Microsoft Nokia Partnership is great!

Yes, I said it. The Microsoft Nokia partnership is good news. Whilst this may make me the lone wolf in a field of a sheep at least that means I’ll be well nourished.

It’s extremely easy to see this as Nokia selling out and Microsoft as planting their old employee, Stephen Elop (what is it with the tech world and blokes named Steve?) to topple Nokia’s crown. That’s just reactionary nonsense.

The hardware that Nokia produces is quite probably the most robust of any manufacturer. You can throw one of their phones down the 1000 stairs of an ancient Mayan Temple, where it is proceeded to be chewed by 100 ravenous alligators who then spit it out. The damage? A bit of chipped paint on the edge.

So that’s the hardware sorted. Symbian needs to be shot, killed, buried, for anything that remotely attempts to be high end. iOS is smoother than Jessica Alba’s face and Android is a pleasure to use due Google’s excellent integration with search and their psychic voodoo magic guessing games nicknamed algorithms.

Windows Mobile 7 (or WP7 to their friends) is a great operating system. Fine, it’s late to the party. And yes, Microsoft may be still a little bit evil, but once you pick up a WP7 phone it makes you wonder why someone hasn’t designed something like it before. The interface is intuitive and it looks incredible. Whilst it’s full of squares, it’s certainly not for squares (I think I’ll stop now). The apps are designed brilliantly and whilst there are no where near as many as iOS/Android, the quality is usually extremely high. As this is only the first iteration, any updates should make it even better.

Let’s be honest, Android was never an option for Nokia. Not only have HTC and Samsung between them sown up that particular market for the time being, Nokia would have to have admitted that Google’s open source project is better than their open source(ish) project of Symbian. Pride would not allow them to do it.

Meego, Maemo or whatever it’s called, Nokia’s operating system tie up with Intel, also does not seem much of a choice. Yes, it looks good, but, as Elop rightly stated, it’s not an ecosystem which is now necessary. The time, money and dare I say it, luck, it would take is unimaginable. I may eat my words in a few months time, but that’s very doubtful. They don’t taste very nice anyway.

Symbian is not dead. It will be used on the cheaper end phones to decrease costs and increase Nokia’s impact on the huge swathes of the world that don’t have smartphones and won’t for a long time to come. Shock Horror!

Rather than being a ‘fanbois’ can we instead just sit back, take a chill pill and see what this partnership may create. You never know, you may even like it.

UPDATE: Meego is being partially implemented by Nokia alongside WP7 because half-hearted efforts always work out well. SARCASM ALERT!

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14 Comments on “Microsoft Nokia Partnership is great!”

  1. Totally second your opinion.

    Nokia shouldn’t have gone for Android and if they did, they would’ve killed Symbian (which at least will be used to power feature phones). Mind you, Symbian is the perfect platform of choice for lower end phones. I’ve had a Nokia 5130 and I can’t explain how awesome it is, thought it’s S40. Android needs more resources to power phones and that’ll make phones costlier.

    Good move, Nokia.

  2. Totally agree. Nokia’s hardware and interface was always fantastic, this is why they had 40% market share back in 2007. If they can recapture the development, design and production magic that took them there, and connect this to the 85% penetration of Windows on desktop machines, they can create a seamless experience for ordinary users. The number of developers may also far outstrip iOS and Android.

    It may be worth considering Microsoft’s experience with Sega and the Dreamcast, and subsequently the success of the Xbox.

  3. kempez815 says:

    I’m 100% with you on this. I’ve seen a LOT of negative posts about this, but it’s all ridiculous.

    Noklia make great bits of hardware. Microsoft have seen the light and now make a great OS and a great mobile OS. Just play with a Windows 7 Phone handset and you’ll love it.

    I really hope that this is a success. Sure Microsoft is “still a little evil”, but it’s mobile OS is now the best out there and deserves a decent platform to work.

  4. Mac128K says:

    Look at this as potential Wintel partnership for mobiles. It’s not a true analog, but with the respective strengths of these two (still massively capable) companies there is a real opportunity to be that third player.

    Both will have to swallow pride and make sacrifices for the greater good, but what choice do they have?

    It will be judged as either the beginning of the end of Nokia or a blinding stroke of strategic genius.

    They still plan to sell 150 million Symbian smartphones but to whom?

  5. Mark says:

    This is a disaster for Nokia.

    They were in last-chance saloon, and in their own words “on a burning platform”. They have simply jumped to an even worse burning platform.

