An unconfirmed report now suggests that Microsoft and Nokia could be in the final phases of integrating the struggling handset maker into Microsoft.
According to a tweet by Eldar Murtazin of Mobile Review, Microsoft and Nokia executives will meet in Las Vegas during CES to discuss the terms of the sale as well as "one or two" manufacturing facilities. Part of the deal is apparently Microsoft's intent to drop the Nokia brand and convince Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, a former Microsoft executive, to resign. A juicy component of the potential acquisition may be Nokia's patent portfolio rather than a pure Microsoft interest in becoming a leading cell phone manufacturer.
Of course, there is no confirmation from Nokia or Microsoft, but it is reasonable to assume that Microsoft has been playing with the idea of buying the phone maker to at least jumpstart its Windows Phone platform, which isn't doing so well either. Controlling both the software and hardware development has been critical to Apple's success; Google is following with the acquisition of Motorola; and Nokia as part of Microsoft could be a logical move. Stephen Elop may forever be branded as the spy that Microsoft placed within Nokia to facilitate a takeover of the company.
We expect Microsoft and Nokia to become a much more integrated business, no matter whether Nokia is acquired or not. A few weeks ago, there were rumors that Microsoft and Nokia could be launching a joint bid to acquire Blackberry maker RIM, which also indicated that the companies were in it together.