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Sunday, 13 February 2011

Anyone else want to support Windows Phone 7?

With this week's Mobile World Congress (MWC) about to kick off in Barcelona, we can expect to see a whole host of announcements in the mobile and tablet space from most of the industry's big-wigs but the talking point thus far has been the Nokia-Microsoft collaboration that was announced at the end of last week.

As I eluded to last week in our blog post, "Is Nokia adopting Windows Phone 7 solving the problem?" there was concern over whether Nokia would be able to differentiate itself enough by adopting Windows Phone 7 (WP7) from any other brand who decided to throw WP7 onto their devices.

However, this got me thinking further and the thought then came that, WP7, which has received a lukewarm response thus far despite being well-recieved technically, may end up in a situation where they are more or less married to Nokia exclusively, whether they meant for it to happen or not.

The Nokia- Microsoft Eco-system as shown on www.nokia.com

Considering that only a few handsets are commercially available that run on WP7 (mainly from HTC and Samsung), the point of differentiation for other brands versus the Nokia/Microsoft devices could be that most of them run on Android.

So what's the bottomline? Nothing's changed. We could end up back where we were in the Symbian days, where it was Nokia versus the rest, but this time the battle could be Nokia-WP7 versus the rest (Android, iOS, WebOS & RIM).  The only difference in adopting WP7 instead of Symbian, is that Nokia has a fighting chance now to gain market share.

Considering most hardware manufacturers have already put in heavy investments in developing their Android devices and skins, there was an unspoken discomfort that existed when it came to working with Microsoft on WP7 according to news I was getting from various manufacturers.  With Nokia going more or less exclusive with Microsoft on WP7, this could be the "Get out of Jail" card that other manufacturers were looking for to slow down if not stop development of their own WP7 devices.

If this were to happen, then Nokia could very well differentiate themselves and certainly hold their own as they would effectively have control over their eco-system once again.

Of course, this is all speculation at this stage and the feedback from MWC this week could totally go against I just said, but then again, what's the fun of being in this business if you can't speculate once in a while?

Update: As we eluded to in our post before MWC started, we weren't sure how many manufacturers would want to support Microsoft's Windows Phone platform, we've now seen a statement from Motorola that appeared in Engadget in which a company executive has said "it's not something we're entertaining now."  The executive further goes on to say they'd rather work on an open platform and not be restricted as Microsoft would make them.  Interestingly though, the Nokia-Microsoft partnership allows Nokia full access to WP7 and customize it as they wish, which is something Microsoft has been quite tight-fisted about when other brands tried to do customizations.  (16 February, 2011)

Posted By: Ashish Panjabi, Chief Operating Officer, Jacky's Electronics