Microsoft should purchase Nokia, model Apple's iPhone strategy
Windows Phone is slowly growing, but it seems like more can be done to help it succeed since it is a compelling operating system. In discussions with a couple others, we concluded that Nokia should be the only Windows Phone manufacturer.
Yesterday, I had a passionate conversation with a couple other members of our company's Nerd Club while enjoying our quarterly birthday and anniversary snack session. One guy is an iPhone user who recently enjoyed playing with a Galaxy Note at the AT&T store while the other is a frustrated Sprint HTC Arrive owner. After about 15 minutes of discussing the world of smartphones, a conclusion was reached that Microsoft should purchase or at least sign on Nokia to be the only Windows Phone manufacturer if they want to compete with the iPhone and take share away from Android.
iPhone is here to stay
In our discussion, it was readily acknowledged that the iPhone is not going anywhere because there are so many fantastic apps and services for the device and people are overall pleased with their iPhone purchase. We all agreed that there are many improvements that could be made to the iPhone, but that it was unlikely that Apple would make them all since Apple likes to control too much. However, there are many people who are anti-Apple so there has to at least be one or two more alternatives for the iPhone.
Android is successful because it is not Apple or Microsoft
The two fellows I was chatting with have briefly used Android, but have not spent as much time with the platform as I have. Their impressions are that Android manufacturers offer inconsistent user experiences, Google doesn't really put much effort into controlling the OS, the apps are OK, but are not nearly as good as the iPhone, and much of the hardware is just decent.
I showed them the HTC One X hardware and they admitted it was one of the nicest phones they have seen with a gorgeous display. I personally am enjoying the Android Ice Cream Sandwich experience on my Galaxy Nexus and the HTC One X, but completely understand the concerns with inconsistent user interfaces and upgrades that may or may not be available on your device.
They also mentioned that Google doesn't seem to actively promote Android or care what companies do with it so it is kind of the Wild West of smartphones. Android is great for geeks and Google users, but then again there are some folks who want a simpler, most consistent experience that is not Apple.
Windows Phone needs Nokia and US carrier support
The HTC Arrive owner is getting frustrated with the hardware and wants to see some options on Sprint. He is considering a move to an iPhone, but really wants some newer Windows Phone hardware. Verizon and Sprint have been silent on any new hardware running Windows Phone and don't seem to care at all about the platform.
The guys agreed that manufacturers like HTC and Samsung don't seem to really care about Windows Phone either and continue to slap the OS into hardware they created for the Android platform. Updates also don't come readily to phones from different manufacturers. Nokia appears to be the only manufacturer trying to innovate with Windows Phone and are doing what they can to sell devices with software exclusives.
The small group recognized the success of Apple and RIM's system where the platform developer is also the hardware integrator and concluded that Microsoft should have Nokia making all Windows Phone hardware, either through a purchase of Nokia or some kind of exclusive manufacturing agreement. This way they could control the user experience, the upgrade path, and innovations. Wireless carriers may be willing to come onboard with a more focused effort, similar to what T-Mobile and AT&T are doing with Nokia Lumia devices.
As a fan of Windows Phone and the Lumia 900, I thought it was interesting to hear these two consumers come to a conclusion like this. After following the Windows Phone story for the last couple of years, I currently would only recommend people purchase a Nokia Lumia Windows Phone since Nokia seems to be the only one who cares and is actually responding quickly to bug fixes and necessary updates while also attempting to provide services to device owners.
Update: I see a recent commenter brought up another point that was made by someone in our discussion at work and that is the hate that people have for Microsoft that will prevent them from ever considering Windows Phone. As a person who likes using Office products and Windows with my engineering programs I don't understand the hate and wonder if it is just a general big corporation hate many have that we now see being applied to Apple as they succeed with iOS and the Mac. Maybe Microsoft needs to rebrand Windows Phone, but then again I understand that many do associate Windows with successful products too.