Microsoft's daring $7 billion deal to acquire Nokia's lagging cell phone business is designed to put the Redmond, Wash.-based company in the big leagues with rivals Samsung and Apple.
The timing of the move is especially intriguing. It comes in the aftermath of another Microsoft bombshell: Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced last week that he will be stepping down at an as-yet undetermined date in the next 12 months.
Is this decision going to be interpreted as Ballmer's last gasp and shot at glory before riding off into the sunset with his many millions of dollars?
Or, is it the dawning of a new era at Microsoft, which will portray a dinosaur tech brand as a sort of innovator, at least a company that is willing to spend lavishly to re-invent itself?
Microsoft needs to do something major. It has been a long time since Bill Gates' old company set a standard for any kind of innovation, and the level of innovation is how Wall Street nd tech journalists and historians are going to judge a company's success in 2013.
Now, Ballmer's successor will have the challenge of riding the coattails of this mammoth deal to forge a new identity for a sleeping giant.
NOTE: I am rooting for Microsoft's success because it is a good story, its comeback would be good for the U.S., and, in the interest of full disclosure, I should add: yes, I am a long-suffering Microsoft stockholder.