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http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/currency/2013/09/where-nokia-went-wrong.html

What do they following mean?

Does the following mean, because after a year(2014) this company may be found to have been worth nothing in the previous year(which is this year), this company(Nokia) is selling it to Microsoft because they want it out of their operations since it's worthless?

Nokia’s agreement on Tuesday to sell its handset business to Microsoft for $7.2 billion is something of a minor business coup for Nokia, since a year from now that business might well turn out to have been worth nothing.

This next one means that Microsoft is making a fatal mistake but doing nothing(relying on other companies for the manufacture of their phones and whatnot) is more fatal than buying up this Nokika company. Am I right??

While buying Nokia’s phone business, and truly becoming a different kind of company than it has been for most of its nearly forty-year history, could be a mistake that ultimately proves fatal to Microsoft as we know it, continuing to rely on other companies to determine its fate in a post-PC world seems like it would be the most fatal mistake of all.

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"That business" means the "handset business" referred to at the beginning of the sentence. Note that "business" can refer to a single company, as in, "Jack started a business to produce widgets." It can also refer to an industry as a whole, like "the telephone business", in which case it would include many companies. Or it can refer to one activity within a company. That is how it is used here: "the handset business" as one of many things that Nokia does.

"Might turn out to have been worth nothing" means that at some time in the past -- probably the writer means at the time that Nokia sells the business to Microsoft -- the value of the business may be zero. And of course getting $7 billion for something that is worth zero is a pretty good deal.

As to the second sentence, I haven't read the article, just your two excerpts, so I'm not clear what the author means about Microsoft "rely[ing] on other companies to determine its fate." But he's saying that buying Nokia's handset business may be a mistake, but that not doing this would leave them vulnerable to the problem of relying on other companies.

  • I believe you mean "means that some time in the future"? That is, Nokia made $7.2 billion for the company now, when in 1 year it will be worth $0? – WendiKidd Sep 5 '13 at 20:23
  • @WendiKidd "To have been worth" ... I think the writer means that at the time of the sale the business is worth zero, or he would have said, "will turn out to be worth nothing" or "will turn out to eventually be worth nothing". He's saying that Nokia is getting $7 billion for something that, at the time they sell it, is worth nothing. (I have lots of things around my house that are worth nothing. Anybody willing to pay me $7 billion for some of them?) – Jay Sep 6 '13 at 13:24

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