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Is the Nokia/Microsoft horse a stallion or a tired nag?

Robert Peston | 09:00 UK time, Friday, 11 February 2011

"It's now a three-horse race" said Nokia this morning, of its proposed "broad strategic partnership" with Microsoft "to build a new global ecosystem".


Nokia phone and Microsoft logo


If Nokia and Microsoft are going to continue to use phrases like "global ecosystem", some may argue that they may not win that race - since it's not clear that their millions of customers would have the faintest idea what they're talking about.

What they are actually doing is pooling technology and assets to make a meaningful impact on the smartphone market.

Nokia will deliver mapping, imaging and operator billing agreements to the partnership; Microsoft delivers the Windows Phone platform, the Bing search engine, and the adCentre search advertising services. They'll work together on marketing.

It is a merger in the fastest growing part of the consumer IT market, the part more-or-less defined by Apple with its iPhones and iPads - and where Google is now capturing the largest market share with its Android platform.

Hence Nokia's claim that the contest now has a troika of players - though RIM with its Blackberry would say it is still fighting.

I simply don't have the expertise to know whether the adoption of Microsoft's Windows Phone as its main "smartphone strategy" can deliver devices with the elegance and efficiency of rivals' products - and at the right price. My colleague Rory Cellan-Jones is better placed to discuss all that.

What I can say is that it is incredibly difficult to create a single enterprise with ruthless purpose when two giant businesses, with strong, proud respective cultures, decide to collaborate as equals. Typically if ground has to be made up fast in a competition, it helps to know who is actually in charge, who is holding the reins.

I am trying to remember a successful precedent of collaboration on this scale - involving businesses from different continents and with pretty different products and services - that worked, absent a formal takeover of one company by another, or a full-scale merger that created a unitary board and hierarchy.

Maybe it is a failure of memory or imagination, but I can't think of any encouraging precedent. Which of course doesn't mean that the deal will fail - just that globalisation and technological change has thrown up a new kind of deal, whose results are uncertain.

There is something rather awe-inspiring about the idea of two great beasts from different species trying to work together and have babies. If they succeed in procreating, and that's by no means certain, will the hybrid progeny be a stallion or some kind of hobbled, galumphing nag?


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  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 2.

    Just a marriage of convenience.

  • Comment number 3.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 4.

    RP wrote:

    "If they succeed in procreating, and that's by no means certain, will the hybrid progeny be a stallion or some kind of hobbled, galumphing nag?"


    I predict six fingered beasts with webbed feet.

    Stable door firmly bolted, horse disappearing over the horizon, Google and Apple have this market wrapped up now. If Nokia had got on board with Google and produced Android phones instead of second rate Symbian phones they would be world beaters now.

  • Comment number 5.

    I would say that iOS is a precious beauty queen, and Android is an Olympic athlete, WM7 is a tired old man in drag. Nokia have thrown out their system, a sort of wise old woman for the latter...

  • Comment number 6.

    ""It's now a three-horse race" said Nokia this morning."

    Yep. But somehow Nokia have managed to back the loser...

  • Comment number 7.

    Tired Nag! Having been loyal to Nokia for years their N79 was high on promise poor on delivery. Now I have gone to Apple.

    To revert o Nokia they will have to bring forward real, easy and seamless technology. I doubt those are words that fit for Microsoft.

    Good bye Nokia, sad to see you go. This is not the end but it is the beginning of the end.

  • Comment number 8.

    To answer the title: A Pushmi-pullyu. A big problem here (ie the 'what the user sees' problem is that neither Nokia nor Microsoft has a remotely good track record in ruthless attention to detail in creating a consistent and coherent 'user experience' on their devices - both succumbing to featureitis at the expense of usability. Where Apple do usually get it right is in focussing on that experience, even at the cost of features (which then get introduced over time as they work out how to make them work to the required standard). So who is going to be the Jobs of Microsoft/Nokia? - who sets the height of the bar over which they must jump?

  • Comment number 9.

    Must be my age, but all I want if I have to have a mobile, is one that makes calls. Why do I need all the other things? Which is probably why I still use my phone that I bought back in 2002/2003....

    "There is something rather awe-inspiring about the idea of two great beasts from different species trying to work together and have babies. If they succeed in procreating, and that's by no means certain, will the hybrid progeny be a stallion or some kind of hobbled, galumphing nag?"

    The wonderful about evolution is no-one knows what will happen, but it will be finteresting watching as long as people do not expect too much too soon.

  • Comment number 10.

