I am probably one of the very few people in the entire world that have a passion and love for both Windows Phone 7 and Nokia smartphones. In the past I have taken criticism from parties in both camps for my choices, yet today my dream came true (I still have to pinch myself) and Microsoft and Nokia announced a strategic partnership where we will eventually see Nokia hardware running Windows Phone 7.
I know that fans of both these camps will say I am an idiot and this whole idea is stupid and won't lead to anything fruitful. They will say it is a desperate act of two long time smartphone companies trying to figure out some way to compete with Android and iOS. You might picture Microsoft and Nokia as two old retired super heroes huddled over in the corner with their wrinkled capes on trying to figure out how to best fight the bad guys while iOS and Android lead the group to victory. Well, I think those two old super heroes just put together their wonder twin powers and will join the Justice League when the first Nokia WP7 device launches.
As you may know I am the editor of the Nokia Experts website and write there as a venue to express my passion for Nokia products. I seriously considered giving up that site at the end of 2010 after attending Nokia World and not seeing much innovation or forward thinking coming out of Nokia. Symbian^3 fixes some UI issues in the Symbian OS, but as Stephen Elop even said it doesn't even come close to competing what we see in iOS and Android. It is very customizable and like other Nokia fans I tried to justify its existence beyond what it really deserves. I purchased an orange Nokia N8 and the hardware is fantastic with innovations in it not seen on any other device, but the UI is not competitive with the latest and greatest smartphones.
Windows Phone 7 is relatively new to the smartphone world and if you read in nearly every review on the Internet the author's generally love the operating system. It is fun, fast, stable, and unique. It is not perfect, but neither is any other smartphone operating system. Developers are actively rolling out applications at a rate exceeding 400 apps a week in the Marketplace so this OS is going places. The current hardware is a bit lame with HTC and Samsung basically just adding the OS to existing devices. As I just wrote, Dell has a great device in the Venue Pro, but earlier builds seemed to have issues.
Here is my breakdown of what each company brings to the partnership and why I am so excited:
- All cameras in Microsoft's smartphones have sucked, but Nokia rules the world with Carl Zeiss optics and imaging technology that rivals high end dedicated cameras
- Nokia has the ONLY penta-band smartphones so it doesn't matter who your GSM carrier is you can get 3G data support (this includes T-Mobile's special 1700 MHz band)
- Nokia brings hardware with aluminum colored bodies, Gorilla Glass, HDMI out, USB on-the-go, amazing RF reception and call quality, long battery life, and more
- Windows Phone 7 is amazingly fast and responsive while also being unique
- Windows Phone 7 is rock solid stable and after using it since July 2010 I can confirm it is the MOST stable mobile operating system I have ever used
- Windows Phone 7 gaming rocks, Zune is fantastic, multiple Exchange support is solid, Office integration is great, and developers are building apps
- Email on Symbian blows, but on Windows Phone 7 it absolutely rocks and I prefer to use my WP7 smartphone for email handling over even my Outlook desktop client
If Nokia and Microsoft can combine all of these great things that each brings to the table, please explain to me how this can be a bad thing.
According to the press release, this is what the proposed partnership consists of:
- Nokia would adopt Windows Phone as its principal smartphone strategy, innovating on top of the platform in areas such as imaging, where Nokia is a market leader.
- Nokia would help drive the future of Windows Phone. Nokia would contribute its expertise on hardware design, language support, and help bring Windows Phone to a larger range of price points, market segments and geographies.
- Nokia and Microsoft would closely collaborate on joint marketing initiatives and a shared development roadmap to align on the future evolution of mobile products.
- Bing would power Nokia’s search services across Nokia devices and services, giving customers access to Bing’s next generation search capabilities. Microsoft adCenter would provide search advertising services on Nokia’s line of devices and services.
- Nokia Maps would be a core part of Microsoft’s mapping services. For example, Maps would be integrated with Microsoft’s Bing search engine and adCenter advertising platform to form a unique local search and advertising experience
- Nokia’s extensive operator billing agreements would make it easier for consumers to purchase Nokia Windows Phone services in countries where credit-card use is low.
- Microsoft development tools would be used to create applications to run on Nokia Windows Phones, allowing developers to easily leverage the ecosystem’s global reach.
- Nokia’s content and application store would be integrated with Microsoft Marketplace for a more compelling consumer experience.
So, as you can see there are some positive aspects of Symbian that will be adopted in Windows Phone 7, including the fantastic Ovi Maps capability. Nokia will also help with services, which is excellent because right now there is a fragmented Windows Phone 7 service experience that needs to be addressed to have a global impact with Windows Phone 7.
HTC and Samsung have shown that you can succeed with multiple platforms so I don't know why people think this kills off Nokia and other platforms they want to support. I also think this deal helps push HTC, Samsung, and others to step up the game for quality Windows Phone 7 devices.
Microsoft and Nokia just saved me lots of money as I no longer see any reason for me personally to buy an iOS, BlackBerry, webOS, or Android smartphone since a Nokia Windows Phone 7 device will meet and exceed all of my needs and desires. I will still test out these other platforms, but I can't see them offering anything this partnership platform won't. Apple and Google may not be nervous about this announcement, but HP and RIM might want to think hard about their future plans.