3. Hardware makers are just not that important any more.
When you buy an Android phone, you buy just that: an Android phone — not an HTC, a Motorola or an LG. Of course, the model you choose may well be made by HTC or Motorla or LG, but that’s not important. What you are buying into is the whole Android ecosystem, developer community, app store and all. The same is true with Blackberry. The handsets are not bad, but what most people want is the security and other features of the Blackberry OS
Apple is in some ways an exception to this. People do love Apple products. But when they buy an iPhone they are still choosing the whole Apple ecosystem — developer community, App Store and all.
And the fact is no one is going to buy a Windows Phone 7 device purely because it’s a Nokia. Nokia doesn’t make great smartphones, it just makes, frankly, odd ones. Adding Nokia to the Windows Phone 7 stable adds nothing of interest whatsoever.
4. Microsoft is uncool enough without Nokia making it even squarer.
The smartphone space is a tough nut to crack because as well as attracting enterprise users, you must make it big in the consumer market place. The incidence of user-owned devices (like the iPhone) in the enterprise was very rare until comparatively recently, when iPhone owners, and then Android users, clamored for their devices to be allowed into the workplace.
Hence, for Windows Phone 7 to be successful it has to be cool enough to appeal to consumers, and one thing Microsoft isn’t, is cool. Apple is cool in a smug designer sort of way. Android is cool in a rebellious counter-culture sort of way. Even Blackberry is cool in that highbrow, James Bond kind of way. But Microsoft? Not in a million years.
And the truth is that a Windows Phone 7 device made by Nokia — a brand favored by the likes of African taxi drivers and Burmese government officials — does nothing for Microsoft in the way of making it cool enough for consumers to want to buy it and bring it into work. Sorry, but that’s just the way it is.
5. The deal has been done, but nothing has really changed.
Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 is still a largely irrelevant mobile OS that has failed to ignite the interest of consumers or enterprise customers, and Nokia is still a phone maker that has lost its way and doesn’t produce exciting smartphones. As Google Vice President Vic Gundotra tweeted: “Two turkeys do not make an eagle.”
I couldn’t put it better myself.
Paul Rubens is a journalist based in Marlow on Thames, England. He has been programming, tinkering and generally sitting in front of computer screens since his first encounter with a DEC PDP-11 in 1979.