When it comes to hardware most people agree that Nokia makes good handsets, just look at the new Nokia Lumia 1020. But the problem is Nokia’s smartphones run Windows Phone which is still playing catch-up in terms of consumer acceptance. The question that is often asked is this, why didn’t Nokia use Android?
Everyone has a theory, but now Nokia’s chief executive Stephen Elop has spilled the beans. The reason was simple – Samsung. When Nokia realized that its smartphone strategy was failing it jumped off its proverbial burning platform straight into the arms of Microsoft. But it didn’t make the leap without first talking to Google about Android.
Studying the Android eco-system Elop says that Nokia didn’t like the risk that “one hardware manufacturer could come to dominate Android.” That one hardware manufacturer was of course Samsung. So instead Nokia went to Microsoft. The advantage Elop says is that by offering an alternative to Android and iOS Nokia has something to bring to the negotiation table when dealing with the carriers. In the US in particular, the carriers are the ones who decided which devices are put in front of the consumers. Without their blessing trying to sell handsets becomes difficult. By having a third alternative available, the carrier is in turn able to exert pressure on the likes of Samsung and Apple to ensure that everyone gets their cut and the pricing is acceptable (to the carrier at least).
And as an operator he wants to negotiate with different people and keep pressure on everybody and have the best range of options, he wants that third alternative. So strategically we have an opening with AT&T and every other operator in the world – because we’ve taken that path as the third ecosystem.
Stephen Elop, CEO of Nokia
You can see why Nokia thinks it made the right decision. Given the struggles of companies like HTC as it tries to battle the might of Samsung, Nokia can quietly go about developing and releasing alternatives that could attract people away from Samsung or Apple if either company fails to innovate sufficiently and keep their customer bases happy.
Having said that, I would buy a Nokia in a second if it ran Android. The specifications and prices of the devices in the Lumia range are very competitive, even leading edge. But not enough for me to want to jump ship and switch to Windows Phone.
If only they had versions running Android…