Nokia jumps from one burning platform to another with Windows Phone 7

Nokia makes its last strategic mistake and moves to Microsoft's Windows Phone 7.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

Well, I guess you can take the Microsoft executive out of Microsoft but you can't take the Microsoft out of the executive. In what will prove Nokia's final strategic blunder, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, a former Microsoft senior executive, announced, with Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer grinning over his shoulder, that Nokia would be using Windows Phone 7 (WP7) for its smartphones.

If you looked closely, you could almost say Ballmer's lips moving as Elop mouthed, "The game has changed from a war of devices to a war of ecosystems. We have an opportunity to disrupt the trajectory in the mobile ecosystem. Together we will deliver great mobile products."

Yeah. Right. Sure. Once upon a time Nokia delivered great products. In technology years that's decades ago. Since then, first RIM's BlackBerries, then Apple's iPhones, and now a variety of Google's Android phones have left Nokia eating their dust.

Microsoft, on the other hand, has always been a mobile operating system failure. Unable to squeeze out its enemies on phones with the strong-arm tactics that proved so successful on the desktop, it was forced to compete on features and quality on phones and Microsoft failed, and then failed again, and it's still failing today with Windows Phone 7.

The sad thing is that Windows Phone 7 is, I think, easily the best of all of Microsoft's attempts to create a mobile operating system. It would have been great in say 2007 when Apple released the iPhone. It would have had a shot if has showed up in 2008 when Google and the Open Handset Alliance (OHA) were still struggling to get Android-powered smartphones out the door. But today? Microsoft and Nokia are toast.

We won't see a shipping Nokia WP7 until the fourth quarter of 2011. By that time, the iPhone 5 will have been out for months; dozens of Android 2.4 phones will be out, and even HP's webOS phones will be out before Nokia WP7 phones appear. Oh, and some company named Research-in-Motion (RIM) will have its next generation BlackBerry PlayBook out by then too.

Nokia could have done the smart thing and bit the bullet and gone with Android, which would have been much easier to port to Nokia's hardware. Nokia could have done the brave thing and persisted with trying to make MeeGo into a viable smartphone system. Instead, Nokia's Microsoft CEO did the Microsoft thing. I'm sure that will help him and his buddies in Redmond, Washington, but it won't help Nokia at all.

Oh, in theory, MeeGo, like Android a Linux-based mobile operating system is still alive and kicking. It's not. Even before Nokia announced its Microsoft partnership, the company had killed off its N9-00 MeeGo phone even before launching it. MeeGo, unless Intel decides to keep it going, is dead. Nokia will close the coffin lid on it later this year.

Look at this way though, thanks to this Microsoft deal, since MeeGo is an open-source project, it may very well live longer than Nokia will.

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