Great Debate: Can Windows Phone 7 and Nokia become players in the U.S.?

Moderated by Jason Hiner | December 12, 2011 -- 07:00 GMT (23:00 PST)

Summary: Microsoft and Nokia could be a potent combination. But can they dent iOS and Android domination?

Matthew Miller

Matthew Miller

Yes, huge growth ahead

or

Short term, probably not

Lawrence Dignan

Lawrence Dignan

Best Argument: Short term, probably not

The Rebuttal

  • Great Debate Moderator

    Thanks for joining the debate

    Matt and Larry will post their closing arguments tomorrow and I will declare a winner on Thursday. Between now and then, don't forget to cast your vote and jump into the discussion below to post your thoughts on this topic.

    Posted by Jason Hiner

  • Great Debate Moderator

    WP7 in the enterprise

    Microsoft generally still has a respectable reputation in the enterprise. However, both the iPhone and Android arguably play better with enterprise than WP7 (with the exception of the obvious SharePoint and Microsoft Office integration). Has Microsoft made a critical mistake by making WP7 so consumer oriented or is the company wisely betting on the consumerization of IT?

    Posted by Jason Hiner

    Everyone at my company brings their own devices

    I disagree that Android plays better with the enterprise than WP7, based on my experiences. The Exchange experience on Android is all over the place, while it is solid on Windows Phone 7. Everyone in my company brings their own phone to the office so I think targeting the consumer, while still giving strong options and support for the enterprise was the right move.

    Matthew Miller

    I am for Yes, huge growth ahead

    Very tough call

    CIOs I talk to are gravitating to iOS because it's easier to manage. Android has a bunch of flavors. Windows Phone would seem like an obvious bet for the enterprise, but Microsoft went consumer first. Consumerization is real and I think I'd probably follow the same strategy. Where Microsoft might be screwing up is that it isn't giving the enterprise enough goodies to work with on the Windows Phone platform. In the end, Microsoft probably realized that companies aren't really handing out smartphones anymore---ask RIM---so the consumerization bet makes sense. The problem here is that Microsoft has to win over consumers. Microsoft's success rate on that front is mixed. Xbox is a hit. The Zune was a punchline. And just for the record. I have no idea how Matthew has 78 percent of the vote when he more often than not agrees with me. Where's the growth optimism people? Crickets? Are those crickets I hear?

    Lawrence Dignan

    I am for Short term, probably not

  • Great Debate Moderator

    The Windows baggage

    We've all talked about how the Windows brand is probably one of the big things that has hurt Windows Phone 7 with buyers, since the product is fairly solid. If Microsoft had named the product "Xphone" (echoing the Xbox), for example, how different would the situation be right now?

    Posted by Jason Hiner

    Should have gotten away from old school branding

    Hmm, I honestly think that something like the Xphone may have actually gotten more people to look at it than labeling it Windows Phone Series 7 (the original name). I understand that extensive research was conducted by Microsoft and that the Microsoft name and Windows brand resonates with people, but I think their research was likely not looking enough at the phone market. Something hip, cool, and different would have been a better choice.

    Matthew Miller

    I am for Yes, huge growth ahead

    Xphone would have worked

    I think Microsoft overlooked the branding scenarios with the mobile OS rewrite. The default position from Microsoft is to slap Windows in front of everything. But guess what? I don't want Windows on my game machine. Microsoft figured that out and used Xbox. I think the smartphone play is similar. Microsoft has services and interesting features, but the Windows brand is a handicap. All the cool kids have something else and I don't think Windows screams cool anymore. Granted we should overlook mere names, but I think it matters here. If Google launched Windows Phone as Android a lot of folks would be gushing. There's a hip factor that's overlooked.

    Lawrence Dignan

    I am for Short term, probably not

  • Great Debate Moderator

    Can Microsoft help? And, the Verizon issue ...

    Can Microsoft help Nokia overcome its hurdle with U.S. carriers? Both of them are in a weak position with Verizon. How badly will that hamstring the potential of Windows Phone 7 in the U.S.?

