Nokia-Microsoft: what about Intel?

This blog is usually about fixing UK comms, but the Nokia-Microsoft deal can’t go without comment.

Nokia boss Stephen Elop said the mobile market “is now a three horse race”, thus completely dissing Research in Motion’s Blackberry platform, but the Twitterati aren’t convinced.

Judging from posts, reaction to the news that Nokia will make Microsoft’s Windows Phone operating system its primary smart phone platform was neutral to negative, even hostile, during the companies’ webcast.

Elop’s fears that tying up with Android might have commoditised the Nokia brand and “moved all the value to Google” may turn into his worst nightmare as consumers just go with Android anyway.

But let’s see what the professionals say.

Tony Cripps, principal analyst, Ovum
“This is a bold decision by Nokia but absolutely the right one, both for itself and for Microsoft, given the drastically changed landscape for smartphones in the past couple of years. There were few short term options available to the company to help it get back on terms with Apple and especially the Android masses, which in 2011 look set to overtake Nokia in terms of smartphone shipments, bringing with it the full wrath of the investor community.”

Adam Leach, principal analyst, Ovum
“It’s ironic that the sole purpose of Symbian was to stop Microsoft from repeating their domination of the PC market in handsets. Nokia now has the opportunity to cast itself in the role that Intel has taken in the Windows PC market as a mutually beneficial, symbiotic marriage between equals rather than as simply a box shifter.
“However, there remains a danger that Nokia could end up as merely a vehicle for Microsoft and services should it fail to differentiate from other Windows Phone 7 makers such as HTC, Samsung and LG.”

Nick Dillon, analyst, Ovum
“For Microsoft this is nothing less than a coup and the shot in the arm its new Windows Phone 7 platform needed, which despite winning acclaim for its innovative design and user experience has so far failed to set the market alight in terms of sales.”

Mark Seemann, CTO at SME cloud services supplier Outsourcery
 “From a business perspective, both Microsoft and Nokia have been historically strong but their market shares have weakened lately. RIM’s BlackBerry devices have seen continued success within the business market, Apple and Google’s market share continues to grow and Microsoft’s excellent new Windows Phone should bring them back into the game.  For Nokia to compete they are going to need to dramatically up their game and they can only achieve this with a monumental change to their organisation.  Elop’s message to his staff was a public recognition of this fact. “

Unfortunately Orange was unable to offer comment on the partnership.

So much for the professionsals. I think the wild card here is Intel. The chip maker didn’t do too badly out of its relationship with IBM and Microsoft to virtually monopolise the desktop, and it is already collaborating with Nokia on MeeGo. Why not the new triumvirate to do to the handset market what the old one did to the desktop?

But they will have to act fast. Ballmer and Elop promised speed of execution.They need to deliver if they want their brands to remain relevant in mobile circles. Otherwise Nokia may end up a software house for embedded Symbian devices. And probably hugely profitable at that.

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