Over the last couple of months, it has been a mystery as to what Nokia's game plan was. We know they were looking for mobile platform alternatives, but we weren't sure which route they would take. More recently, there were rumors that Nokia was talking with Microsoft about adopting their newborn, Windows Phone 7. This morning, that wacky and bizarre combination has become official, but is this a good move for Nokia?
The Symbian well is running dry, market share shows that. It's a functional OS, but it's a bit dated. Even with its latest refresh, Symbian^3, it has yet to “wow” users. With so many other mobile OS competitors, this has been one of the bigger reasons that Nokia has yet to make a big influence on the US smartphone market. Knowing something had to be done, Nokia had a few different paths they could take.
Nokia could have taken the easy way out and jumped on the Android bandwagon. It's something that's been on our minds for a while; many of us have hoped for nothing more than that. Unfortunately, our own Darren Humphries is right. If Nokia had followed suit and started outfitting their hardware with Android, they would have risked getting lost in the crowd. There is already a handful of manufacturers spitting out Android handsets as fast as possible; the market is already diluted. Even though Nokia is known for their excellent hardware, it may not be enough by itself to keep them afloat.
For some time now, Nokia has been working with Meego. Much like Android, it's another open-source, mobile operating system project. This, however, probably wouldn't be the best platform to lean on either. The mobile OS space is a dog eat dog world. With several mobile platforms already established and holding their own, it will be difficult for another to make its break. It can be done, but it won't happen overnight. From what I've seen Meego is some pretty slick looking software, but for a company that is looking for a new platform to rest on for a while, it is too much of a risk. They may still be experimenting with Meego, but I think its safe to say they aren't relying on it to bring home the bacon.
The only other platform left and that makes sense is Windows Phone 7. It's new and proving to be a decent success. It didn't sweep the market off of its feet like Microsoft was hoping. However, thanks to respectable development support and the need for another simple smartphone OS, it's proving that it may be here for a while. Coupled with the high-quality hardware from Nokia, this combination could be what many have been waiting for.
The news that Nokia and Microsoft have formed a “strategic partnership” may not be the most exciting news this year, but it's good news nonetheless. Especially for Microsoft. This deal could give Windows Phone 7 the push it needs in many places worldwide, anywhere Nokia has influence. The only problem Nokia has to face is that Windows Phone 7 is still new and the hype is already dying down pretty quickly. Many think the WP7 UI is just too boring. I want to see Microsoft and Nokia both do well, so let's just hope these approaching updates spice up the platform a little bit.