4 reasons Apple should buy Nokia

The Finnish company's powerful maps and impressive patent portfolio have tech insiders daydreaming of an industry-changing acquisition.

By TheWeek.com Oct 8, 2012 12:22PM

 Image Source, Image Source, Getty ImagesNokia (NOK) has seen better days. The Finnish phone maker continues to struggle to gain traction in a marketplace dominated by Apple (AAPL) and Android (GOOG). Its new flagship device, the Windows-powered Lumia 920, failed to impress investors when it was announced last month, subsequently causing the company's stock to dive. 

Now technology blogger and entrepreneur Tristan Louis argues that Apple ought to acquire the once-prolific phone manufacturer -- even though Tim Cook's company is the very competitor responsible for Nokia's litany of woes. 

Here are four reasons Apple might want to dig into its deep pockets and buy Nokia:

1. Nokia has really powerful mapping technology
Apple Maps isn't very good, and as a result, Apple has been feeling the heat from a critical tech press and an even more critical public. Nokia, on the other hand, has been doing maps "for a long time now, and they have access to even more data than Google," says Buster Heine at Cult of Mac. According to Alexis Madrigal at The Atlantic, Google gets most of its mapping data from the 5 million miles driven by its Street View cars. But Nokia has a secret weapon: GPS data from FedEx and UPS trucks. UPS trucks drive 3.3 billion miles annually, giving Nokia a massive database. Simply put, says Cult of Mac's Heine: Nokia is "making great maps, they just can't make money off them, which makes them a great acquisition target for Apple."

2. Nokia has a treasure chest of patents
As Apple's recent smackdown of Samsung proves, the future of the mobile space "will be dictated by the availability and ownership of patents," says Tristan Louis on his blog. Nokia has "quietly built" a "very strong and relatively young" portfolio of almost 16,000 patents around telecommunications in the U.S. alone, which would arm Apple with an intimidating array of next-generation technology. Indeed, just Nokia's exhaustive portfolio of patents might be worth as much as $6 billion to $10 billion.

3. Nokia could help with TV
Whispers of a game-changing Apple TV, which in theory would sync with other iDevices, have long been ubiquitous in the tech world. But Nokia actually has "good technology for delivering live TV to wireless devices,"says Bruce Upbin at Forbes. If Apple truly wants to dominate the TV arena, it'll have to beam shows and movies to iPhones or iPads in real-time. That's a field Nokia has some expertise in. 

4. Microsoft would be toast
Microsoft has a lot riding on the release of Windows Phone 8, and Nokia is its primary launch partner. Buying the Finnish hardware manufacturer would "knock Microsoft on its heels," says Forbes' Upbin. "Assuming there wouldn't be any antitrust claims leveled by Microsoft (and wouldn't that be ironic) Apple could squelch whatever progress Microsoft has struggled to secure in mobile." Indeed, says Tristan, if Apple were to acquire Nokia, it'd be "something pretty close to a deathblow" for the house that Gates built.

More from The Week

Oct 8, 2012 7:20PM
So I guess this means the fund managers that are heavy on AAPL are beginning to feel threatened by the approaching MSFT releases combined with AAPL's in-house mapping solution failure, vague TV plan, and iPhone 5 problems. Well if MSFT's approaching launches are even mildly successful and they can gain a consumer device foothold then AAPL is the one can could potentially be toast. MSFT would have both the consumer and IT solution to the problem of having or needing a bunch of separate devices that would automatically be able to work together.
Oct 8, 2012 6:51PM
This is very interesting and makes Nokia worth a look.  I'm guessing Apple would outmaneuver Microsoft in any head to head battle for Nokia. 
Oct 8, 2012 6:09PM
The authors seem to forget that Microsoft will be manufacturing the Surface tablet hardware for Windows 8.

They have also manufactured hardware for the XBox.

If Microsoft can manufacture an XBox and a Surface tablet, they should be able to manufacture a smart phone, but the patents might make it problematic.

Oct 8, 2012 6:04PM
If the Board of Directors for Nokia are doing their job, they will give Microsoft an opportunity to bid on Nokia.
Oct 8, 2012 2:17PM

Apple and Microsoft bidding for Nokia would be really fun to watch. Let's see at $4-5 BV PS where would they start maybe $6? Form there all the way up to $8-10 PS or close to $40b market cap.


Why wouldn't Apple just license Nokia's mapping technology as they already have the smart phoen patents?

Oct 8, 2012 12:38PM
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