The view from the top of IT with TechWorld Editor Rohan Pearce
As the dust settles after the Nokia-Microsoft pact over Windows Phone 7, more news has come to light that Microsoft essentially bought its way into the mobile industry by paying Nokia billions for the privilege of being chosen for its handsets. Unfortunately for Nokia money won’t buy market share.
Nokia CEO Stephen Elop went public with the revelation that Microsoft won a “bidding war” with Google to use its mobile operating system.
Given the success of Android without Nokia, it’s difficult to imagine Google wanting to shell out millions to buy more market share, nevertheless, Microsoft came out on top.
A win for the fledgling WP7 without a doubt, but the focus is Nokia and how it will bounce back into the smartphone market.
It would be a brave prediction to say more cash in the back will help Nokia regain is depleting market share, simply because just choosing an operating system is only a start. Nokia still has to build compelling hardware and a vibrant app ecosystem around it.
Perhaps Nokia is planning to use the money to dramatically discount its handsets?
Furthermore, Microsoft has struggled with many of its new directions, so the possibility of Windows Phone being underwhelming in years to come is not out of the question.
However, as I’ve written about before this is Microsoft we’re talking about here and it will do its darnedest to make sure it is a success.
What is in Microsoft’s favour is its experience shipping OEM versions of operating systems – which is essentially what a mobile OS is – and it already has a strong developer community that it can woo to the Windows Phone platform.
But that’s still forward-looking. At this stage WP7 just doesn’t have anywhere near the momentum of the other two platforms.
So in summary, just because Nokia stands to benefit financially in the short term, that doesn’t necessarily mean it will end up selling more handsets when its WP7-based products eventually do come to market.
Don’t overstate “enterprise” readiness
In my last opinion piece on the subject, I wrote about how Nokia had more than enough time to be a leader in the smartphone space, but somehow managed to drop the ball and let Android and the iPhone run rampant.
One reader commented that the decision was made because WP7 is more of an “enterprise solution” than Android or the iPhone.
On the surface this argument seems sound enough, but does it really mean anything in practice?
Consider the battle between the BlackBerry and iPhone as the best example of how “enterprise readiness” can be a very misleading analysis.
The BlackBerry had the enterprise smartphone market sewn up until the arrival of the iPhone.
There was all this talk about iPhone insecurity and lack of manageability, but that didn’t stop it from being deployed in the enterprise and eating away BlackBerry’s position.
And now the same is happening with Android. People can make all the arguments they like about how insecure Android is but that won’t stop enterprises from deploying it.
It’s the apps that will non-BlackBerry smartphones a success in the enterprise. If an enterprise can secure its data with an app, that goes a long way to changing the perception of a device being “too insecure”.
I know of one CIO who used virtualisation technology to get iPads working with the corporate applications.
While Microsoft may have the enterprise market in its sights, at this stage it’s an overstatement to say the Nokia deal was born because the alternatives – including its own OS, Symbian – are not “enterprise capable”.