Holly molly who saw this one coming ? Microsoft has just announced the acquisition of Nokia‘s Devices & Services business alongside licensing it’s mapping an patents portfolio for €5.4Billion in cash today. Many like me have guessed that this may have been the big plan all along since the day Stephen Elop was appointed CEO of the troubled phone maker exactly 3 years ago in one week. After the successful launch of several Nokia Windows Phone devices in the past couple of months and the continued growth of Windows Phone’s market share todays seems to be the right time for Microsoft to start a new chapter by acquiring the best Phone maker in the world and securing the biggest patent portfolio in smart device patents.
Here’s are the principal terms of today’s acquisition deal:
Microsoft is spending about EUR 3.79 billion to acquire Nokia’s core cellphone business. Of that EUR 1.65 billion is for Nokia’s devices business
Microsoft will pay $2.18 billion to license Nokia’s intellectual property
Nokia’s patent portfolio includes some 8,500 design patents ranging from mapping to network/cell technologies with approximately 30,000 utility patents and patent applications, ownership of the Lumia & Asha brands and a ten year license to you the Nokia brand on feature phones. (this means that Microsoft’s Windows Phones will only be branded Lumia and not Nokia..strange I know..)
About 32,000 Nokia employees are expected to transfer to Microsoft as part of the deal. Off those 18,300 are “directly involved in manufacturing”
56,000 Nokia employees will remain at the company once the deal has closed
Microsoft acquires rights equivalent to ownership for the HERE Mapping apps
Nokia will continue to improve these apps for other platforms
4 year- agreement for mapping data and services: Nokia will provide MS with mapping data and services in exchange of annual payments Microsoft will combine Nokia map data with other sources and also make it available to Windows AZURE users with an additional fee.?
Microsoft’s gross margin on sales of Nokia’s Windows Phone handsets before the deal: less than $10. Expected to grow to $40 after the deal.
Microsoft will build a $250M data center in Finland for consumer purposes (AZURE too?)
Finland will become a core base of Microsoft in Europe and also the center of it’s mobile hardware R&D and manufacturing.
Stephen Elop will step down and CEO of Nokia and head back to Microsoft as the EVP of Devices a job title that was just recently awarded to Julie Larsson Green which will now basically only handle the upcoming fall hardware launches (XBOX One, Surfaces) and report directly to Elop and Ballmer.
Stephen Elop just went from being and external to an internal candidate for the CEO job that Steve Ballmer will leave in the next 12 Months.
Nokia’s top designer Marko Ahtisaari will leave the company in November to “pursue entrepreneurial opportunities,”
Nokia has just released the first beta of Place Tag for its Windows Phone 8 Lumia phones. So what is Place Tag? It is a camera Lens app that allows you to take pictures with POIs integrated in them. Think of City Lens but with ability to snap a shot.
Nokia Place Tag takes more than a photo. It reveals info about the places within your photo, such as museums and famous buildings, which you can then share as a digital postcard with your friends.
Wish you were here?
You can also use Place Tag to get interesting background info about the places tagged in the photo. And if you need directions, that’s also easily available too.
I personally don’t find the whole thing really that useful especially as a separate application. Adding a camera feature to City Lens would have been more logical IMO… You can download Place Tag by scanning the QR code below.
Nokia has just launched the cheapest Windows Phone 8 handset to date and probably also one of the most stylish one. The Nokia Lumia 520 the company’s lowest-end WP8 device but ironically one of it’s best looking one too. It looks a hell of lot like a smaller HTC 8X… So what’s inside this neat little piece of hardware? Well it’s pretty similar to what you will have in the Lumia 620 and the newly released Lumia 720 but it lacks any NFC feature and there’s no Front Facing camera but it does feature the same super-sensitive screen that was first introduced with the Lumia 920.Head over after the break for the hardware specs:
Nokia has officially introduced two new Lumia devices today at MWC. The first one is the Nokia Lumia 720 which will slot directly between the Lumia 820 and 620 in terms of hardware specifications and price. The Finnish company has decided to retain its signature colorful polycarbonate body design on of its line of Lumia handsets and the 720 is no exception. The handset definitely not groundbreaking in terms of hardware or design but does have new 6.7MP camera sensor with a F/1.9 aperture which is a world’s first. Jump after the break to check out the Nokia Lumia 720 hardware specifications:
Nokia is going to unveil at least two new Windows Phone 8 handsets next week in Barcelona during MWC. Both devices are on the lower end- of the spectrum are far from the often rumored (and probably fake?) Nokia EOS. The first one will be the Nokia Lumia 520 pictured above which is meant to be the company’s cheapest WP8 device. Yes even cheaper than the currently universally acclaimed Lumia 620. The second one pictured below is the Nokia Lumia 720 which will slot between the Lumia 820 and Lumia 620.
