Microsoft, Nokia Push Closing of Acquisition to April

Antitrust authorities in Asia have yet to approve of the Microsoft-Nokia deal. As such, the pair have pushed their deadline for the deal to April.

The timing of Microsoft's acquisition of Nokia's Devices and Services business isn't going exactly according to plan, Brad Smith, general counsel and executive vice president of Legal & Corporate Affairs at Microsoft, said in a blog posted to the Microsoft site the evening of Sunday, March 23, perhaps intentionally putting out the news ahead of the Monday morning opening of some financial markets.

"The completion of this acquisition will mark the first step to bring Microsoft and the Nokia Devices and Services business together," Smith said. "Our acquisition will accelerate our mobile-first, cloud-first imperatives. We're looking forward to accelerating innovation and market adoption for Windows Phone and introducing the next billion customers to Microsoft services via Nokia mobile phones."

Except none of that is happening yet.

Nokia has received global regulatory approvals in 15 markets on five continents, but the "final markets" aren't exactly hustling toward the first quarter of 2014 deadline Nokia announced Sept. 3. Smith set a new deadline of April.

"In the interim, he added, "our top priority continues to be maintaining a great experience for consumers and business continuity for our partners."

That could mean a deeper continuation of Microsoft's support of the Android platform, if, as the Register points out, Smith's andaccelerating Windows Phone adoption and introducing more customers to Nokia—is significant.

At the Mobile World Congress trade show in February, Nokia introduced the Nokia X, a smartphone with a 4-inch display, a dual-SIM option, a palette of bright back-cover colors and the ability to download Android apps while still accessing Nokia features such as Here Maps and MixRadio. The phone is priced at around $150.

Despite its relationship with Microsoft, Nokia chose to build the X on Android because "it was impossible to bring down the Windows OS-based Lumia phones to the same price range," Ajey Mehta, Nokia's vice president for the Middle East, told Gulf Business, according to a March 23 report. The Nokia X went on sale in the United Arab Emirates the same day.

"We have a lot of equity, a lot recall and people still trust the brand in that price-point. It's a loved brand in that segment of $150 or below," Mehta said.

Nokia's plan, he added, is to target consumers upgrading from feature phones to smartphones, get them—with the Android-aligned X—to stay with the Nokia brand and then ultimately get them to upgrade to a Windows Phone-based Lumia.

Nokia in a March 24 press statement on the delay took the extra step of pointing a finger at the area of delay.

"Certain anti-trust authorities in Asia … are still conducting their reviews," said Nokia.

It added that it's "confident the transaction will close" and that both Nokia and Microsoft are "working diligently" to make it happen as "expeditiously as possible."

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