I had a few emails in my inbox today about the new Nokia and Microsoft partnership that the collective ‘we’ of the Internet had been expecting. Here is the announcement from Microsoft and here is Nokia’s. Those that did write me about this wanted to know what it means for Windows Phone 7 — nobody cared about Nokia. That should be telling about the relevance of Nokia in todays smart phone market.
So does this partnership allow Windows Phone 7 to gain traction?
I don’t think this announcement does much for either company. Windows Phone 7 is a very good 1.0 smart phone operating system — and the mobile OS I would choose if I were not able to have an iPhone — but Microsoft already has a decent selection of Windows Phone 7 handsets out there that are not selling that well. Nokia is a lost brand on consumers these days — most U.S. consumers will only remember the iconic ‘dumb’ phones that cellular providers would give you for free.
A few things happen with this announcement:
- Microsoft gets yet another manufacturer to join the fold, this can only help with unit sales.
- Nokia is no longer a known brand and because of that consumers don’t care — consumers only know two cell phone brands these days: Smart phones and iPhones. Thus, Nokia proves its irrelevance.
- Google should feel embarrassed.
This doesn’t really help make Windows Phone 7 a major competitor and I don’t think this deal helps Nokia in the slightest. Nokia is now a lesser HTC and Windows Phone 7 is now being sold by a lesser HTC. Big deal. Consumers couldn’t care less about a manufacturer — that in the U.S. is not known for smart phones — so this deal is irrelevant here. I imagine that in Europe this is a bigger deal, but more so because of the implications for the once great brand of Nokia.
This deal should really make the Android team at Google wake up — why would Nokia choose a platform that ‘costs’ them money?1 I think the answer lies in both Elop and Nokia’s culture. Clearly Elop is tied with Microsoft, but more than that Windows Phone 7 is far better looking and feeling than Android and that matters.
Nokia wanted something that looked good on its phones — not just something that was free. They can’t get iOS, so Windows Phone 7 is the next best thing. This doesn’t mean they are done making their own OS and if they are smart that are buying time with Windows Phone 7 so they can make a true competitor.
There are reports that Microsoft paid Nokia. ↩