Nokia to sell smartphone business to Microsoft -

The dark satanic rumour mill has manufacturered a hell on earth rumour which claims that Nokia is about to sell its smartphone business to Microsoft.

Word on the street is that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Nokia boss Stephen Elop will tie the knot at the CES show in Vegas. It is not clear if they will be married by an Elvis impersonator in a drive through chapel.

There have been rumours that this will happen doing the circuit for a while but Slashgear seems certain  If anything it will give Microsoft's Andy Lees something to do.

The division will be run under a new Microsoft-led name not as Nokia, and it will leave the former rubber boot maker pushing a portfolio of dumbphones and would-be smartphone alternatives.

Elop will resign as Nokia CEO sometime this year, while the Nokia smartphone business will make the jump in the second half of the year. What has gotten Microsoft all excited is that it will have its paws on all of Nokia's patents.

So far Nokia is denying everything. It has said that its deals with Microsoft are a partnership on Windows Phone rather than the precursor to a break-up.

But Microsoft has let Nokia do a lot of things that it others can't try. It can modify WP7, and engineers from the two companies have worked closely on developing the platform.

Nokia's software and services, including its Nokia Maps, are moving into Windows Phone core. Microsoft has also been pouring a lot of development and marketing cash into Nokia's smartphone efforts.

But it seems that the real catalyst to buy Nokia came from Google's acquisition of Motorola Mobility. This would leave Microsoft without any in-house manufacturing abilities, while its rivals Google and Apple did.

But we will keep Ballmer in earshot at CES and if he heads in the direction of a chapel we will follow him.