The talk had been that Nokia was speaking with Microsoft and Google about strategies that could halt the free fall that Nokia was seeing happen to their market share and the reputation of the mobile phone market leader. Many thought that Nokia would be smart to play both sides of the fence and strike deals to produce smart phones for both operating systems. Apparently, they decided that the Microsoft side of the fence was just fine. Now the analysis of this decision begins.
On the surface, I think this looks like a bad move for Nokia because rather than jump on the Android bandwagon that has all the momentum it has decided to hitch its wagon to a platform, Windows Phone, that is yet to be a blip on the competitive radar to Apple and Android devices.
That was until I read the following paragraph from the Wall Street Journal that says more about this decision than anything else. It’s about Nokia’s CEO, Stephen Elop.
Mr. Elop, a Canadian recruited from Microsoft last autumn, in an internal memo earlier this week compared Nokia to a man standing on a burning oil platform who jumps into icy waters to escape the flames. The memo called for dramatic action to turn the company around.
OK, now I get it. This whole decision may be based more on the familiarity (however that is defined in this case) of the leadership of each player rather than any real facts about the mobile market place. If it were about jumping into the fray and competing with a leader then going with Android would have been the obvious choice.
Now, you have an interesting marriage of two companies that are coming at this from the position of near desperation rather than strength. Nokia has fallen behind and simply fallen from grace. In the US they are a non-issue today. Do you know anyone with a Nokia smartphone? Could you even name one? Motorola has its Droids, HTC has the Evo and the Incredible, Apple has the iPhone. What does Nokia have?
You take that current lack of strength and combine that Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform. Reviews by many have been quite positive but it has not translated into market share. Heck, even the name Windows Phone is antiquated. Being a phone is less the focus of the latest devices. It’s about computing power and Internet accessibility. Making a phone call is just a standard feature that everyone just assumes. These newest devices are less phones and more small computers that you can talk through.
Now these two mobile underdogs have a new alliance and with it some bravado that, quite honestly, sounds hokey coming from the likes of Microsoft who just has not been able to translate its desktop success to the Internet be it mobile or not. Here is a quote from the open letter crafted to announce this deal which is from the Nokia blog
Today, the battle is moving from one of mobile devices to one of mobile ecosystems, and our strengths here are complementary. Ecosystems thrive when they reach scale, when they are fueled by energy and innovation and when they provide benefits and value to each person or company who participates. This is what we are creating; this is our vision; this is the work we are driving from this day forward.
There are other mobile ecosystems. We will disrupt them.
There will be challenges. We will overcome them.
Success requires speed. We will be swift.
Together, we see the opportunity, and we have the will, the resources and the drive to succeed.
It would be great if that were going to happen but there is little evidence that Microsoft can disrupt a space like this and do it swiftly. You can’t change a leopard’s spots or a zebra’s stripes even if there is a lot of cash available to make it work.
If you look at the history between the leadership of these two companies this looks like more of an arranged marriage vs. one that is built on what is best for both parties.
Of course, as with everything time will tell but it’s hard to see beyond where these two big companies stand in a space that isn’t as wide open as it might have been before the success of Android. Couple that with the fact that Google would love to see Microsoft fall flat on its face with this one and I don’t see this ending well for Microsoft or Nokia.
What about you?