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Cloud era may help Nokia rebound

india Updated: May 06, 2012 21:47 IST
N Madhavan
N Madhavan
Hindustan Times
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Last quarter, Samsung officially beat Nokia in the cellphone came, bringing to an end a 14-year-run of Nokia as the global leader in handsets.

Data from Strategy Analytics showed Samsung in the lasts quarter had a 25.4% market share, while Nokia had 22.5%, followed by Apple's 9.5%.

Nobody likes to lose the No.1 slot, but it is time to think of the future in a new light. First, cellphones are now like cars. None can dominate all sections of the market. Cheap feature phones are like the Nano, smartphones like the sedan and Apple's iPhone is like high-end luxury cars. Nokia does have to make some choices.

The now-junked Symbian operating system that powered Nokia handsets ruled for more than a decade. Nokia probably lost the plot in behaving like Apple did in the age of personal computers. When Google introduced the open-source Android operating system that has powered Samsung and others to surge with cheaper competitors, Symbian could have done a Microsoft by allowing partners to make Symbian handsets, perhaps. That would have been like Microsoft championing DOS and Windows PCs made by other brands while Apple maintained its cult-like closed-loop system for its Macs.

Ifs and buts of history apart, it is clear to me that the game is far from over. The game is now about a variety of handheld devices that include tablets as well, and both involve platform software, applications (apps) and other aspects of design.

Now, with its Windows partnership steered by CEO Stephen Elop, a former Microsoft man, Nokia is at a cusp. The Symbian game is over but the Windows game has just started.

Here is my bet on why "Microkia" can succeed.

The emerging "cloud computing" era, which involves using the Internet to store data and synchronise files with a variety of devices, may prove a discontinuity for Nokia and Microsoft to bounce back, though it seems now they are struggling. Why? Simply because a majority of people worldwide are still used to Windows on desktops and laptops. Managing multiple devices is easy when the platform is the same.