    Posted by Jason Hiner

    Microsoft and Nokia need to do more than state their names

    I think carriers are a bit hesitant to fully embrace Microsoft because Windows Mobile was frustrating in many respects and could not compete well with the iPhone or Android devices. I am not sure the Microsoft name carries that much influence with carriers and as Larry pointed out Nokia seemed to have shunned the US the last several years. Nokia now has more international leadership and may be willing to work harder in the U.S, but that remains to be seen. T-Mobile has always carried Nokia products and rumors indicate it is again going to be the first one to actively support Nokia's smartphones. Verizon was the last to launch a Windows Phone device. They have yet to reveal any WP 7.5 Mango device and there isn't even so much as a rumor out there for one to come soon. They may be requiring that Microsoft release one with LTE and that likely won't happen until later in 2012. I think this hesitance to carry WP 7 by Verizon will greatly impact the sales potential.

    Matthew Miller

    I am for Yes, huge growth ahead

    Microsoft can write checks...lots of them

    Microsoft can pay carriers ridiculous dollars to drive Nokia and Windows Phone adoption. Money talks and carriers want a No. 3 platform. Microsoft and Nokia need Verizon and they need LTE support. In fact, if they had LTE support today I'd be interested. But they lag. Microsoft has an opportunity to get to LTE before Apple does. If it doesn't get there it's game over.

    Lawrence Dignan

    I am for Short term, probably not

  • Great Debate Moderator

    Let's talk a little more about the carriers

    Nokia has been weak with U.S. carriers in the smartphone business. Why is that when it has been so strong with international carriers in Europe and Asia?

    Posted by Jason Hiner

    Nokia services vs carrier revenue generating services

    I asked this question of Nokia in the past, but was never given a clear answer. I think that U.S. carriers want to install their services and income generating utilities while Nokia has preferred to use their own services and sell devices that are in original condition, much like Apple and the iPhone. Nokia has now gotten out of the services business, except for Nokia Maps and is likely more open to working with carriers on Windows Phone. Also, outside the U.S. GSM is the standard and Nokia doesn't have to make special CDMA versions of their devices that have to also go through specific carrier testing and approval processes.

    Matthew Miller

    I am for Yes, huge growth ahead

    Worst. Business. Move. Ever.

    My working theory is that Nokia got cocky in the glory days and figured it didn't need the U.S. Back then, Asia and Europe led the mobile market. Then the iPhone landed. Then Android landed. Suddenly the U.S. rocked and Nokia was a no-show. As noted in a few of the talkbacks there is still goodwill for Nokia, but the device maker is really starting from scratch.

    Lawrence Dignan

    I am for Short term, probably not

  • Great Debate Moderator

    What do you think of Nokia's first WP7 devices?

    Nokia's first WP7 devices have hit the market -- with the Lumia 800 being the new flagship device -- what do they tell us about what the two companies can do together?

    Posted by Jason Hiner

    Lumia 800 is one of the best form factors ever

    The Lumia 800 is probably one of the best made Nokia devices I have ever used with a unique design not seen in other Windows Phone devices. I also think it is pretty incredible that they were able to roll out hardware into consumers' hands in just over 8 months from the announcement. Yes, the Lumia 800 is missing a front facing camera, but once you hold it in your hand you forget about that and who makes video calls anyway?

    Matthew Miller

    I am for Yes, huge growth ahead

    Kind of weak

    These devices were rushed. I mean no front facing camera! Really?!? The biggest thing Nokia and Microsoft showed is that they can move relatively fast. Overall, I didn't learn much from this launch except for that Nokia can get it in gear a bit. I want to see a slew of more devices and those innovative features on the fly. Today, Nokia's hardware is so-so at best and seem generic to me.

    Lawrence Dignan

    I am for Short term, probably not

  • Great Debate Moderator

    Microsoft's big opportunity in mobile

    I've written that Microsoft's biggest opportunity in mobile is PC-mobile convergence (like Motorola has done with its Webtop software) because it is about consolidating devices and saving money and businesses love that. Do you see Microsoft having the courage to take a leadership role in that space, even if it means cannibalizing some of its Windows sales in the short term?