    Robert, I agree with your observation:
    "If Nokia and Microsoft are going to continue to use phrases like "global ecosystem", some may argue that they may not win that race - since it's not clear that their millions of customers would have the faintest idea what they're talking about."
    I first came across a very similar phrase used in Nokia some 8 years ago, namely: business ecosystem. At the time, I pointed out to colleagues that this was simply another example of business management jargon whose etymology was highly questionable, since an ecosystem is usually reserved for living systems that occur in the natural world.
    Of course the evangelists of this new 'cool term' argued that since it referred to business organisations, then it was appropriate to use the phrase to refer to the interplay of competitors and their variouis suppliers, distributors and customers. I was unconvinced and remain so.
    To me, it was just another dumb business buzz phrase, thought up by somebody who probably had no idea of how the term originated or its meaning. Furthermore, it appeared to be a simple-minded attempt to sound different and novel. In point of fact, their use of the term 'business ecosystem' meant nothing more than the equivalent term of 'business environment' which had served most of us in the academic, consulting and business world perfectly well for a number of decades.
    So when I hear phrases like 'business ecosystem', 'global ecosystem' or 'burning platforms' I don't think the problem is simply that their millions of customers may not have the faintest idea what it means, but rather more seriously I tend to think that the people sprouting this phrases haven't got a clue about what they are saying or what it really means.

  • Comment number 11.

    "There is something rather awe-inspiring about the idea of two great beasts from different species trying to work together and have babies. If they succeed in procreating, and that's by no means certain, will the hybrid progeny be a stallion or some kind of hobbled, galumphing nag?"

    Ha, what a glorious piece of writing! Great stuff for a Friday morning.

    You are completely correct in your observations - this should make a very interesting business model to follow as it develops, whether it succeeds or not. Both companies are in a position where they have been forced to think innovatively, dynamically, and to a large degree with a sense of urgency. Both companies bring one of the two fundamental elements of a successful phone - the operating system, and the phone itself. The problem is that Google's Android operating system dominates that particular market, and the iPhone the other, and the NokiaSoft alliance will need to create a synthesis that can rival both Google and Apple.

    Microsoft will need to completely overhaul it's OS, push towards the open source style of Android, and rebrand to move away from the stuffy 'desktop' image that Microsoft OS conjures up. Nokia will need to draw on it's vast experience in manufacturing quality, user-friendly phones and attempt to create the next generation smart phone - and not do what Samsung et al have done in simply trying to recreate the iPhone.

    As far as your concern regarding joint-working between such huge companies, I don't see this as too much of a problem given the two companies should have relatively defined roles. The trick will be in matching the levels of development so that they are not left with either a super smart phone with an OS that is lacking, or a superb OS with a below-par smart phone. But given the track record of both companies when it comes to next generation phone development, they could well just end up with a distinctly average product.

  • Comment number 12.

    "Maybe it is a failure of memory or imagination, but I can't think of any encouraging precedent. Which of course doesn't mean that the deal will fail - just that globalisation and technological change has thrown up a new kind of deal, whose results are uncertain."

    This type of deal is nothing new really. If you look back to the early days of flight and cars then similar mergers/collaborations took place with aircraft builders and engine makers - two distinct areas that learnt to work together so aircraft were designed to incorporate the engine and engines were designed to incorporate power and lightness for those planes

  • Comment number 13.

    MS doesn't have naything to loose so Nokia to be put in charge as they know the market better than anybody else with MS making it user friendly. Still Nokia has two years to get their Meego out. good luck to them. Nokia's market is Europe, Asia and Africa, not the US.

  • Comment number 14.

    It is the same type of business model that Microsoft used, years ago, with IBM and Intel. While I am not really a fan of either Microsoft or Nokia - it will make a good platform. I have always likes Windows Mobile as an OS on a Smart phone - because I find both the interface familiar and Pocket Windows. The main problem, right back to WinCE has been that it forgets an awful lot of stuff if it really runs out of power. If the have fixed that with a decent E-Prom - it will be a good platform.

  • Comment number 15.

    They've got to get their act together...their recent "iPhone killer" the Noka N8 was basically rubbish. It was clearly inferior to the best offering of Apple and the Android adopters.

  • Comment number 16.

  • Comment number 17.

    Is Citroen Peugeot and Toyota (Aygo/C1/107) multinational collaboration a good example that you were not able to recall? Isn't the Microsoft - Nokia combination a more defensive mutuality?

  • Comment number 18.

    I have no idea whether this will be a succesful link-up or not, but what I do know is that things change very rapidly in technology, especially so in the arena of mobile communications, web browsing, social media and all that jazz. Only a short while ago myspace was all the rage, they were then usurped in short order by facebook. Sooner or later I've no doubt some bright spark will come up with something that blows facebook out of the water.

    Same goes for mobiles and the OSs that run on them. Being #1 in any of these technology areas is a temporary thing and the only constant is change. Whether this is actually a good thing for the consumer or not is open to debate. The free-marketeers will claim that competition leads to innovation and progress. Those less persuaded by those arguments will point out the huge waste of resources and man-hours that goes into producing failed products and how the consumer is constantly short-changed when buying products that are obselete within 12 months.

