Does Microsoft even have a chance to catch up in mobile?

The Nokia deal is done. Microsoft now owns the mobile phone part of the pioneering Finnish communications company that famously missed the transition to touch and watched its fortunes crumble.
Back in 2009 I related my astonishment as the then-CEO of Nokia — Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo — dismissed the iPhone at the World Mobile Congress of 2008:

I recall when I last spent serious time with the Nokia folks was in Barcelona, at the World Mobile Congress in early 2008. [Disclosure: As part of the Nokia Bloggers program, they subsidized my travel there, along with a handful of others.] There was a press conference with the CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo presenting, and he was visibly upset by the press questions about the iPhone touch interface and how it was going to revolutionize cell phones.
His response was oddly passive. They had things in the works, he suggested. They had a long range development plan, and touch was only one element of the innovations to come, he said. Blah blah blah, woof woof, he seemed to say.
That was 18 months ago, and the phones coming out these days look like they were designed in the late 90s.

Kallavuo wasn’t laughing out loud like Steve Ballmer did, but he did trivialize the threat of iPhone, with well-known consequences today.
So, what has Microsoft’s phone guy, Stephen Elop, got planned? Will the combined entity be able to catch up in mobile at all, leaving aside the bigger imponderable: do they have it in them to break up the current dominance of iPhone and Android, and if so, how?
Well, in one regard at least, Elop is looking into the right end of the telescope:

“The vast majority of people do not have, nor will they ever have a personal computer,” Elop said. “They haven’t been exposed to Windows or Office, or anything like that, and in their lives it’s unlikely that they will. And yet through the mobile phone business we have an opportunity to introduce what we like to call the next billion people, the next billion people to connect to the Internet, to Microsoft, because they’ll have an opportunity perhaps to have a first Skype experience, or a first experience with Bing, as an example. And so there are literally billions of people who can be exposed to Microsoft for the very first time.”

This is the new disruption that the next generation of mobile represents: billions of users who have never owned — or even used — a desktop device, but who are or will be carrying phones with them everywhere.
A quote like that would have been unimaginable in Microsoft of a few years ago, imaging a world without the Wintel dominance of computing.
Now we see a new Microsoft, Nadella’s Microsoft, which is being transformed for the world ahead, instead of fighting to hold onto the world of yesterday.
The jury is still out on whether Elop and the Nokians can make that transition happen, and to carve out anything more than a niche in the new smartphone-dominated world, or even just the business sector of that world (see The Emerging Foundation For The Future Of Work). But at the least I can say that I think Elop is looking in the right direction, even if it turns out that Microsoft can’t make Nokia a dominant player again.