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Why Surface won't be submerged by Microsoft's Nokia acquisition

Brad Chacos | Sept. 4, 2013
No, Surface isn't going away, and the Nokia acquisition may actually be a good thing for the fledgling hardware brand.

"Microsoft may try to repurpose Surface to something that's more keyboard-focused, where Lumia becomes its brand for smaller tablets, where keyboards make increasingly less sense and there's perhaps even more synergy with the smartphone line," says Rubin. "Surface could evolve to become, basically, Microsoft's PC [and PC replacement] brand."

If nothing else, Microsoft and Nokia are both said to be in the advanced stages of releasing new tablets, in the form of second-gen Surface slates and Nokia's first foray into tablets. Given how far along the companies are said to be on those products, both Rubin and Bajarin expect them to launch under their respective Surface/Lumia brands, rather than a possible newly formed line.

All for one, one for all
But even if Lumia and Surface stay separate yet equal, the Nokia acquisition will still pay dividends for the Surface line.

"The quality of the Nokia Windows Phone experience will give more incentive to the Surface team to double down on Microsoft-owned tablets," predicts Forrester analyst Ted Schadler.

The acquisition should have much more tangible benefits for Microsoft's new Devices division, as well.

"Nokia has some very smart hardware people," Bajarin says. "They have good hardware engineers. They have good hardware designers. They have people who are very good at those things. Microsoft does not have people who are good at those things. [Microsoft] has acquired quite a lot of hardware expertise to manage and integrate into their mobile device division."

And beyond that, Nokia's supply chain borders on legendary. Microsoft can lean on that to bolster its small Surface line, both for manufacturing and for expanding Surface to more countries and more retailers.

Yes, the phone is the key to everything, but the Nokia acquisition pays dividends far beyond simple smartphones. The manufacturing prowess that Nokia brings to the table, merged with Microsoft's deep pockets, opens up many doors for Lumia, Surface, and Microsoft's entire push into Devices.

"They have a lot of different paths they can take for hardware," says Bajarin, "And I can see them getting into all kinds of different hardware."

And with that, we can't help but ponder the plethora of hardware possibilities. Sure, a productivity-friendly mobile display would pretty obviously fall under the Surface brand, but like a Surface phone, the long-rumored Surface smartwatch could very well die an ignoble death at the hands of Lumia.


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