    Posted by Jason Hiner

    Seems that a clear strategy hasn't been laid out yet

    The Windows business is huge for Microsoft so I don't think focusing on the PC-mobile convergence would cannibalize too badly. Then again, I don't see a vision or direction from Microsoft that the smartphone is intended to serve in this capacity. It looks like Windows 8 tablets will fit in nicely between a Windows Phone and Windows computer so I don't see a real need for anything more from the phones.

    Matthew Miller

    I am for Yes, huge growth ahead

    Could work, but...

    I agree with you, but you'd need Windows Phone and Windows 8 to merge. I think the idea works out and I don't think Microsoft necessarily cares what gets cannibalized as long as you have Windows in your pocket or laptop bag. Given Microsoft's slow tablet march---molasses running uphill in the winter---that mobile/PC merger may be the only move it has. The larger question is whether there's a single platform play anymore. I'd argue that the stack is more scattered now.

    Lawrence Dignan

    I am for Short term, probably not

  • Great Debate Moderator

    The carrier question

    I think carriers and hardware manufacturers would get a lot more excited about Windows Phone 7 if they thought it would sell. Is the problem that Microsoft hasn't sold the ecosystem on the idea of WP7? Could this force Microsoft to have to do its own hardware eventually, like Xbox and Zune?

    Posted by Jason Hiner

    Carriers should like OS more than manufacturers

    Good points Larry. It wasn't until my 15-year old daughter tried a Samsung Focus that she "saw the light" and embraced Windows Phone. Microsoft showed it can succeed with other products with the Xbox and rebranding WP to something else may have been just the ticket. Then again, the Zune HD was a fantastic product and look where that ended up. It seems to me that the closed ecosystem would please carriers since it should reduce customer service problems with devices. Manufacturers like HTC may not be fully embracing WP since they can't differentiate as much as they do with Android. It seems to me that Microsoft's requirements are holding manufacturers back, thinking about LTE, NFC, etc. I don't think Microsoft will do the hardware themselves, but then again if they are in it for the long haul they may be forced to.

    Matthew Miller

    I am for Yes, huge growth ahead

    Peer pressure

    Microsoft really needs a swath of buyers to go into Windows Phone. Then the word-of-mouth can feed on itself. Right now Windows Phone is like an 8th grade dance. Microsoft is on one side and smartphone buyers are on the other and no one is hooking up. What's odd about this is that all the carriers want a No. 3 platform, but obviously they don't think WP is the one. Microsoft could do its own hardware, but the issue is carrier certification. It's a painful process and I doubt Microsoft would want to go that make-your-own-hardware route. The best option for now is to see if Samsung, HTC and Nokia can popularize the OS.

    Lawrence Dignan

    I am for Short term, probably not

  • Great Debate Moderator

    If it's not the OS, then what is it?

    You guys have both mentioned that there are a lot of things to like about the OS. If Microsoft got it (mostly) right from a product perspective, then why isn't Windows Phone 7 selling?

    Posted by Jason Hiner

    Carrier and manufacturer support seems minimal

    I think a lot of why WP isn't selling has to do with carrier and manufacturer support. HTC essentially launched their previous model devices with a new OS and only came to two carriers at launch. Samsung also brought their same Galaxy form to Windows Phone so there was nothing amazing about the hardware. Verizon also was very late to the party and as the largest carrier in the U.S. I believe this had an impact on adoption. There is still only a single WP device on Sprint and Verizon, while T-Mobile has a small selection too. AT&T is the only carrier with new rather exciting devices, but even those have specs lagging 6 months behind what we see with Android. It seems like carriers and manufacturers are taking a ho-hum approach to WP7 and not fully getting behind the efforts.

    Matthew Miller

    I am for Yes, huge growth ahead

    Well part of it is the brand

    Buying a mobile phone in the U.S. usually means it's a two year commitment. With iOS and Android you expect the platform to grow and apps to be widely available. Windows Phone has to clear that hurdle. The other big issue to me is brand. I think Microsoft and I think PCs. Microsoft would have been better off launching a new brand like Xbox and using that for the mobile phone. Play up the mobile brand and play down the Microsoft Windows connection. I'm not sure folks want Windows on the phone. If you called Windows Phone something like say Android it may sell. There's a lot loaded into that name. Microsoft Windows doesn't scream mobility to me. For the younger consumers, I'm not sure Microsoft has the brand clout that Google and Apple have.

