Thermonuclear War: What would happen if Apple buys Nokia?

“Let’s think out of the box. Apple is sitting on about $100-billion in cash. The company’s revenue and profits are growing at an astounding rate. In recent years Apple has spent more money acquiring patents than on research and development. After all, compared to smartphone, computer, or tablet competitors, Apple doesn’t have many products,” Kate MacKenzie writes fro PixoBebo.

“What Apple has are plenty of lawsuits, both offensive and defensive,” MacKenzie writes. “The company has spent billions already on patents to protect the newly forged iPhone and iPad money machine, so what’s a few billion more to a company that has $100-billion sitting around and not doing much but avoiding taxes and collecting minute amounts of interest?”

MacKenzie writes, “What if Apple bought Nokia? Tristan Lewis posed the thought not as a question but as a statement. The implications of such a purchase are staggering, and could lead to a thermonuclear war in the technology industry… Google’s Eric Schmidt would have a cow on live TV if Apple were to acquire Nokia and strip Google of the all important mapping data. Do you know who else would join Schmidt on TV and deliver a cow of his own (probably simultaneously)? Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.”

Read more in the full article here.

Related article:
Why Apple should buy beleaguered Nokia – October 7, 2012


  1. What would happen? Nokia board and investors would laugh their way to the bank as Apple was found asleep at the wheel when they didn’t pick up a major mapping solution early when Nokia did.

  2. For the patents and mapping alone it would be worth it.

    But I don’t think the Finnish government would allow it, knowing that Apple would strip the company and leave them without a management, R&D or manufacturing presence in the country.

    1. Since when did the Finnish government turn into a communist regime? It has no bearing on what the government wants and will allow to happen in a business that is publicly traded.

      “Finland is a republic with a representative democracy governed accordingly to the principles of parliamentarism. Legislative power is vested in the Parliament of Finland (Finnish: eduskunta). Executive power is exercised by the Cabinet, officially termed Council of State”

      You have allot to learn about Goverment’s, and more to learn about life.

      1. I am sorry but I think its you who have a lot to learn about Global geopolitics. To stand aside and allow your premier industrial entity to effectively go out of business would mean you would never be in power again. Equivalent to the US Government standing by and allowing Nissan to buy up all of the American motor Industry and export or close it down. The Finnish Government would not stand aside and do nothing and any Government has all sorts of defensive measures it can use to obstruct such a move, trying to manipulate a Microsoft buyout (often mooted) being but one. After all this is a business that accounts for around 15% of total Finnish exports, losing that would bring down any Government and possibly even its economy.

      2. All democratic states maintain the right to veto foreign sales of strategic business interests.

        Even the United States under Bush. Remember when the Chinese tried to acquire Unocal?

    1. I don’t know about that. An American company buying a Finish company? Whose regulations would be broken?

      Not American regs, that’s for sure. Americans buying foreign assets would be good for a change.

      The Finns would see a major company being rescued. Can’t see Finland stopping it either.

      1. But it would not be being rescued, Apple would in no way operate such a company and its mapping business and patents its main interest would be totally exportable. The remainder would be closed or sold off piecemeal the phone business likely to MS, and little would remain longer term as a business within Finland itself. It could even find itself importing Nokia phones if they still existed.

  3. Reminiscent of a “What If” sketch SNL used to do decades ago, packaged as serious history.

    What if Eleanor Roosevelt could fly?

    What If Superman grew up in Nazi Germany, instead of America?”

    And the more recent equivalents:
    What if Apple bought Sony/Adobe/Palm/Nokia?

  4. Apple would never do that for two reasons – 1.) It would bring anti-trust forces down on their heads & 2.) They want Microsoft to be Number Two and take over some of the Android market share – the enemy of my enemy is my frenemy idea. Only Microsoft and Apple have behaved civilly towards each other thanks to some early agreements establishing smart phone ground rules they both abide by. Samsung couldn’t agree to such ground rules since they are a rogue and uncivil manufacturing company who will stop at nothing and genuinely feel entitled to do so.

