Nokia CEO Stephen Elop has certainly made a lot of news since he left Microsoft and took over the company in September of last year. Little to none of it has been received well by the industry, or at the very least the market. This week, his latest announcement once again shook the tech world when he and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced that they had formed a partnership that would see Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 take over as Nokia's chief operating system on future handsets.
Up until now, Nokia has used primarily their own OS, Symbian, on their phones. They have also been working on MeeGo, a partnership with Intel, which is a supposed to be the most user-friendly operating system ever. We knew something might be a little fishy when we learned a few weeks back from PhoneArena that Nokia might have scrapped the N9, which was to be the first device running MeeGo. Now, it appears, Nokia has changed their tune and plans to invest their time and money into WinPho7.
To find out why everyone is in an uproar about this, hit the break.
When I say everyone, I mean EVERYONE. Investors, employees, customers, other tech companies, media agencies; it seems everyone wants to be mad about something and since Egypt seems to be off the table now, we have moved to Nokia. We'll start with the investors. Somehow it has become a bad thing to be involved with Microsoft, which of course makes sense when most of the tech industry owes Microsoft for coming up with all the ideas. Investors seem mad that Nokia hasn't boarded the Android train, backed by a company that has had the winning business ideas of Google Buzz and Google Wave and instead backed a company who have only had mild successes, such as Windows and Xbox.
While Google might currently hold the lead on handsets, they have proven in the past they can take a great idea and ruin it quickly, take for example YouTube. YouTube, founded outside of the company and purchased by Google for more money than God has, has seen a steady decline in usefulness over the past few years, with speeds decreasing, content dispersing and users getting frustrated with a service that works only sometimes but ads that work all the time and moved on to other, more stable services. Expect to see the same type of clear, concise thinking coming into the Android world in the near future (AKA Chrome OS). According to sources inside Nokia, they are talking to Google, too.
The employees are mad because they are fearful of losing their jobs because they think perhaps MeeGo and Symbian might go away. The best way to prove that you're worth keeping? A 1,000 employee walkout at Nokia headquarters. I know protest is in the air because of Egypt but it's not always the successful answer. It's not like Elop knows these employees and feels their pain. He worked for Microsoft, who is never afraid to get rid of dissension. Staying at your desks and writing a nice email to your supervisor might have been the better way to keep your name on that desk.
Customers seem upset because Nokia is "giving up" on their loyal customers. Sometimes you just have to admit defeat. Symbian has never been a "successful" OS. Yes, it was, until recently, the most owned, but not by choice. Nokia is the top manufacturer of phones worldwide. They have a sales chain that is unbeatable. There are parts of the world that have Nokia phones that don't have running water - and they are all Symbian-powered. In the parts of the world that spend money on things that make money - apps and media - Symbian has almost no foothold. Ask around the office on Monday and find me 2 Symbian phones. I bet you'll have a better chance of finding a BlackBerry Pearl or a WinMo 6 handset. Hell, you might even find an old Palm OS, but probably not a Symbian. The loyal few are not the ones that a company can bank on, but no one said these systems were going away. In fact, just the opposite.
As for the tech industry, including the press, any controversy is good for getting your name out there. Nokia used the Apple Antennagate issue to remind people they still made phones, despite not being named in the presentation as having a problem. Enjoy your time in the spotlight, guys.
As for the actual decision, I think it is one that makes sense. WinPho7 is gaining ground faster than any other operating system, partially because they have the farthest to go. Microsoft, however, does have a huge legion of avid supporters who will flock to the devices when Microsoft makes their big push starting as soon as this month. From Xbox users who want to bring their gaming experience with them, to professional app developers who are excited to be developing on a full-featured platform, to average users who want a phone that does last.fm and even business people who are just excited to have a full Office suite available to them. Add to that Elop being a former Microsoft guy and you have the makings of a great partnership.