Last week, Nokia CEO, Stephen Elop sent a note to its employees around the world that they were in trouble as regards the smartphone market. A couple days later, Elop stood with Microsoft CEO, Steven A Ballmer to announce that Nokia will be discarding its OS Symbian and adopting Windows Mobile for its smartphones – in a spirited bid to catch up with Apple’s Iphone and Ipad as well as Google’s android technology.
Ok, one understands why the two giants need each other – windows mobile has not done well in a while and needs way more distribution (which nokia gives as global market leader in phones, especially in the so called emerging markets) and Nokia’s software has usability problems – in my view that is – sound code with a design problem (a problem that windows mobile seems to solve).
However. But. Nevertheless.
I’m sure I stand to be corrected by both Nokia and Microsoft people, but my own perception is that the partnership is a bad move for Nokia – a strategic mistake, I go so far as to assert.
Why? Because Windows Mobile will not solve Nokia’s problem and it is a bad move for African developers and innovators.
Nokia’s smartphone problem was always a design one. Excellent phone technology, crap User Interface. Take the Nokia N8, which courtesy of Nokia I had the pleasure of testing when it was released. I didn’t write about it because I didn’t have the words to express myself – until now.
At the time, I also had the Blackberry Storm 9730 and the Iphone 3GS. If I were to rank them, it would be iphone 3GS, Blackberry 9730 and then Nokia N8. Simple criteria: how easy is it for me to communicate.
All the phones are touch screen phones. Responsiveness of screen? Rank as above. Ease of typing email? Rank as above. Ease of making calls, saving calls made to contacts and such mundane tasks etc? Rank as above. Syncronise contacts, calendar? Rank as above – except with the N8, you can’t syncronise – not with gmail nor with outlook (at least no way that I or anyone I asked – I even asked on twitter – knew.
The problem is just a user friendliness issue. Will Microsoft help with that? Sure thing. They are better with UI. But they suck with the technology – windows mobile looks good but is not good tech.
Also, to my second point, the discarding of Symbian means the death of initiatives in the emerging markets to build apps for Nokia phones. All the collaboration and rapport that Nokia had with Mobile Developers is about to end in my view. Because developers have no faith with windows and because Nokia’s admirable openness is going to be curtailed.
This is an instinctive take. Bad mistake this partnership.
Now android has a real chance in the emerging markets.
7 thoughts on “Nokia-Microsoft Partnership: from the pan to the fire?”
Nice post. Obviously, time will tell but for now I think it's hard to argue that this is good for Africa's developers. Bring on Android!
Good Morning AK. I see the glass as half full.
"…..the discarding of Symbian means the death of initiatives in the emerging markets to build apps for Nokia phones. All the collaboration and rapport that Nokia had with Mobile Developers is about to end in my view. Because developers have no faith with windows and because Nokia’s admirable openness is going to be curtailed." – Harsh. I actually believe local developers will be the bigger beneficiaries. Remember long before Virtual City won the Nokia contest, they began developing for mobile for Windows CE! The VC story is possibly the best case-study of what this partnership could do for the local techpreneurs.
Have you tried Windows Phone 7? It is significantly different from older Win Mobile platforms as you know them. I'd recommend you try it.
I agree with you on every word. Sad strategy for Nokia in the emerging markets. Developers will move to Android and users will have a higher uptake for such phones. How many people use Windows mobile? I do and am dying to move – in a month!
Thanks for that… I have a silly query: what phones available in Kenya are running windows 7 for mobile? there's an awareness issue. Then there's what Mutuota says here: how many people use WinMo7? and you don't here rave reviews of windows 7 for mobile by the users – except from MSFT employees – does this not indicate something?
People were saying the same thing about Android last year, look at whats happened with the IDEOS!
I agree that there's little awareness on the WP7 phones available in the local market; something we are currently addressing with the OEMs so watch this space.
As for reviews, again – harsh. Here are just 5 independent options: http://engt.co/hR7O0u http://cnet.co/e9sm6u http://bit.ly/hQbXGS http://bit.ly/i47ZWq http://bit.ly/dKe3pj
Couldnt have said it better, i have similar reservations about this partnership.The reality is that Nokia have good phones but very bad OS, the N8 for example really sucks in so many ways, even Nokia Techies cannot solve the issues.however Microsoft may not just be the ideal partner-im on a wait and see approach on this development