    1. Sherman Anti-trust = #1 for sure.

      You can bet that Apple has a whole division of analysts looking at opportunities with the various options and they are extensive: buy, partner, license, co-invest…

  5. Apple has a history if competing in the marketplace by delivering innovative top notch products. A move like this would be beneath them, buying out the competition would be a pretty slime-y move.

  6. Since Apple’s pipeline doesn’t seem to have much in it right now, perhaps snapping up parts of Nokia is all Tim can do.

    Aside from evolutionary changes to the MacBook and the iPhone, Apple really has lost a LOT of momentum.

    Mac updates are apparently now timed by Intel’s release schedule, not Apple’s.

    The iPad, being a premium product, is attacked by cheap small junk tablets, so the speculators have assumed that Apple is spending engineering resources on a cheap small junk tablet too. Zero innovation there. Apple would be more wise to advertise all the things that the iPad does that the imitators can’t.

    The iPod line has no competition, so aside from recent incremental updates, Apple has no incentive to spend much more money on them. Didn’t even implement the new connector across the lineup.

    The iPhone is on a nice 2-year update schedule. How convenient for US carriers that herd their consumer sheep into 2-year contracts.

    Apple seems to have lost its software development skills — dumbing down the Mac OS with fluffware, letting productivity apps grow stale. And Maps is a disappointing detail that never should have passed the quality team. Heads should be rolling.

    What else is Apple up to? A new cinema display with thunder and lightning connectors?

    Apple needs to get their innovation engine fired up again. But since Tim is a typical operations guy, you know darn well that all-new products are not his forte. So much cheaper to buy someone else’s products and streamline their production systems over in China, right Tim?

    1. Mike, you really have no idea what you’re rambling about. You don’t know what it in Apple’s pipeline. No one except for a few higher ups at Apple knows what’s coming. You could easily say Apple didn’t have much in the pipeline right before the iPhone was released, since all it made were computers and iPods.

      Apple just did a major update to the iPod lineup, with an entirely new iPod nano. The iPod doesn’t pack the same media punch it used to, but Apple still sells them in bunches.

      Apple doesn’t really need to push laptop releases. Remember, Apple does collaborate with Intel on everything from processor to graphics to battery technology, so Apple is driving Intel to a certain degree.

      While I don’t think an iPad mini is needed (or would be that useful), if Apple makes such a product it certainly won’t be a “small junk tablet”. What a ridiculous statement.

          1. I don’t have to listen to anyone telling me I “have no idea what you’re rambling about”.

            Apple’s product releases have not only slowed, but the quality and public perception of them have been decidedly mixed. Ample evidence exists to show I am correct. Mac updates have been slow. Mac software updates have been nonexistent. iOS updates have had major quality oversights. iOS devices have, fairly or not, been viewed as small evolution rather than exciting must-have purchases. I am not alone in witnessing this. Tim and company have spent more time dealing with legal battles and sub-supplier messes rather than pushing forth really cutting edge technology. I stand by my statement: Apple needs to concentrate on product excellence and not rest on its laurels or, just as bad, roll out predictable incremental product refreshes. Incremental product refreshes are what Microsofties do, not Apple users.

    2. Since Apple’s pipeline doesn’t seem to have much in it right now, perhaps snapping up parts of Nokia is all Tim can do.

      Strawman alert. Mike’s opening sentence attempts to characterize Apple and Tim Cook as stumbling right up to Christmas with nothing in the channel.

      Mike you should just shut up now because you shot your wad with that stupid opening sentence.

      Apple will crush last year’s holiday numbers and anyone who says differently is doing so to be contrary, but, in your case, your ignorance is showing.

      You’re either late, or early. You’re late to the Apple Is Dead Party or early for the Apple Is Dead Party. Either way, fuck you.

      1. no need to, Dualie. Your wife already took care of everything. She regrets living with such a sack of shit, but feels obliged to stay for the sake of the kids.

        see how easy it is to play your game, dickhead?

  7. Innovation …. Apple TV is coming and that’s a big one … That’s the problem with big success .. People expect miracles constantly … Tell me mike , how do you improve the iPhone 5 form factor and ecosystem ?

