So Nokia’s going to Windows Phone 7. Can they still keep their personal flair in the transition? Looks like it. Engadget got a hold of some concept photos for what Nokia’s first WP7 devices will look like. Seems like a nice cross between the N8 and C7 with some bigger screens. I like these a lot. All props go to Engadget for these photos.
Man, I am so bad at this. Every time a company is floundering with their platform, I tell them to endure, but they always jump the ship. First Palm and now Nokia. Am I just naive or plain stupid (don’t answer that). Still, two days ago I discussed the failure of Nokia’s venerable (though antiquated) Symbian OS. The system is old and needs help. Nokia needs help as they struggle between a rock (Symbian) and a hard place (the still to come MeeGo). I maintained that Symbian could be modernized and MeeGo could be accelerated to market. My hope was that Nokia could maintain the platform they started for the industry’s sake, in the name of diversity.
But it did not come to pass. Today Nokia announced a convergence deal with Microsoft. Windows Phone 7 has become the primary mobile platform of Nokia’s future mobile handsets. As for Symbian, it’s dead. Technically, Symbian is now a “franchise platform” which Nokia will license out to other handset makers, but by and large Symbian will wither and die against more modern choices. It’s depressing to see such a hallmark OS go the way of the Dodo, but then it was on its last legs. As for once-promising MeeGo, which Nokia assured us was the future of the company? It’s now an “opportunity to learn” and nothing more than that. They might get a device out by the end of the year, but there are no plans to make it into a larger platform. Instead, it will be an experimental platform like Maemo was for the N900 in 2009. Everything is going Windows Phone 7 in the mainstream.
The choice of Windows Phone 7 is strange though. Microsoft’s revamped mobile OS has yet to make major in-roads against Android or iOS. Some estimates have it selling less than 2 million units since its release in October of last year. Wouldn’t it make more sense for Nokia to jump on board a more mature and popular OS like Android? I chalk it up to three things. 1) Money. Microsoft has been trying to woo handset makers to their platform for a while. As the mid-90s adage goes: “If you build it, they will come.” Microsoft probably saw Nokia’s problems from a mile away and offered them a big incentive to partner up. 2) Opportunity. Android has already saturated the market with hundreds of identical devices and consumers have made their choice about the most desirable models now. Nokia has an excellent chance to get in on the ground floor of Windows Phone 7 and become a preeminent device maker. Plus, if Nokia ever wants to gain access to the US market, using the Windows branding is not a bad way to do that. And 3) Relationship. Nokia’s CEO is Stephen Elop who worked for Microsoft before joining Nokia in these turbulent times. That relationship must have made this move far easier.
So while Nokia has gotten a new lease on life with Windows Phone 7, it’s Microsoft that really wins in the exchange. According to the deal, Nokia’s Ovi app store – Nokia’s Symbian app distribution system – will be integrated into the Windows Phone Marketplace, bringing some new developers and apps into the fold of Microsoft’s small app count. The Ovi maps, one of the better parts of Symbian, is being integrated into Bing and should improve the map experience. But most of all, if Nokia continues to make their handsets with the same finesse and style of the N8 and E7, Microsoft will finally have some AAA devices to carry Windows Phone 7. Until now, most Windows Phone 7 phones were relatively similar, with none standing out from the crowd. Having devices with the gorgeous design and stunning features Nokia is known for will help move Windows Phone 7 significantly. I’d even take a look at Windows Phone 7 if I could run it on something like an N8.
As deals go, this one has a lot of promise. Microsoft getting veteran mobile phone maker Nokia is a big name for their platform. And Nokia gets to start anew with an up and coming platform that seems pretty competent. This past week has been huge for the mobile phone sector. First the resurrection of webOS, and now Nokia gets another shot at prosperity.
Oh, also…. Nokia fired 1000 people. Not so good at all for a company that comprises over 3% of Finland’s GDP. My heart goes out to the unfortunate workers who have lost their job, and I wish them luck in further endeavors.
Two weeks ago Microsoft unveiled Windows Phone Series 7, the next generation of their mobile phone software formerly known as Windows Mobile. The unveiling was a revelation to the masses: Microsoft actually gets it now. Windows Mobile had been a slow, outdated and frustrating operating system. Once the gold standard of smartphone OSes, it had completely fallen to the wayside against others like the iPhone, Blackberry, Android, WebOS and even Symbian. Instead of being that gold standard, Windows Mobile is now a budget OS used on the most basic and generic of smartphones. Most companies use their own skin UIs in order to hide the dated style of the OS. HTC is one such company that has a large amount of WinMo devices, but has masked the OS’s poor design with their own UI and plug-ins.
This all changed with Windows Phone 7. The UI is clean, minimalist, completely focused on touch mechanics and made for a far more strict set of modern hardware. Microsoft pulled a drastic 180 on our expectations for the new OS. It shows that Microsoft has really taken to heart the efforts made by Apple and Google to make more streamlined interfaces. Arguably, Microsoft has done an even more adept job than Apple or Google at making such a visually appealing design and integrating function. Much of this has been done by taking lessons Microsoft learned from the Zune HD, which though based on Windows Mobile 6.5, uses a very unique and wonderful interface unlike generic WinMo phones. You can see the differences between the new OS and the old for yourself: Continue Reading