Nokia/Microsoft partnership - Winners and losers

So, Nokia is to partner with Microsoft and replace Symbian with Windows Phone as its primary operating system.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

So, Nokia is to partner with Microsoft and replace Symbian with Windows Phone as its primary operating system.

Note: Live blog coverage here.

So who are the winners and losers from this partnership.


Well, undoubtedly the biggest winner is Microsoft. Not only does this move mean that it will inevitably make significant gains in Windows Phone marketshare, it's also managed to eliminate Nokia's Symbian OS as a competitor. Also, it's managed to win over an OEM and get them to effectively dump their own established ecosystem in favor of its embryonic ecosystem.

Microsoft also gets its hands on Nokia's Ovi/NAVTEQ mapping assets. Given the number of times this was mentioned at today's live event, I think that this is what Microsoft wanted more than anything. No word on how this will fit into the WP ecosystem - will the technology be licensed to other handset OEMs?

What about Nokia? Is it a winner or a loser? Well, the company is fighting for survival, and this deal no doubt guarantees its survival for now. But it's hard to see how in the long term Nokia can do much to differentiate itself from other OEMs. Sure, Nokia makes some good, solid hardware, but it's this good solid hardware (over-engineering some might say) that got the company into the mess it's in. Today Nokia truly becomes just another Microsoft OEM. The company has managed to gain more freedoms than other WP OEMs (more on that in a moment), but another OEM it is nonetheless.

It's definitely a bad day for Nokia employees. There were strong suggestions that this move would mean job losses at Nokia.

It's also a bad day for Google. "Why Google?" you might ask. Because in choosing a new platform for its products, Nokia went with Microsoft's WP platform rather than Google's Android platform. Nokia's reasoning behind going with WP over Android is that it felt that going with Android meant that it would "one of many" and that value was being moved from Nokia to Google.

It could also be a bad day for other Windows Phone OEMs. During today's Financial and Strategy briefing, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop said that the company had a "unique relationship" with Microsoft, and that the deal was "not your mother's OEM deal with Microsoft" and that the deal also allowed Nokia to differentiate itself from other OEMs. Elop said that no details of this deal would be released, but all this talk of a cozy relationship between Microsoft and Nokia must make other OEMs uncomfortable. Nokia has already talked a lot about creating differentiation within the WP ecosystem and come up with unique hardware and services that will only be seen on Nokia handsets. Elop even suggested that Nokia had the power to change the WP UI to suit its needs, something that no other OEM can do. 


No word on handsets, pricing, release dates and so on ... so plenty of blanks to fill in.

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