    Still, very few of these devices can be considered essential so as a consumer you can always choose to opt out of the technology rat-race. Remember when the most important aspect of a mobile phone was it's ability to make calls? Believe it or not you can still buy one that does that and only that, does it well, will still do it well in 12 months and doesn't cost the earth, but of course the snazzy ads will always try to persuaded us that what we really need is the latest iThis or iThat.

  • Comment number 19.

    1. At 09:28am on 11th Feb 2011, writingsonthewall wrote:

    "I simply don't have the expertise to know whether the adoption of Microsoft's Windows Phone as its main "smartphone strategy" can deliver devices with the elegance and efficiency of rivals' products"

    I do, and I doubt it - because Microsoft has always been 'bloatware' and as a result require more powerful hardware to run on, pushing up costs and limiting portable resources. This is largely due to the secretive nature of Microsoft (all that security is a lot of extra code) - whereas the open source models have no such concerns and a lot less 'junk code'.


    Your areas of expertise grow daily....clearly you read alot .
    inregards to the current Microsoft Phone OS, it is a vastly improved system compared to previously released versions, finally they are trying to maximise it for the smartphone and tablet market rather than trying to shove the desktop OS into a phone. Theyre aims have always been with it to create a much more streamlined experience that optmises the performance of the phone its on.

    After the fiasco that was Vista MS are deffinately pushing hard on the OS front and this has been with Windows 7 which is a vastly improved system.

    personally i hope that it works out as i think both companies have good products that together could be very competitive and this marriage of the two sides of the coin could put them at an advantage as both companies focus on their respective areas of expertise

  • Comment number 20.

    No chance of success.
    Like IBM, Microsoft and Nokia in their different fields have had their day.

    The Windows operating system is poor compared to Android and Apple's.
    Whilst Nokia still have the most phones in circulation, world wide, they have not adapted quickly enough to move by Apple and HTC etc.
    Who wants the different Search Engines?

    Sell both stocks.

  • Comment number 21.

    Windows Phone 7 is the most promising mobile OS right now. It’s very fast, fluid, very secure and definitely better than Android. Just hold 2 handsets in your hands for 5 minutes and soon it’s clear which one is better. Android is a jungle of handsets and configurations, updates are a nightmare, experience varies, and no don’t want antivirus running on my mobile or a task manager. It sometimes gets slow and unpredictable. Compare this to the experience you get on a windows phone 7, with integrated zune, xbox and real cloud services and you can understand why Nokia chose Windows Phone 7. I have all 7000 pictures on the web linked to my mobile seamlessly. Facebook is integrated within the OS. Of course WP7 is a bet for Nokia, but they have to take a bet, it’s very expensive developing your own OS platform and now Nokia can concentrate what they do best, hardware.

  • Comment number 22.

    It's a three horse race.. my suggestion.
    Apple : Kaito Star
    Android : Red Rum
    Microsoft Nokia : Pantomime Horse

  • Comment number 23.

    Here we have two lame ducks entering a 3 legged race. It'll all end in tears...

  • Comment number 24.

    It does seem like a horrible mistake from Nokia.
    Its clear that the Smartphone is taking over and we are into the battle of the operating systems. There we have a new entrant who is leading the field, a few that have failed to take root and one that has had only limited success despite massive investment.
    A partnership with Google could have been win-win, this seems like a lose for Nokia and MS won't really care.

  • Comment number 25.

    I'd say a 4 horse race, as HP have just entered it at high speed with a Palm-OS based TouchPad. Lack of apps (so far) is the only issue and if HP put Palm-OS on laptops or netbooks as they hinted, apps might appear rapidly.

  • Comment number 26.

    So Robert,

    Two old and out-dated brand names coming together like two old soldiers in a retirement home. Each clinging to the other for comfort.

    Both have good brands and good reputations, but sadly the world has moved on. Where General Motors had the 'Detroit mentality', Nokia has the 'Sauna mentality'. Microsoft? Well who knows where their mentality comes from.

  • Comment number 27.

    As these smartphone platforms are nothing more than a platform for network operators to sell mobile data, as the market for voice and text is fairly flat, the outcome for nokia will be in their hands most probably down to how cheap they can provide their offering for. Apple is vastly overpriced but has got the fashion appeal, android gives people a choice of handset and works as well as iphone, current microsoft mobile application is as clunky as their windows application. Nokia still have the handset brand name in emerging markets, but microsoft need to do plenty with their mobile software. Let's face it the best technology isn't always the survivor.

  • Comment number 28.

