If you have been following the tech news lately, you may already have caught wind of the impending partnership between Microsoft and Nokia. For the uninitiated, Nokia just announced that they are going to adopt Microsoft's mobile OS, WindowsPhone as their primary smart phone operating system going forward...dumping MeeGo their original Smart Phone OS. MeeGo was a joint effort by Intel and Nokia to develop an open source mobile operating system based on Linux. Though this was launched with much fanfare in 2008-09, it never really made it outside the Nokia/Intel's labs.
From the outside, it looked like MeeGo was a last ditch effort made by Nokia to counter the ever growing pressure from Apple's iOS devices and Google's Android. It was good on paper but sadly didn’t pan out in the end. Last week, Gartner/IDC reported that Nokia lost its No.1 position in the Worldwide Smart phone market share for the first time in a long time. That might have been a serious blow to Nokia. If you haven't already, do read the "Burning Platform" memo penned by Nokia's CEO Stephen Elop (former Microsoft exec) which was leaked to the media last week. Gist of the memo is, Nokia is losing market share in all segments left and right for the past couple of years and they don’t seem to have a credible plan in place to stop the trend. Google's Android is selling like hot cakes all over the world and saw a 800% YoY growth in 2010. The tipping point for Nokia must have been losing the industry leader position which Nokia enjoyed for decades.
Anyhoo, coming back to the topic...why is this newly announced partnership a good thing? I'm glad you asked. In my mind, Nokia needs Microsoft as much as Microsoft needs Nokia. It’s more of a symbiotic relationship where Nokia would benefit from Microsoft's software expertise and Microsoft benefits from Nokia's brand image and scale. To be honest, WindowsPhone7 which was released in Oct'10 with mostly positive reviews didn’t catch on fire as I expected. Part of the problem I think is due to the uninspiring hardware dished out by OEMS like Samsung and HTC among others. None of the phones that were released could beat iPhone4 in pure hardware specs and industrial design which was the gold standard at that time...it probably still is... It's really heartening to watch because the software was pure delight to use.
It’s a good news for mobile developers around the world. They can stop worrying about developing/porting their apps on yet another platform. Developers already are having a hard time today, developing the same app for Apple's iOS devices using Objective-C, for Google's Android using Java, for Palm using Web technologies, and for Blackberry using some shit like QNX which I’m pretty sure 99% of developers never heard of. By using WP7 OS on Nokia, devs can continue to leverage their .NET skills to write Silverlight apps for all WP devices including Nokia. Combined that with Visual studio which is one of the best tooling systems/IDEs available...wow what a relief!...
Nokia is known for making excellent hardware like N8 and so hopefully we will see some exciting phones coming down the pipe sooner than later with all the WP goodness in it. I have used iPhone, Android and WP for a considerable period of time and definitely feel that WP7 has a much better UX compared to Android. iPhone stills leads in overall usability and hardware fit n finish...till now...agreed that WP7 doesn’t yet have feature parity with Android and iOS which have a 2-3 yr head start...but that’s kind of a moot point now. What matters is...how fast each of them can innovate and move the industry forward. Competition is always good for customers.
I'm clearly excited about this news...and can’t wait to get my hands on a Nokia device running WP7. Ditching iPhone has been one of my NY2011 resolutions and I've been waiting for a decent hardware to come out with WP on it...This Nokia+WP combo seems like a perfect recipe for my next phone
Now if you excuse me I have to get back to building my 1st Windows Phone app :)