News of Microsoft buying Nokia are all over the place. Question is: Is it too late for these two companies? Can Microsoft actually make itself relevant as a smartphone manufacturer? Will Nokia become another Danger Inc. (maker of the Sidekick phone) and risk becoming a forgotten division of Microsoft?
There was a time when I thought Nokia phones were the best all around. But that was in the late 1990s. Maybe I was influenced by the amazing product placement in movies like The Saint and The Matrix, but I thought back then that Nokia was far ahead of the competition when it came to selling phones that did more than take calls.
I got my first Nokia phone sometime in 1999-2000, after a few years jumping from Motorola, Nortel and Erickson. It was a decent Nokia 6110 from Omnipoint (the mobile company that went on to become today’s T-Mobile, after many incarnations). After that, I had a couple more Nokia phones, but eventually I figured I needed something entirely different. I needed a cool phone and what Nokia had out there just wasn’t that cool.
So I went with I gave the Sidekick II a shot. Sadly, despite all the great options, the Sidekick (or perhaps its parent company, Danger), was plagued with issues. In 2005, socialite Paris Hilton had her Sidekick hacked, leading quite a few people, including myself, to question the phone’s ability to keep our data safe.
So the natural update was for me to move to a Blackberry. Yes, I know the Blackberry was far from cool, but the reality is by then, I actually need a “professional” smartphone. As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I stuck with the Blackberry for quite a few years before ditching it for an iPhone. Sure, the iPhone was cooler than the Blackberry (and all those other phones) by the time I got mine.
But today the question is, will Microsoft buying Nokia lead to the creation of a “better” smartphone? A phone that will appeal to those looking for something cool and yet professional? Personally, I do not think so. Sure there are those who will buy anything with a Microsoft operating system and any phone made by Nokia. But those people are a minority and if these two companies hope to stay relevant, they have to truly innovate with their combine strengths. Otherwise, they will meet the same fate of many other contenders.