updated 01:21 am EDT, Tue September 3, 2013
Microsoft says WP8 manufacturers don't need to worry
Microsoft maintains that it won't let its relationship with its Windows Phone manufacturing partners deteriorate even though it just purchased Nokia and effectively became a competitor with those same partners. Shortly after news of the acquisition broke early on Tuesday, Microsoft Executive Vice President of Operating Systems Terry Myerson took to Blogging Windows in order to reaffirm the company's commitment to partners such as Samsung, HTC, and Huawei. The goal of Myerson's group, according to his post, "is to enable the innovations of our hardware partners to shine through on the Windows platform."
"Today's announcement doesn't change that," Myerson wrote, "acquiring Nokia's Devices group will help make the market for all Windows Phones, from Microsoft or our OEM partners."
In buying Nokia, Microsoft has entered into competition with its manufacturing partners, and the software giant has done so by purchasing the maker of the best selling devices running that platform. Nokia moved 7.4 million Lumia units in the most recent quarter, whereas Samsung, HTC, and other firms typically have not even specified how many Windows Phone 8 devices they sold.
Earlier this year, an AdDuplex study found that the Lumia line made up eight out of the top 10 smartphones running Windows Phone 8 worldwide. The top 10 WP8 devices constitute 82 percent of worldwide Windows smartphone usage, meaning that the Finnish phone maker is by far the most important player in Microsoft's segment of the mobile phone market.
The Nokia buy marks the second time that the ongoing shift in the personal computing landscape has pushed Microsoft away from its traditional Windows licensing model and into the hardware segment. It first did so last year with its Surface Pro and Surface RT tablets, saying at the time that the devices were meant more as "reference designs" for Windows 8 manufacturers and less as a salvo against Microsoft's partners. Some manufacturers expressed little concern at Microsoft's entry into the hardware segment at the time. Others, such as Acer CEO J.T. Wang, said that Microsoft should reconsider its hardware move, saying it would inevitably disrupt manufacturers' relationships with the company that supplies them with software.
Microsoft's partners have yet to make any substantial comment on the buy, and it is uncertain how much it would affect them at all. Much of Samsung's mobile revenue comes from the sale of Android-powered devices, with marketing expenditures for Windows Phone 8 devices lagging far behind those of Samsung's flagship Galaxy line.
Speaking with The Verge on the matter, a representative from HTC said that the company is "assessing the situation and [has] no comment at this time."
The sort of software-hardware integration seen in Apple's products has been a major driver in that firm's success in the new mobile computing era, and that has seen its competitors moving to replicate the same sort of structure. Google last year bought phone maker Motorola and rolled it into its own operations, engendering the same sort of suspicion Microsoft faced back when it rolled out the Surface devices and may face now that it has firmly put its foot down in the mobile phone market.