    Lawrence Dignan

    I am for Short term, probably not

  • Great Debate Moderator

    Let's talk about long term market share

    Gartner has predicted that Nokia will push Windows Phone 7 to 20% marketshare of the smartphone market by 2015. Is that overly optimistic in light of the fact that WP7 has struggled to win customers in 2011?

    Posted by Jason Hiner

    Seems fair, but the mobile space moves very fast

    I laughed when I saw that Larry predicted greater growth in 2012 than I did since I am arguing for huge growth. Given the track record from 2011 I think it will take time to grow, but both companies seem to be in it for the long haul. We saw iOS go form 0 to 15% in a couple years, so it is possible. I think that 20% is a fair prediction for 2015. Nokia is a very popular brand outside the US and looking at the success of the Lumia 800 so far I think Nokia will help consumers experience WP on a larger scale. So far, we have seen launch devices that were generally hardware from the Android platform with a new OS and thus were not very exciting for the consumer. We also did not see much push from carriers in the U.S., other than AT&T.

    Matthew Miller

    I am for Yes, huge growth ahead

    That's nutty

    Gartner is smoking crack. So is IDC. First I have no idea how you can predict the mobile industry three years from now. The only thing I can guarantee is that Microsoft will be in the mobile market. Microsoft doesn't quit and will push a boulder up a hill forever. It remains to be seen if Windows Phone is another quagmire like search. I'm just not seeing a lot of Windows Phone in the field. That's a shame since I like the OS. The line between overly optimistic and delusion is thin.

    Lawrence Dignan

    I am for Short term, probably not

  • Great Debate Moderator

    Is there even much of an opportunity for WP7 at this point?

    The smartphone market is increasingly looking like it has already consolidated around two platforms -- Android and iOS -- what's a reasonable expectation for WP7 marketshare by the end of 2012?

    Posted by Jason Hiner

    Growing in 2012, but still a long way to go

    I am surprised that we are still at just about 2% for Windows Phone after a year and have a tough time figuring out why it isn't doing better. I honestly think people need to try devices to appreciate them and just about every review states that Windows Phone is fantastic so this feedback doesn't match very well with sales numbers. I'm not sure if the hesitancy to try Windows Phone is due to past phone experiences, the Microsoft Windows name and branding, or the advertising and promotion of iOS and Android products by carriers. I think a reasonable expectation by the end of 2012 is 5% to 8%.

    Matthew Miller

    I am for Yes, huge growth ahead

    Expectations are low

    10 percent and I think that's a global reach goal to be honest. More likely is something like 7 percent to 5 percent. In the U.S. Nokia will be a bit player at best. Nokia lacks LTE in the U.S., lacks presence and there's no cool factor with the hardware maker or Microsoft. To Nokia, the U.S. is an emerging market that holds the market share gains or losses. To argue for larger share gains would require a lot more of that Redmond Kool-Aid.

    Lawrence Dignan

    I am for Short term, probably not

  • Great Debate Moderator

    Advantages of the partnership

    What advantages does the Microsoft-Nokia partnership have over Samsung and HTC, which both make Android and WP7 devices?

    Posted by Jason Hiner

    Bing and Nokia Maps can be huge

    Nokia and Microsoft have a larger partnership with Bing and Nokia Maps (outside of the mobile space) so they are able to leverage this onto Windows Phone with an exclusive offline GPS navigation experience. As good as that is, I don't think it will really stand out that much for the consumer. Nokia always led the others with quality cameras, but HTC and Samsung are definitely stepping up their camera game to take on Nokia

    Matthew Miller

    I am for Yes, huge growth ahead

    Advantages? Prove it

    The theory is that Microsoft and Nokia can come up with unique features and one-of-a-kind integration. Nokia can create a stronger product with integration and unique features. I haven't seen either yet relative to an HTC Windows Phone. That's a big problem. It's early, but this partnership needs exclusives in a hurry. Matthew said that Windows Phone gives Nokia influence. I'm also not seeing Bing and Maps as a reason for me to buy a phone.

