I’ve been thinking a lot about this decision to use WP7 from Nokia, as I’m sure many people have, but I’ve wanted to wait for the dust to settle down before blogging, so here’s what I think; it doesn’t make any sense from any point of view.
Technically, there is nothing that can compare to the linux kernel, which works on everything; supercomputers, mobile phones, TVs, routers, web servers, desktops, refrigerators, etc. Not only does it work, but it works well, much better than everything else. As an example, the work that has been done to scale linux’s vfs to many processors (64) does benefit embedded, because some operations are more granular. Or the work on power management lead by embedded helps web servers, where decreasing power consumption is also very much wanted. This creates a environment of synergy never seen before, where even competitors work together. Linux won the kernel race, and its use would only increase; the ones that try to fight against it would only fail miserably.
WP7 is only the last iteration in Microsoft’s attempts to come up with something that has any market in the mobile arena; all the previous attempts have failed. What makes anyone think that this time it would work? And how many companies have successfully partnered with Microsoft? There’s no reason to think that WP7 has any future.
If you look at the list of mobile phones running WP7, you would see that it’s very small, and you would also see that there’s only one hardware platform supported: Snapdragon. To make WP7 work on a wide variety of platforms, even Intel, on a relatively short amount of time, is simply impossible. It can only be done with linux.
And why would phone manufacturers, such as Samsung, find this platform appealing? Before, it was marginal, and now it’s hijacked by Nokia with the “exclusive deal” with Microsoft. Phone manufacturers should know by now how difficult is to work with Microsoft and its technologies, and how exhausting must be to try to differentiate. As Nokia colleague puts it: “Where is Nokia’s brand in ‘Windows Phone’”.
It’s a sinking platform, and most likely others would jump away from it soon. But Nokia is now stuck to the death. Thanks to Stephen Elop, there’s no plan b.
Android is not perfect, manufacturers are finding it increasingly difficult to differentiate, but Google has the last word. Now, Android is the #1 platform, and the market share would surely keep increasing if nothing drastic happens. That’s not good.
Other phone manufacturers have to look into alternatives to Android, if only to increase competition and thus make Android continually improve itself, and not left unchecked. So what are the options? WP7, MeeGo, or a new platform from scratch.
I already listed some of the disadvantages of WP7, and starting a new platform from scratch never looks too appealing, so, ironically, MeeGo might seem now a viable option. It wasn’t previously, because the fight for balance was against Nokia, now it’s against Android.
Intel is going to continue to work on MeeGo, and there’s already many other companies and people working actively on it; that’s not changing. Moreover, Nokia will continue working on it, in fact, nothing changes before the first MeeGo product is released. So MeeGo is still pretty much alive.
What if other phone manufacturers join MeeGo, and continue without Nokia? What if Nokia’s first MeeGo product becomes a bomb (as is the plan)? What if WP7 fails?
It’s hard to guess the future, but I’ve had good luck in my previous guesses, so here’s my foretale; Windows Phone 7 is going to be significantly delayed, and then fail, badly. But that would be too late for Nokia to do anything else; all the confidence in the company would be lost, from consumers, share holders, developers, parters, etc. Elop would probably blame it on Nokia’s execution, some managers would get fired, and Microsoft would buy Nokia for cheap.
That’s a lot of guessing, but what is clear is that linux will dominate the market one way or the other.
Personally I’m still committed to Nokia’s first MeeGo product, which I firmly believe is going to be remarkable in many aspects. After that nothing is clear, but unless Elop and the Board of Directors gets fired, I’d say the future of MeeGo in Nokia is very dim, as well as the future of Nokia itself.
Update: Motorola is confirming my thoughts so far; can’t ‘envision’ using WP7, and hopes for more competing platforms.
Update: Intel is officially looking for phone manufacturers as partners,
Note: Everything written here is my personal opinion and has nothing to do with my employer. Also, I have not used any internal information to form my opinions; everything is available publicly.