Nokia <3 Microsoft = true

Not a huge surprise, given that the new Nokia boss was an ex-Microsoft guy, but still a rather radical about-face by what is still the world’s biggest producer of phones.

Bad news for a lot of Nokia employees, too (at least from what I hear on the grapevine).

Edit: Bad enough news for Nokia employees that the Finnish government has gotten involved. Ouch.

Nokia is now a phone hardware company. What exactly will differentiate them from HTC, Motorola, Samsung et al? Well, except for the fact that those other companies support multiple phone platforms, and Nokia is hitching their wagon entirely to WP7.

Awful, awful news. I’ve been saying for so damned long that Nokia makes awesome phones but hasn’t had a relevant smartphone OS since 2007, I kept wishing and wishing they’d wise up and go Android.

This feels like a total kiss of death. I don’t trust Microsoft to not botch yet another attempt at a mobile OS, so you might as well stick a fork in Nokia as far as I’m concerned.

This brings to mind another time an ex-Microsoft exec went to a struggling tech firm and tried to respin a major part of their product line around a Microsoft solution:

That’s the part that baffles me. Nokia is all, “We didn’t want Android, because we didn’t want to be commodified.” But then they go with WP7, where… they’re a commodity phone maker bundling standardized hardware around a licensed OS.

If they really didn’t want to be commodified, and they didn’t trust Meego (I wouldn’t), they should have taken Android and customized the fuck out of it to make it their own in-house custom-branded thing, like what HTC is doing with Sense.

Given that they didn’t do this, you have to conclude that Elop just has no confidence in Nokia’s software operations at all, and doesn’t think they can be anything more than just another OEM hardware provider. Why he’d make such a fuss about “commodification” in the Android market, though, remains mysterious in that circumstance.

Two turkeys do not make an eagle.

I’m inclined to agree with the gentleman from Google.

“This is a coup, folks.”

A former Nokia employee isn’t overly happy either.

As skeptical as everyone is about this, former Nokia employees are the last people whose opinion should matter – if they’d had half a clue five years ago, Nokia wouldn’t be grasping at straws now.

And that particular dude was writing, just a few days ago, about how awesome Symbian is and how it’s not at all totally fucked. That’s precisely the sort of “sky is just fine!” denialist that Elop was brought in to get rid of.

My opinion is that Nokia do not have a choice. If they want a chance to gain back leadership in the mobile phone market, going to bed with MS is a good chance. Combined, both companies do have the resources to make a difference in the market. Remember that in this deal, Nokia has a say on how the next mobile device direction should be (granted, they are not good at this but at least, they have a say). If they went with Android, there’s not much freedom to influence the direction.

For Nokia to go with Android would also mean that they are just another supplier like HTC and Motorola and <insert China/Korean brand here>. They would not be a leader… just another supplier.

MS, on the other hand, needed Nokia’s reach and network into the telco around the world. This partnership will also give them this access.

I think it would be interesting to see how this partnership turned out.

You know who is the big casualty? Sony-Erricson. Whatever happened to them?!

Yeah, this is the best possible outcome I think.

Sony Ericson makes buttloads of money building wireless networkings. Towers and shit.

Love the thread title.

Froyo happened to them… oh wait. It happened to EVERYONE ELSE.

I’m not sure how this is a “win” for Microsoft. To both sides, it looks to me like “delaying the inevitable.” Nokia doesn’t want to be commodity hardware running Android, eh? What makes them think there’s a viable option “b?”

Sure, like the former Nokia employee says, carriers matter. But the carrier relationship right now isn’t what it once was because of bad relationship-building. It changed because smartphone buyers want an OS that lets them run apps.

“But Symbian allows you to run apps!” I hear you cry.

The problem is, the market for app developers is small. You have time to spend on one, maybe two OSes. So you support Android because you want to, and iPhone because you have to. Although the market size of Android is slowly making it more of a have to.

So you can develop apps for Symbian, or Windows Phone 7, or what have you. But why would anyone want to?

So the guy looking for a phone wants a phone that’ll do neat things. Which means he’s going to buy either an iPhone or some Android-based gizmo. So you can convince Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint or AT&T to carry your non-Android, non-iPhone smartphone a few times. And after those few times have failed to sell any handsets, they’re just going to stop returning your calls.

Everything happening now happened before back in the early days of the GUI. The iPhone is the Mac, and the Android stuff is the Windows stuff. Android 2 is the equivalent of Windows 3; Froyo is Windows 3.1. And Apple’s making the same mistakes they made in the 1980s. At this point, the future is all but set. Except it looks like health problems, rather than boardroom politics, will be what sends Jobs out from Apple this time.

I pretty much agree up to this point. I wouldn’t completely rule out a revival for this Nokia/Microsoft alliance, though - they’re two companies with a huge amount of clout and can certainly shake things up a lot if they don’t mess up too badly. Google lacks the single-minded focus of Microsoft in the 80s/90s, with the result that their efforts (ChromeOS, Android Webstore, Buzz, etc) are all over the place.

Development in .Net? This is going to be attractive to a lot of developers. Bing, XBox Live, and Office? That is potentially a powerful package of base applications for many consumers. If Nokia can develop good phones at a reasonable price point - and do it fast - I’d say that they still stand a chance.

Microsoft has never been single-mindedly focused, either. Bob? Flight Simulator? Money? Encarta? Slate?

What’s interesting is that the day after HP signals that it’s going to go in Apple’s direction (do an Apple by controlling its own hardware and software to create a highly integrated and unified device), essentially MS replaced HP with Nokia, and those two are going to create highly integrated software and hardware.

I think MS’s problem with its current partners is that they’re all sort of doing their WP7 handsets partly out of loyalty to MS, but they’re just not fully committed unless it takes off. But they’re not really doing much to help it take off; notice how HTC and Samsung are churning out a ton more Droid models. That’s where their focus are. They really wouldn’t care if WP7 fails.

Nokia gives MS a major partner who’s throwing in whole hog behind WP7. Add Nokia’s current global reach, brand, etc, etc, and it’s probably WP7’s best and only chance at this point.

This is all pretty crazy when you realize that MS essentially acquired Nokia for $0.

A concept shot of Nokia phones with WP7

They have always had a single-minded focus on earning money. Google, on the other hand…

I would totally buy one of those.

So, we’re going to have the mobile market for phones be:

Apple with iPhone,
RIM with new QNX-powered Blackberries
HP with WebOS phones
Nokia with Windows Phones
Lots of companies with Android Phones

I think Apple will continue to set the overall market direction due to their bloody minded focus and awesome marketing machine. I think Android will be continually snapping at their heels, but have ongoing fragmentation due to the way that the core Android OS is abused by handset manufacturers and providers.

I don’t think HP has a shot.

I think there’s only place in the marketplace for one of Microsoft/Nokia and RIM, and I think that’s going to be who can convince corporations that their phone is better for the rank and file “SHUT IT DOWN” paranoid IT folks. It’s going to hinge on RIM’s historically great business support vs Microsoft’s convincing people that it’ll be advantageous to drag the mobile phones into the rest of the Windows infrastructure.