Much of the news today has been about the deal between Microsoft and Nokia. But what does that deal mean for Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)? Stifel analysts Aaron C. Rakers, Sanjiv R. Wadhwani, Joseph Quatrochi, Andrew Shinn and William C. Peterson issued a report examining that question.

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The deal is net-negative for Apple, but it validates Apple’s model

They believe Apple investors will see the deal as a net-negative event because of “the relative traction of Nokia’s Lumia smartphones.” They also point to “the significant patent portfolio Microsoft is acquiring.” However, the deal actually keeps the rights of those patents with Nokia and gives Microsoft a license to use them for at least the next 10 years.

The analysts do note that Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT)’s recent reorganization and now the acquisition of Nokia Corporation (NYSE:NOK) (BIT:NOK1V) (HEL:NOK1V)’s devices decision somewhat validates Apple’s business model. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has been a vertically integrated company for some time, and it appears as if Microsoft is moving in the same direction.

Does Apple have anything to fear?

It’s also worth questioning whether Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has anything to fear on the smartphone front from Microsoft. The analysts note that Microsoft believes it can reach a 15 percent share of the smartphone market by 2018. If the company is going to do that, then that market share must come from somewhere. However, some data from Kantar that was just released suggests just where that market share might come from.

The data shows that Windows Phone is finding a niche market in convincing feature phone customers to switch to smartphones. Nokia Corporation (NYSE:NOK) (BIT:NOK1V) (HEL:NOK1V)’s low cost Lumia devices are leading the charge, which suggests a place where Microsoft could find a foothold without having to take a huge chunk out of Apple’s armor.

Stifel analysts continue to rate Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) as a Buy and have reiterated their $540 per share price target on the stock.