As widely rumoured, Nokia this morning announced that it will adopt Windows Phone as its main smartphone platform, embracing Microsoft's operating system to power its future high end devices.
At first glance, this alliance represents a very positive development for two organizations that at one time dominated the smartphone market but are now struggling to achieve scale, their offerings having been overshadowed by those from Apple and Google in recent years.
We do not agree with the assessment that this collaboration represents the coming together of "two turkeys".
- Our user experience benchmarks of smartphones have shown that Nokia has consistently demonstrated its ability to produce hardware with exceptional build-quality. Nokia also continues to demonstrate leadership in hardware experiences including mobile imaging. However, we do feel that Nokia has yet to produce a compelling device form-factor that is as appealling as the Samsung Galaxy S or Motorola Droid X to consumers in the world's largest smartphone market - the USA.
- From the software perspective, we have been impressed by the usability of Windows Phone 7.
Moreover, the collaboration appears to be a good fit in terms of brand recognition - our recent research into consumer brand perception showed that Windows Phone is stronger in the USA, while Nokia remains a highly trusted brand in Europe, India and China.
However, while this alliance looks good on paper, we believe that one of the biggest challenges facing these organizations lies in execution. Both companies have been plagued by an inability to get high end product to market in a timely manner over the past few years. For Nokia in particular, the question must be asked - after failing to get both Symbian^4 and Meego products into the hands of consumers, what are the implications on time to market of switching horse yet again?
In theory, working with MSFT gives Nokia a platform that is complete and should therefore be faster to integrate. However, questions over how elements such as Ovi and Windows Marketplace will be integrated remain as yet unanswered, and have the potential to impact ability to launch.
Nokia has jumped from its burning platform into the life raft of Windows. In my view, both organizations must now paddle as fast as they possibly can if they are to reach the safety of the shoreline.
- Kevin Nolan