    1. how do you improve the iPhone 5 form factor and ecosystem ?

      loaded question. form factor isn’t the deciding factor anymore in smart phones. the ecosystem, by definition, includes companies who develop accessories and software outside of Apple’s direct oversight.

      how about Apple innovating the iPhone by:
      – leading an industry-standard license-free secure mobile payment platform
      – rolling out lightning connectors and accessories at the same time as the devices that sport the new connector, and making the cables & adapters much less expensive. Allow 3rd parties to license the connector at a reasonable price.
      – make iAds go away, or allow the user to eliminate them at initial purchase
      – allow digital audio out on all iDevices. the internal D/A converters suck.
      – making the app store more user-friendly, making it easier to permanently filter out the garbage apps
      – fix the Maps
      – fix iMessage
      – allow deletion of pre-canned apps and features the user doesn’t want — like Farcebook and Twit-ware integration

      1. Mike,

        None of the things you mention are actually innovation, except the first. The others are operational things which, had they “fixed” or got right in the first place, would have passed without comment.

        The first is an innovation, but is also a contradiction. If Apple are leading, then it is not industry standard, if its industry standard already, then it means everyone is doing it, and apple aren’t leading.

        1. no, creating product standards typically occurs when a leading company proposes a new design, then releases it to an international non-profit standards management organization (IEEE, ISO, etc) for free use by all.

          Apple, like the HDMI mob, has rolled out a connector that is designed not for technical improvement, not for consumer benefit, and certainly not for ecosystem enrichment. Lightning, like HDMI, is designed for maximum licensing profit, which will extract the maximum dollars out of your pocket, for no real benefit to you versus any cheap competing interface standard.

          innovation, by the way, simply means doing something that hasn’t been done before. each item on my list qualifies, though indeed some items are relatively small improvements to some users.

          1. Mike what is it with you and your list? Who cares!

            Fuck your list! Nothing you’ve been talking about is remotely interesting to me but he Mike call up Tim and run it by him. I’m sure he’ll take the call after reading all the good shit you have to say about the future of Apple.

            Hurry up mikey… Make that call.


            1. Dualie:

              Tim says he’s sorry the maps were all fucked up. Apparently Apple couldn’t get the job done right the first time there, so go to Google for maps. A good scathing Steve Jobs would be appropriate here, but Tim didn’t seem to have it in him.

              He’s also sorry that Samsung posted record profits, while Google continues to chip away at iOS market share and fanboys are out en masse parodying Apple’s new disaster-recovery mode.

              He’s also sorry that Foxconn continues to be a major source of bad publicity, not to mention a huge bottleneck to iPhone build rates.

              Tim wanted to say that he hopes everyone just keeps waiting for “Apple TV” vaporware and someday Apple will finally roll out a Kindle Fire competitor, as if Apple needed one.

              Also, just hang tight for Lightning accessories, they’ll eventually be here when 3rd party manufacturers get through the licensing hoops. Maybe some basic stuff for christmas, but don’t count on it. Nobody has even got Thunderbolt accessories to speak of, for cryin’ out loud.

              Oh, and iWork 2009 is looking really great this holiday season. Perfect stocking stuffer for ya, Dualie.

              And yes, despite this complete mismanagement, Apple will indeed make a killing this holiday season because the iPhone 5 should finally be available in numbers to support demand. The iPod Nano also looks great.

              But, need i remind the blind faithful, Apple would be in a far better position if it had new iMacs out for school season this year. The wait for real Mac Pro updates is only losing more power users to the competition. Graphics options on all Macs except the Retina Macbook Pro are now about 2 steps behind the competition, which is why gamers continue to use their consoles. So many missed opportunities, Apple!!!!

  8. You have to think on the next steps.
    What would Apple do with Nokia ? Cut out maps dept and patents. How to continue ?
    What are they supposed to do wit the rest ? Currently Nokia has more than 100.000 employees all with families and hope for a better future.
    It would be extremely bad for Apples reputation to close down all the rest.

    Nah they are able to improve maps on their own. You could build 1000 street view like cars and collect your own data, would cost less than 10 billion $.

    1. Exactly correct. It would cost Apple a huge amount of money to close Nokia’s phone business just to strip out the maps and patents. Not worth the money and headache, never mind the PR debacle which would result, especially in Europe.

