A recent BBC piece makes some factually incorrect and outlandish claims about the history of the smartphone. It boggles the mind that an otherwise excellent news organization gets this so wrong. It’s the sort of thing you get when a lazy (or stupid?) journalist appears to us a bad Motorola commercial as their source.
Well, Nokia as we knew it is no longer. After selling off the feature phone part of the business, Microsoft is shutting what remains down. It is a sad demise after having once been the biggest mobile phone provider in the world, and one of the first to sell what we would recognize as a “smartphone”. But it shouldn’t come as a surprise, given the missteps along the way.
Today, it was announced that Microsoft will buy the services and mobile device business from Nokia. Microsoft doesn’t get to use the Nokia name, since it appears that they aren’t getting the switching, infrastructure and other businesses that Nokia has. None of this is really a surprise. But there may be a “hidden prize”, and one not one that is necessary good.
An article on CNET this morning has a summary of an interview with Nokia’s chairman, Risto Siilasmaa, and apparently despite some statements, there is a “Plan B” around smartphones. Of course, he made the usual positive noises about how they are confident in Windows Phone and such. And the existence of a Plan B isn’t entirely surprising. A company that big typically doesn’t bet the farm in one big push. But what is intriguing is that someone as senior in the organization as the chairman of the board would talk about it. But it also isn’t surprising, because of the nature of partnerships and a company’s relationship with its shareholders.
A piece on Forbes tries to outline why Nokia “had to choose Windows”, the argument being that choosing Android wouldn’t allow them to be a leader or differentiate themselves enough. What worries me, though, is that I’m not sure the author really understands the mobile space. The author closes their piece by implying that Windows 8 should help Nokia with their phones, even though Windows 8 isn’t meant for phones. Microsoft has made it clear how the two operating systems are to be used: Windows Phone 7 is for phones and phone-like devices, Windows 8 is for desktops, servers, notebooks and tablets. If Nokia has a Windows 8 product coming, it will be a tablet. Microsoft doesn’t want Windows 8 on phones.
A great article on All Things D: covers Nokia’s current situation. Things are dire. They have announced more layoffs, on top of those already planned. They are shutting down ancillary research groups, as well as some factories. Their bet on Windows Phone has not worked out, and the Lumia (thought to be the catalyst to jump Windows Phone to the top of the heap) has proven to have made limited impact. Could we be seeing the demise of one of the stalwarts of the mobile industry?
The latest data from comScore is out (as reported by Apple Insider), and there are several items of note for February 2012. Before discussing the numbers, though, it is useful to remember that these apply to the installed base (based on active subscribers). This isn’t the same as some of the sales numbers that are often quoted, which show percentage of unit sales for some period of time. These numbers refer to active devices in use today.