Technology is our friend: Say hello to my little friend...
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February 11, 2011

Say hello to my little friend...

It finally happened: Nokia goes WP7. I was really impressed with Stephen Elop's memo that leaked a few days ago where he compares Nokia's situation to a man who is standing on a burning oil platform and, instead of accepting sure death, decides to jump 30 meters down into the dark, where supposedly there will be ice-cold water but no guarantee of survival - just a higher probability than zero. The fire on the platform made him change his behaviour. Now, Nokia changes its behaviour and finally dumps pain-in-the-a..-Symbian.

Elop, of course, couldn't have chosen Tony Montana as an analogy; Scarface, who faces doom, carries a Bazooka-size gun under each arm, shouting "Say hello to my little friend". Because in the end, Tony Montana dies.

This may also happen here (initial reaction of the stock market to the announcement: Nokia minus 9%) - they pulled out Microsoft as their Bazooka-sized guns. I don't dare to give a prognosis here. Microsoft has been slow with a mobile OS and is slow with a tablet version, but they also bring in some advantages. Not only do they offer an OS that is far more advanced than anything we have seen on any Nokia device (except for the Android hacks), they also might bring in the "ecosystem"-advantage with Xbox in living rooms and Win7 computers on desks. But no matter how sweet the terms for Nokia are, Microsoft is a lot more likely to be the big winner here  - services like Bing, the ad Center, Xbox live etc. could become serious players in the mobile world, all of a sudden.

Did he make an offer they couldn't refuse?

Because if (199.99% probability) WP7 is not exclusively bound to Nokia in future, the device manufacturer has all major risk of this deal on their side.  If Nokia keeps on losing market share, WP7 can run on other devices, too. If WP7 does not succeed, Nokia is doomed. Plus I am afraid that Nokia as a company, especially when paired with Microsoft, might be a little bit too slow in a business where an ecosystem of hardware, software and services comes to life only through a critical mass of participating consumers. This and the OS are the critical factors, everything else is (or should be, in Apple's case) exchangeable.

It could very well be that Nokia will help WP7 to a major breakthrough through their (still existing) great distribution but will not benefit enough itself. As a device manufacturer, it is on the "exchangeable"-side of the table when it comes to ecosystems. For someone in this situation - and still without even being close to a product that could remotely remind someone of an iOS or Android phone experience - you have to love Stephen Elops boldness, in the official Microsoft press release no less: "It's now a three horse race". This reminds me of Tony Montana again.

Update: Check how one guy is close to break out in laughter all the time and the other one is dead serious.