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Microsoft Chats with Old Friend at Nokia About Windows Phone 7

First and foremost, many thanks to Scott Bekker and Jeff Schwartz for writing this newsletter last week while your editor was tied up with other things. Bekker and Schwartz were also tied up with other things, but they stepped up in your editor's time of need.

We'd love to start this entry with some sort of Super Bowl reference...but we really just don't have one. So, uh, congratulations to the Packers...and people of Wisconsin. Hopefully this will make up for your state university's loss to TCU in the Rose Bowl.(Yes, your editor is still giddy about that.)

So, in a post-Super Bowl world, where the snowy plains of winter stretch to the horizon and the sun hides behind a murky haze, there is news from not-so-sunny Finland, home of Nokia. Old Microsoft pal Stephen Elop, a major honcho in Redmond before he left to take over Nokia, is looking at teaming up with his old crew.

Extremely specific rumor has it that Nokia and Microsoft will announce this week a Windows Phone 7 partnership. This is a tale of three ships adrift on the sea of the mobile device market. Apparently Nokia, now a shadow of the powerful brand it once was, is looking to cut back considerably on its use of the flagging Symbian operating system in favor of the fledgling Windows 7. No question there as to who got that deal started.

There are lots of other questions, though. Is Windows Phone 7 ready for prime time? The answer is maybe, which is better than the answer we would have given to the same question a few months ago -- definitely not. Is Windows Phone 7 strong enough to lift Nokia out of smartphone mediocrity? That seems kind of unlikely, but who knows? Android was once a silly little competitor to the iPhone; Symbian used to own the mobile-OS market, and BlackBerry was once synonymous with a phone that had Internet capabilities. This market isn't closed yet.

In fact, rather than take our usual tack of bashing Microsoft's mobile strategy, we've decided here at RCPU to be bullish in this (possible) deal. We're not saying that Apple or RIM should be shaking in their boots necessarily, but Microsoft and Nokia aren't bit players in the industry. If they can focus on innovation rather than feature bloat, and if they can listen to customers rather than arbitrarily trying to please all of the people all of the time, they've got a shot to be a contender.

Remember, the Packers had two 1-4 stretches during the season and even lost to Detroit. And look where they ended up…

What's your take on a Microsoft-Nokia mobile partnership? Send it to lpender@rcpmag.com.

Posted by Lee Pender on February 07, 2011 at 11:57 AM


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Reader Comments

Tue, Feb 8, 2011 Tom

Hi Bob: I see what you mean. I meant navigating to it, as well as direct links from the main page. The 'search box' though is a good thought, but a person has to actually decide to do that and know what to search for. I did what you suggested and a search for 'Windows Phone' brings it up, but a search for 'Windows' or 'Windows Mobile' brings it up only on the sidebar (out of the main focus area). What I did was to simulate the experience of some other colleagues who had trouble finding it. Let's set aside the Flash anim for a moment and start at att.com which has no links for it (but there are for BB/iPhone). Then on the top navbar click on 'Wireless' and no direct links there. Go to 'Wireless > Cell Phones/Devices' and no links there (but note the Android link at the bottom). It's only when one clicks on 'Smartphones' and scrolls down does WP7 appear. And you're right, that one can click on 'shop for phones' to get there too. Now this wouldn't be too big a deal except that the 4 Flash anims don't always include WP7 adverts as you also experienced (though it did for me today). Again the reason I've been checking is because about a week ago some friends indicated to me they couldn't easily find WP7 (actually called it Win Mobile 7) on ATT's site and said to me 'I guess ATT isn't really backing it'. Another thing is that for all the adverts that MS has been running, it just seems a lot of people are unaware of it and so don't know to look for it. And those that are aware, often refer to it as 'Win MOBILE' instead of 'Win PHONE' which affects the search results on ATT's site (and speaking of those ads, all I can say is geeez). Anyway the point here is that I think ATT would benefit by more prominent linkage to WP7 on the main page (a permanent graphic would be nice), especially considering this distinguishes them from VerizonW which also offers Android, BB and iPhone. Thanks again for your thoughts Bob, much appreciated.

Tue, Feb 8, 2011 tom lupton

@Tony Sheehan, have you actually ever used a wp7 device? Because if you did you would notice that is exactly what they have done already. they have cut back on all the rubbish that people don't use and perfected what is left. The xbox integration is mind-blowing as to is the media use with zune not to mention how it ties in with facebook. Yes WP7 lacks some features but it has bought a whole new level to what is left.

Mon, Feb 7, 2011 Bob

Tom - out of curiousity, I took your challenge and went to the ATT website and found it incredibly easy to find their WP7 phones. First I just put "Windows Phone" in the search bar and a good link came right up. Hmm. Then I thought maybe you were talking about navigating to find it. On the shop for phones page, there on the left nav. was the ability to select Windows phones to display. It's true that WP7 didn't appear on one of the 4 banner ads that run continuously across the top - is that what you were referring to? I don't get it...

Mon, Feb 7, 2011 Tony Sheehan Cairns, Australia

Innovation rather than feature bloat! You hit the nail on the head. I don't believe Microsoft are capable of resisting that temptation, because I don't think they have ever managed to resist. Even the X-Box, for heavens sake, had far more features than even my kids ever bothered to use. Leave the "do-anything" sonic screwdriver in the realms of fantasy, where it belongs, and focus on getting a few basics right.

Mon, Feb 7, 2011 Tom

I think the problem now is with the carriers. Even if Nokia fully backs WP7, will the carriers suddenly start backing WP7? WP7 is a good contender for the consumer market but you might not know that by looking at the current carriers sites. Try to find WP7 on ATT/TMOB websites - Was it positioned in an obvious place? Did you have to drill down to find it? Now try to find Android. With the iPhone coming to Verizon, ATT/TMOB could better distinguish themselves by their WP7 offerings. But from my perspective they appear to be fixated on promoting other phones. How do you get the carriers to better promote it?

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