Vendor News

Microsoft Offers Surface-as-a-Service

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Microsoft presents what it describes as a more flexible model for the sale of hardware at its Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC)-- Surface-as-a-service.

Microsoft SurfaceAs the name might suggest, Surface-as-a-service allows partner to lease Surface hardware and associated cloud software on a subscription-based basis. In Europe the scheme sees launch through ALSO, and involves a Surface tablet bundled with Windows 10, Office 356 and other ISV software.

"This will complete your ability to offer services for cloud, Windows 10, Office 365 and for Surface so you can have one end-to-end holistic offering for your customers," Windows and devices boss Yusuf Medhi says.

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Incipio Buys Skullcandy

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Accessory maker Incipio buys into audio with headphone vendor Skullcandy, in a deal worth approximately $177 million in cash.

SkullcandyThe deal covers the two headphone brands owned by the company, Skullcandy and Astro Gaming.

“We have long admired Skullcandy’s culture of innovation and ability to create pioneering audio experiences with quality and style," Incipio says. "Skullcandy and Astro amplify our dynamic mix of products and brands, while bolstering the technical and operational capabilities that serve as the foundation of our platform. The team at Skullcandy and its international presence will also allow us to accelerate the global impact of our multi-brand offense.”

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Microsoft Sheds Rest of Nokia

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The Microsoft ownership of Nokia comes to an end-- according to The Verge an internal memo reveals Microsoft is writing off $950 million as part of the failed acquisition before slashing 1850 jobs.

Lumia phonesMost of the job cuts (specifically 1350) affect the Microsoft Mobile division in Finland, and the company hopes to finish the culling by end 2016. Microsoft will still keep a small number of ex-Nokia staff, some in R&D roles and others in a Finnish sales subsidiary. Either way, $200m of the $950m impairment charge covers severence payments.

The news comes little more than a week after Microsoft sold off the Nokia feature phone division to HMD and FiH, not to mention Nokia licensing its brand for new mobile phones and tablets. Interestingly, the feature phone business sale announcement included a curious statement claiming Microsoft is not giving up on Windows Mobile-powered smartphones, and will continue supporting such devices and OEM partners.

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Nokia Brand Makes Smartphone, Tablet Comeback

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The Nokia brand is to make a mobile device return-- a Finland-based company named HMD Global Oy (HMD) gets the exclusive global license for Nokia-branded mobile phones and tablets.

Nokia tabletIn a simultaneous announcement Microsoft starts shedding its mobile phone ambitions through the sale of its feature phone business (including brands, software, design rights and a Vietnam manufacturing facility) to HMD and FIH Mobile, a newly created Hon Hai/Foxconn subsidiary. The deal is worth $350.

However Microsoft insists it is not giving up on Windows Mobile-powered smartphones, and will continue supporting such devices and OEM partners.

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Apple Invests in Chinese Uber Rival

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China is clearly still on Apple's mind as the company announces a surprise $1 billion investment in Didi Chuxing, the chief Uber ride-sharing/taxi-hailing rival in the country.

Didi StationApple is famous for showing little interest in outside investments, since it usually tends to buy small startups outright. The investment in Didi is Apple's largest since the $3bn acquisition of Beats, and in typical fashion there is litle official elaboration on the hows and the whys.

“Didi exemplifies the innovation taking place in the iOS developer community in China,” Apple CEO Tim Cook states. “We are extremely impressed by the business they’ve built and their excellent leadership team, and we look forward to supporting them as they grow.”

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