      Apple actually needs Nokia. After all, how would people recognize that they had a crap phone and how special the iPhone is without Nokia phones? And where would all the spies get their burner phones from?

  9. This battle would make the Winders vs. Unix battle of a couple of decades ago along with the break-up of Ma Bell look like a three year-old’s Sunday picnic…

    Jobs would have already made a CASH offer that no one could match without bankrupting their companies and the game would be afoot… more lawyer-fodder than could be expended in a lifetime… YAA HOO !!!

  10. Of all the hackneyed suggestions we see regularly about who Apple should buy (ex. – Sony, Facebook, Twitter, Time Warner, Disney, etc.), this one is at least interesting to ponder. It’s not that I think this would ever happen as I just don’t think it’s in Apple’s DNA to buy another large company and brand and assimilate that into Apple’s unique culture and ways of doing things. Still, I did give this “idea” some thought.

    Apple is now essentially an Internet communicator company providing devices and services that fit the role. Nokia has been established in the communicator business for a long while now and is still the second largest mobile handset provider in the world – although most of that volume is the dumb feature phone. Nokia has a very strong presence in emerging markets and the brand remains one of the most recognized in the world. On paper, there is some synergy there.

    Besides the obvious assets that Nokia has which may be of interest to Apple (patents, mapping technology, hardware expertise, etc.), Nokia’s sheer volume and its extensive distribution channels where Apple is weak may be something that can be put to good use – especially in emerging markets. Eventually, all phones will become smartphones of some type and what Nokia can’t seem to handle right now is that transition while their archenemy Samsung has done that quite well.

    Volume does and will continue to matter in the long run. Sure, ultimately it’s about the profits, but Apple still needs to have a certain amount of market share in terms of growing the value of its unparalleled ecosystem. Although Apple is considered a “luxury” brand, the analogy of BMW’s or Gucci doesn’t apply to this industry. The volume is huge (1 billion+ phones per year) and a certain amount of market share is necessary down the line to remain relevant and be at the cutting edge.

    This means Apple needs to get the iOS on more and more devices to build up the ecosystem. 400 million iTunes accounts is impressive but that’s still less than 6% of the world’s population. Nokia still sells phones at nearly a-million-per-day rate. Perhaps Nokia can be the “bargain brand” phone with a dumbed down iOS that still provides most iCloud and iTunes services to grow the ecosystem.

    Apple can’t and shouldn’t fight in the race-to-the-bottom war with the Android vendors. It’s pointless. There’s no way to stem the tsunami of super cheap phones from the likes of Huawei, ZTE and many others in China and India that we haven’t even heard of. But to completely give that up means the Android platform and ecosystem (as crappy as it is) will become dominant through sheer numbers.

    Apple’s own business model isn’t geared towards numbers dominance (the iPod and iPad being notable exceptions) and it’s highly unlikely Apple will ever gain majority market share with the iPhone and the Mac. I think most of us here wouldn’t want to see Apple become the majority anyway. The cool factor will totally disappear and someone else would have to take on that mantle. But then, how do you protect the upper echelon when the low-end just starts engulfing you from the bottom up, which is essentially what Samsung has done and will continue to do?

    Nokia could be the big wide “moat” around the Apple castle as this army of Android vendors constantly peck away with dirt cheap phones and tablets. It’s really a war of platforms and ecosystems now and Apple has to constantly stay ahead there to continue selling the devices that is it’s breadwinner. And for Apple to do that, the number size of the people in it really does matter in the long run.

    Just a thought… I don’t think it’ll happen and I’m sure Apple has various other strategies in the works for the challenge of gaining greater market share, but Apple does risk becoming a “niche” player again unless they address it with the global market in mind.

    1. The most compelling reason Apple would buy nokia would be for their massive database of, not only map coordinates, but a decade of cellular traffic patterns for the world.

      I can think of worse things than Apple running the risk of becoming a niche player again.

      Well written piece. Don’t over think it though. By the third week of January we’ll see that Apple deserves the title Second To None; they’re not perfect, but it’s real close.

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