It’s been nearly two years since Nokia announced, before a truly precipitous change in fortune, they would be abandoning their once insanely popular Symbian OS and embracing Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform full-time for all of its smartphones. The coup, lead by newly-installed CEO Stephen Elop – and coincidentally, former Microsoft VP – seemed to be a huge leg up for Steve Ballmer’s camp as Windows Phone had failed to gain any market traction. Well, after two years, Microsof’t’s mobile platform has still failed to gain traction. So it makes sense that I plead, before Microsoft’ sinks Nokia’s boat entirely, that the Finnish phone giant should really take a stab at Android. It really, really should.
When the Nokia deal was brought to light, I was a vocal supporter of Windows Phone 7. I still really want Microsoft to succeed, but my desire for a Windows Phone has declined immensely since I hopped on the Android train in 2010. As evidenced by the phones they’ve produced, Nokia has an incredible sense of design and makes some fantastic phones, but it’s being held back by the fact that it’s running Windows Phone, an operating system that’s still a distant fourth place in the mobile OS wars despite the billions of dollars Redmond has invested in developing and promoting it.
But this isn’t about Microsoft, this is about Nokia, which still struggles financially because it’s dedicated exclusively to Microsoft’s platform. This story isn’t so new, either. In 2008, facing similarly confounding circumstances with the failing status of then-Windows Mobile, HTC dabbled in Google’s pool with the release of the G1, the first Android phone and a device that still has a few loyal followers. HTC pulled itself from the brink by re-focusing on Android and bringing out the Droid Incredible for Verizon and the EVO for Sprint. While it faces similarly trying times now, it isn’t because of the platform HTC uses as they were more than happy to hop on the Windows Phone train from the beginning by dedicating half its lineup to Microsoft.
Android is also a very different beast now than when Nokia dedicated themselves to Windows Phone. Starting with Ice Cream Sandwich, Google has produced an operating system with an incredible, unified look and with Jelly Bean, one that runs much more smoothly as well. It would be an error in pride for Nokia to keep holding onto Windows Phone despite the money they keep receiving from Microsoft. If they want to survive, they’ll need to dip into Google’s pool eventually.
The results, I’m sure, will be fantastic.