Re: to buy a failing company
There's no doubt they had to buy Nokia in order to stay in the mobile market (no other company wants WP). But should they have even bothered?
I guess it depends when his idea was to buy Nokia. Personally I'd have thought buying HTC might have been a better move if they just wanted to push Windows Phone. But like you, I suspect they only bought Nokia because otherwise there'd have been no-one making Win Pho.
On the other hand, there's nothing wrong with MS blowing $10 billion on a mobile strategy. They've got the money, and so much of the medium-term future of computing is in tablets and phones that it's important that they're in this area to stay relevant. They bet a lot of money on XBox, and lost a lot originally, but are now turning nice profits. Admittedly they've not done as much with it as they should. No-one seems to have been able to make the huge convergence and cash that was expected from controlling the TV. I suspect it's because TV content providers wanted as much control as they could manage to keep, and so pushed their own set-top boxes*.
Google blew billions on Android before they knew it would be a success. And that investment is paying off handsomely in terms of juicy user-data, local search, mapping, push to Google's services etc. And so would have been worth a try, even if it had failed. And of course Google have tried and failed at many things, as they've spectacularly succeeded at others.
Maybe tablets and mobiles will become a no-profit commodity soon, and all the cash (and data-harvesting opportunities) will be in cloud services for a while. So if you've got the cash, it's got to be worth spreading some money around in related areas, to catch the next big thing. The trick is not to piss off your existing big market, that funds all this experimentation. So say Google mustn't fuck up search, or scare their customers away with blatant privacy abuse. And MS mustn't upset their core desktop customers by buggering up their UI to suit a half-baked Windows everywhere strategy. Oh, hang on a minute... Doh!
*Why were they ever called set-top boxes? I don't recall seeing many CRT tellies that had a flat enough top that you'd balance the video on them. And now everyone's telly is less than 1" thick, you'd need a special self-balancing box... Why weren't they called something else? And can we now rename them?