Nokia and Microsoft. One makes truly innovative smartphones that run on a dying or DOA OS. The other made fresh and breathtaking UI which is underrated by many (including me till I tried it earlier this year) and to make it worse, OEMs have come up with average smartphones that doesn’t have anything unique about them.
Make or break
For Nokia, this certainly is a make or break situation. Their global smartphone marketshare is sinking so fast that we will soon see them listed among “others” in marketshare tables. A recent analysis shows that their share fell to 14% (from 30+%). With the announcement of Symbian’s outsourcing and de-prioritization, they now depend heavily on Windows Phone devices to be a runaway hit. Some might say that Nokia still sell lot many feature and low end devices. Yes, they do have healthy budget phone marketshare. But tht is good only on paper and does nothing to increase revenues. I think selling one flagship devices gives more profit than selling a dozen or two budget feature phones (that cost around 5k). Microsoft on the other hand has nothing much to loose. They have other products/markets and other OEM partners that they can concentrate on.
Why this move
Desperation and earlier lack of direction. Even since iOS and Android started eating into Symbian marketshare, Nokia stopped thinking straight. Executives tried to hold on to Symbian for too long and took too long to make Symbian competitive (Belle version of Symbian arrived a good 3 years late). More mistakes were done like killing Maemo and MeeGo. There was distinct lack of direction. In the end, they ended up without an OS that could keep them alive, forget about keeping the crown.
When Windows Phone 7 was ready for use, after seeing it’s limitations, I quickly wrote it off. And many did so. It was laughed at by droiders and iOS users. But when I first tried it on HD7, the feeling was different. Of course, those few limitations left me with mixed feelings. At that time, I would’ve rated the OS 6/10. Then came the Mango update which not only rectified the drawbacks but also made the OS far far useful. Hera are few things that I really like about Windows Phone Mango
- Tight hardware restrictions mean that you will never see low and lame quality smartphones.
- Every single device will get the update unless it doesn’t have enough horsepower.
- Butter smooth and lagfree UI. On a funny note, a device that is deemed ineligible to run Android 4.0 can run Windows Phone 7.5 without sweating. The OS is absolutely the best w.r.t managing resources.
- Live tiles based homescreen looks fresh. Not as good as Droids widget based HS but is pretty good for users who rely less on widgets and web data.
- Twitter, facebook and linkedIn integration is absolutely terrific
- IE9 with GPU acceleration sits among the best
- Email app is a pleasure to use and is damn b.e.a.utiful
- Multitasking. Not the best in town but does the job well
- People hub is unique and is the best people and contacts app among all ecosystems
- Office Hub
- Games and xbox live integration
- Wireless sync with zune over home wifi
And the list goes on and on and on…..
So, why did Microsoft and it’s partners face lackluster sale of Windows Phone devices?
None of the OEMs were serious about releasing game changing devices running Windows Phone. The matter is much worse in India. I am yet to see a TV commercial or marketing campaign on WP and moreover, getting a WP devices of choice is not easy here. This is where Nokia comes into picture. Nokia will be the catalyst that Microsoft has been waiting for. The goodwill and following that Nokia has in Europe and Asia will help Microsoft a lot to push Windows Phone. More than goodwill, Nokia’s expertise in hardware design will give us Windows Phone devices that stand out among the competition. Nokia on the other hand is playing it’s cards well w.r.t Windows Phone. They got two really hot devices ready in time for Europe and Americas shopping season. The were right on the spot with Nokia Lumia 800. This device is unlike any other Windows Phone device. It’s stunningly beautiful, has gorgeous display that compliments beautiful Windows Phone UI and it is already getting huge amount of marketing push (from Nokia and MS).
Take Samsung for example. They took no.1 spot in global smartphone marketshare and that is solely because of their Android lineup. And we all know how bad most of those devices are. I am very certain that Nokia’s midrange Windows Phone devices will be much better than lower high end (19k-23k) Samsung’s smartphones.
Also, thanks go Nokia’s entry, the Windows Phone arena has been buzzing with activity. New apps are coming up every day, other OEMs are now announcing and releasing quality handsets. So, who knows. With some push, Nokia might get it’s No.1 spot back using Windows Phone lineup. Like Joker said in “The Dark Knight”, all Windows Phone needs is a little push and the Nokia has taken the opportunity to provide that push.
It took two years for Android to start eating marketshare from competition. Windows Phone 7 is only a year old. And If anyone saw the Windows 8 demo, they would have known by now how serious Microsoft is with Windows on mobile devices. The upcoming OS is purely stunning. The future of Nokia seems to be bright for me atleast and till would do good as Android’s ecosystem has become boring with OEMs bringing out boring designs while Google not fixing Android’s memory management and battery management yet. Here’s the big catch. Do note that Nokia will have ample amount of time now to design a new ecosystem as they moved Symbian to Accenture and they stopped working on MeeGo, Maemo etc. Once Nokia’s balance sheets start rising again, they can go back to drawing board and start work on a new ecosystem given the amount of manpower they have. This is the final battle and Nokia has put everything at stake and I wish Nokia learns from its mistakes (done in the past 5-6 years). Actually, I have a feeling that they will defy odds and rise like a Phoenix.