    Lawrence Dignan

    I am for Short term, probably not

  • Great Debate Moderator

    The Android question

    Nokia could have committed to doing both Windows Phone 7 and Android devices, would that have been the smarter move than going all in on WP7, or will the focus enable them to create a stronger product?

    Posted by Jason Hiner

    Nokia has a history of spreading thin, needs to focus

    Nokia has been spread out on a number of different operating systems and editions of operating systems, such as Symbian^3, S60, Series 40, and Maemo/MeeGo so it is possible they could have made devices for two major smartphone operating systems. Then again, we see success coming to those who focus today. Windows Phone gives Nokia more control of the experience and in the past they kept fairly tight control of Symbian devices so the "open" nature of Android didn't really seem like a great fit for Nokia. Android is very successful today, but I think if Nokia would have went with them they would just end up being another manufacturer with no real Nokia influence.

    Matthew Miller

    I am for Yes, huge growth ahead

    Windows Phone: All or nothing

    At the time, Nokia couldn't have developed both phone platforms. The company was a mess and needed to focus. The all-in on Windows Phone is going to be a great business case study. It will either work or fail miserably. There's little in between. I agree that Nokia would see margins hammered with Android devices, but at least it wouldn't have to evangelize use of Windows Phone. Just because you have a strong product doesn't mean people will buy it.

    Lawrence Dignan

    I am for Short term, probably not

  • Great Debate Moderator

    Both companies are betting big on this partnership

    Microsoft and Nokia have both bet their mobile strategy on this partnership. Since both have a ton of resources and so much at stake, does that all but guarantee that Windows Phone 7 will take a significant chunk of the smartphone market?

    Posted by Jason Hiner

    Unlimited resources help, but may be long haul

    Back in the days when Palm was king of the PDA market, Microsoft poured money and resources into the Pocket PC and eventually knocked Palm out of that business. The mobile phone market is much different today with many more players who are committed to growing their market share and also spending lots of money to stay competitive. I don't think Microsoft has as much as stake as Nokia does since the Windows Phone business is just a small part of Microsoft and they could probably kill it off with little impact on the bottom line (they currently make more from Android license deals than from Windows Phone sales). Nokia put all their eggs in the Windows Phone basket and needs it to succeed. They needed to do something to stay relevant and in my opinion this was likely the best alternative.

    Matthew Miller

    I am for Yes, huge growth ahead

    No guarantees

    Globally, Microsoft and Nokia may have a shot. In the U.S. I'm highly skeptical. First, carriers are pushing Android and Apple devices. Given those two categories are selling well it's very hard to get shelf space. Even RIM---once a go-to smartphone maker---is being pushed aside. In the U.S. Microsoft and Nokia are underdogs and I don't care how much marketing coin they bring to the party. One big issue for Nokia and Windows Phone is that there are few in the field. Some people want to be different, but no one wants to be on a stranded platform. There are hurdles---distribution and customers---to be cleared before there are market share gains.

    Lawrence Dignan

    I am for Short term, probably not

  • Great Debate Moderator

    Are my debaters online and ready to go?

    This is our mic check.

    Posted by Jason Hiner

    I'm here

    All good on my end.

    Matthew Miller

    I am for Yes, huge growth ahead

    Check

    testing

    Lawrence Dignan

    I am for Short term, probably not

Talkback

254 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • RE: Great Debate: Can Windows Phone 7 and Nokia become players in the U.S.?

    Nokia chose to abandon the US market, I cant accurately say what the US Nokia fans will say. I cant even say that Nokia has any fans left in the US, outside of Nokias world HQ in Redmond WA.<br><br>The real test will come when Nokia starts selling theses phones in the US. Will those that railed against the iPhone for not having a removable battery complain? What is the price going to be? If they charge $300 for a 16 GB phone (based on prices listed elsewhere), will it be deemed too expensive? Too many questions, too few answers.
    Rick_Kl
    Reply Vote I'm Undecided
    • RE: Great Debate: Can Windows Phone 7 and Nokia become players in the U.S.?

      @Rick_Kl

      I think I and probably quite a few others still have some goodwill for Nokia. All my best feature phones over the years were Nokias. But I just don't associate them with smartphones at all so I'm not sure how far that goodwill really gets them.