    Robert, I agree with your observations about the potential outcomes and track record of large corporations forming successful strategic partnerships.
    Having witnessed a number of such partnerships and alliances over the years in the business world, I can say that the majority of them do not succeed: although a few do.
    The usual form is for the two CEOs of the respective companies to stand on the podium grinning like two newly weds to announce to the world their vows going forward, so to speak. Inevitably that awful word 'synergy' will creep into their pronouncements. You know the word that means when you add 1+1 you get 3!
    More often than not the reality of their union turns out to be a sum rather less than 3. Of course, the reality with most of these large corporation marriages (especially when they involve a full merger, which strategic partnerships sometimes precede) is that rather than adding 1+1, they are actually adding something more akin to 1+(-1) or even (-2). Sometimes, this situation occurs because the CEOs are in denial, which appears to be a regular condition of many CEOs; remember the £112 billion Vodafone spent on the Mannesmann deal back in the heady days of 2000, before the bubble burst? Vodafone had to subsequently write off a fair chunk of this purchase price, when reality came home roost. In fairness, the CEO, Stephen Elop of Nokia is not such an animal, as demonstrated by his brazen honesty about Nokia's situation during the past few days.
    What is most interesting here is that Stephen Elop was announcing a similar agreement with Nokia in August 2009, when he was Microsoft's Business Division President. On that occasion it was according to the Microsoft press release a " . . . groundbreaking, enterprise-grade solution for mobile productivity." Of course the new deal is potentially more far reaching, but it highlights the fact that Nokia and Microsoft are not new allies.
    On another point Robert, I think you are right to pick up on the cultural dimension to such alliances, partnerships and mergers. Even in the case of full blown mergers (which is not what is currently involved) the most frequent cause of failure comes down to differing cultures. Nokia used to be a company that prided itself on its organic growth, with certain technologies being brought onboard by relatively small scale acquisitions. Indeed, a number of Microsoft products entered the company in this manner.
    However, there is a world of difference between buying up companies with critical technologies for a few hundred million pounds or dollars and getting into close partnership with another giant.
    Personally, I would not make a call on whether this newly announced strategic partnership will be successful at this time, especially given the fluid nature of the competitive environment in which it is taking place. However, I think the challenge is as much about cultural and organisational issues as it is about working out the technolgies.
    What does seem clear is that usually when large companies enter these scale of partnerships it is a sign of some desparation. A healthy growing company which is 'getting it right' like Apple today, Nokia between the mid-90s and early 2000s or Microsoft during the late 80s and 90s does not need large scale partners in this industry. The trick is to become the de facto standard for a particular product market or at least the most highly desired brand. When you start to lose that dominance, like Nokia has with the emergence of the 'smartphone' market or Microsoft has done in many areas of the Web-based world, then you are on a slippery slope.

  • Comment number 29.

    Why oh why team up with Microsoft? Google makes so much more sense; Android is much much better than anything Microsoft could produce to run on mobile phones. The death knell for Nokia, unless they about-turn and sidle up to Google before it's too late.

  • Comment number 30.

    Either Msft buys Nokia and does it properly or it's a bit of a farce.

    I'm not convinced that buying declining market share is the best strategy, however owning the platform in this market is mandatory - like in the games market.

    At the moment it looks like a half-pregnant strategy.

    Msft have had great technology in this area for years, a lot of the stufff that Apple are demonstrating Msft had years ago. They have a mature dev platform, great msft apps, huge experience of partnering and a history of turning up late and still being successful. They also have lots of money, healthy cash-flow and lots of good techies.

    However their culture is now old, too wedded to the Windows UI and without vision and direction. They don't seem to have the design competencies or market vision to make a difference. They are todays IBM, doing it all, but not a lot that well.

    Msft are now too big, too slow and too set in their ways, they all look inwards and consequently have lost touch with their customers and reality. Read their web site, you need to know their language before you can understand most of it.

    About time Ballmer got some new blood, got rid of a load of people and brought Msft back into the real market, instead of just milking the Windows/Office cow.

    However they did it in games, can they now do it in search, mobile, social networking................................I would love them to prove me wrong.

  • Comment number 31.

    risky but best of two evils. a JV with Google would have been the end of Nokia.
    Android is fairly good and people would have stayed with Android and leave Nokia and follow Android if they ever were to split. This won happen with MS, customer would stay with Nokia and not follow MS.

    Nokia would have been relegated to hardware supplier and have to compete with the like of HTC. no hope in the long term.

    Tie up with MS makes sense and they could both get some positive out of it.
    The pressure now is on Linux to pronto come up with a good Meego

  • Comment number 32.

    quote: "I am trying to remember a successful precedent of collaboration on this scale - involving businesses from different continents and with pretty different products and services - that worked"

    It depends what is meant by partnership. HTC (a Chinese company) and Samsumg (South Korean) have been extremely successful selling phones with the Android Operating system (Google - US company).

    Nokia produce the phones, Microsoft produce the operating system it makes sense and is not unusual in tech industry. It's a bit like Dell or HP using Microsoft Windows on their laptops with processors made by Intel.

