Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, who has been hailed for turning around the software giant since he took over in 2014, has called his predecessor Steve Ballmer’s decision to acquire Nokia a “mistake”. In his book Hit Refresh, Nadella recalls the time when he’d tried to dissuade Ballmer-led Microsoft from shelling out a massive $7.6 billion for Nokia’s phone division. Nadella, who was then heading Microsoft’s cloud business, had voted against the acquisition in an internal poll conducted by Ballmer. Also Read - Nokia X20, X10 India launch hinted by local website, could break into 5G handset marketAlso Read - Windows 11 will improve multi-monitor workflow; here's how
While Ballmer believed that the Nokia deal would give a fillip to Microsoft’s struggling smartphone division, Nadella disagreed. “I did not get why the world needed the third ecosystem in phones, unless we changed the rules But it was too late to regain the ground we had lost. We were chasing our competitors taillights,” he writes. The Windows OS had already ceded significant ground to Android and iOS, and the 2013 Nokia acquisition could do little to change that. Incidentally, even Bill Gates was against the deal. But Ballmer got his way in what turned out to be a grossly erroneous business decision. ALSO READ: 5 reasons why Nokia is poised for a comeback in the Indian smartphone market Also Read - Jio 5G service: Reliance Jio, Intel partner to develop 5G network for India
In July 2015, two years after the acquisition, Microsoft wrote down the entire $7.6 billion investment in Nokia, and slashed close to 10,000 jobs in the phone division. Several attempts to restructure the Finnish mobile manufacturer, and align itself with changing times failed to bear fruit. “The Nokia deal [was a] painful example of this loss [in mobile]. We were desperate to catch up after missing the rise of mobile technology Nokia fell from the market-share leader in mobile to number three,” Nadella writes. Finally in 2016, Microsoft sold off its mobile assets for $350 million to HMD Global that has since led Nokia’s resurgence in the smartphone universe.
Nadella, however, regrets the jobs lost at Nokia. “In retrospect, what I regret most is the impact these layoffs had on very talented, passionate people in our phone division,” he says. And highlights the fact that Microsoft should be the smartphone business only when it has something unique to offer. This could be an indication that the software giant hasn’t yet given up on the long-rumored Surface phone. Microsoft has meticulously released updates to its Surface lineup of laptops, tablets, and PCs over time. And if reports are to be believed, it could finally announce the Surface smartphone at its upcoming Future Decoded event in London. ALSO READ: Nokia 8 price revealed on Amazon India ahead of launch today
Besides the Nokia deal, Hit Refresh also talks about data privacy laws across the world, and how consumer trust can be eroded if local governments failed to act wisely. “The ultimate solution to the privacy-versus-security dilemma is to ensure trust on all sides… As tech companies, we have to design trust into everything we do. But policymakers also have an important role. Trust is not only dependent on our technology but also the legal framework that governs it,” Nadella explained.