which the Finnish company will communicate with them separately. 

Delays hinder Microsoft Nokia deal

Nokia has warned that its deal with Microsoft appears to have become bogged down and will be delayed at least until April.

The $7.5 billion sale of most of Nokia’s phone business to Microsoft was expected to close in the first quarter.

Reuters said that Microsoft has also expects the deal to close in April.

The deal has been rubber stamped by the authorities in the US and EU but apparently some antitrust authorities in Asia are still conducting their reviews, it said in a statement.

Brad Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel, said on the company’s bog that Vole was nearing the final stages of our global regulatory approval process.

“Currently we are awaiting approval confirmation in the final markets.”

The company last week was given a new $414 million tax claim by Indian authorities, following a recent Supreme Court decision to order Nokia to give a $571 million guarantee before transferring its Chennai factory to Microsoft.

Nokia said its tax disputes in India would not have an impact on the deal schedule.

Observers are not too stressed at the delays. It took Vole five months to complete its purchase of online chat company Skype in 2011. 

Microsoft rumoured to break Windows price

The dark satanic rumour mill has manufactured a hell on earth rumour which suggests that Microsoft is going to drop the price of its Windows OS to go for the cheap and cheerful part of the mobile market.

Nokia is already attempting to sell low end smartphones, and was showing off Android-powered devices at MWC this year. But the word is that Microsoft is mulling a licensing fee price cut of up to 70 percent compared to what it currently charges to stick its OS on Nokia’s cheaper phones.

That price drop is coming, according to OEM smartphone maker Infosonics — which deals in low-cost Android devices.

The big idea is to make it possible for OEMs like Infosonics to build affordable Microsoft hardware that can compete with its budget Android devices.

This is not the first time we have heard such rumours. There was one that suggested that Vole was going to get rid of the licensing fee altogether and try to make the cash back from the phones.  However since Vole makes a lot of dosh from licensing its desktop OS it is not give up that revenue stream completely. Licensing fees for Windows Phone were between $20 and $30 so a 70 percent cut would put new fees at roughly between $6 and $10 per unit.

Redmond has been having a quiet word with some low-cost manufacturing partners, including manufacturers in China and India and is working around what some see as prohibitive hardware minimum spec restrictions for Windows Phone.

If it manages to pull this off, then it could end up being a good rival to Android in the low end market in developing countries.

The Nokia X project could continue to survive as a way to get users committed to Microsoft services, and businesses used to integrated Volish projects.

Nokia gives customer data to the US

Smartphone maker Nokia allowed its Lumia smartphones to act as listening devices for US spooks.

According to a long exposé penned by the Helsinki Times, in March Nokia advertised the data security of its smartphones to authorities deciding on government IT procurements and large amounts of Nokia’s Lumia phones were bought for the Finnish government.

At the same time, Nokia’s Lumia phones and their Windows Phone operating system started leaking data to the US.

The paper said that Lumia’s Windows operating system transmits the user’s private information to Microsoft in the United States where it is given to the United States Security Agency (NSA).

The data leak was discovered by Helsingin Sanomat who tested what Nokia’s Lumia phone and its Microsoft Windows Phone operating system did without the knowledge of the user.

Information received from the base station, the phone continuously “talks” with many servers located abroad and the Nokia user does not see any of it.

In the test, it became clear that if the Nokia phone is using settings suggested by the operating system, the phone circulates the browser’s data transfer through Microsoft’s proxy server located in the United States. Only after that can the phone get connected to a Finnish web address. In other words, Microsoft can, when it wants to, monitor what pages the Finnish user visited.

Of course, it is not just Finnish users, any European Nokia phone armed with a Volish operating system will do the same thing.

The only thing which was not headed to the US was an encrypted connection between the phone and banks. This means that if the US wanted to remove cash from your bank account it can’t.

Nokia told the paper that the mobile phone’s privacy policy states how the data is transmitted so everyone knows that their data can be sniffed. A Nokia spokesman said that it “respected the privacy of the user and strive in all our actions to ensure the user’s privacy protection. All devices equipped with an internet connection are connected to the global internet”,

It was just that the majority of the applications and Internet services are offered from outside of Finland.

Apparently, though, Finnish authorities began to suspect the security of Nokia’s smartphones last summer after the Snowden leaks.

Juhapekka Ristola, Director-General of the Communications Policy Department at Finland’s Ministry of Transport and Communications asked the Finnish Security Intelligence Service and the Finnish Communications Regulatory Authority to investigate.

This caused Nokia a few problems. The company had to tell the Finnish Communications Regulatory Authority the truth, but it had to be very careful not to cause harm to Microsoft. It seems to have attempted to avoid talking to the regulator.

Finally, it gave the following assurance:

“Nokia is not aware that those kinds of functionalities or components, which enable the revealing of the user’s private information to outsiders without the knowledge of the user, would have intentionally been installed into its products sold in Finland.”

Notice the words “functionalities and components”? That says that if it is the operating system’s fault it is nothing to do with Nokia.

So the situation is still a mess. With Nokia now becoming part of Microsoft, it might not be such a good idea for government departments and others who value their privacy, such as European corporations, to steer clear of Nokia until Microsoft agrees to stop making its phones call the NSA. 

EC warns Nokia about trolling

If Nokia attempts to use its patents illegally in the future then the European Union will throw the book at it.

There had been fears that after Microsoft bought Nokia it would attempt to use the company to patent troll others to death.

However the vice president of the European Commission’s Competition unit has warned Nokia that there could be big trouble if Nokia become a “patent troll”.

Joaquín Almunia’s bluntly said that if Nokia were to take illegal advantage of its patents in the future, he will open an antitrust case

Almunia said that the commission had dismissed the possibility that “Nokia would be tempted to behave like a patent troll” when it cleared the way for Microsoft to acquire Nokia’s devices division.

But he warned that “if Nokia were to take illegal advantage of its patents in the future, we will open an antitrust case.”

Currently Almunia is pressuring Google to stop punishing companies who do not pay to use its specialised search services – such as Shopping – in its organic search results.

“Google creates a link between getting the right to use material from other sites on its specialised search services and the appearance that these sites have on Google’s general search results – a practice that allows Google to benefit from investments made by other firms,” said Almunia.

“I have asked Google to sever this link to restore competitive incentives.”