Since the top management reshuffle at Nokia last September, it was clear that drastic changes were needed to get the company back on course. Nokia just wasn’t winning on any front and was destined to follow what happened with Motorola when mobile went from analogue to digital. And with an ex-Microsoft exec as CEO, the announcement of their tie-up was not hard to imagine. But can they really pull it off as the third ecosystems on the market?
I would never write off Microsoft for anything. They have the key ingredients in them for winning in every game they choose to play, persistency and cash. Take the Xbox as an example. Within a decade, they had taken substantial market share from Sony, and with the new Kinect, they are set to win amongst the current generation game consoles. Another example is corporate email, just over a decade ago, Exchange server wasn’t the most popular choice, but looking around now, they have fully won the battle, both Apple and Google have licensed Exchange technologies as the main way to use email/calendar/contacts on your mobile. They are not going away, they are going to keep trying to win in the mobile space, they have been doing it since 1996 with the first Windows CE!
All the risk seems to be at Nokia side. They are still not seeing the full picture. Mr Elop made big statements about the battle of ecosystems rather than battle of devices, but they have yet to fully commit to the fight immediately. They are still lingering on to their past. Taking time to transition the platforms, not making the termination of Symbian and Meego clear. If Meego is the exploratory work for the future then it is still saying that they don’t believe Windows Mobile everywhere and grow with the chosen partner. Failing to recognise that the fundamental change in the next decade is that all mobiles will be smartphones, I am still concerned that Nokia is wasting their time.
Microsoft is here to stay. It is now up to Nokia to fully embrace Windows Mobile and be the top handset maker to make great devices for it. iOS, Android, Blackberry, Win Mobile, WebOS, Symbian, Meego, some of them will disappear (or just be irrelevant) over the next decade just like PC market ended up with Windows, Mac, Linux. The market is still too fragmented and Nokia is still unwilling to choose its focus.
I am hoping that secretly Mr Elop is a true Microsoft believer and keeping other platforms is just to slowly ease shareholders into the bright Winkia world. Good luck.