Thoughts On Nokia/Microsoft Announcement

nokia.gifWell, Nokia made their announcement that they are going to use Windows Phone 7 as their "principal smartphone strategy". They will "bring Windows Phone to a larger range of price points" tends to suggest that Symbian and MeeGo will be phased out over time. I am surprised because I don’t believe this is the correct decision for Nokia.

So how will it work? It looks like Nokia WP7 phones will retain the WP7 UI (look and feel) and Nokia will innovate on top. I suspect Nokia will end up having little differentiation and I can’t see why people might buy a Nokia phone instead of say a HTC or LG phone.

We have been told that "Bing will power Nokia’s search services across Nokia devices". Unfortunately, many people don’t want Microsoft’s services. In fact, when I show people the WP7 phone I have for development (a HTC Trophy) they tend to complain that is that it is too closely tied to Microsoft services.

So what about developers? We are told that "Microsoft development tools will be used to create applications to run on Nokia Windows Phones". If Symbian and MeeGo are being phased out in preference to the WP7 "principal smartphone strategy" then the past announcement of Qt (Quick and QML) being the primary development platform is no longer true. Developers such as myself will see Symbian, MeeGo and Qt as effectively deprecated.
I believe MeeGo and Qt were massive diversions for Nokia. I believe this use of WP7 is an even greater diversion and probably a fatal one. I think the real problem has centred around the UI. As I have mentioned previously, all Symbian needed was something more friendly (e.g. dev libraries and UI) on top of Symbian. It could then have been used for both mid-range and high end. In fact, this is what WP7 is – a new UI on top of Windows CE. Nokia could have done the same thing (but much better) on top of Symbian (or MeeGo).

I think Nokia are heading off in the wrong direction again. In WP7, they are partnering with a less capable phone platform (than Symbian). WP7 has already proven to have poorer than expected consumer appeal.

I believe the net result of all of this will be to make Android stronger. The longer term loss of Symbian and MeeGo together with what I believe will be moderate rather than stellar sales of resultant Nokia/Microsoft devices will mean that the gap will be filled by Android devices.

I am tracking this topic as it seems, to me, so obviously a bad decision for Nokia…

UPDATE: Forum Nokia have a letter to developers that I see as a poor attempt to prevent an immediate mass migration away from Nokia’s existing developer platforms. Nokia obviously has many products in the pipeline and there’s a risk that developers, operators and maybe even end users might now see these as already obsolete.

UPDATE: The Joint Microsoft/Nokia Webcast Press Conference confirms Symbian will be phased out and smartphones transitioned to WP7. MeeGo will ship this year but will be an experimental platform for Nokia to explore next gen devices.

UPDATE: Nokia share price loses 14.22% in one day. Nokia employees walkout (Google translation). FT : "Nokia’s refusal to cut back its spending on research and development was a contributor to the fall in its shares on Friday."

UPDATE: Qt developers no longer trust Nokia (read comments).

UPDATE: Ovum blog: "All of the current Windows Phone hardware partners also have Android handsets and have made significant investments in the platform, and so a move like this could lead them to abandon the Microsoft platform in favor of Google’s." I believe this is a strong possibility and if it happens then many existing WP7 developers might abandon WP7 through distrust of or disbelief in Nokia and Microsoft.

UPDATE: On businesses working together: BBC: "Incredibly difficult to create a single enterprise with ruthless purpose when two giant businesses, with strong, proud respective cultures, decide to collaborate as equals". The Register"Yet, Nokia has no experience of Windows Phone 7" and "Nokia might actually be forced to rely on Microsoft, a company with comparatively little experience in handset engineering"

UPDATE: Nokia to get Billions from Microsoft. I am not sure this is correct. If you read the MWC evening it’s "Billions of value". However, "Microsoft is contributing to Nokia substantial monetary value towards Nokia" so there is some money involved.

UPDATE May 2011: Nokia announces revised (unknown) outlook. Share price down 17% in one day. 42% over year.

UPDATE June 2011: Nokia CTO leaves allegedly over strategy disagreements.

UPDATE August 2011: Symbian Belle and MeeGo were probably good enough.

UPDATE September 2011: Decline of Nokia not offset by others.

UPDATE November 2011: Lumia is not yet the messiah Nokia needs.

UPDATE January 2012: Nokia sells “well over” 1m Windows Phones, still makes €1bn loss

UPDATE March 2012: Windows Phone struggles to break catch-22 as app makers hold off 

UPDATE April 2012: Hundreds of Nokia’s outsourced Symbian developers leaving Accenture 

UPDATE April 2012: Nokia U.S. Future at Risk as AT&T Sales Seen Below Million 

UPDATE April 2012: Nokia To Offer Software Fix, $100 Credit In Wake Of Lumia 900 Data Woes

UPDATE April 2012: Nokia Lowers Devices & Services First Quarter 2012 Outlook and Provides Second Quarter 2012 Outlook

UPDATE April 2012: Nokia’s Windows Phone Strategy is on the Brink of Failure

UPDATE April 2012: Moody’s downgrades struggling Nokia’s debt rating due to sharp fall in sales, lower revenue

UPDATE April 2012: European carriers take shots at Nokia’s Lumia line without leaving cover

UPDATE April 2012: Nokia shares downgraded to junk status

UPDATE June 2012: Nokia job cuts may hasten, not stop, death spiral