Numerous leaks, rumors or simply outright totally made up story are now starting to fill up the tubes as we get closer to Mobile World Congress later this month.
Let’s start with HTC who’s been a relatively bad spot lately while bleeding money. Ok, they are not really in such a bad financial shape but their shipments / sales and margins have been down in the past 24months with no signs of uptake. To get things back in line HTC has decided to somewhat mimic Nokia’s strategy by increasing its focus on lower-end smartphones aimed at “emerging” markets like China and also differentiates it’s higher-end handsets with top-notch camera optics.
The first truly low-cost Windows Phone 7 (Tango) handset has just been announced by Nokia today in the form of the Lumia 610. This new handset is the first Windows Phone device to be powered by a Qualcomm MSM7X30 SoC clocked at 800Mhz (with an Adreno 205 GPU) and only 256MB ram. The specification are in line with the Chassis specification announced last year at MIX11 and what we came to expect after hearing about the Tango leaks. The specs are the following:
If you aren’t afraid of waking up early (or not going to bed at all if you are in the US then just hit the source link after the break to watch Nokia’s Mobile World Congress live event starting 08:30 AM GMT today. We are obviously all expecting the Finnish company to announce the Global version of the Lumia 900 alongside a lower-end handset rumored to be the Lumia 610. Set up your alarms and don’t miss it out.
Ready for some totally useless promotional videos showing of the hardware capabilities of the Qualcomm MDP8660 development platform? This is essentially the development handset used to build apps for the newly released MSM8X60 SoC (MSM8260 the CDMA version the MSM8660) which is going to power the HTC EVO 3D, HTC Sensation and HP TouchPad. The MDP is available for purchase through Bsquare (just like the previous MDP platforms and Windows Mobile 6.X licenses…) for $1.350. The second video will also show the current MSM8X55 SoC clocked at 1.4ghz (powering HTC’s current high-end handsets @1Ghz and future Windows Phone 7 devices) going against what looks like and Tegra 2 powered LG Optimux 2X. But this looks kinda bogus as I’m certain that with the right drivers, a Tegra 2 can perfectly and smoothly playback 720P Flash videos unlike what is seen below.
The first Samsung Galaxy S II reviews just popped-up today courtesy of Samsung UK who seems to have handled review samples to UK editors this week. The verdict seems to be really positive especially Vlad’s review. According to Engadget’s editor the Galaxy S II is simply the best Android smartphone ever created.
The handset’s biggest sell point is obviously its 4.3″ Super AMOLED Plus display which I hand the opportunity to check out in Barcelona in February during the MWC11. Gone is the annoying PenTile Matrix subpixel arrangements which is no replace by a normal RGB matrix. This essentially means that the WVGA Super AMOLED Plus screen has 1,152,000 sub-pixels compared to 768,000 if it was a regular Super AMOLED panel (see my Super AMOLED vs Super AMOLED Plus hands on comparison here). Interestingly Samsung is also allowing the user to tweak the screen’s color saturation via a setting called “Background Effect”.This is definitely a good thing given that AMOLED panels are highly color saturated most of the time.
