Nokia and Microsoft Look to Create New Mobile Ecosystem

by Jeff Wiener on February 17, 2011

If the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) held last month could be considered the Christmas Day of the tech world, then the year’s Mobile World Congress would certainly be its New Year’s celebration. But what’s surprising this year is that despite the new devices being unveiled, the new tablets strutting their stuff, and the new smartphones looking to capture the hearts of the public, the big news is still last week’s announcement of the strategic partnership between Nokia and Microsoft.

For its part, despite the fact that it already has two mobile operating systems on the go, Nokia sees this partnership as an important step towards creating a new mobile ecosystem, simply mobile-speak for creating a worthy competitor to Google and Apple in the current market.

But this partnership brings up numerous questions in my mind: Will such a partnership really challenge the dominance of Google or Apple? Does Microsoft bring anything meaningful to the table in this deal? And finally, where does the world’s second most popular mobile manufacturer, Research in Motion (RIM), fit into Nokia’s three ecosystem mobile map?

Eventually, I would have to think, either Apple or Google will slip up, creating enough space in the mobile market for the likes of Nokia/Microsoft to make at least some inroads. For Apple it could very well be its new foray into cheaper, smaller iPhones for burgeoning markets that sours the public’s opinion, or perhaps Google’s continued bungling of your private information that finally makes at least some people say, “Enough!” Statistically speaking, no company can stay at the top forever; it’s just a matter of whether or not Nokia/Microsoft can remain relevant until that day comes.

That being said, I still have yet to be convinced that Microsoft’s Windows Phone OS has what it takes to be a worthy competitor in the mobile market; its sales are less than exemplary as are its reviews.

Further, upon closer inspection I have to question the language of “partnership” used to describe this Nokia/Microsoft venture, as the details of the agreement see Nokia giving up or giving Microsoft everything—its two mobile operating systems, its mobile application store, its huge global customer base—with Microsoft giving Nokia little in return, at least till we actually see how the Windows Phone OS plays out in the worldwide market.

But all this aside for a moment, I have to wonder how RIM feels about all this. Following Nokia CEO Stephen Elop’s announcement of his “three ecosystem” plan on Friday, RIM must feel at least slightly hurt. Not only did Nokia not wish to partner with RIM, but it seems that no one even considers RIM to be a threat in the smartphone market anymore.

In the end, with no WP7 equipped Nokia phones ready until probably 2012, it will be some time before we can truly gauge the success or failure of this partnership. All I can say is that both Nokia and Microsoft will have to work very hard to dethrone Apple or Google, all the while hoping that Elop hasn’t given RIM the kick it needs to start competing again.

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Written by: Jeff Wiener. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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