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Friday, February 11, 2011

Nokia/Microsoft form mobile partnership

nokwinAs I wrote yesterday, Nokia has today announce that it has partnered with Microsoft to make Windows Mobile 7 its platform of choice for smartphones.  But rather than it just being about Nokia using Windows Mobile as its smartphone OS, todays announcement highlights how the two tech giants will be working hand in hand on the platforms future development.

For its part Nokia has struggled in the last few years to keep pace with the rapid developments in the smartphone arena from new comers Google and Apple.  Despite still producing some very good mobile handsets, its aging Symbian OS has failed to provide a user experience now seen on other smartphones.  Depending on which survey you read, some even suggest that it has now been overtaken by Android as the user OS of choice in the global smartphone market.

From a Microsoft perspective, it has always struggled to make any real inroads in the mobile marketplace.  Windows Phone 7 sees a huge improvement on previous efforts, but as of yet there hasn’t been any real hero device that has managed to capture the imagination of consumers in the same way that say the iPhone or HTC Desire have.  With Nokia’s hardware and Microsoft's new software, can the two tech giants regain lost ground to relative new comers Apple, RIM and Google who are now starting to dominate the smartphone market.

Taken from Nokia’s press release, under the proposed partnership:-
- Nokia would adopt Windows Phone as its principal smartphone strategy, innovating on top of the platform in areas such as imaging, where Nokia is a market leader.
- Nokia would help drive the future of Windows Phone.  Nokia would contribute its expertise on hardware design, language support, and help bring Windows Phone to a larger range of price points, market segments and geographies.
- Nokia and Microsoft would closely collaborate on joint marketing initiatives and a shared development roadmap to align on the future evolution of mobile products.
- Bing would power Nokia's search services across Nokia devices and services, giving customers access to Bing's next generation search capabilities.  Microsoft adCenter would provide search advertising services on Nokia's line of devices and services.
- Nokia Maps would be a core part of Microsoft's mapping services.   For example, Maps would be integrated with Microsoft's Bing search engine and adCenter advertising platform to form a unique local search and advertising experience
- Nokia's extensive operator billing agreements would make it easier for consumers to purchase Nokia Windows Phone services in countries where credit-card use is low.
- Microsoft development tools would be used to create applications to run on Nokia Windows Phones, allowing developers to easily leverage the ecosystem's global reach. 
- Nokia's content and application store would be integrated with Microsoft Marketplace for a more compelling consumer experience.

Symbian still remains part of Nokia’s future, as does its OVI platform, though both are likely to take something of a back seat to Windows Phone.  Its fledgling MeeGo platform is also still in the works with (there should be at least one Meego device during 2011), with suggestions it could be used as some form of computer OS, Nokia’s attempt to get it to the tablet market maybe?

What the reaction of the likes of Samsung and HTC who were early adopters of Microsoft’s latest foray in to the mobile OS market remains to be seen. Both still have plenty of other options having been key to the surge in popularity of Google’s Android platform, while Samsung also has its own Bada OS.
Hopefully the move with further stimulate competition and innovation in the market.  For as long as I can remember Nokia has been a major player in the mobile market, primarily because it makes very good phones. It would be a shame to see the giant decline purely on its fairly to create a decent touchscreen OS for smartphones, for despite its short comings, its phones are still very good. Perhaps the marriage of Microsoft’s software expertise and Nokia’s mobile experience is just what both companies need if they are to compete against the onslaught of Google and Apple.

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