    They could have jumped onboard and made themselves top dog in the Android world by making great hardware and a nice UI ontop Android, with a huge momentum and ready to go app store.

    I really can’t come up with any logical conclusion other than Stephen Elop was sent to Nokia byMicrosoft to do this, no other logic makes sense.

    Nokia you just made a fundamental mistake, if you thought you were in the shit yesterday, it’s now 100x worse.

    Nokia R.I.P

  6. Tiger says:

    Good decision by Nokia .. in fact the only real decision.

    lets hope it works…

    WP7 is a great OS because just want to ignore it because its Microsoft and the history of their mobile OS’s.

    There is also this big talk about apps.. seriosuly so what! – How many apps do u actually need? – you only need quality and there is a hell of alot of quality on the Windows Phone Marketplace (those so tied up with android and ios just havent cared to look!)

  7. Depicus says:

    I notice you say your a wolf, yet sheepishly follow the line that Nokia hardware is rock solid. Did you ever see and feel the N95 or N96.

    “The apps are designed brilliantly and whilst there are no where near as many as iOS/Android, the quality is usually extremely high” … don’t worry that will change, writing rubbish apps is easy for WP7 and any sort of traction will flood it with crap.

    “Let’s be honest, Android was never an option for Nokia” … No let’s be honest, Microsoft was never an option for Nokia. Even last year this would have been the true statement, Nokia and Microsoft have a long history of distrust of each other. I cannot see Nokia staff being over the moon at having to work with/for Microsoft.

    • Chrisw says:

      @Depicus – presumably you think the 5000 iFart/aFart apps that reside in the Apple / Google app stores are quality then ? Writing crap applications for any smartphone platform is about the same amount of work – although you’re right Microsoft do have the best developer tool suite on the market so it probably is easier.

      That also means its easier and faster for good developers to make great software.

      Lets be honest Google was never an option for Nokia. Android might have been ok, but what do Google bring to the table ? Elop nailed it when he said that there would be very little upside in that deal. They have no doubt received a very good offer from Microsoft, of course it would have been better for Nokia to roll their own OS but after 3+ years with Maemo / MeeGo they are nowhere.

      Which brings me on to the staff – what have they been doing with the 8billion EUR of R&D money Nokia spends each year. Symbian and Meego have been a leech bleeding the life out of Nokia for 3-5 years while Apple and Google and now Microsoft have overtaken them with better software platforms. The Symbian and MeeGo devs will be looking for gainful employment elsewhere if they don’t want to do WP7 development. For the rest of Nokias employees – marketing, sales, hardware engineers, manufacturing they are hopefully very happy that at last the company has a chance to fight back against Apple and Google.

      Ever heard the phrase – the enemy of my enemy is my friend ?

      • Depicus says:

        Not sure “best” – maybe least worse would describe it. And while you and I may scoff at fart apps maybe that’s what the market wants.

        It’s hard to see which market this marriage is trying to appease, I suspect Nokia’s inability to gain traction in the US but remember this is a small market of around 350 million, same with the Euro market. Where Nokia has greatest impact is emerging markets like China and India and to some extent Africa which are 2.4 billion markets. Now there is NO way on earth WP7 will run on the kind of devices these markets need.

        I guess the upside to Nokia is “billions” of investment from Microsoft, but let’s see if this happens. Remember both companies have a history of stifling innovation and restricting some very clever developers. Don’t blame the developers but the management that drives them, both at Nokia and Microsoft.

      • Chris W says:

        Right, agreed – from Nokia’s persepective this is the least worst option and for Microsoft and Windows Phone its the best.
        And I agree about apps – I have tried Android, I own an iPod and WP7. There are some very good quality apps on all platforms but for every good app there are 10 awful apps – but people are still buying them !

        In terms of markets WP7 right now is a high end OS – the target market is not the developing world. You are basing your thinking on volume as the key factor. So, would you rather sell 1000 phones at 10USD with a 1USD margin or 10 phones at 500USD with 100USD margin ? Nokia have targetted volume sales in emerging markets where prices are low and margins thin. Problem is there is always some Chinese or Indian OEM that will use child labour sell at 9USD and still make 1USD profit – now what happens to Nokia ? This is exactly what Elop said was happening to them.

