Microsoft’s recent re-organisation means there are two very clear divisions in the company. Hardware and services will be the two broad divisions under which the various departments of the company will fall. Much was made about the fate of Xbox and Surface, but there was very little about the Windows Phone platform’s future.
The platform is something that Finnish mobile phone giant Nokia has heavily invested in and the company’s vice president Bryan Biniak dropped a bombshell today when he said Microsoft must pay more timely attention to the app ecosystem of the Windows Phone platform, if it wants to compete with Android and iOS. “We are releasing new devices frequently and for every new device, if there is an app that somebody cares about that's not there that's a missed opportunity of a sale. We are trying to evolve the cultural thinking (at Microsoft) to say 'time is of the essence.' Waiting until the end of your fiscal year when you need to close your targets, doesn't do us any good when I have phones to sell today,” Biniak said.
Nokia's latest Windows Phone 8 smartphone, the Lumia 625
Speaking to the International Business Times, Biniak stopped short of calling Microsoft complacent when it comes to pushing for more apps. He said Microsoft has to give the same impetus to the Windows Phone 8 OS as it did to Xbox when it was first launched. Referencing the launch of exclusive titles such as Halo, Biniak said, “To give you (users) a reason to switch, I need to make sure the apps that you care about on your device are not only on our phones, but are better.”
While Microsoft and Nokia have worked together to claw their way back in to the smartphone market, Biniak feels that two companies have very different ways of working and thus their goals are not aligned. Microsoft’s experience with Windows development just doesn’t seem to apply for the smartphone game, while Nokia has been all about producing solid hardware. Nokia’s most recent smartphone announcements garnered a great deal of attention for two very different reasons. While the Lumia 1020 has a great-sounding 41-megapixel camera, the Lumia 625 comes with the largest display on a Nokia phone ever. Both have their audience, but for Biniak it’s all about the apps. “People rely on applications for their day-to-day life and if you don't have something which I use in my day-to-day life I'm not going to switch (operating systems) because I don't want to compromise the way I live my life just to switch to a phone. It's not just about the hardware, it's about the tools that are on the hardware. You can't sell a phone without the apps, you just can't.“
While critics of Microsoft’s OS will point to the lack of apps, Biniak says that they will not have much ammunition by the end of the year. He said that the two companies have been talking to all the major app developers for the Windows Phone version of their apps. Biniak states that by the end of the year, “people will be hard-pressed to say '(WP) doesn't have this app' and it makes a material difference. I don't think there will be any (developers) we don't have commercial agreements with, and so maybe it's not published by the end of the year but it will be published before the end of March.“
So things are not as hunky-dory between Nokia and Microsoft, as has been portrayed so far. Could Biniak’s comments give Microsoft the spur, or will they work to Nokia’s detriment in the relationship? Have your say.