Microsoft and Nokia Partnership – Creative Destruction?

Have you watched Seinfeld – a hit American sitcom of 90s? If not, then you would not understand this analogy (my apologies). If yes, then Microsoft and Nokia partnership is like, Kramer and Newman putting their heads together to come up with competitive solution.

Does combining two failed mobile strategy equal to one winning strategy? Nokrosoft or Microkia? Managements at Nokia and Microsoft seems to think it is. Both are desperate to make it successful! And in the process following age old thesis. Nokia bought Symbian – it did not work. Nokia partnered with Intel for MeeGo – don’t know what’s happening! What makes management or board of director think that partnership with Microsoft will work?

Nokia does not seem to have a clue about what smart phone means. Don’t get me wrong, Nokia’s smart phone hardware is best-in-class on technological front. It beats iPhone or Blackberry hands down.  But, Nokia still thinks smart phone as just a piece of hardware. It does not seem to realize that smart phone is an ecosystem.

Windows seems to lack foresight on mobile. It is stuck with legacy desktop/laptop mindset. It believes stripping down desktop windows will make mobile OS.

Now both managements think they can come together to present a fourth viable competitor to the troika of BlackberryOS, iOS, and Andriod.

I am not an expert in mobile technology. I am merely its user. I am nobody to call this a failed strategy. But history of last decade suggests; creative destruction is at work in both companies, i.e.. at Microsoft and Nokia.

Microsoft picks a hardware supplier who is going downhill. And Nokia picks a software supplier that has time an again shown lack of vision in mobile computing.

Nokia failed at smart phone. And by choosing WindowsMobile7, Nokia seems to have decided to fail again. Nokia probably lost an opportunity to resurrect itself in mobile business by ignoring Andriod. WinMobile7 will probably get short-term steroid boost.

Having said this, I certainly feel that either Nokrosoft or Microkia will exists. It is not likely to be a total disaster similar to standalone Nokia smart phone. But I am skeptical that it will provide formidable fourth front to closed iOS, closed blackberry, or an open Andriod.

Furthermore, I do not believe mobile OS is big enough for a fourth competitor. HP and Dell’s OS have been left behind. Plam’s OS failed! Motorola’s own OS failed. Symbian failed! MeeGo destined to fail. Nokia-Microsoft partnership is likely to remain ‘also ran’ rather than force to reckon with. Motorola seems to have got another life (again!) by adopting Andriod. Did Nokia missed an opportunity? Time will tell.

Finally, Nokia’s new CEO, Elop, came from Microsoft. Picking WinMobile7 shows that there is baggage of legacy. History will tell you that one cannot supplant strategy from old company to the new company. It has never worked – environment in which these strategy operate are different.

Summary is; I would not invest in such companies. Not that I have an opportunity to invest in either of them. I thought this was a very good example to present my thoughts.

As a user of mobile technology or ecosystem – what are you thoughts on this one?

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9 Responses to “Microsoft and Nokia Partnership – Creative Destruction?”

  1. Raja says:

    One of the mistakes that i see time and again getting repeated in Software development process especially in product development environment is the inclination to use existing code base to develop new products (as far as possible). This sometimes inhibits the implementation of innovative ideas because of limitation imposed by older code. The lure of course is the cost savings etc… but then it limits the imaginative implementation of new ideas. I wonder if this is what is limiting the Microsoft and Nokia’s efforts as well.


    • TIP Guy says:

      Hello Raja,

      Not very familiar with Software Development Process, but I think the thought process you described is used in almost every product. That’s how iteratively products improve, until they become bulky and radar-less.

      I believe there is place for such iterative development process, but many fail to draw a line on when to stop and move on to new!

      Best Wishes,

  2. Nikhil says:

    I’m no expert either in mobile technology but I think this is a desperate attempt by both of them, just like another one few years ago when Microsoft tried to buyout Yahoo! to counter google as a search engine.

    That didn’t kick off. This might. And I think it was easier of Elop to lean towards Microsoft as you said he is an ex-microsoft.

  3. vikrant says:

    Don’t have enough knowledge to comment, but the analogy seems to be good and makes sense?

  4. Mohan R says:

    By now, you have probably heard the news: In an effort to turn around its decline, Nokia will partner with Microsoft and mostly go Windows Phone 7 (WP7) in the future. This post contains my thoughts on this.
    Windows Phone 7 is a smarter choice than Android, because there are already so many Android licensees. Nokia might actually be able to differentiate itself with a good WP7 phone.
    Microsofts WP7 partners: Where does the Nokia deal leave them? Will they be 2nd-class citizens? Partnering with Microsoft is clearly a risky proposition (PlaysForSure comes to mind, where MS abandoned its partners in favor of the in-house Zune).
    MeeGo: seems to be in too bad a shape to be even a mid-term option for Nokia. This is very sad. Foregoing MeeGoo is sure to damage morale at Nokia. It will also cost them the demographics of software tinkerers, as those tend to stay away from MS technologies. They will probably migrate to WebOS or Android. That group is small, but contains many creative developers.
    That Nokia hasn’t been able to create a competitive smartphone OS by now shows just how bad things are. Daring Fireball links to an ex-Nokia exec’s reaction to Elop’s leaked memo. That reaction is indicative of how much in denial Nokia’s management has been. And its chaotic, lengthy style also speaks volumes.
    How much of this had been planned all along? When the Nokia board hired then-Microsoftie Elop, was that already part of the deal? They must have at least favorably considered the MS option. [1] is the latest update on this issue.
    Long-term relevance of Nokia: At least the decision brings focus to Nokia. But one has to wonder how Nokia will remain relevant long-term. Nokia should probably have bought Palm, which might have been a better match for both companies. (I’m skeptical about HP as a company, but so far they have made some positive moves.)

    • TIP Guy says:

      Hello Mohan,

      Good to know your thoughts. I agree on long-term relevance of Nokia. Time will tell what happens, but Nokia has a habit of reinventing itself…..

      Best Wishes,

  5. I completely agree with you. So, a few years down the road, both of us will be right or wrong and I will be in good company in either case :-).
    PS. I have an extension of these arguments that are making me rethink of buying NOKIA phones too. Never bought WInmobile phones anyway

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