        Put it another way – go to Google finance and compare share prices of Nokia and Apple, use the 5 year view. You will see Apple and Nokia meet in about 2007 and since then the two companies share prices have gone in opposite directions. Apple don’t sell 10USD handsets and never will, Steve Jobs doesn’t want that market. Before Elop announced anything Nokia had its credit rating downgraded by two rating agencies – that is a total humiliation and again shows how the financial markets viewed Nokia’s prospects.

        Nokia still retain S40 – so they can continue making devices for those markets – but they likely to be squeezed out slowly.

        I agree that Nokia management has been appalling and the staff can rightly feel very let down, but Elop has been brutally honest and it seems things are about to change. I disagree about innovation – sure both companies are not perfect but Nokia used to be the innovator in mobile until 5 years ago.

        Microsoft, too, have done some great work of course they are not perfect but .net is a great platform, Kinect, XBox Live, F#, C# Reactive Extensions (Rx) are just a few examples. Ok, lets not mention Windows 95 and Microsoft Bob.

        As Elop says – its now a 3 horse race – this can only be good for consumers and developers !

  8. depicus43 says:

    As you say it is a 3 horse race, but seems Verizon thinks WP7 is not one of the horses http://www.engadget.com/2011/02/15/verizon-cto-we-dont-need-the-nokia-microsoft-partnership-an/

    Selling to emerging markets and bringing brand loyalty in emerging markets will pay dividends in the long term. I suspect Google will/is going after this market and it’s anybodies call if Apple follow or not.

    I agree that .Net was great work (coming from Borland Delphi) but Kinect was a buy in. XBox live mmm ok but to many projects seem to come and go without commercial success.

    Let’s see where we are in 5 years but for me Nokia is dead. From a stock price of 50+ over ten years ago only a miracle would get them back to those days.

    • Chris W says:

      Well the Verizon CTO was clearly anti Msft, I think you’d find the CEO would / will fire that guy when WP7 takes off ! Money talks !

      Nokia still have S40 for emerging markets – but they are the market leader in that space. Listen to Elop – Google / Apple / Msft / Nokia will not win in that space. Of course they will get sales, but a Chinese state sponsored company will always prevail vs a US corp, right ;-) It’s just a matter if when, not if. Whatever we in the west can make today for 50USD the Chinese can copy tomorrow for 45USD.

      I don’t buy the brand loyalty argument, I have no stats to back that up unfortunately – but mobile consumers (excluding Apple fanbois and Linux geeks) i.e. Mr & Mrs Smith are notoriously fickle. I bet sales pivot more around deals from the carriers. Nokia effectively propped up their H1 2010 sales and market share by selling cheaply to the carriers !

      All large companies have their success and failures. Is the glass half full of half empty ? For Msft too many people say empty and for Apple and Google its half full – but lets not forget Antenna Gate and Google Wave.

      The stock price is interesting – it was > 30EUR in 2007 and has been in steady decline ever since – the 20% (2-3 eur) lost in the last few weeks is insignifcant apart from people who day trade. Its the 30eur lost in the last 3 years that really shows that the problems at Nokia have been there for quite a few years – arguably since the re-org by Olilla. The Nokia board have just been sleepwalking for years – failing to do any due diligence. As Elop rightly pointed out – how can it be that Nokia still have no device to compete with the iPhone after 4 years !

      They’re not dead – but they’re not far off life-support. Price to book on the shares is 1.7 – if they just carried on with business as usual it would probably be close to 1 in less than 2 years – and someone somewhere is probably thinking about a takeover bid ! Elop has bet the company on WP7, but “all-in” was the only real play they could make.

      I truly hope you’re wrong and this does work – for the sake of Nokia, Finnish pride and the Finnish economy !

  9. Roger says:

    It’s refreshing to visit a site with NO Microsoft haters. Most of the comments are spot on. As I see it, there is a long history of people selling Microsoft short. Think about it. From the days of OS2, to Judge Jackson, to Linux, to the PlayStation,time and time again we see the preliminary reports of their demise!
    Nokia only needs to make a small dent in the share of the emerging markets cellphone market to make big moves forward. Sure, there will be the bargain basement cellphones from China, but people from all walks of life want the “latest and greatest”, and are willing to pay for it. Not everyone will settle for a no-name, no function, generic and vanilla cellphone. My money is on Nokia and Microsoft. Give them time.

  10. Well it’s over a year and the news still isn’t great. Stock at 3.56 from 9.40 a year ago and close to billion euro losses this quarter. Not stella sales of the Lumia (I have the 710 for development) – cannot see where the recovery is going to come from.


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