Microsoft and Nokia have announced a partnership last Friday (11th Feb, 2011) stating that Windows phone will be the OS for Nokia smart phones, leveraging each others complementary innovations. Going through the literature on the web, this announcement has invoked mixed reactions from various parties. My take on this matter is an objective look at what changes can be expected of this collaboration and what impacts they may have, gathered from the information that is currently available.
Firstly, the announcement is not the death spell for Symbian and Meego. The Symbian platform which is open source will be available at the symbian blog via FTP till March of this month. Nokia is committed to the development and evolution of the platform, although it is not clear how this will take place in the future. Meego is stated to be offered as an open source mobile platform in the future. Nokia expects to sell around 150 million Symbian devices in the next few years, and will be producing Meego devices till the end of this year after which it will transform into an experimental platform for research.
That being said, it is not clear what the real forecast is for Symbian and Meego is. Nokia has stated that Symbian will be a franchise platform, but it has been degrading in a low curve for some time now and it is hard to envision getting the boost from Nokia in the years to come. Meego could fare better as a test bed for research and innovation, and being open source, anything could happen.
Looking to the future where Nokia smartphones will be running the windows phone platform, there is a huge impact in the mobile, business and software development circles. The windows phone OS will be running on the top selling handset device globally, virtually overnight. Developers would spring to the opportunity provided by the platform explosion in scale. Businesses and end users could be targeted with the synergy of Nokia and Microsoft innovations. In an open letter by the CEO’s of Microsoft and Nokia, the decisions and changes to take place are stated, and it is interesting to note that many deal with the integration of the technical innovations of both parties to a large extent. This would open up avenues in the current market by leveraging developers to innovate and develop in quality and quantity, and by having the vast array of Microsoft services at the fingertips of a Nokia user base, not to mention cloud capabilities.
What seems to be an unexpected decision could very well be what is needed to turn the tables. Apple and Google will most certainly not be sitting around and observe proceedings. In my view, the partnership between Microsoft and Nokia and the expected outcome would boil down to a few questions:
- What will the collaboration offer to end users, in terms of smartphone capability and visual appeal?
- What will be the reception of the Windows, Symbian and other developer communities?
- What will be catered to the existing Nokia customers and how will they respond?
- How can Microsoft and Nokia collaborate and address the above points to the best positive effect?
It would be interesting to observe how the other players in the market respond to the ‘best of both worlds’ approach by the Microsoft-Nokia partnership. This is my perspective of last Friday’s announcement in a nutshell and I welcome your thoughts and suggestions on the turn of events.