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I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: Nokia (now Microsoft) should either make Android phones or get out of the mobile OS space for good. I know that might sound foolish or crazy, but please, hear me out…
The Microsoft Nokia merger for $7B was a major head-scratcher. It was strange because Nokia was already making more Windows phones than they could possibly sell, and no matter how big Microsoft are, they can’t afford to throw away $7 Billion on anything (especially today). So why did Microsoft pull the trigger? Was Microsoft reacting to a threat, or acting on an opportunity?
One theory I propose is that MS bought Nokia to ensure Nokia continued primarily making Windows smartphones. This theory is centered around the fact that Nokia is one of the only major smartphone brands still offering Windows Phone devices, almost all other manufacturers have stopped production entirely or moved major capacity to Android. Perhaps MS was forced to buy Nokia or face a potential (and very public) disassociation from their last flagship brand? Given that other manufacturers have already jumped ship, there’s some merit here.
Last week we heard rumors that Nokia had “10,000 prototype Android devices”. It kinda makes sense that Nokia was getting ready to make Android phones. When Elop joined Nokia Windows Phone 8 was enough of a wild card that there was a real possibility a MS partnership might just work. It didn’t hurt that Nokia desperately needed cash and MS was eager to offer it. However, ultimately like everyone else Elop realized that WP8 was going nowhere. Faced with the prospect of slowly trickling into bankruptcy with Windows Phone, and a lack of potential buyers for the hardware business, Elop had to have been getting ready to bet the company on Android, after all, what other choice did he have?
Sadly the purchase of Nokia by Microsoft does nothing to change the grim reality that Windows Phone 8 is dead. Consumers bought Android and iOS phones, period. What could Microsoft possibly do better than Nokia, and in a rapid time frame, to revive the Windows Phone platform? The obvious answer isn’t simply ramping up production and pumping out more WP8 devices, MS ought to have learned that lesson with the Surface tablet. In a mobile world where only two operating systems have survived, the answer seems forced: Microsoft should make Android phones or leave the mobile OS market for other opportunities.
While you may think this is absurd, I challenge you to consider why Microsoft ported its beloved Office suite apps to Android; a prospect that seemed unthinkable when the Surface tablet was still in “action”. Xbox Music similarly just made its Android debut last week, is this just a coincidence or is MS pushing a new Android strategy? Surely Xbox and Office are two major parts of Microsoft’s future, and I believe these moves show that MS is willing to do whatever it takes to make their products a success.
One thing’s for certain: when you mention a pure Nokia device with a modern version of Android people take notice. I’m certain Microsoft has. But what do you think? Am I just crazy, what’s the better alternative?