When Microsoft, Nokia, and Steve Ballmer, and Steve Elop, and the new mobile at Microsoft happened two days ago, my first reaction was a paused ‘ok, why though?’ curiosity. I just didn’t see the deal that will change everything some did. But when a company bets $7+ billion on a future, and another goes into invisible mode to not fight anymore – if we consider fighting with and licensing patents to hardly be fighting that is – there’s gotta be something in there I can’t see. ?
Maybe. But the more cynical me that insists on being fashionable and just dismissing as one of the mistakes that Microsoft, Steve and Steve have made in recent years.
But does Microsoft have a fighting chance now. It’s hard to see. The one thing that’s glaringly everywhere about this deal is how the app ecosystem factor hasn’t been resolved. Mobile devices thrive in an ecosystem of apps and those with many many many apps, have the better offer. Nokia, Microsoft, and everyone else who’s not Apple and Google, are simply in the dust as far as apps are concerned. They are like owning a fancy TV that just sits there without a TV subscription. What good is all the physical awesomeness without content?
So maybe, patents. For Nokia at least. But again, this is not a fight. It’s essentially them conceding defeat and attempting to live of yesteryear’s glory by going after those that have remained relevant to consumers. Google by the way, now has its own flagship Motorola device, so a plan to threaten the platform with lawsuits and costly licensing is just not as powerful as it used to be when Google was forced to buy Motorola.
Will something new even come out of this? Maybe rebranding the phones completely? But Microsoft is in leadership transition right now and the muted names don’t exactly inspire radical exciting new paths. Stephen Elop is in fact said to have played the majority of what Nokia finds itself in platform wise, and the new deal a sign he’d like to keep digging.
Something to remember though is that as brands in emerging markets, Microsoft and Nokia are still very powerful. Nokia’s feature phones, especially those that are WhatsApp able, are quite popular here. But how will Microsoft remain relevant to users upgrading from feature phones. Feature phones still rule in the emerging and developing markets like Africa and will do so for at least another couple of Microsoft years. There, maybe, lies the opportunity.
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