Nokia’s dilemma in choice of OSs
“.. we must build, catalyze, and/or join a competitive ecosystem”.
Stephen Elop has sent the rumour mills ablaze with the statement of “joining” a competitive ecosystem. Elop’s first quarter at the helm of Nokia operations has seen a mix of good and bad news for the no.1 mobile devices company in the world. Net Sales have grown but profits have nose dived and while ASPs have been north directed, Nokia’s fall in smartphone market shares have been staggering. Elop is having a rough time steadying the ship and is now expected to announce major changes in strategy on 11th February. Many see it to be Nokia’s move into Android or Windows Phone.
Nokia already has Symbian and Meego Oss for its devices. While, there is merit in letting the ageing Symbian slowly drop off and possibly feature it only at the low end devices, Meego would be Nokia’s high end devices.Unfortunately, there is a little problem: a phone today is appealing if it comes with developers. And developers go where there are a lot of phones. There are no MeeGo phones, therefore there are no Meego developers.Developers today build for iPhone first, then Android. If they have a good reason (i.e. Microsoft paying) they build for Windows Phone 7. If they are in the enterprise, maybe they look at BlackBerry. If they want to support the existing bunch of devices, they suffer and go with Symbian as well. Hard to think they will pick yet-another-OS
Will developers go for MeeGo? Honestly, it is hard to be optimistic. Thus, there is just one alternative, unimaginable until a year ago: that Nokia will start building phones with a third party OS, like any other device manufacturer excluding Apple.
Options? Probably just two: Android or Windows Phone 7.
While Elop could leverage his old roots at Microsoft to forge a new Nokia-WinMo combo, there is one problem – Windows Phone 7 is still not a winner (yet) and it needs to attract developers (a lot). Going with Microsoft is a bigger risk, but Nokia will be treated as “special” for sure by Microsoft. In any case, it must be an attractive proposition, because Microsoft will offer the moon.Windows Phone 7 needs developers and, possibly, having Nokia behind it will attract them. If that happens, we’ll have a third OS with equal chances to Android and iOS.
However, Nokia could take the Android root. Google is not the easier partner to work with and Nokia will probably not be considered “special” by them. But it is a sure bet. Nokia with Android will sell a lot. It is a killer combination.
So, from what it looks Elop would have to choose between being Android’s many wives, loosing differentiation but boosting sales or partnering with WinMo, which will take time in terms of the developers base building up, sales kicking in. What is it… the Hobson’s choice?