Nokia and Microsoft, Twitter merger talks, Pandora’s IPO

Nokia chief executive and president Stephen Elop

Nokia's chief executive Stephen Elop

There can be few better ways of starting a week you know will end with a major strategic announcement than by inadvertently ‘doing a Ratner’. But seeing as the deal Nokia chief executive Stephen Elop unveiled on Friday was one to kill off Symbian, the leaking of a memo in which he compared it to “a burning platform” probably didn’t do too much harm.

The company’s decision to jump into bed with Microsoft and use its Windows Phone 7 operating system might seem an odd one – Nokia invented the smartphone and leads the market with 37.6% of all smartphones sold last year running its Symbian operating system.

But its smartphone position has been waning, with market share down from 46.9% in 2009 and, as Elop noted, “Apple owns the high-end range” and Android is “winning the mid-range, and quickly they are going downstream to phones under €100”.

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How much is Twitter worth? It’s not exactly a classic parlour game. But reports Facebook and Google both had early talks about acquiring the micro-blogging company place the answer at $8-10 billion.

That’s despite currently running at a loss and only slowly moving towards a coherent financial model, though it’s estimated to have ended 2010 having brought in $45 million.

Next month Twitter will turn five. As of September last year it passed 175 million registered users and, as the service grows up, it’s their data and influence that will provide its future value – just hopefully not as part of The Social Network.

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It’s one step forward, two steps back for online music streaming services, as US company Pandora looks to gain backing from the markets for an initial public offering (IPO) of shares.

The service, which styles itself as ‘internet radio’ and sadly hasn’t been available in the UK since January 2008, is apparently looking to raise $100 million.

But in a potential blow to the whole sector, one major record label is losing patience with the free all-you-can-eat model. Warner Music says it will stop licensing its songs to services such as Pandora, Spotify and Last.fm, contradicting the enthusiasm recently shown by rival label Universal for Spotify.

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