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.
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.