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Nokia CEO Stephen Elop took a big risk by declaring his company of 125,000+ employees as sitting on a "Burning Platform" in a widely-distributed memo which he wrote in February of 2011. Their current line of Symbian and MeeGo-based phones, he noted, were inferior to the products which were shipping by competitors from Apple and the Android OEMs.
Shortly after issuing this memo, Nokia entered a partnership with Microsoft to produce Windows Phone-based devices. Sales of their high-end Symbian and MeeGo-based smartphones have since went in the toilet, and the company as a whole has been struggling to stay afloat.
While their recently released Lumia 900 Windows Phone-based handset has garnered fairly positive reviews, the company's financial situation is dire and is expected to burn through its cash reserves in 2013 unless a miraculous turnaround occurs.
This week's announcement by Microsoft of Windows Phone 8's feature set took many users by surprise -- that the current generation of Windows Phone 7 devices -- including Nokia's flagship Lumia 900 which only launched in late April of this year -- will not be upgradeable to the new mobile operating system.
Instead, they will get a consolation prize, Windows Phone 7.8, that gives them a new menu screen and some very minor improvements.While there hasn't been any indications of a Windows Phone sales slowdown yet -- as the platform only occupies single digit marketshare territory -- this cannot possibly be a positive development for the OEMs selling Windows Phone products with significant inventory in the sales channel.
Based on a reference platform announced by Intel in Q4 of 2011, the Ultrabook was conceived to be a high-end, lightweight and thin Windows-powered subnotebook design to compete with the Macbook Air designs released by Apple.
Many OEMs, such as Lenovo, Dell, Hewlett-Packard and Acer have committed to this platform, and have since early 2012 started the rollout of a number of products based on the concept and Intel's Core i5 and i7 processors and chipsets.
With the pre-announcement of Microsoft's own Surface tablet, which is expected to ship in the Fall of 2012 and early 2013, consumer interest in many of the OEM Ultrabook designs may now be compromised.
Since the Windows 8 Professional version of Surface has similar specs to many of the Ultrabooks pending release and currently on the market (they also utilize the same Ivy Bridge Intel Core i5 processors) but can function as both a notebook and a tablet, is unlikely that anything other than the most high-end of the Ultrabook designs will see consumer traction for the remainder of 2012 and for the balance of 2013.