Samsung has just announced that the mighty Samsung Galaxy II super-phone will be available on May 1st across all carriers in the UK. This will be the i9100 version with the new 1.2Ghz Exynos 4210 SoC and Super AMOLED Plus display. You can check out my hands on video here and here and a close up of the Super AMOLED Plus screen here. Now I just hope that the software has been improved since February (it was choppy most of the time) and that the device won’t melt after a few hours of use (the prototypes I played with were all burning hot). Full press release after the break:
The Exynos 4210 powered version of the Samsung Galaxy S II (not to be confused with the Tegra 2 version) is apparently receiving a processor speed bum to 1.2ghz according to Samsung Estonia’s Facebook page. The device was initially announced with a 1Ghz Dual core CPU back in February in Barcelona and is now expected to hit the streets at the end of May or June.
The Adreno 205 which is part of the MSM8X55 SoC package is a step forward in terms of performance and can be comparable in some case with the current top dog, the PowerVR SGX540 as seen in my benchmarks here. Qualcomm has also recently released new drivers for the 205 which slightly improves its performance compared to what you see in my benches (they are the ones used by Sony Ericsson in the Xperia Play).
Samsung has just unveiled the Galaxy Tab 8.9 which is simply smaller version of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 announced last month at MWC. So what the big difference between the two products? Noting besides that screen size: 8.9 inch vs 10.1 inch. Everything else is essentially the same; same Tegra 2 SoC, Same 3mPix camera on the back and 2Mpix on the front etc.. The Screen has the same resolution so the Galaxy Tab 8.9 has a higher pixel density but other than that and the smaller 6000Mha battery compare to 6800Mha on the 10.1 you have the same product.
Stephen Elop made it very clear that 2011 and 2012 are going to be transitional years for the company who has yet to finalized the deal with Microsoft. I personally think that Microsft (and Ballmer) did, in a sense, really overtake Nokia without outright buying it. The Software giant essentially gets most of the Finnish company’s assets like in exchange of practically nothing (besides the $1 billion):
“Nokia would bring assets such as its brand, hardware, productization, global reach, application store, operator billing support, maps and location-based assets to the partnership. Microsoft would bring their next generation smartphone platform with Windows Phone, as well as search, broader advertising, ecommerce, gaming and productivity assets such as Bing, AdCenter, Xbox Live and Office.”
One more hands preview from Mobile World Congress today. This time it’s the LG Optimus Black Android handset which feature the company’s newest 4inch WVGA IPS panel called Nova display. Under the hood you’ll find a TI OMAP 3630 SoC clocked at 1Ghz powering the whole thing. This is obviously far from the Optimus 3D’s insane hardware specifications but should be enough to run Android 2.3 without any problem. This SoC includes a PowerVRSGX530 GPU so you can expect 3D performance to be weaker than the Galaxy S and its SGX540.
You may have noticed that it’s a relatively slow news weekend here (yeah I’m not feeling like posting every single bit of WP7 related rumor / chatter lately..) so I decided to dig into my Mobile World Congress stash and post a second Samsung Galaxy S II hands on video for your viewing pleasure. There’s definitely nothing amazing in there ‘just all everything that came out of MWC this year unfortunately) but if you are still craving for some Exynos 4210 action just hit the break to check it out.
One of most impressive and best looking Android handset on display at Mobile World congress was definitively Sony Ericsson’s Xperia Arc with its super thin design and nice 4.2 inch screen. You can check out the hardware specifications here in case you didn’t know them yet. similar to the vast majority of the high-end Android phones being released the Xperia Arc features Qualcomm’s MSM8255 SoC with the Adreno 205 GPU. The device’s main differentiating features are the Reality Display with Mobile BRAVIA® Engine (FWVGA 854×480 and LED Back-lit but looks identical in quality to an SLCD panel IMO) the 8 Mpix Exmor R CMOS sensor (maximum aperture of f/2.4), mini-HDMI port and super thin design (only 8.7mm thick). So how does it all look like in real life? After handling it for a few minutes I can safely say that the Xperia Arc is one of the nicest phones out there. It may be a tiny bit too plasticy but size of the screen really makes it feel like something unique.
It has been well publicized that HTC’s Mobile World Congress announcements have been somewhat underwhelming in terms of hardware compared to the competition. You can read my thoughts about this in my HTC Flyer preview post and also here were I discussed the Windows Phone 7 hardware needs. Let’s start with HTC Incredible S which the spiritual successor of the original HTC Incredible released on Verizon last year. Check out the full specifications after the break: