Nokia’s announcement last month that it will give up the MeeGo and Symbian smartphone operating systems in favor of Windows Phone 7 could work if everything falls into place, according to Forrester Research analyst Ted Schadler.
“It’s way too early to tell if this [Microsoft-Nokia] partnership will be successful or if anybody, particularly your U.S. and European employees, will care about Nokia smartphones or tablets running Windows Phone 7,” Schadler said a blog post.
Schadler said it all hinges on “ifs”: If they nail the product experience, sign up carriers, quickly roll out a competitively priced tablet, and if they port Word, PowerPoint, OneNote, SharePoint and Excel to the tablets and phones running their OS. He added that they also need to build out the app store and sign up the appropriate vendors in order to be relevant to the market.
In an open letter from both Nokia CEO Stephen Elop and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer (provided by Microsoft as response to a request for information on the deal), plans for the strategic partnership were outlined. The companies plan to join their products and expertise to enhance both of their existing strategies for mobile development, including utilizing Nokia’s hardware knowledge, the Bing search engine, Nokia’s mapping technology, and a collective global reach.
Nokia, according to its website, will turn Symbian into a franchise platform, allowing Nokia to retain and sell additional handsets with the operating system before transitioning Symbian-based phones to their new collaborative operating system with Windows Phone 7.
MeeGo will become an open-source platform, similar to the Android OS. Intel, Nokia’s former partner in the MeeGo project, said in a statement at the Mobile World Conference on Feb. 14 that it is committed to the project. Additionally, Intel showcased a MeeGo Tablet User Interface, which “features an intuitive object-oriented interface with panels displaying content and contacts,” according to the company.
Schadler said that while enterprise developers will not be able to go out and immediately use the technology that might be provided by this partnership, they need to monitor its progress.
“You can’t write these companies off. If they can bring SharePoint and Word to tablets, then they’ll be relevant,” he said. “[Enterprise developers] have to watch it closely and consider the possibilities; when you’re thinking about a mobile strategy, be careful not to close yourself off [from Windows Phone OS].”
He added that the important element to make this OS relevant for the enterprise IT world would be to allow Windows Phone to handle the security needs, such as the hardware encryption offered by the iOS system.
“Apple has been on a 10-year journey, and they’ve executed brilliantly,” said Schadler. “Microsoft and Nokia need to execute brilliantly, and they have a lot against them.” He cited their physical distance, their different working styles and the probable unwillingness of employees at both companies to drop all projects currently in production to create this new super OS.