      Even if WP7 does well in the rest of the world via Nokia (anecdotal evidence coming in seems to indicate its a possibility) I suspect the US will be a challenge.
      SlithyTove
      Reply Vote I'm Undecided
      • RE: Great Debate: Can Windows Phone 7 and Nokia become players in the U.S.?

        @SlithyTove I personally do not like it, but for others it might make sense. If you have bought 100% into a Microsoft lifestyle, it would not make sense to own an Android, or iPhone. Since I choose things that [b]suit my needs[/b] rather than blindly run out and just buy what others have. I understand that there is no one device that suits everyone. But I am a firm belier in not giving up everything to any single company.
        Rick_Kl
        Reply Vote I'm Undecided
      • RE: Great Debate: Can Windows Phone 7 and Nokia become players in the U.S.?

        @SlithyTove
        The US buys what the marketers tell them to, so it all depends on their marketing.
        kstap
        Reply Vote I'm Undecided
      • RE: Great Debate: Can Windows Phone 7 and Nokia become players in the U.S.?

        @kris_stapley@... The old stand by talking point, it's all about marketing. Sorry to burst your bubble but marketing only gets you so far then the devices have to stand on their own.
        non-biased
        Reply Vote I'm Undecided
      • RE: Great Debate: Can Windows Phone 7 and Nokia become players in the U.S.?

        @Rick_Kl, I think most people do what you do. They haven't bought 100% in Apple, Google or Microsoft. They did not give up everything to any single company. And why whould they? Most services from these companies are available in the cloud. So most people mix and match services with or without native support on iOS, Android and Windows Phone.
        Forrestall
        Reply Vote I'm for Yes, huge growth ahead
      • RE: Great Debate: Can Windows Phone 7 and Nokia become players in the U.S.?

        @kris_stapley If it were simply marketing, there would not be the repeat customers, nor would the product rank so high in the customer satisfaction ratings. I would also be very aware that the ???it is just marketing??? line can be turned around on every Microsoft product.
        Rick_Kl
        Reply Vote I'm Undecided
    • RE: Great Debate: Can Windows Phone 7 and Nokia become players in the U.S.?

      @Rick_Kl <br><br>The US market needs something more...Apple is a niche and a lot of people don't like their crap including me. Android is another one of those players that I personally do not trust or like. Trust is an issue because Google is all about advertising dollars and they'd probably sell their workforce to a sweat shop if it meant an increase in profits. MS has the Corporate sector and a big shot at integrating home, work and play they just need to execute and spend big advertisement dollars to do so. If I'm MS...I go straight at Apple with a bunch of commercials to cut them down just like they did to MS over Windows!
      Rob.sharp
      Reply Vote I'm for Yes, huge growth ahead
      • RE: Great Debate: Can Windows Phone 7 and Nokia become players in the U.S.?

        @rob.sharp@...
        "I'm a Windows Phone ... and I'm an iPhone." LOL ... That would be pretty dang funny and it would probably work extremely well. You could have the iPhone disconnecting people for being "held wrong" and all kinds of fun stuff.

        I think you have to look at how many rungs of the ladder can really be supported in a down economy. 2 or 3, at most. Blackberry is struggling, webOS has who-knows-what kind of future, and Microsoft has a chance to be a solid #3 player. They should press that advantage now. Don't worry about being #1 - get your feet firmly planted in the market now and move up when the next Google or Apple failure hits shelves.
        zaq.hack
        Reply Vote I'm for Yes, huge growth ahead
      • RE: Great Debate: Can Windows Phone 7 and Nokia become players in the U.S.?

        @rob.sharp@... I totally agree! This is Microsoft's turn. Google I really dont trust, they are soooo open sourced with android, and so many android devices, you know some of those droid devices WILL NOT get updates cause there are so many, and Apple really your just paying for the name. Microsoft does need to work on their marketing strategy. If they marketed the Zune HD Im sure it would of been super popular among xboxer's. Luckily they have Nokia on the team, have you seen what they have done with the Lumia? Im excited to see what they have to bring to the US market.
        Ryanthelyon
        Reply Vote I'm for Yes, huge growth ahead