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Stephen Elop CEO Nokia

"There's absolutely no discussion. The rumours are baseless. It is as clear as that." Stephen Elop, Nokia CEO, June 2011.

"We have firmly scotched rumours of the smartphone division being sold to Microsoft.

“We have knocked them on the head time and time again." David Hall, Nokia UK Communications Manager, January 2012.

“We have a deep partnership with Microsoft, and it is not uncommon for Nokia and Microsoft to meet on a regular basis.” Nokia spokesperson, June 2013, denying takeover reports.

Nokia has been denying talk of a Microsoft takeover of its phones business ever since Stephen Elop announced the company was making the switch from its decrepit in-house Symbian OS to the Big M’s Windows Phone in 2011.

Endless quotes from execs and spokespeople scotched rumours and poured scorn on those who dared suggest that Elop was some kind of Microsoft Trojan horse.

Elop, who took over as Nokia CEO three years ago this month, has now returned to Microsoft as European Vice-President of the Nokia business, his move into the soon-to-be-vacated Microsoft CEO position surely a formality.

Nokia Lumia 900 leaked promo

Try telling those who said this was a ruse from a start that they were not spot-on.

As it is, the days of Nokia phones are numbered. Microsoft has bought the Lumia and Asha brands and has licensed the Nokia name to use on existing handsets.

Microsoft has got what it always wanted: A way into the lucrative do-it-all world of hardware and software, where Apple and Google rule in an apparently unbreakable duopoly.

This day has been coming, though, ever since Elop famously told Nokia employees they were ‘standing on a burning platform' and made Windows Phone the company’s smartphone platform of choice.

Since then, Nokia’s fortunes have improved, with Lumia sales hitting 7.4 million in the last quarter, up from 5.6 million in Q1 2013. Windows Phone’s share too, is up, to 3.7% globally.

nokia lumia 625 stack

That it’s taken so long for Microsoft to acquire Nokia’s phone division is perhaps the only surprise.

Everyone knew that Nokia could have made Android phones as well as Windows ones.

It’s a model that has worked well for Samsung, HTC (to an extent) and LG.

It would probably have helped it make more money. But in sticking with Microsoft it showed where its allegiances truly lie.

Android Jelly Bean colourful

Nokia says that it’s been weighing up its approach to its devices business ever since Microsoft revealed its Surface RT and ‘devices and services’ integration plans in June 2012.

Doubtless it’s been thinking of the deal longer than that.

For now though, the question remains as to whether Microsoft can really breach Google and Apple’s stranglehold over the ecosystem business, while also battling Samsung’s dominance in hardware.

Even with this buyout, it’ll struggle to gain a foothold.

Its corporate culture and lack of decent app support mean the road ahead will be tough, especially as Google and Apple are about to reveal their next efforts.

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