What Microsoft-Nokia could mean for federal mobility

The software giant's move was driven by consumer-market competition, but analysts say there are implications for agencies as well.

Nokia Windows Phone

Microsoft's planned $7.2 billion acquisition of Nokia could help bolster the software giant's position in the federal market, especially when it comes to filling growing demand for mobile computing devices.

The deal will bring Nokia's global phone manufacturing and marketing operation under Microsoft's control, along with patent licenses that include mapping and geospatial tools. While the deal -- the second richest in Microsoft history after its acquisition of Skype -- was driven by competition in the consumer market from Apple and Google-powered Android devices, some of these factors are also at play in the federal space.

The federal government is leaning toward a mobility strategy in which mobile and desktop environments converge. Federal CIO Steven VanRoekel recently said, "We're on the edge of a phenomenon where [mobile and desktop] are the same thing."

And while Microsoft is ubiquitous on federal desktop computers, the field is more wide open when it comes to mobile phones and tablets. If Microsoft wants to build on its existing dominance in desktop operating systems and software in the federal workplace, mobile is the next logical step. If successful, Microsoft could be positioned to improve its position with government agencies. The latest quarterly data from research firm IDC indicates that Windows has inched passed Blackberry to become the third-place mobile operating system, thanks in large part to Nokia devices. However, Windows Phone is not expected to crack even 10 percent of the overall smartphone market until 2017. Microsoft declined to comment specifically for this article.

The question for Microsoft is whether it can use Nokia devices to extend its dominance of the desktop into the mobile environment. Data from Govini, a firm specializing in government contracting analytics, shows Microsoft's Windows operating system on $11.1 billion in contracts since January 2008. In the same time frame, Apple's iOS generated just $575.4 million.

Competition is tighter when it comes to tablets. The federal government has contracted for $304.3 million in Apple iPads since the device launched in April 2010. Contracts for Microsoft-based tablets totaled $532.4 million in the same period.

Microsoft's high-profile entrant into the tablet market, the Surface, has been a bust, with the company taking a $900 million write-down on unsold inventory. Nokia has tablet devices in the offing, according to industry blogs, which put a release date of a new Windows-based tablet in late September. Microsoft is also pushing ahead with its own line of tablets. In its strategic rationale for the deal, Microsoft stated that "success in tablets will help PCs" and that the deal helps Microsoft "take additional steps to promote [an] apps ecosystem for Windows."

From the point of view of the federal market, adding more Windows-powered devices, whether smartphones or tablets, potentially helps Microsoft preserve its desktop dominance and perhaps extend it into mobile devices.

"I think that it was very smart for Microsoft. Handset manufacturers were increasingly going to the Android platform and Microsoft had no control. I think that now with Nokia that they can potentially optimize the experience between the software and the hardware," said Tom Suder, president of Mobilegov. "This could be good for the government that wants to leverage existing investments in Microsoft."

It is one thing to have a plan, however, and quite another to execute it. With the trend toward bring-your-own-device accelerating, Microsoft will have to succeed with consumers in order to realize gains in the federal market, said John Slye, an analyst at Deltek.

"Government generally moves slower than the commercial market, with only pockets leading," Slye said. He noted that Microsoft's lead in desktop operating systems and software could be less relevant in a world that is moving toward interoperable, cloud-based virtual environments. "Much of what's going on in mobility in government will be driven by non-mobility factors. Cost, infrastructure maintenance, standardization, security – those are going to have ripples across mobility," he said.

Slye sees an opportunity in the federal market for Microsoft mobile devices. "They could leverage the applications and software side to make some inroads and pick up some of that market as Blackberry continues to decline," he said. However, much of that slack has already been picked up by Android handsets and iPhones.

Microsoft justified the deal in part because it "cannot risk having Google or Apple foreclose app innovation, integration, distribution, or economics," according to a document explaining the deal. For Microsoft, a lot depends on whether that ship has already sailed.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.