Nokia/Microsoft vs. …

I get the very dis­tinct impres­si­on that Micro­No­kia are not set­ting them­sel­ves up to com­pe­te against Apple, but much rather pri­ma­ri­ly against Google’s Android. Lar­ge­ly, this is becau­se again we’­re see­ing a split bet­ween hard­ware and soft­ware com­pa­nies. In split­ting apart tho­se kinds of deve­lo­p­ment, they are at a dis­ad­van­ta­ge to bring about the same qua­li­ty of user expe­ri­ence as Apple shows the world as attainab­le. That’s also why the Play­Book and the new HP Touch­Pad are, to me, more likely to work well – becau­se they are enab­ling them­sel­ves to just focus on what the ent­i­re packa­ge deli­vers to the user and do not have to com­pro­mi­se for their tech­no­lo­gy part­ner that they have deci­ded their fate to be lin­ked with. 

And, whilst we are at it, I’m idly curious as to whe­ther the fol­ding of the talks bet­ween Goog­le and Nokia was in any way rele­vant to Eric Schmidt giving up the CEO role at Goog­le. Of cour­se, one can envi­si­on that the talks bet­ween Goog­le and Nokia were much more one-sided: Goog­le can nego­tia­te from a posi­ti­on of strength in the smart­pho­ne mar­ket; they see no neces­si­ty to bring on board a ven­dor who has good device know­ledge. After being publicly ridi­cu­led for the Kin and never real­ly being suc­cess­ful in the smart­pho­ne mar­ket, was pro­bab­ly more ega­li­ta­ri­an in the rela­ti­ons­hip. Much as I can under­stand that posi­ti­on, it also shows the fate the two com­pa­nies do share in the smart­pho­ne are­na and it holds litt­le pro­mi­se to how they might move for­ward tog­e­ther. That Elop was a Micro­sof­tie and knows the cul­tu­re of the com­pa­ny well is also some­thing not to be for­got­ten. And I think that after the lack of suc­cess in deli­vering a Linux deli­ver­a­ble even though they had been at it for a while (any­bo­dy remem­ber the Nokia N700?) might also have been a fac­tor. If you can’t trust your inhouse Linux peop­le to get some­thing reli­able out the door, why should they be able to do based on some­bo­dy else’s Linux-based smart­pho­ne stack? 

What I am curious about, now, will be the third-par­ty deve­lo­per stra­te­gy – and that’s the very point whe­re the inte­rests of the two tech­no­lo­gy part­ners are not well-ali­gned. Nokia will want the deve­lo­pers to have their pro­ducts run exclu­si­ve­ly on Nokia devices, and will pro­bab­ly work hard to have a com­pe­ti­ti­ve advan­ta­ge over other WP7 pro­ducts in User Inter­face and pro­bab­ly other APIs. (They need to – they’­ve alrea­dy sold out Search, Maps and other key com­pon­ents to be the same as with the other WP7 ven­dors.) Micro­soft, on the other hand, should have in mind to not let the plat­form frag­ment too much, or else they will also draw bad blood from their deve­lo­p­ment base. The peop­le who have stuff in the Ovi store the­se days are burnt any­way, becau­se they need to com­ple­te­ly wri­te off tho­se invest­ments and, in the worst case, get their eyes set on an ent­i­re­ly new eco­sys­tem. (Of cour­se, Nokia could be pro­vi­ding tran­si­tio­ning tools, or a HAL that allows for Sym­bi­an apps to run on WP7, but I’m not sure that the pho­nes will be up to that kind of tasks.) And as Sun lear­ned in the tran­si­ti­on from SunOS 4 to Sola­ris: Deve­lo­pers having their apps bro­ken do not respond kindly. 

So the­se will be inte­res­ting times ahead inde­ed. But I’m scep­tic that the new Nokia Win­dows pho­nes will real­ly get that kind of mar­ket trac­tion that other plat­forms enjoy. 

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