Nokia: We’re going Windows
Telcom execs breathe a sigh of relief, Nokia goes with Windows
There’s been quite a bit of talk about Nokia lately. While the Finnish manufacturer might be losing market share in the smartphone area, they still remain on top as the world’s largest selling mobile phone manufacturer. Following the massive outlet of top Nokia management, as well as the incoming, former Microsoft Executive Stephen Elop, Nokia has taken a dramatic shift over the past few months, and it looks as though the electronics giant is finally ready to speak.
Announced in London this morning, Nokia has outlined their marching orders, with a strong focus on changes in leadership, their operational structure, and perhaps most importantly, their speed of execution (Meego says what?).
The debate was up in the air for quite a while whether Nokia would go Android, continue on the Meego Path, or go with Microsoft’s Windows Phone. Meego is obviously a dead horse, and so we’re really down to a two horse race. And low and behold, Nokia is going with Windows Phone as their primary smartphone operating platform. This is part of a newly announced deep strategic partnership with Redmond. But honestly, does it come much as a surprise? See Elop above.
Additionally, Nokia is committed to a renewed approach to capture volume and value growth, ultimately resulting in connecting the “next billion” to the internet in developing countries. Remember the mention of largest selling handset manufacturer above? These non-smartphones are the developing countries handsets, and it looks like Nokia now wants to bring the internet to these same Nokia handset owners, with a bit of help from Microsoft.
“Nokia is at a critical juncture, where significant change is necessary and inevitable in our journey forward,” said Stephen Elop, Nokia President and CEO. “Today, we are accelerating that change through a new path, aimed at regaining our smartphone leadership, reinforcing our mobile device platform and realizing our investments in the future.”
The Nokia/Microsoft partnership now offers a valid competitor to both Apple and Android. It should be quite interesting to see how Nokia deals with it’s new collaborator, as by themselves, they were just players in Android/Apple’s world, but together, they are/will be a force to be reckoned with. The Microkia partnership will take advantage of the best of both companies; Nokia’s expertise in hardware optimization, software customization, and language support and scale, while Microsoft will leverage it’s massive scale, product variety, geographical reach, and brand identity (be that a good or bad thing).
I’d be remiss if I didn’t speak to MeeGo’s future plans. While I had very high hopes for this project, and still do, it looks as though MeeGo is going the way of the original Symbian experience. At least in the way of open-source. The quasi-abandoned project from Nokia/Intel will serve as a longer-term market exploration of next-generation devices, platforms and users experiences. With that said, Nokia still plans on shipping a MeeGo based device later this year. Here’s to hoping that MeeGo will become the hacker’s platform of choice.
From The Top Down
In addition to striking deals with his former colleagues, CEO Stephen Elop’s new team looks drastically different than it did just days ago. Effective today, Nokia’s new executive board consists of: Stephen Elop, Esko Aho, Juha Akras, Jerri DeVard, Colin Giles, Rich Green, Jo Harlow, Timo Ihamuotila, Mary McDowell, Kai Oistamo, Tero Ojanpera, Louise Pentland and Niklas Savander.
The new team-at-the-top is expected to be much more nimble than their previous counterparts, thus allowing the company much more efficient decision making processes, placing a heavy focus on speed, speed, more speed, and results, speed, and accountability. Did I mention speed?
Two Roads in the Woods
In addition to partnering with Microsoft, putting MeeGo to bed (sorta), and shaking up the board, Elop is also splitting Nokia down the middle (divide and conquer?). As of April 1st (and no, this isn’t a joke), Nokia will effectively be split into two unique business units: Smart Devices and Mobile Phones. Each unit will have it’s own focus, the former, high-end smartphones, the later, mass market mobile phones (read: developing world…connecting the “next billion”). To put the units to task, Elop has designated that each unit will be responsible for their own profit-and-loss, as well as a stringent end-to-end accountability standards. What this means is that the smartphone unit needs to deliver and can not rely on the profits of mass phone sales, and vice versa.
As a member of the Nokia test program here in Austria, I’ve said it for quite a while now; Nokia – great hardware, absolutely crap OS. Oh, and the Ovi Store needs a serious makeover as well. However something tells me that with Windows Phone now on board, things at Nokia are about to get very interesting. I’ve seen Windows Phone 7 (thanks @datadirt), and while it’s still not my beloved iOS, I must admit…it was better than I expected. I’m currently testing a Nokia N8 (review forthcoming), and I truly wish that I could wipe Symbian today and load up WP7. Nokia was once the bright shining beacon of what a mobile phone should be, and unfortunately over time, they’ve been the sluggish giant that simply couldn’t keep up. That is, until now. I truly believe that planting Windows aboard a Nokia built device is one of the smartest things the company could have done, and here’s to hoping that Microkia can give Android and iOS a run for their money, because at the end of the day, it’s us, the consumers, that will come out on top.
Hats off to you Mr. Elop. It’s never easy being the “new guy in charge,” and I applaud your brevity. Now get out there and make me think twice about buying the iPhone 5.