    Partnerships are common (and normal) in the tech world, each company can concentrate on what they are good at. Nokia's mistake has been trying to do everything themselves; they make great phones but terrible software.

  • Comment number 33.

    So you're an enormous company with falling product share due to old design and technology? Do you go to the new, big company who are having massive success with open source'ish products or the another old, enormous company with a very long history of bad mobile software and products? Nokia choose the latter.

  • Comment number 34.

    Having had a number of good Nokia's in the past, I unwisely got a Nokia n900 for it's power and flexibility. The n900 GUI turned out to be very poor and illegible and the phone has a short battery life. For a 32GB machine it is a disgrace. I have been waiting for ages for the new meego system which now seems to be in doubt.

    When I posted on the meamo board some simple questions about an alternative, the geek-flame has to be seen.

    This is an example of Nokia going astray and instead of embracing Android they have got into bed with the devil. Goodbye Nokia - never again!

  • Comment number 35.

    Young Robert Peston might care enough about mobile connections to waste a blog post on the Nokia/Microsoft partnership. I wasn't going to, but for #1 Writingsonthewall comment (despite recent overexposure) actually brought a smile to my face today.

    Finland will have to find a new global industrial sector to champion. Or Finland can focus on the many options for local industries, that will arise from resurging local economic systems - Baltic, Scandinavian, Eastern European, and even Arctic.

  • Comment number 36.

    I think Vic Gundotra summed it up best. Two turkeys don't make an eagle.

  • Comment number 37.

    >>I am trying to remember a successful precedent of collaboration on this scale - involving businesses from different continents and with pretty different products and services

  • Comment number 38.

    7. At 09:47am on 11th Feb 2011, DibbySpot wrote:

    I went Apple and after what felt like a lifetime have given up, its not just all the technical problems and glitches it is now the security of the phones that is being called into question, something I fear was never high on the others agenda in my opinion.

  • Comment number 39.

    As RP says, It's perfectly feasible for a tired, useless old nag of a horse to mate with some decrepit donkey, and to produce a healthy young mule - though that mule itself, is then almost invariably infertile, and unable to produce any offspring of it's own.

  • Comment number 40.

    You could argue that Sony/Ericsson have made a reasonable fist of mobile hardware, although that was a properly-construed joint venture, with a proper management structure, rather than a committee of the has-been and never-were. I predict camel-style horses, winning only the race between product launch and knackers' yard.

  • Comment number 41.


    You ask for another example of co-ooperation on this scale: how about Nestle and General Mills in breakfast cereals? Since the early 1990s, they have had a successful 50/50 joint venture called 'Cereal Partners.'

    Part of the reason for succcess is that the joint venture was set up as a separate company - unlike what appears to be proposed in the case of Nokia and Microsoft.

    More generally, the new Nokia/MS strategy remains very unclear at this stage. And it still lacks the crucial success element of both Apple and Google's Android - a clear plan to provide a large Apps Store.

    Maybe it's a mule? Maybe it's a top class race horse? Certainly the new partners are seeking the latter.

  • Comment number 42.

    Another Example...........
    Sony and Ericsson???

  • Comment number 43.

    I was very disappointed by Nokia's announcement. A better way to go for them would be to adopt Android, but give it a coherent Nokia look and feel. THAT would give the market a credible fourth player (iOS(Apple), RiM(Blackberry), Android, Nokia/Android). Plus, Nokia's market presence would add to Androids critical mass. The sooner the limits on Apple's over-controlled anti-competitive business model is exposed the better.

    What Android needs is a coherent integrated look and feel, it's current development is lightening fast, but the committed techies who are driving it pull in too many directions.

    You badly underestimate Blackberry, they have by far the biggest presence, and a rock solid business base.

  • Comment number 44.

    The short answer to your question is Nag.
    The longer answer is that Nokia products have tended to lack style and 'Must-Have'. In the early days Microsoft benefited from IBM's benevolence for its near monopolistic market. Since then Microsoft products have been ram hungry, convoluted, tiresome, unstable (relatively) and, finally, too early or too late.
    I think the short answer is the better answer.

  • Comment number 45.

    Sadly Nokia have squandered the lead that they had with Symbian, and the have not capitalised on their first class grasp of mobile technology, usual big company hubris. Unless they can now match Apple's touchscreen technology - unlikely with Microsoft as a partner (who ever imagined that an hourglass is acceptable in any thing mobile!!). Good luck to the new guy but I wouldn't buy a Nokia share.

  • Comment number 46.

    9. At 09:54am on 11th Feb 2011, yam yzf wrote:

    "Must be my age, but all I want if I have to have a mobile, is one that makes calls. Why do I need all the other things? Which is probably why I still use my phone that I bought back in 2002/2003...."

    At last - I knew this day would come - I am in total agreement with this sentiment.

    There is an obsession amongst some people to have 'everything possible' on your phone, but most of these people actually use them to play games....and by today's standards...not very good one's.

