HT, you could say saw the Micrsoft acquisition of Nokia’s handset business coming three years ago. In the Tech-IT-Easy column, headlined “Is Microkia the new Wintel?” I had said that Microsoft and Nokia will come together in an emerging technological landscape and coined a term that blended their names together — the way Windows and Intel had been clubbed.
Nokia’s Symbian mobile platform began losing fast to Google-led Android phones, while Windows had missed the handset revolution by being focused more on desktops than mobiles. But Nokia was strong on handset manufacturing while Microsoft was strong on software, making them natural partners in an emerging situation.
“The two badly need each other,” I had written in the column on May 3, 2010.
Nokia and Microsoft both tried to “control” the emerging age of networks, while Google, Apple and Facebook, by introducing partners for manufacture and applications decided to “lead” autonomously growing open networks.
BlackBerry took away the QWERTY crown with its smart, secure network for corporate users of handsets, while Apple took away with the “cool” crown for young millions. Nokia was stranded.
Nokia saw Asia slip by, launching wallet-friendly Asha phones too late, while Samsung and local brands gained. For too long, Nokia tried to leverage on its brand power and marketing strengths. But brand premiums can matter less when new competitors come up.
Nokia also tried a captive services story with its “Ovi” site that sold songs and other content. It did not spot the emerging trend where third-party apps by independent developers mattered more than the handsets.
The sellout to Microsoft, which was trying to build on its new Windows Mobile platform in an era in which content and software mattered more than the machines, seemed a natural conclusion.