What does the Microsoft-Nokia deal mean for enterprise mobility?


As most people are aware by now, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) has agreed to pay around $7 billion to acquire Nokia's (NYSE: NOK) mobile phone business and license its patents and technology.

The acquisition is expected to bring a tighter integration between the Windows Phone hardware and operating system, commented Manoj Menon, managing director of Frost & Sullivan. "This should help Microsoft make a more effective strategy to compete in the mobile sphere," he told the BBC in an interview.

What can enterprise clients expect from Microsoft's acquisition of Nokia's mobile phone unit? Certainly, enterprises can expect an aggressive push by Microsoft in the enterprise mobility space, perhaps through bundling of its Windows Phone 8 smartphone with existing enterprise products, such as its ubiquitous PC operating system, Windows Server and Lync unified communications platform.

Microsoft is already in the enterprise, observed Stacy Cook, program manager for mobile enterprise at IDC. "It's just that they have to be able to extend it into the mobile world," Cook told CSO Magazine.

The acquisition of the Nokia handset business could make it easier for Microsoft to integrate security into the smartphone chip, which could help with sales to enterprises concerned about mobile security, observed Lawrence Pingree, research director at Gartner. "When enterprises come [into a sales meeting], they often come in from a security perspective on mobile devices," Pingree told CSO.

Samara Lynn, with PC Magazine, termed the move by Microsoft "brilliant" from an enterprise IT perspective. "Microsoft is now in position to become the best mobile choice for those who need a personal phone that can turn into a workhorse smartphone," Lynn observed.

"With Windows 8 mobile devices and PCs given the ability to join a Windows domain, IT can take advantage of features such Dynamic Access Control, Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, and multi-factor authentication to deliver a full corporate experience to a user's tablet or laptop," Lynn added.

Michael Disabato, managing vice president of network and telecom at Gartner, agrees that the acquisition is a smart enterprise move. "From an IT perspective you can make a dashboard out of the live tiles. You can set up the CEO's Windows Phone so he can see everything in the company that is of value to him without going into any of the applications…The concept of real-time dynamically changing icons on your home screen is a powerful, compelling story. They haven't been able to do anything with it," Disabato was quoted by the Silicon Angle as saying.

Mellisa Tolentino, a staff writer with Silicon Angle, noted that the acquisition is also good news for enterprise app developers "since the tools they use to program and write codes in desktop can be used for app development on Microsoft's mobile devices. With that in mind, developers will be encouraged to develop more apps for Windows Phone as it now has its own dedicated hardware--quite unlike before when developers weren't too sure of the platform's future."

Not everyone is gung ho about Microsoft's move. Praful Shah, senior vice president of strategy at RingCentral, opined: "When two legacy technology companies have historically joined together, it has never resulted in anything innovative for end users."

Time will tell whether Microsoft's acquisition of Nokia will be judged to be the bold move that turns Redmond's fortunes in the enterprise mobility space around, or whether it proves to be yet another misstep in Microsoft's dismal mobile record.- Fred