Nokia Windows Phone 7 deal. Taking a deep breath, counting to ten and rethinking it
When Eldar’s bombshell about Microsoft Nokia Windows Phone talks came online, at about 4AM here, I was about to go to sleep.Well, after reading his op-ed all the sleep was gone.
Still shaking my head and almost refusing to believe this was happening, I went on and shared it here on UV. In a rather emotional way
Now that I had some time to sleep on it and ponder what might be happening if these news about Nokia Microsoft alliance are true, I think it might not be as bad as it seemed at first glance.
So here are some random thoughts about this possible Microsoft/Nokia Windows Phone 7 deal, in no particular order.
- It’s not a short term project. Even if Windows Phone OS is much easier to port to the phone hardware then Symbian or Android, it takes some time. A smartphone is not a PC , and you can’t just slap a ready made OS on a standard component hardware and expect it to run out of the box. It will be at least 6 months after the deal is struck for the first Nokia Windows Phone 7 device to ship. And having spent 6 months of company time, a significant amount of money and resources getting new hardware to run the new Windows Phone 7 platform, Nokia will not stop making WP7 devices soon. Unless they completely fail in the market. Which is unlikely – in it’s first iteration, Windows Phone 7 is a really good OS already, and by the time the first Nokia WP7 device ships, technically WP7 will be more or less on par with competing Android and iOS platforms. So we are looking at a full line of Nokia WP7 devices in the next few years.
- Unless Nokia completely outsources the whole WP7 smartphone line to some ODM, and only provides minor tweaks, Nokia name and it’s distribution channels for the device. Which is a possibility – Nokia already tried exactly this approach with Microsoft Windows 7 on Booklet 3G. But that was testing a completely new, pretty hot market on the cheap with non-core product. The probability that Nokia will take the same approach for it’s core smartphone offering is pretty low for now. Though I must admit, just yesterday I considered the whole Nokia WP7 device idea simply ridiculous. So you never know what might happen
- Nokia/WP7 device is not a strategic project for Nokia. It’s a tactical approach, solving Nokia’s immediate problems, most likely – the access to the U.S. market. With Windows Phone 7 devices and Microsoft backing, Nokia may finally get a foothold with the main U.S. carriers. And, with WP7 smartphones Nokia can start rebuilding it’s brand in the lucrative high-end U.S. smartphone market, where it was completely obliterated these last few years. Then, building on the success of Nokia WP7 devices, Nokia can start pushing their main Meego and Symbian offerings, when/if they are finally able to make them competitive to high end Android and iOS devices.
- Nokia OVI services. Not sure how feasible it is for OVI to be ported to WP7 before the launch of first Nokia device, but if the cooperation is successful and continues, I think Microsoft and Nokia can find synergies here. App store will most likely stay with Microsoft, but OVI mail is already outsourced to Yahoo and with the dire straights Yahoo is currently in, migrating OVI mail to Hotmail platform may actually be a good idea. Bing Maps is currently the weakest part of Windows Phone 7, while OVI maps in many ways except local search is still superior to Google Maps. Allowing Nokia to take over maps&navigation will allow Microsoft concentrate on a much more strategic search&local stuff. Then there’s the whole possibility of porting Nokia’s QT to Windows Phone OS, which opens a bunch of new opportunities for them.
- If Nokia Windows Phone 7 deal happens, Microsoft is a big winner here, gaining a new huge distribution channel for it’s new OS, that is not available to it’s main competitors – Android and iOS. I know that Microsoft is very strict and limiting on what it allows OEM’s to do with it’s WP7 OS. But getting the worlds #1 smartphone vendor on-board, might be enough of an enticement for Microsoft to relax it’s OEM requirements and allow Nokia’s WP7 devices to stand out from the crowd.
- Nokia is definitely having big problems with developing it’s core Symbian/Meego/QT software platforms. Buggy software, huge delays, restructurings, layoffs, etc; are probably only the surface things that we are able to see. But I do not think that these problems are the main reason for the rumored deal. As I said before – I don’t expect first Nokia WP7 device to ship before late summer or fall. And it’s really hard to believe that Nokia will not have it’s first Meego device and significantly updated Symbian devices shipping by then.
- Looks like Stephen Elop is really in charge at Nokia. When he took over as CEO, many observers wondered whether he will be able to accomplish much. With unique Finnish Culture, consensus based decision making, entrenched bureaucracies and power groups with direct ties to a largely Finnish board, Nokia is indeed very hard to turn around even for a person in CEO position. There were some signs that the new CEO is already strongly in charge when Nokia announced it’s new streamlined “All QT”strategy. At that reorg one power group that was pushing the next generation Orbit UI Framework and hampering the progress of QT was slapped down hard, and Orbit cancelled, most likely at the insistence of the new management. Now, if Microsoft Nokia deal happens – we won’t have to wonder anymore. It’s such a radical departure from previous Nokia path, it will be obvious that at least for next year or two, Elop has strong support of the board and the power to remake the company as he deems necessary.
Well, now that I had time to think about it and process my first impressions and knee jerk reaction, I’m starting to actually like this new Nokia/Microsoft development. Of course, the devil will be in the execution and they can always screw that up. It’s Nokia after all.
Still, things might be finally changing for the best under the new regime. I hope they really do