For about a decade now, Nokia has been one of the foremost names in the mobile phone game. As Smartphones go, Symbian was a world leader. But nothing lasts forever in this day and age of technological advancement. Operating systems are getting more user friendly and sophisticated so much so that the competition is seriously heating up. With Android taking center stage right now with Apple’s iOS, Nokia needs a good boost to get back into the game as even Symbian ^3, although popular in some parts of the globe, has proven no match to the ever increasing number of Android powered devices.
So what does Nokia do to regain their once prominent name in the industry? They set up camp with once rivals, Microsoft, to push their Windows Phone 7 platform. This was unprecedented and raises quite a few questions in the community.
While I’m sure both companies have good reasons for this ‘merger’, it also comes across as a bit of a desperate attempt to rekindle a dying flame. I’m just a little surprised that Nokia went with Microsoft choosing to keep their hands off Google’s more popular Android platform. It’s puzzling, Nokia could have teamed up with an existing, fully functional, tried and tested OS like Android instead of opting to go with a platform that’s, albeit, got definite potential, but is still a work in progress. Why couldn’t Nokia have simply tried promoting their Meego platform instead of switching over to one that’s been designed by a rival OS manufacturer?
Was it really necessary?
Even with the recent launch of devices like the Nokia N8 and Nokia C7 , Nokia’s stake in the industry is heading south. It’s not like the Windows Phone 7 OS also got in with a flying start but I do believe, nevertheless, Microsoft has come along way since the stylus-required-for-use OS and maybe, just maybe, Nokia wanted to get in on the ground floor with this and ride it all the way to the top.
Windows Phone 7 made it out on in the latter half of the last year and met with quite a bit of skepticism from the mobile community. Like any new OS that starts out, it’s got a long way to go before it’s perfected. Even in the apps segment, WP7 caps off at just about 8000 apps for the platform which is staggeringly low compared to the 130,000 odd apps available for Android and more than 300,000 for iOS.
Perhaps they should have simply considered going the LG, HTC or Samsung way and take to manufacturing a variety of devices for all current mobile operating systems. Can you image a Nokia branded Android handset? I can and being a long time admirer of the company, I would have, like millions of others, been excited at the prospect.
However, on one hand, there are quite a few advantages to owning a Nokia handset that’s running Windows Phone 7. For starters the interface is quite uncluttered and social networking tie-ins are better integrated on a WP7 device. Nokia’s hardcore build quality will be something even the true loyalist will still value even if they have to give up on the Symbian OS.
But this is not without limitation. While Symbian ^3, like the S60 and S40 platforms, is quite a well rounded system, however Windows Phone 7 is not one just yet. It still lacks basic functionality like Bluetooth file transfer and you’re stuck using the Zune software for media syncing, video conversion and more.
In the latter half of 2010 it was a pleasant surprise to see Nokia fully take on media playback capabilities with new high-end smartphones supporting DivX and XviD codec for drag and drop media playback. The incorporation of USB-on-the-go and HDMI functionality made their new portfolio quite exciting for loyalists. The Nokia N8’s 12 megapixel camera put mobile photography on the map again but while new functionality was being added, the UI still came up short. Symbian was dying and Nokia obviously knew their time was up. It was time for a drastic change.
Perhaps this team-up could result in devices that would cater to both communities – the Nokia loyalist and Windows Phone fans. What we could expect are products that are well designed and versatile and maybe with two once immensely popular brands such as these even the sturdy Android tree could be shaken up a little.
The bottom line is these two companies coming together was probably necessary. They both needed to get their heads above the water and joining forces seemed to have been a good option. What results from this possibly awkward alliance, only time will tell. In the meantime Nokia had better start worrying about their stock going sideways.