Nokia's Windows Phone timebomb - Mobile World Live

Nokia’s Windows Phone timebomb

14 MAR 2011

Included in Nokia’s mammoth 275-page Form 20-F 2010 report, filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission last Friday, was the telling statement that the Finnish vendor expects the transition to Windows Phone (WP) as its ‘primary smartphone platform’ to take “about two years.”

Some media reports reacted with disappointment at the news, inaccurately claiming that it will take Nokia two years to produce its first WP-powered devices. As well as taking Nokia’s comments out of context, such assumptions also miss the bigger picture.

Nokia is the world’s largest mobile device vendor. It shipped 100.3 million smartphones alone last year and has a portfolio of around 20 smartphones. It is now attempting a completely new strategy, having admitted that MeeGo and Symbian are not the software that will help extinguish flames from the company’s “burning platform.” Given Nokia’s size, two years is a perfectly reasonable, and perhaps even bullish, target for WP to power the majority of its smartphones.

What is of greater importance to Nokia’s long-term success is the speed with which it can produce its first set of WP smartphones and how it can differentiate them from rival vendor offerings. Nokia’s report from Friday talked of the firm’s plans to “innovate and customise” on the platform, in particular around imaging applications. Meanwhile Nokia intends to take Windows Phones to “a broader range of price points, market segments and geographies.” A 2011 launch of initial devices, based on this new strategy, is necessary if Nokia is to avoid becoming ‘just another’ WP licensee.

Nokia may even have another trick up its sleeve. Ever since the huge Nokia/Microsoft tieup was announced last month, Nokia has made a point of always referencing the ‘Windows Phone’ platform. Not, however, a specific iteration of this platform. While the smart money is on Nokia attempting to take the already available WP7 platform to new levels, maybe – just maybe – the two firms will use their new-found close relationship to focus on early development of future WP platforms. That would certainly give the Nokia naysayers something to think about, and the Finnish vendor a level of ‘exclusivity’ it so clearly craves.

One thing is for sure though… when it comes to WP7, the clock is ticking.


Justin Springham

The editorial views expressed in this article are solely those of the author(s) and will not necessarily reflect the views of the GSMA, its Members or Associate Members


Justin Springham

Justin manages the editorial content for the Mobile World Live portal and award-winning Mobile World Live TV service. In the last few years Justin has launched and grown a portfolio of premier media products, which include the Mobile World Congress...

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