Just last week, Microsoft announced that they had purchased what amounts to us readers at Pocketnow “Nokia”. Now it’s true that Microsoft only acquired a part of Nokia – their mobile devices and services division – but for all intents and purposes, Microsoft bought Nokia. Anyone who had any sense of mobile technology today really should have seen this coming from the time the pair of Steves stood on stage and gave each other a big wet sloppy kiss. But in doing so, Microsoft may have missed the point of working with Nokia in the first place.
Nokia used to dominate the cell phone market. They were basically on top of the mobile space along side Blackberry – another sad tale of the fallen. But Nokia inspired feel-good emotions when you considered it as a company with a solid history of just doing things the right way. Even lately, Nokia was basically the Rudy of Notre Dame football in that it did everything right, but was overshadowed by players that were big enough to dress for every game. Nokia had heart. Nokia had character.
But then Microsoft swooped in and ruined all that. By absorbing Nokia into the Big Blue Machine that is Microsoft, they’re losing the warm and fuzzies that were Nokia. Now it’s just this big juggernaut called Microsoft that is try to break into the mobile space “Hulk-smash” style.
No more the little guy
Now, don’t get me wrong. I already said that everyone should have seen this coming from miles and miles and miles and miles away. It was almost a no-brainer as far as I was concerned. I wrote as much just a few months ago. But now that it’s come to fruition, it makes it really hard to root for Microsoft. I mean, c’mon. They’re Microsoft. The big boy that you love to hate. You don’t ROOT for Microsoft. You root for Linux. (See what I did there? Root? Anyway…)
But when you stop and think about it. Microsoft really is the underdog in the mobile space. It may be hard to root for them, given it’s sheer enormity and pervasiveness in daily lives (for example, 75% of you are probably reading this on a Microsoft product) but Microsoft is the struggling barely-ran third place in the mobile space. If there is an underdog to root for, it is Microsoft.
Imagine if the Yankees suddenly started playing football, as in “rest of the world football”, that Americans stupidly call “soccer”. The Yankees are athletes. They know how to run and jump and stuff. They could actually probably do a halfway decent job of it. Except for flopping; they’d have to learn flopping. In the world of football, they’d be underdogs. But…they’re the Yankees. And if you live outside of New York, you just don’t root for the Yankees.
Microsoft probably did the right thing though. Nokia was making a lot of strides toward making Windows Phone a solid third place contender. Numbers have only gone up since Nokia dived into the fray. They’re not impressive yet – not by a wide margin, but up is up. Nokia’s mapping services and camera technology have both put them on the mobile space map. Now being a part of Microsoft will allow the memory of Nokia to flourish under a new roof with a new daddy (or the same daddy if rumors turn out to be true). But with Microsoft’s sticker on the back instead of Nokia’s it’s hard to really get behind the phones like many would if our friends from Finland were still in charge.
History repeats itself?
I personally dig Windows Phone. Just like I dug webOS. I remember how it felt when I suddenly had to start rooting for HP. Dear God, I hope I’m not drawing parallels here. It was hard to root for HP because they’re HP. They’re a huge corporation with tens of thousands of employees. I mean it’s not like Palm was being run out of someone’s garage, but heck the official Palm twitter account followed me. I mean…who the heck am I? The point is Palm was small enough to do things right, but too small to make those right things noticeable beyond a few of the more discerning members of the media.
Now I do not believe for a second that Nokia runs any risk of sharing Palm’s fate. After all, Windows Phone is Microsoft’s baby. Nokia is really just a means to put that into people’s hands, along with an exceptional camera, great mapping services, and wireless charging (oh he went there?). But Microsoft is going to run with this until it dies an unnatural death. But that leads to a bigger question.
If Nokia does go the way of Palm, how would we even know? Microsoft isn’t even using the Nokia brand name on their phones. The only vestige of the phones that will be visible to the public will be the “Lumia” branding. Sure, the design language will be there, and the optics, but those could be just a few tweaks away from becoming unrecognizable as “Vintage Nokia”. Even if things do change, we would have no way of knowing which way Nokia, the separate entity would have gone.
Overall, it’s going to be difficult to root for this giant. Microsoft doesn’t inspire the same warm feelings as Nokia, but perhaps the time for that has passed. Maybe Windows Phone can’t go on supporting any “Lovable Losers”. Maybe it’s time for Microsoft to slide up to the big-boy table and let all who hear know, this just got real.