My own opinion is that this was a terrible use of MSFT’s overseas cash. It should have been returned to shareholders. (Readers please feel free to challenge my math on the hoped-for ASR, and tell me where I am wrong.)
This is why stock market financial analysts never end up running companies. Their primary concern is finding companies that make as much money as possible for investors in the stocks. So from that point of view the M$ swallowing of NOK is a terrible idea.
But these analysts pursue returns at the expense of everything else. There are – and will be for the next decade or so – three areas of consumer and enterprise computing tech: Smartphones, tablets, and notebooks/desktops PCs).
There were rumors that Huwaei, the Chinese tech giant, was looking to buy Nokia, dump WinPhone as an OS, and switch their product line to Android. Had Huwaei managed to pull that off, M$ would have basically found itself shut out of the smartphone market, other than building their own – which the Surface fiasco (and others) has taught them is a long, hard road to slog.
Ballmer (and Gates) have said repeatedly that M$ is a “devices and services” company now. But aside from the Xbox, the Surface, and some assorted other minor gadgets, there seemed to be a dearth of devices.
Now the company has a whole line of smartphones running WinPhone. I suspect that will do more for investor enrichment over the long term than burning up seven billion bucks on the altar of shareholder dividends and buybacks, which does nothing to help the company itself, but merely makes M$ permabulls look good.
I’d like to see them go ahead and snap up Dell, too. They do that, and they really will become a devices and services company, and one of the giants in that game, too.