    I still have a very old phone too - people laugh at me and ask me if I have 'sat nav' - to which I reply 'no, I don't need it because I am never lost'. It barely makes phone calls because it's got poor reception - and that's the way I like it. More importantly I can sit on it, stand on it, drop it from my bike, drop it in the bath and let my nephew play with it - all of which would destroy a modern touch screen phone.

    You can't call me when I'm on the allotment to talk nonsense for hours because you're bored at work or you have minutes to use up, like I see so many people doing on the train "yeah, ummm, yeah, ok, ummm, yeah, right, mmmm, ok, yeah" - you've all seen them.

    If I could I'd go back to using tin cans and string and carrier pidgeons which are a cheap form of communication that won't be destroyed by the sun 'throwing a tizzy'.

    I do think this obsession by certain technology companies is also slightly foolish. The technical consumer is very, very fickle and always prone to a sudden change in attitude leaving your 'prize product' on the scrapheap.

    Don't call me, I'll call you......maybe.....

  • Comment number 47.

    21. At 10:22am on 11th Feb 2011, gmx1 wrote

    Lots of techy speak there, none of which I understand.

    All I need to know is are the buttons large enough to actually type in a telephone number or text message and does the battery last more than 2 days when on standby?

    In both the above my current very basic Nokia fails - it's had two new batteries, but it's no better, so something is very power hungry.

    My previous Samsung touchscreen phone was slightly better, but once you dialled the number it was a faff to get the keyboard back to type in an extension number, or an option number when calling a call centre. This is basic stuff I would have thought.

  • Comment number 48.

    Not sure how you managed not to mention the fact that this move was driven by ex-Microsoftee Stephen Elop. Nokia have fallen victim to the trojan horse, something Microsoft know plenty about...

  • Comment number 49.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 50.

    Sell any shares you have left in both of them.

    Apple are winning by making the interface easy. Blackberry by letting you type fast.

    Microsoft don't understand anything that simple.

    Microsoft still think it's about functionality. The latest iteration of Office was crazy, they took the world's most popular and powerful work software and made it incomprehensibly difficult.

    They sacrificed the golden goose on the altar of enhanced funtionality.

    Will the smartphone users of the world want them to do the same to their handsets? Like heck.

    Nokia gains nothing from this.

  • Comment number 51.

    With any luck they'll bring each other down, good riddance.
    The best that Nokia can hope for is to be fondly remembered for destroying MS.

  • Comment number 52.

    21. At 10:22am on 11th Feb 2011, gmx1

    Microsoft employee? - nobody who works with technology ever has a view like this unless they work of microsoft.
    The only things microsoft do well are the things they buy up from other companies - even DOS wasn't their idea - the basis for early versions of windows.

    Get back to work - you've got buggy software to write!

  • Comment number 53.

    What have IBM PCs got to do with phones?

  • Comment number 54.

    Dear oh dear so many Apple and Google Fanbois getting upset here, if anyone honestly thinks that a nokia user will abandon nokia because they have started using WP7 instead of Symbien then they really need their head testing. MS have the power to get developers on board and build a huge app store and that along with the smooth interface will make this a success. Web OS I agree is brilliant but they have failed to get developers on board to build a competitive app store and thats why now its only a 3 horse race.

  • Comment number 55.

    Windows Phone 7 has had wall-to-wall positive reviews from the tech press, even from observors who are normally anti-microsoft. The Android interface largely copies the iPhone (a 4x5 grid of icons) but WP7 has a very fresh take on it, that all reviewers have liked. It also has better battery life than thirsty Android, and fantastic developer tools - building on the enormous .Net global developer community. I have a new Android phone, and even though I like it, I have also had lots of problems with it, including poor battery life, and wouldn't recommend it to a non-geek.

    I think Nokia + WP7 could be a world beater - if they do it right, and do it fast.

  • Comment number 56.

    Nokia also needs to understand that the relationship they are in with Microsoft is the same as Microsoft has with HTC who, by the way have a head start with Windows Phone 7 (WP7)

    Nokia does not have the WP7 platform all to itself - It therefore needs to deliver significantly better products than HTC to stand a chance.

  • Comment number 57.

    I've owned various Nokia phones for 15 years.

    Loyaly upgraded to their latest new N8 smartphone (which on paper looked to have everything).

    Took it home, after an hour the software froze and it would not turn on or off.

    Took it back to the shop and got an iphone (paying an extra £100).

    It seems phones are now computers first, phones second, and Nokia don't make computers as well as Apple do.

    Soon forgot about paying an extra £100 as the Apple product is better in so many ways.

    So, Nokia teaming up with MS seems sensible although Nokia will become another handset factory.

  • Comment number 58.

