Microsoft's Elop defends Android-based Nokia X phones

Microsoft's Elop defends Android-based Nokia X phones

Summary: It's looking increasingly likely that Microsoft has no intentions of dumping the Android-based Nokia X phones that Nokia introduced just before its handset business became part of Microsoft.

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Any Windows Phone fans hoping Microsoft might decide to kill off the Android-based Nokia X phones once Microsoft acquired Nokia's handset business are looking likely to be disappointed.

nokiaxlineup

On the first day of his first week back at Microsoft, Stephen Elop, the former Nokia CEO and new chief of Microsoft's Devices unit, defended the decision to bring those phones to market. During an Ask Me Anything (AMA) session on April 28, Elop indicated that the Nokia X phones aren't going to be discontinued.

I had guessed Microsoft would keep, not kill off, the Nokia X phones, which are built on top of the Android Open Source Project build of Android. And increasingly it is looking like this is, indeed, the case.

"Microsoft acquired the mobile phones business, inclusive of Nokia X, to help connect the next billion people to Microsoft's services," Elop told a questioner. "Nokia X uses the MSFT cloud, not Google's. This is a great opportunity to connect new customers to Skype, Outlook.com and OneDrive for the first time. We've already seen tens of thousands of new subscribers on MSFT services."

Elop's remarks echoed those of Terry Myerson, the head of Microsoft's operating systems group. When I asked Myerson recently about Microsoft's plans for Nokia X, Myerson told me "I think that the thing to focus (on) is they (Nokia X users) are Microsoft customers of our apps and services. And we will win them back to Windows."

Elop emphasized during the AMA that the developers who built Nokia custom apps, like Nokia Camera, Nokia MixRadio and Nokia TV, will continue to build these kinds of apps as employees of Microsoft.

Elop also reiterated what other Microsoft execs have said previously regarding Microsoft's intentions to continue to court other phone OEMs, even though it is now a phone manufacturer itself.

"It is GOOD for Microsoft to encourage other OEMs to also build WP devices, and there have been some announcements in this direction recently," Elop said. "Our intent is for the Microsoft Devices Group to 'make the market' so that others can participate, so we will be doing things to facilitate other OEMs as much as possible.

Quite a few Nokia stalwarts still express a lot of hostility toward Elop for his decision to back the Windows Phone OS and eliminate Meego and Symbian. One questioner even dredged up the old "Elop as Trojan Horse" analogy during the session.

Instead of shying away, Elop answered a couple of the questions/rants about his decisions. He reiterated his position that Symbian and Meego just didn't seem viable.

"(W)e could not see a way that Symbian could be brought to a competitive level with, for example, the iPhone that had shipped THREE years earlier!" Elop said. "And the Meego effort was significantly delayed and did not have the promise of a broad enough portfolio soon enough. We had to make a forceful decision to give Nokia the chance to compete again."

He continued:

"As for the Trojan horse thing, I have only ever worked on behalf of and for the benefit of Nokia shareholders while at Nokia. Additionally, all fundamental business and strategy decisions were made with the support and approval of the Nokia board of directors, of which I was a member."

One questioner asked whether Nokia would continue to be a true global presence, especially in emerging markets, now that it is part of Microsoft.

"Both Nokia and Microsoft are global companies, but it turns out that our strengths are complementary," Elop said. "We have great strength in emerging markets while Microsoft has more strength in developed markets. I think this will work well together."

Nokia's handset business officially became part of Microsoft on April 25, with 25,000 Nokia employees joining the Microsoft ranks as of that date.

Topics: Mobile OS, Android, Microsoft, Mobility, Nokia

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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45 comments
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  • Services

    I find it hard to believe they'd keep them just to possibly sell more of their services.

    I wonder what they are really up to?
    THavoc
    • Margins

      Have you seen the margin on MS owned services?
      widow maker
      • Margin

        Yes but I don't think they'll really sell enough to make up for having another product line they'll need to support / pay for.
        THavoc
        • Depends

          In the West, probably not.

          But Nokia is a synonym for cellphone in many parts of the world, which means there is a lot of brand recognition. If they can tap into the Goodwill built up there over the last 2 decades, they could easily build up their services.
          wright_is
    • The big contradiction

      I fail to see the benefit if selling the Nokia X phone with Android instead of Windows Phone. Is MS saying Android is better than WP in general, or specifically in this product? Is MS saying the operating system is inconsequential? Is MS saying to its own ecosystem developers, "The Nokia X is not for you, it is for Android developers." I fail to see the benefit if selling the Nokia X phone with Android instead of Windows Phone. Is MS saying Android is better than WP in general, or specifically in this product? Is MS saying the operating system is inconsequential? Is MS saying to its own ecosystem developers, "The Nokia X is not for you, it is for Android developers." This whole thing is one big contradiction.
      P. Douglas
      • Take two

        Sorry about the above, I meant to say the following:

        I fail to see the benefit if selling the Nokia X phone with Android instead of Windows Phone. Is MS saying Android is better than WP in general, or specifically in this product? Is MS saying the operating system is inconsequential? Is MS saying to its own ecosystem developers, "The Nokia X is not for you, it is for Android developers." This whole thing is one big contradiction.'
        P. Douglas
        • MS is saying that they want hundreds of millions of new customers

          for their devices, WP or Nokia-X, and when they become customers, then MS will have those hundreds of millions of customers available to become consumers of their many other properties, like Office and cloud services; all of those devices (aka: customers) are potentially, another multi-billion dollar gold-mine for MS. Heck, those devices/customers would be a much bigger deal to MS than the Android smartphones are for Google, since Google can only mine those Android devices for mostly advertising, which isn't that much of a lucrative market on tiny screens. Even MS will have trouble getting advertising on tiny screens, but, there are a bunch of other MS services which could be multi-billion dollar services.

