Editor’s note: Jack Narcotta is an analyst with Technology Business Research.

HAMPTON, N.H. - Microsoft’s purchase of Nokia’s phone business prevents Windows Phone from slipping into irrelevance

Microsoft’s $7.2 billion deal for Nokia’s Devices and Services business including 30,000 utility patents, patent applications and a broad range of intellectual property allows Microsoft to play a “long game” with Windows Phone. By assuming complete control over its nascent mobile ecosystem, Microsoft ensures that, in the short-term, Windows Phone will remain in marketplace on Microsoft’s terms and, to a degree, shielded from fierce competition from Samsung and Apple.

In the long run, Microsoft is hedging its bet that Windows Phone can not only create revenue opportunity for Microsoft, but expand the opportunities the Windows ecosystem provides to OEMs.

With the acquisition of Nokia’s Devices and Services business, the focus for Microsoft shifts from building devices to boost consumer appeal to playing to its strengths in business/commercial computing. The purchase draws in the boundaries of the Windows ecosystem, infuses it with cash to spur development, and ultimately gives Microsoft more control of its mobile ecosystem, a la Apple and Google.

BYOD Market

TBR believes the value proposition of Windows OS can now be more easily integrated into Microsoft’s wider devices strategy and creates opportunities for it to boost sales of Windows devices by catering to enterprise demand for a holistic, secure software platform. By removing the hurdles between it and Nokia, Microsoft can now directly influence the direction of innovation and marketing messaging to an enterprise customer base clamoring for more security and control of a fluid BYOD marketplace.

The struggling Windows Phone mobile platform has recently showed signs of life, as the high-end camera features and overall design cues of Nokia’s Lumia phones allowed it to carve out niches in consumer markets and vault over BlackBerry for the No. 3 position in terms of worldwide smartphone market share in 2Q13. However, with limited scale compared to the market leaders – Nokia reported 13.5 million smartphone unit shipments from January to June 2013, compared to an estimated 143 million for Samsung and 68 million for Apple – the consumer-oriented OEM approach utilized by Nokia was ineffective at generating the significant momentum necessary to even threaten to erode Android and Apple’s combined market share.

Emulating Apple

TBR believes that bringing Windows Phone entirely under Microsoft’s corporate umbrella is admission that Apple’s all-encompassing approach to product development has merit. And much like its Cupertino-based competition, Microsoft’s strength lies in the ability of its software to embed itself in the day-to-day tasks of its customer base.

TBR believes that even if Microsoft were to shutter its Windows Phone hardware business, the close ties between Office application and Windows Phone developer ecosystem that the acquisition creates will allow Windows Phone software to remain a viable, compelling platform for enterprise users and applications.