    22. At 10:23am on 11th Feb 2011, wheatleylad wrote:
    It's a three horse race.. my suggestion.
    Apple : Kaito Star : Once great horse now ageing nag in his swansong.
    Android : Red Rum : Once great now dead horse.
    Microsoft Nokia : Pantomime Horse : perennial horse that has developed over centuries and is likely to continue for many years to come.

  • Comment number 59.

    The only important question, which commentators are simply not asking, is:

    'Who owns the source code?'

  • Comment number 60.

    19. At 10:22am on 11th Feb 2011, avalanche_invesmtents wrote:

    "Your areas of expertise grow daily....clearly you read alot ."

    What can I say - I'm a knowledgeable person, please don't hold it against me. However I have been working in IT longer than I have in finance - I think it's about 15 years now...and I was programming basic on an Acorn electron at age 8, I'd say my record speaks for itself.

    "inregards to the current Microsoft Phone OS, it is a vastly improved system compared to previously released versions, finally they are trying to maximise it for the smartphone and tablet market rather than trying to shove the desktop OS into a phone."

    I do know this, but you read too much blurb from the manufacturer. Microsoft will always have bloatware because it has to rely on so much code to protect it's sercrets.

    "Theyre aims have always been with it to create a much more streamlined experience that optmises the performance of the phone its on."

    I remember the same thing being said about Windows 95 and laptops.

    "After the fiasco that was Vista MS are deffinately pushing hard on the OS front and this has been with Windows 7 which is a vastly improved system."

    Improvement on Vista?

    "personally i hope that it works out as i think both companies have good products that together could be very competitive and this marriage of the two sides of the coin could put them at an advantage as both companies focus on their respective areas of expertise"

    Microsoft's expertise is in marketing and 'road kill' - it lost whatever expertise it had in programming a very long time ago.
    This is why most IT professionals dislike Microsoft - and we only use it because (as someone pointed out quite correctly) the old adage of "you'll never get fired for buying big blue (IBM)" has been replaced with Microsoft.

    It's about continuity for most busineses, all IT purists know the truth. If it weren't for the market share Microsoft would be the inferior company all round.

    It's just another example of the free market not working again. MS is innefficient and behind the curve, possibly because it's a leviathan with too many areas pulling in too many directions.

  • Comment number 61.

    Can I use a different analogy here? With iphone/ios you get an awful lot of toys but you can only play in a limited part of the playground. With Android you get to play in the whole playground but with fewer toys. What is Nokia going to do? Build a new playground?

  • Comment number 62.

    It is interesting that so many big businesses are starting to struggle. Is it a sign that the masses are starting to revolt against large corporations dominating what are supposed to be democratic societies?

    I found this blog, which is suggesting that people may start revolting against banks if they continue to make obscene profits and pay outrageous bonuses whilst the banking system is effectively supported by the bailout from the taxpayer... an interesting idea...

  • Comment number 63.

    From now, til Nokia has WP7 fruit to sell, they will bleed market share, because it is now clear to anyone that they consider Symbian unfit for purpose, and MeeGo will be stillborn.

    Meanwhile, a declaration of pooling assets with MS is a form of partnership which dumps all over MIcrosoft's other WP7 'partners' [sick joke].

    Those other partners had one foot in WP7, and one in Android. They now have little choise about ditching WP7.

    Strangely this is very bad for Android. Because having been dumped on by MS, there guys cannot now ignore how exposed they are to being dumped on in the same way by Google. And while Google controls its 'open' [sick joke] Android software with an iron fist, the directors of these companies cannot pretend that they have a reliable future path.

    Oh, all the marketing will say how committed they are to Android, they are not stupid enough to pre announce ditching it [as Nokia has with Symbian], but the now have no choice but to start to put in place a future strategy that they can control [actually most of them were probably already doing this].

    Curiously, a true alliance between Microsoft and Nokia, is a crippling blow to Android, EVEN THOUGH that alliance is probably too late to gain much real market share.

    I wonder if Apple really is ready to play into the confusion with a lower price, open SIM, iPhone... And wipe the market!

  • Comment number 64.

    Why does the merger of TimeWarner and AOL come to mind...? This is too little too late for Microsoft, and a bad move for Nokia. good luck, folks. I'll stick with Android, thanks.

  • Comment number 65.

    Viz previous alliances on such a scale there probably is not one. You would have to look at treaties between countries as model for a probable outcome. The one that sprang to mind was Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, in 1939, between NAZI Germany and the Soviet Union. Interestingly the perceived underdog came out on top in that one.

  • Comment number 66.

    When BBC Breakfast this am covered speculation of what Nokia might announce, this JV with MSFT was missed completely - instead the focus was on Nokia moving from Finland to Silicon Valley. Yet, most analysts had predicted a Nokia-MSFT tie-up. It was fairly obvious that Nokia was left with "Hobson's choice" in which company it was going to partner with. Perhaps the Beeb should be looking for analysts who are better briefed on understanding the direction of travel in these matters ?

