Feb 112011

Microsoft has just gained many thousands of very intelligent enemies in Finland. Nokia has somehow (I’m really curious how and why, and who got offered what) decided to jump their Symbian sinking ship to Microsoft’s W7 sinking ship.  The decision seems illogical for a multitude or reasons and both companies’ stocks started taking a hit after this announcement. Why is this so bad for Nokia, some will ask – well, it wouldn’t be as bad if it they weren’t to gradually shift to W7 exclusively and thus, besides competing with many Android phones, iPhones and Blackberries, Nokia will be competing with other already established manufacturers (HTC for example) on the narrow W7 market, share of which fell into single digits in 2010 and so far it’s still falling.

Another very bad consequence of this move, most likely influenced by their Microsoft-cultured CEO, is Nokia hurting their huge employee base, their programmers (Symbian programmers could have worked better with Android) and as a result over 1,000 employees walked out upon hearing the news. This is where the thousands of future enemies of Microsoft are forming now. W7 requires totally new programming skills, so if we read between the lines we can presume they (MicroNok) will fire so many of their current experts, but even before that happens, their best players will leave, because they can. If Nokia executive(s) had some sense, they’d find a win-win solution, and reassign their employees to work with Android, another open source platform. I suppose most of them will choose that route but in this case most likely not with Nokia.

Now, Windows is a great OS and its main treat is stability in spite of numerous software and hardware manufacturers who produce for it, but only when we are talking about the desktop operating system. The situation on the smartphone market is reversed and Android represents the common denominator that all successful manufacturers compete on.  Last year HP had a tablet prototype with Windows OS and it was a slow and buggy one, so about nine months ago they gave up on it and bought Palm to try to do it right the second time with Web OS (a bit too late, I think for the same reason – Android market has meanwhile exploded and will grow even more in 2011).  

In October of 2009 there was a big fiasco with users of Microsoft T-Mobile Sidekick phones, who lost their data and contacts that were residing in the cloud, which was bad publicity for Microsoft phones. Then there was the fiasco with Kin phones which after one billion dollars and several years of development never took off but silently disappeared. Then I also happen to know how much a friend of mine, who was a Blackberry business user, hates his company-imposed Windows smartphone, or how an ex coworker is dissatisfied with his HTC Windows phone’s slow and buggy performance, so unless something changes drastically I’m not sure W7 phones will gain a lot of customers. 

Update February 23, 2011: Another problem has been reported with a Microsoft patch seemingly bricking Samsung Omnia W7 phones. Microsoft has pulled the patch since, but although some attribute this problem to Samsung, Microsoft is the one who released the patch, then pulled it. Apparently the patch hasn’t been properly tested on Samsung Omnia phones and since Samsung did pay for the OS support, if there’s no support, why use a licensed OS? Blame Microsoft or Samsung, but this adds more bad publicity for Microsoft phones and their reputation, or lack thereof.

Looking at all of the above and at the huge commotion caused by the Nokia deal, I’m skeptical about its success in the long run because chances are Nokia’s struggle to stay on the market will grow into agony with these options, unless Microsoft’s only goal is to conquer and send missionaries to convert the rebellious and growing Linux geek population, starting with the land of Linus Torvalds, but this also gives it bad publicity in Europe. I’m afraid this is not the dream team, or as one person commented, two turkeys don’t make an eagle.

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