John Paczkowski

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Elop in July: It’s “Hard to Understand the Rationale” for Selling Nokia’s Devices Business

elop380

Asa Mathat | D: All Things Digital

Microsoft’s massive $7.2 billion deal to acquire Nokia’s handset and services business has been rumored ever since the Finnish company’s CEO, Stephen Elop, agreed to standardize Nokia’s smartphones on Microsoft’s Windows Phone operating system. And it’s one that Elop touted as almost inevitable in a press conference Tuesday morning.

“We have some of the best products in the industry, but we need more combined muscle to truly break through with consumers,” Elop said. “I share the frustration that comes from being so far behind two very large competitors. … With this transaction we can accelerate our current movement and gain a stronger financial backing to be more successful in the mobile market.”

But earlier this summer, Elop was spinning a very different story, one in which Nokia would hold on to its struggling handset business and make it successful. Indeed, this past July, he told The Wall Street Journal that it was “hard to understand the rationale” for selling Nokia’s devices business.

“That possibility to be successful is there,” he said. “If we keep executing well and keep delivering, then our future can be quite bright.”

Elop made similar comments to AllThingsD that same month, saying he was comfortable with Nokia’s portfolio of businesses and confident the company had the resources to be successful.

So what happened between mid-July and September? Did Elop experience a sudden moment of clarity that made it easier to understand the rationale for selling Nokia’s devices business? Or were his public comments simply misdirection intended to paint a happy face on Nokia’s dim prospects even as the company’s leadership met in secret with Microsoft about the deal that would be announced last night?

Or did the trend lines for Nokia’s latest and best efforts simply point to an inescapable end point, a journey that demanded a detour from inevitable decline?

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