          Besides, with Nokia-X devices, MS is not giving up their chances of introducing WP to any new customers. Those customers will be able to see how much better WP is than Android, and they could opt to just use WP, and forsake Android altogether, which then means that, MS will have found a round-about way to create new WP users.

          Seems like a win-win situation for MS.
          adornoe@...
    • Have the thin client guys taken over Microsoft?

      It seems like they have. If you replace cloud with mainframe, it seems like we are back in the 70s, where all the action takes place on the mainframe. Wow! I did not see that coming!
      P. Douglas
    • I actually find this comment hilarious....

      "Any Windows Phone fans hoping Microsoft might decide to kill off the Android-based Nokia X phones once Microsoft acquired Nokia's handset business are looking likely to be disappointed"

      Now here is a reality check. What Windows fan would be 'hoping Microsoft might decide to kill off the Android-based Nokia X phones'? And why?

      I guess if you were like some kind of rabid out of control Windows nut who wants to see non Windows products DIE, well then maybe, but I honestly don't see that much in users of Windows products, except for a couple of rather cartoonish characters developed around here like LRD.

      Its so funny Mary Jo said that because Im far far more used to seeing non-Windows enthusiasts preach the death of all things Microsoft, hardly ever seeing Microsoft users screaming for the death of Linux or Apple or something like that.
      Cayble
  • is Nokia Android next to go?

    now Elop has his thirty pieces of silver, time to finish off whats left of Nokia.
    Traderhorn
    • I'm happy they didn't make him MS next CEO

      ... or the entire Microsoft could just vanish... or be bought by Apple :)
      (kidding... a bit)
      AleMartin
      • Actually, Apple will become an acquisition target for MS in 2 or 3 years,

        when the iPhone is no longer a "must have" for the Apple fanatics, and Apple's market cap has dropped to $100 billion or less, and profits are less than $1 billion per year.

        ;)
        adornoe@...
        • You always use "in 2 or 3 years"

          I could make a search on your posts - WP will overtake ios, Microsoft will buy Apple, Nokia will sell more phones than Apple, ... all in 2 or 3 years, in 2 or 3 years will still be in 2 or 3 years. All this predictions from the person that said projections with such anticipation are some kind of wishful thinking - and I can search that one from you too.
          In the end we get to know who was wrong and right like in the discussion on this article: www.zdnet.com/nokia-smartphone-sales-plunge-but-lumia-leads-bounce-back-in-q4-7000010264/
          AleMartin
          • 2 or 3 is a good number to use, generally, when it comes to technology,

            where if a product is to either survive or not, the 2 or 3 years time would allow for a product to either mature, or be declared a failure.

            The iPhone and iPad have been around for a "long time" now, in technology years. However, they were virtually without competition for 3-4 years, and it's only recently that they have been overtaken by the competition, and when the competition started being noticed, big time, that's what I believe is the real beginning of the end for Apple's devices. Thus, I'm giving them another 2-3 years before they become irrelevant, or just another "also ran". At that point, Apple will have gone down to a status comparable to where they were 10+ years ago, which could make them a target for takeover by some other giant, like Google or Microsoft or Lenovo. ;)
            adornoe@...
          • I completely agree with AleMartin on this one.

            Absolutely sick to death of hearing how one incredibly successful giant of a company or another is about to collapse and die. Particularly as we know they are not.

            Whats the point in saying such tripe. Its a waste of time and space and only serves to ruin the writers credibility.

            Before Apple gets bought by anyone they would have to suffer probably 3 or 4 massive failures in a row. Its never going to happen. Apple will simply fail to invent as opposed to try something risky with any likelihood of failure.

            Apple tries to slide something in through the side door once in a while so to speak, just to see if it will float, and once in a while those smaller less pushed products don't do so well, but they are not the few big failures Apple would have to endure to make them takeover bait.

            Just how wrong would Apple have to start doing things to collapse like that? Given Apples size and position in the corporate world, I would hazard a guess they would have to get things just about as wrong as any company in history has ever gotten things wrong.

            Don't bank on that happening. It would be a pretty ridiculous bet.
            Cayble
  • Microsoft Mobile (Nokia)

    Should not only keep Android X, it should offer it to other OEMs for free (no patent fees for Android licenses) as long as they keep the Microsoft and Nokia services on the devices sold.

    That way the OEMs can actually sell a Microsoft powered Android device for about $10 - $20 less than a Google powered Android device.
    rmark@...
    • Good point

      If they're going to produce a competing platform based on the profits realized from the services attached to it then it should equally make sense to push the WinPhone 8 OS out for free, no?
      sandmich
  • Will be interesting to see if Mokia forks AOSP

    After all, they claim it's just chock-full of MS intellectual property (enough to justify upwards of $40/handset, according to some accounts). Would be disingenuous of them to actually contribute back to the FOSS community, rather than slurp it in and move on (which is perfectly permissible, given the AOSP FOSS license).
    daboochmeister
    • Do you know how much Microsoft contributes to open source software

      I think you would be surprised.
      Emacho
      • I said "disingenuous" because of their infringement claims on the code

        If they think the code isn't really free, then they shouldn't handle it as FOSS, to be consistent. But yes, I know both how many lines of code MS contributes to open source, and how little they contribute in terms of open source as a vibrant community and core business model. They've yet to prove (imho) that they care at ALL about freedom - only their bottom line, and open source the way they do it is a strategy only. Not like they're alone in that.
        daboochmeister