Thoughts on the Nokia / Windows Phone 7 deal

For the last week the news that Nokia has chosen Windows Phone 7 as their main operating system for all their new smart phones has been all over the news. A lot of people are very upset and say that Nokia should have gone with Android instead, or that they should have invested more in their own linux os Meego. Personally, looking at the options Nokia had, I think this is might be the best move Nokia could have done. Let me explain why.

For years Nokia has been struggling keeping Symbian alive. Symbian is an old operating system and has well served it purpose in millions of Nokia phones. However, during the last few years Nokia has totally failed on innovating, pretty much every other vendor now have smart phones running Andriod that offers more features and a better user experience then what Nokia can offer. Nokia needed to make a drastic change and the choices at this time were not that many.

  • Meego
  • Android
  • Windows Phone 7

Meego is Nokias in house developed linux based operating system. The vision behind Meego is great, but development has been too slow. From what I have seen of Meego it is a great operating system if you want to customize and geek around with your phone, but it is not yet ready for prime time. Another problem with Meego is that it is lacking an ecosystem of applications and developers (such as App store for IPhone or Android Market). Placing the bet on Meego would have been extremely risky and Nokia knows this.

Android seemed like the most obvious choice for Nokia. This is what most other vendors are offering and there is a big ecosystem around Android. The problem with it is Nokias limited way of differentiating themselves, they do not just want to become another “Android vendor”. Sure there are several ways they could have differentiated themselves on Android, just like HTC and Samsung are trying to do, but it seems like this was not enough for Nokia.

Windows Phone 7 was released at MWC in 2010 and is a totally new operating system from Microsoft. It is based on Windows Embedded Compact 7 with a new UI layer called Metro. It does not inherit anything from the horrible mess that was Windows Mobile 6. The deal Nokia made with Microsoft gives Nokia ‘special privileges’ to WP7, that other manufactures do not get. It is not clear yet exactly what this means, but what is clear is that this will make Nokia the main WP7 vendor on the market, clearly better than being just another Android vendor.

So will it be successful? Time will tell, but Microsoft has put a lot of money into WP7 and will not let it fail. At the same time Nokia has a reach that no other cell phone vendor has (they are still the by far biggest manufacturer of phones in the world), so if they are able to successfully build an application ecosystem around WP7 I think it will be a success and we will get a mobile space with three main players, Apple iOS, Android and WP7. Competition is good and vendors need other choices than Android for their phones (iOS is apple only, so in a way it does not play the same game).

For C# developers, such as my self, i think getting full backing from Nokia is good news. I would love to develop applications on the Windows Phone 7 platform. From what I have seen from the tools it integrates very well with Visual Studio and seems to be a lot of fun to work with. Maybe now is the time to start learning it?


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