If not Nokia, then which company can propel Windows Phone forward?

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from  Arizona
| June 21, 2013

While I was chatting with a sales associate in a wireless retail location, a customer heard us talking about the Lumia series, and the state of Windows Phone in general, and came over to ask us some questions. Granted, she was talking more to the sales rep, but that's to be expected. She was looking for a new phone, so obviously she should be talking to the person who can actually sell her a phone.

In any event, she played around with one of the Windows Phone-based devices on the wall, moving the Start screen up and down, watching as the Live Tiles did their animated thing, and she seemed pleasantly surprised by what she was looking at. As she inspected the device, she was busy asking questions, like, "How many apps are there?" "Can I get that photo sharing app that my daughter uses?" "How's the camera?" And plenty more.

The rep had answers for all these things, and answered them dutifully. It only took a few minutes, but by the end of it the customer had walked away, found a Galaxy S III, and started talking to another rep about that particular handset. I should have kept watching, because she was in the store for a bit longer, but I didn't see what phone she walked out with.

All I know is, it wasn't a Windows Phone device.

As I sit and write this, and think about the core of what we're going to be talking about here, I should have caught up with that nice lady and asked her why she didn't go with Windows Phone. Why, for whatever reason, she decided to go with another platform, another device, instead of going with the handset that the sales rep had spoken so highly of. (And, for the record, it is rare that I hear sales representatives talk highly about Windows Phone.)

But I didn't, and here I am, not necessarily speculating on why someone may not pick Windows Phone, but something a bit finer. I want to look at Nokia. I want to look, and talk about, the company that, as far as I can tell, is the only company that honestly cares about Windows Phone as a platform. And, moreover, I want to talk about the other options. Because let's face it, there are other options.

But, as the title suggests, if not Nokia, then who?

Hardware is important to the Android market, but it doesn't have to the most important part. The software can play a much bigger role, depending on how you look at it. Between HTC, Samsung, LG, and every other hardware manufacturer that includes a proprietary user interface with their devices, they bank a lot of money on that software standing out against everyone else. Sure, they've got to make sure that the hardware stands out, but the software is just another piece of the puzzle that can make or break the whole thing apart if it doesn't quite fit.

For Windows Phone partners, though, the hardware absolutely has to stand out. I think that's one reason why Nokia went with such colorful devices with the original Lumia 900. But obviously HTC jumped on that bandwagon, and now HTC is venturing out into other areas. They've got the aluminum Lumia 925 coming down the line. There's the Lumia 928 with "the best low-light photos," thanks to the camera. The hardware changes are a necessity, because if the hardware didn't stand out against companies like HTC or Samsung, then all these devices would just look the same, thanks to Windows Phone.

And I agree with Anna that Nokia seems to be the only company putting any real effort into making Windows Phone succeed, and there's an obvious reason for that. Ever since 2011, when Nokia and Microsoft came together to work in a "strategic partnership," there shouldn't have been any confusion about Nokia's push to get their brand out there with Windows Phone on their devices.

But ever since the Windows Phone 8X by HTC launched, and Microsoft seemed to be cozying up to another company, things have been strange. Nokia used to sell both the hardware and the software in their ads, and now they're focusing a lot more on just the hardware. As if they don't want you to pay so much attention to Windows Phone, and focus more on the high-quality products Nokia creates.

But is that working? It's anyone's guess at this point. Windows Phone could be gaining ground, but the question remains: Is it because of Nokia? Or is it due to Microsoft's software? Is Nokia outpacing HTC and Samsung in Windows Phone-based sales? And, would that be surprising, considering Nokia's the only company here in the States to offer up more than one phone running Microsoft's latest version of their mobile operating system?

So, my question to you, is if not Nokia, then who? Because Nokia does seem to be the only company putting any real effort into selling Windows Phone, while every other company is just tossing out a handset when they feel like it, and focusing on other platforms (Android). I've written about how I'd like an HTC One running Windows Phone 8, and that still stands true. I think that'd be a killer device. But would you buy something like that? What about a Galaxy S 4, or a Galaxy S4 Active, running Windows Phone? An LG Optimus G Pro?

Are HTC, Samsung, LG or any other company in a position to rake in better sales, or draw in more people to the Windows Phone fold than Nokia? Since reports are saying Microsoft is no longer interested in buying Nokia's device business, should Microsoft start putting a bit more focus on HTC and Samsung to create high-end WP8 devices? Let me know!