By Jimmie Geddes email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Jan 09, 2013 10:17 AM EST
Nokia has bet the farm, its brand, and its life on its exclusive relationship with Microsoft when it comes to the OS it releases on its smartphones. Nokia began to see its once shining future begin to crumble as Apple's iOS and Google's Android began to chip away at the lead it had managed to retain for years in the smartphone market with its aging Symbian OS.
Nokia decided to drop development of its Symbian OS and entered an exclusive relationship with Microsoft that would make Windows Phone the default operating system on all its future smartphones. It looks like Nokia might be feeling the need to get out of this committed relationship with Microsoft and explore some possible new suitors. One of those new relationships could possibly be with Android or another platform.
Nokia believes that its new Lumia 920 can compete with the likes of Apple's iPhone 5, and Samsung's Galaxy S3. It has been almost two years since Nokia announced that it would enter an exclusive relationship with Microsoft and just like the other relationships Microsoft has with smartphone makers using Windows Phone, it just hasn't been much of a success. What makes Nokia's relationship with Microsoft different from Samsung and HTC for example, is that both these manufacturers offer customers smartphones running Windows Phone and Android. Microsoft, however, got Nokia to commit to only use Windows Phone. Why is it okay for Microsoft to have open relationships outside of Nokia? And, why does Nokia have to remain faithful to Microsoft? Is that fair? Well, things might be about to change if we read into some subtle hints made by Nokia CEO Stephen Elop during a recent interview (translated from El Pais) about their unique relationship.
Question: Why remain committed exclusively to Microsoft, if they are not committed exclusively to Nokia?
Answer: For Windows Phone to work, we need to have HTC, Samsung and others. The more you invest in the ecosystem, the better. But we are calm because we have launched the only Windows Phone differentiated. Others have supply and standard hardware, but our skills in photography and software show that we have a privileged relationship with Microsoft.
Question: Looking back, would not it have been better to bet on Android, or at least, for both platforms?
Answer: When we decided we were concerned whether we would be able to differentiate with Android and, since we were late, if another manufacturer clearly impose on the rest. That's exactly what happened. Samsung has become very strong and others are having a hard time. In fact, it is unclear who is stronger, is it Samsung or Android? So we chose Windows Phone. We knew we were going to go through a very difficult transition period. When that happens you have to convey a clear and concrete strategy to prevent internal debates.
Question: Do you discard launching an Android phone next year?
Answer: In the current ecosystem wars we are using Windows Phone as our weapon. But we are always thinking about what's coming next, what will be the role of HTML 5, Android... HTML5 could make the platform itself-being Android, Windows Phone or any other-irrelevant in the future, but it's still too soon [to tell]. Today we are committed and satisfied with Windows Phone. HTML 5 could make Android, Windows Phone, or others less important in the future, but it is too early. Today we are engaged and satisfied with Microsoft, but any rotation is possible.
While Nokia is "engaged" to Microsoft, it appears that neither the marriage nor the honeymoon period have materialized for Nokia and it might be time for the Finnish mobile major to start dating other platforms. If Microsoft can date others, Nokia should as well and it looks like it is finally starting to realize that.