Nokia shareholders have approved a deal allowing Microsoft to purchase the Finnish smartphone maker’s Devices and Services unit. Of the shareholders surveyed, 99.7 percent who participated in the vote agreed with the Microsoft sale, representing around four-fifths of Nokia's shares, according to the Financial Times. Some shareholders were understandably upset over the sale of a Finnish national icon, but that hasn’t stopped the majority from approving a deal worth around $7.2 billion. The acquisition will see former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop return to Microsoft early next year to run an expanded devices and services team at the software giant.
An "open dialogue" between Nokia and Microsoft started back at Mobile World Congress in February, when Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer initiated the talks after both companies agreed the close partnership on Windows Phone wasn't working as they'd hoped. Nokia is said to have discussed the deal heavily, meeting 50 times to contemplate selling its phone business following the original Microsoft partnership in 2011. A glass coffee table nearly sank the deal after Ballmer crashed into it shortly before a meeting, leaving a nasty gash on his forehead. Microsoft may have reportedly rushed the deal, and a lot is riding on the future success of Windows Phone under a single Microsoft roof.
Still no details on Microsoft's plans for Nokia
It’s still not clear how Microsoft plans to integrate Nokia’s Lumia and Asha lines with the company’s internal structure and own Windows Phone marketing. Ballmer admitted Microsoft and Nokia could do better as one company on naming conventions; he said recently that a benefit of being one company is that Microsoft will be able to avoid names such as "the Nokia Lumia Windows Phone 1020." Microsoft and Nokia had to keep secrets from each other before, but Microsoft will own the Asha and Lumia brands once the deal is finalized early next year. Microsoft could choose to unite them under its own Surface device brand, or even alter their naming altogether, but the company isn't revealing its plans yet.
All eyes now turn to Stephen Elop. The former Nokia CEO is reportedly part of the future Microsoft CEO shortlist, alongside Ford CEO Alan Mulally, Microsoft cloud boss Satya Nadella, and former Skype president Tony Bates. While recent reports suggest Elop is open to selling Microsoft's Xbox business and killing off Bing, current CEO Steve Ballmer is putting in place a structure and changes that could be difficult for Elop or any successor to undo immediately. Elop is rejoining Microsoft either way, but the next few months will reveal more about his exact role at the software maker.