Nokia/Microsoft – How can be that wrong? 

I really like to read ! The (in)famous Eldar Murtazin and his team give us a very personal view of the changes we are living in this constantly evolving mobile tech world. But I’d like to come back to one of their latest editorial talking about Nokia working on Windows Phone 7 devices, which you can read there :

Nokia made some of the greatest cellphones ever, but since the N95 the company seems to be living in the past. Because while Nokia was trying to develop new features cloud services with OVI, while everyone was working on new operating systems from scratch, user-friendly oriented with new touch interfaces. Nokia missed the move and continued alone, trying to build in a hurry a touchscreen version of its oldschool Symbian OS while trying to continue to push their Comes with music stuff and so on. Of course they failed, because even if an iPhone in 2007 was only doing 10% of what a N95 *could* do, these 10% were done a totally new way  and after trying it you couldn’t look back. Nokia tried to add more and more features, and the result was the N97 : nice but a little underpowered hardware delayed because the software was late as always. And it was full of bugs when it came out, which definitely killed this device reputation.

Now the N8 comes out, delayed by 6 months at least for the same reason : the software wasn’t ready, same thing for the E7 which has been pushed back to january at best. And what about the mighty N9 running MeeGo ? Was it out for christmas as planned ? Of course not. Was it a hardware issue ? Of course not : the software is to blame again… and again, and again, and again until Nokia definitely dies ? If you go back in time you’ll even remember that the N95 was delayed more than 6 months for the same good ‘ol reason. This is not even a new weakness from Nokia, but at this time the market could deal with it which is not the case anymore.

Symbian was great long ago, but it was a decade to old when the iPhone OS (it wasn’t called iOS at this time) came out. Google could react with their Android project, but Nokia had simply nothing to provide. But they tried to improve Symbian, they really tried it bad ! I think to these guys working on this old OS, it should have been really hard for them. Because they were not Google, nor Microsoft, they were the software team of a cellphone company, and they had Apple in the hand of their users. Apple, which know how to build operating systems, software, and give developers all they need to express themselves with good tools to build apps. Nokia could simply not fight this amount of knowledge. That’s not their job, they don’t know how, and cannot learn fast enough.

So what had to happen is happening these days : market shares melt, and Nokia cut the price to their high-end devices to contains the leaks. Doing so they get a lower ratio per phone, and this doesn’t help their R&D department…

Which leads to the point where Eldar and I could not agree : Nokia needs Microsoft (a lot more than Microsoft needs Nokia) and WP7.

Read this “Joining forces with Microsoft is a bad idea. Nokia had a strong developers team, which the company somehow decided to disband.” then think about the N95, N97, N8, E7 and N9 delay. A strong developers team ? Maybe that was the case in 2005, but they are not strong enough at all for today.

Build a new Windows Phone 7 is EASY : specifications are standards, written in stone. You need a 1Ghz processor, a 800×480 3,5 or bigger screen, 256 (512 is better of course, look at me Dell !) Mb of RAM, a 5mpx+ camera with flash and  8GB of ROM or more inside. Which mean all Nokia needs to do is to upgrade their N8/E7 or even better they can grab the N9 as it is, change the buttons and logos and check with Microsoft how the whole thing runs ! And they no longer have to care about software development updates as Microsoft manages this part.

Why no Android ? When you look at time and efforts spent by Samsung for TouchWizz and HTC for Sense, I don’t think Nokia is in the right situation to start with a new custom interface on a new operating system… Then again they would have to deal with updates and such things they failed to do in time with Symbian. An other issue is that none knows right now what Android’s future will be : v3.0 is supposed to improve everything (i.e. include a music player (after 3 years ?!), automated updates…) but what are the choices Google will take ? How they will choose to manage updates and allow specific interfaces like Sense at the same time ? There’s a lot of answers nobody seems to have, and looking at Android’s past it always has been this way. Google’s lack of mid-term vision for it’s mobile system ?

Looking at how good it is already while being incomplete, WP7 will be a hit at the end of 2011 so the timing is perfect for Nokia. Once they’ll have their market share back they will have enough time to make a new system of their own, but right now they have bigger issues and WP7 could be the best way to react quickly.

I can’t wait to hear Microsoft announcement at the CES in january and at the Mobile World Congress in february! WP7 should evolve very quickly in the coming months.

What do you think of such alliance between Nokia and Microsoft’s best child ?