3 Reasons the Microsoft Nokia Partnership Can Be Good

3 Reasons the Microsoft Nokia Partnership Can Be Good

Nokia and Microsoft have announced a strategic partnership. So far, the announcement apparently solicited a Nokia employee walk out and contributed to slashing the price of Nokia stock 15 percent in one day. Numerous articles spawned on the subject, ranging from this being a small step towards Microsoft eventually taking over Nokia, to opinions of a Google Vice President referring to the two companies as being ducks and not eagles and then of course Nokia responding.

While I can speculate the negative regarding the yet finalized deal, I instead hope for the best of outcomes regarding this relationship. Should Microkia (Microsoft + Nokia) create the hardware and software that they are truly capable of, we can only benefit. The entire mobile phone industry will shift and options of better performing mobile phones, tablets, PCs and other products will be available for us to use and enjoy.

Motorola, Rim, HP, Sony Ericsson, HTC and others will have to make changes to their approach when it comes to devices and the software that runs on them. In fact, if this more formalized agreement between Microsoft and Nokia bodes well, you can expect other similar agreements to take place. The Microsoft Nokia partnership may signal a shift of the mobile phone industry and not just be one-off arrangement.

However, before looking too far ahead, here are three reasons that suggest the partnership between Nokia and Microsoft will be good for each company and ultimately beneficial for us as consumers who thanks to their efforts will have better choices when it comes to mobile phones and tablet computers.

The Nokia Microsoft Partnership will promote focus.

Trimming the fat, the excess, and the bloat and focusing on the lean muscle, solid core products and strong points is good. With the partnership Microsoft gets to focus on software (At least when dealing with Nokia) and Nokia gets to focus on hardware. Nokia can focus on one mobile phone for each price point. Ideally, those phones would surround a centerpiece flagship Nokia mobile phone.

With Microsoft providing the bulk of the effort on the software portion, and Nokia merely customizing the final interface, Nokia will be able to focus their efforts on mobile hardware. In a perfect world, this will allow Nokia to produce better products and get them to market faster with competitive pricing.

The hope is a partnership like this will produce a Nokia phone that compares at least favorably to an iPhone and potentially be better. This means not an iPhone clone but a fully featured, technological beauty, which is easy to use and takes full advantage of the products where Microsoft has huge market share. Those products are Microsoft Office, Xbox and Windows.

A good portion of the burden in this situation lies with Microsoft. Nokia already makes beautiful mobile phones. The usability and marketing of those phones is where their problems were. I keep hearing about the awesomeness of Windows 7 phones, but I never see them in the wild. When traveling, everywhere iPhones and Androids are all I see. Occasionally, you get a Blackberry, Sony Ericsson or something. Other than that, only dumb phones, not any phones running Windows.

Should Microsoft use this as an opportunity to really make waves with Windows in the mobility market and not just use this as a way to lower the price before outright buying Nokia they have a moment, one that they have not had in a long while to focus on their strength, which is software.

Zune and Xbox sales numbers be damned hardware is not the Microsoft strongpoint.

The other hope because of focus is a Nokia tablet that runs Windows (a slimmed down version of course). Nokia can create a tablet with a version of Windows that works seamlessly with both desktops and mobile phones. Internet Explorer has to, I repeat has to feel and function as good as the desktop if not better. Microsoft Office and more importantly Outlook, Word and Excel need to move as gentle as a breeze between devices and function just as easy.

Lastly, the Xbox experience ported into a fluid format that ebbs between tablets, mobile phone, and home computing with practically no thought.

With all of this, Nokia still has a long way to go. A few preliminary photos of the Nokia Windows Phone 7 concept surfaced (the photos pictured) and the man who jumped from the burning platform in the memo released earlier this week is still far from rescue. I am glad Nokia made the leap for change. The question is will Microsoft make the changes it needs to?

Nokia and Microsoft Can Create Synergy and Exchange.

The second reason this newly announced partnership between Microsoft and Nokia will be beneficial is the knowledge exchange and the potential for synergy of knowledge between the two companies regarding their relative strengths and weaknesses in the mobile sector.

Even though the Steve Balmer led Microsoft creates and distributes Windows Phones through other handset manufacturers and has for years, the relationship with Nokia will give Microsoft greater access to the data required to improve the user experience. Working intimately with a mobile phone maker and not just contracting software should give Microsoft a better understanding of how to carry the Microsoft experience from computer to mobile phone or mobile phone to tablet.

Learning directly from a mobile phone manufacturer how to implement the beauty of the handset into the user experience and vice versa should make for better integration of each into the other. Subsequently, we the users should have a better phone with a better experience.

Collaborating with Microsoft will give Nokia insight into the North American market and should help them to better understand the demands of the mobile market here. However, it needs to be with expanded physical presence (in terms of research not retail) and not simply computer data.

Conversely Microsoft will have greater reach globally and an open doorway into markets where before there was not even a path. Should they use the mobile platform appropriately, emerging markets will serve as a cornerstone of effortlessly gathering new users into the Microsoft ecosystem and the Windows phone will be an excellent gateway to other Microsoft products and services.

Microsoft and Nokia Working Together is an Unparalleled Opportunity for Reach, Expansion and Unification.

The size of both Nokia and Microsoft gives each company an opportunity by working together to not only expand their gargantuan reach, but to secure significant percentages of market share and mindshare. By market share, I mean real people buying products and not enterprise contracts (or government tracts either) and by mindshare, I mean how people look at and identify each company and where the company ranks in public opinion.

Bigger does not always mean better, and these are two giant companies coming together, but by being nimble Nokia and Microsoft can dance around the dangers presented to them primarily by Apple and Google. The strong brand awareness the both benefit from is both a gift and a curse, as consumers have rigidly formed opinions of both companies.

Even now, people are drawing lines in the sand regarding Nokia abandoning Symbian (despite apparent failure) and embracing Windows. In addition, even though celebrated by many critics, Windows Phone 7 for many consumers is not the first or second option when looking to buy a smartphone.

Despite these challenges and others (negative imagery, declining usage, etc.), by working together Nokia and Microsoft have the opportunity to take their splintered percentages and form a unified front against Google, Apple and other competition. With time, the two companies can shore up their losses and pose as threats for the number one positions in mobile phone hardware and mobile phone operating systems.

Through the creation of iconic devices that capture the hearts and minds of the people who use them, coupled with a user experience that bridges work and play, home and mobile seamlessly, backed by the power and global reach of their brands, Microsoft and Nokia can reach new heights.


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