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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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