Following Stephen Elop's downbeat assessment yesterday of Nokia's situation, they've now decided to go in with Microsoft to make gear based on Windows Mobile 7,and shed a large number of jobs round the world.
The BBC report says that Nokia will sideline Symbian and go with Mobile 7 across the range. You can see some logic in that argument; supporting two operating systems - three if you include Nokia's not yet shipped MeeGo - would cost more, but I can't imagine the changeover will be cheap - unless of course Microsoft are going to fund it, which I suspect that they will, at least in part.
Nokia may still be big in Europe, but they aren't the force they used to be. These days when I visit business customers here in the UK, or talk to friends, I don't see Nokias as much as I used to, certainly at the smartphone end of the scale - I see Apples, Blackberries and Androids, mostly. Our Lotus Traveler has 5 Nokias listed, against 159 Apples - but does have 33 WM5/6 devices, and 6 Androids. When I spoke with Kevin Cavanaugh at Lotusphere, I asked him why he'd not mentioned WM7 as a device that Lotus would concentrate on, and he said "because I've never seen one'. And figures I've seen suggest that WM in all its versions has way under 10% of the market, possibly under 5% - though our Traveler suggest otherwise.
So, is this a last-ditch attempt by Microsoft to get someone big in the market to do WM7 - and they targeted Nokia, as being one of the weaker players, and run by an ex-Microsoft man, to boot? Is this decision suicide on Nokia's part, desperation on Microsoft's or some combination of both? What will the outcome be?
My speculation is that it won't result in serious sales, and that it will be the beginning of the end of Nokia as a serious player in the mobile phone market. I'd also suggest that it will wound Microsoft, too. Failure with Windows Mobile so far in what hasn't been very big-name gear in the market is one thing, but taking down Nokia would be quite another, should that be the end result.
A few months back when Ray Ozzie announced he was to leave Microsoft, I said "Look at the FTSE 100 or Dow Jones indexes of 30 years ago. How many of the top companies then are top companies now? How many of those companies of 30 years ago still exist? How many of them failed because their market walked away, and they failed to react. Will the indexes of 2020, 2030 still contain Microsoft as a player? ". Will this new announcement make that more or less likely?
Mick Moignard February 11th, 2011 10:27:14 AM