Nokia - Microsoft - What does it mean for me?

In the last few weeks there has been a lot of speculation about the future of Nokia, I offered my advise to Mr. Steven Elop, and last friday we learned Nokia bets it's future on a strategic alliance with Microsoft. After the announcement Nokia's shares tanked and a lot of positive and negative comments and speculations started. Ranging from Mr. Steven Elop selling Nokia to his buddy Mr. Steven Ballmer to announcing Nokia - Microsoft now being the third player in the smartphone market eco systems. When both parties execute well we will be able to make up the balance in say 12-18 months from now. It's gonna be a long wait. I'm more interested what it's going to mean for me, a consumer. The first impression looks very positive.

Until the first iPhone in 2007 I've been a very loyal Nokia customer for more than 10 years. I can almost start a museum with all the historic phones in my collection (these are the ones I could quickly find).

I tried to use a 'modern' Nokia phone, because the hardware is great, I like(d) the company and do have a special link with Finland. Unfortunately it turned out to be a disaster, the phone just isn't usable beyond making phone calls and sending text messages. I also saw that Nokia lost their innovative and user centric design and are struggling to become competitive in the high end phone market. I really hope they can do better in the future, is the Microsoft partnership going to make the difference?

About a year ago I saw Mircosoft Phone Series 7 (the name at that time) for the first time. I was immediately was very positive, mainly for the very first time Microsoft tried to develop something around an actual user. It was different, good looking and easy to use. Today it's available as Windows Phone 7 on various phones, but the phones all have one thing in common: They are all ugly black plastic boxes and not fashionable good looking designer phones. I advised Mr. Steven Ballmer to address this issue to their hardware partners and challenge them to use some different materials. Traction on the Windows Phone 7 might still be a bil low, but it wouldn't be the first time that Microsoft comes back from behind.

Now combine the Nokia hardware, that in the past showed no fear for experimenting with high quality materials as stainless steel and titanium, with a slick Microsoft operating system and on paper this looks very strong. Add the Nokia distribution and the Microsoft enterprise and development partners in the mix and nothing can go wrong. I wish this dream scenario will materialize and I can soon trade my iPhone for something even better looking than the leaked published Nokia Windows Phone 7 images.

However, I can dream whatever I want, reality often turns out to be very different. We are talking here about a strategic technology partnership and those are difficult. There are two categories of strategic partnership, in the first the partners work exclusively for each other and in the other the partner delivers generic components that are also shipped to others. Microsoft has other partners for Windows Phone 7 and thus Nokia doesn't have an exclusive contract. I wonder how this is going to work out in case Nokia finds their mojo again and really starts to innovate with for instance a double screen flip phone that Windows Phone 7 wasn't designed for. A partnership, especially when it's not exclusive, always brings restrictions and results in compromises and I'm afraid that compromises aren't good enough to create a killer phones with a killing eco-system. I'm sceptic and worry that the Nokia - Microsoft will only deliver good but not great phones and that they get stuck in between Apple for the high value phones and Android for the cheap bulk, not a good position to be in.

I hope I get proven wrong and extend my collection with a fantastic, marvelous and fabulous Nokia phone in 2011.


What's up with the Pink phone?

It was from the days I just wanted to avoid that someone would take my phone. I still have it, so it worked

Lili Sukirman

Hei Aad, I'm wondering what's happening with Vertu phone ( for niche market using Nokia's hardware and software with a cosmetic exaggeration and exquisite customization. How do you think Nokia's smart phone will affect Vertu?

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