Microsoft Deals, Nokia Wins

Business, like life, is filled with irony and unintended consequences. Take this morning, for example. In trolling for news, I discovered that Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) called a truce with British smartphone software maker Symbian. The accord resulted in a deal whereby Symbian-powered phones will get access to Microsoft's Exchange software for managing email, contacts, calendars, and other personal-information tools.

The news is striking because Microsoft has long sought to provide the software to power smartphones like palmOne's (Nasdaq: PLMO  ) Treo and Research In Motion's (Nasdaq: RIMM  ) BlackBerry. But now that quest may be over. It would certainly make sense: In January, U.K.-based market researcher Canalys reported that Symbian-powered mobile devices made up 53% of the market. That's some 20 million devices, according to a Reuters report published this morning.

It's worth noting that the deal marks a victory for Microsoft, too. Hooking up with Symbian could provide it with lots of new license revenue, especially when you consider that an increasing number of corporations are arming their executives with smartphones from Nokia (NYSE: NOK  ) , Motorola (NYSE: MOT  ) , Fujitsu, and others.

But the biggest winner of all may be Nokia. Think about it. The Finnish phone maker recently brokered a deal with privately held Good Technology to create a smartphone that would rival the BlackBerry in gaining access to corporate data. The company also has a deal directly with Microsoft and is part-owner of Symbian, which, ironically, also supports the BlackBerry Connect email synchronization standard.

Indeed, it may be that Nokia has found itself possessing the widest range of choices for accessing corporate data from the road. If so, that would be a huge selling point for its next generation of smartphones, a market wherein it is already the leader. So where does that leave rivals Research In Motion and palmOne? Well, at least for now, staring at Nokia's back.

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Fool contributor Tim Beyers didn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story at the time of publication. You can find out what is in his portfolio by checking Tim's Fool profile, which is here. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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