  • Comment number 67.

    Plenty of other manufacturers license WM7, but Nokia has gone its own way for so long that it had to present the deal as something more earth-shattering than it is. It's a licensing deal that allows Nokia to ditch its own struggling system and adopt the generally very well received (by reviewers/critics if not the public) Windows Mobile 7. I'm sure there's a lot of technology/patent sharing going on as well but I doubt it's going to be any manner of joint venture - otherwise how are Microsoft's other licensees, rivals to Nokia, going to feel?

    Nokia is still the largest producer of phones in the world and their share of the smartphone market isn't exactly trivial. This is a good thing for them, and doesn't preclude them from releasing an Android-based phone at a later date if they think it'll be a good strategic move.

  • Comment number 68.

    My comment above was chopped off halfway through, making it meaningless.

    In answer to Robert wondering if there is an example of two companies from different backgrounds and continents coming together like this, might I suggest that Sony and Ericsson is a fairly close analogy?

  • Comment number 69.

    The behemoth that will be Microsoft and Nokia I just can’t see working, especially in this context and especially when you look at the very top of each company.

    There not looking here at anything new but what differentiates their proposed Smartphone from the rest. This looks to me very much like a “bolt on” new front end (user interface) from Microsoft and a PDA type handset from Nokia.

    Either way it’s all two years to late and will need some clever marketing and nifty footwork to get the product out of the door in time for Christmas, probably to late already.

  • Comment number 70.

    I'm personally intrigued by this move. Nokia's phones have long suffered from having to run the ageing, clumsy Symbian OS, but the hardware itself frequently shows off Nokia's flair for industrial design: elegant and durable.

    WP7 is still in its infancy and I'm personally not interested in it for the time being, but in a year or two we could have some exceptional phones on our hands from this partnership.

  • Comment number 71.

    Somebody mentioned that Samsung et al are simply trying to replicate the iPhone, and I guess that's what MS & Nokia will now attempt.

    The trouble is the next generation of a smartphone will have no resemblance to anything we see in today's market. It probably won't even be called a smartphone. And it will have been conceived by some bright people who are unconstrained by today's concepts or technologies. That sounds more like Apple, or some start-up that none of us has yet heard of. It doesn't sound like MS or Nokia

  • Comment number 72.

    I'vew checked and neither Nokia nor Microsoft appear to be in the 'league of evil' who are determined to change Government policy in favour of corporations.

    "Among them are representatives of Vodafone, Tesco, BP, British American Tobacco and several of the major banks: HSBC, Santander, Standard Chartered, Citigroup, Schroders, RBS and Barclays."

    From 'the' article...

    However maybe more research is needed. Consumers cannot make a 'rational decision' as to which mobile phone to buy if they do not have the full facts on who is promoting the UK as a tax haven and syphoning funds from hospitals, schools and colleges into ferrari's masserati's and porsche's.

    I wouldn't by a product from any of these companies listed above - but are there more?
    How can I make the right decision at the till when all around me is deception?

    This is how democracy of consumerism is 'managed' by the corporations so it works in their favour.

  • Comment number 73.


    1. At 09:28am on 11th Feb 2011, writingsonthewall wrote:
    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain

    Wothu.....Why? Too late anyway. I read it. I'm not an IT expert but I know that much from experience (as I suspect would a majority of users).

  • Comment number 74.

    Moderators - Just a quick question - where are all the entries from your previous blog gone "Can Maude deliver billions of pounds of revenue to small businesses?"

  • Comment number 75.

    It's been clear as an ex-Nokian for over 10 years that Nokia was backing the losing horses, but when the strategy was questioned "Nokia arrogance" (caused by their then market dominance) prevented suggestions to change being considered at all, let alone considered seriously.

    Microsoft have recently crippled Windows Mobile 7 by withdrawing the SDK (System Developers Kit - essential if an "app" market is to be developed for WM7). So once again Nokia have backed the losing horse.

  • Comment number 76.

    Tired old nag.

    Why? Two bloated, bureaucratic companies living off past glories, that have been totally outmanoeveured by more dynamic rivals. There is nobody at either company that knows how to bridge the worlds of tech, design and salesmanship (or if there is, they get ignored by the suits).

    WinPhone7 and Symbian have both been met with a resounding 'meh' in the marketplace and Nokia is sidelining the one platform that might have had the potential to be disruptive - MeeGo.

  • Comment number 77.

    Add two losers and all you have is a bigger loser.

  • Comment number 78.

    Have the moderators gone down the pub?

  • Comment number 79.

    It used to be 'me and my shadow'.

    Today it is 'me and my cloud'.

    Which is absolutely crucial and the MS/Nokia strategic partnership should focus on that because less really is more.

  • Comment number 80.

    Apple are a disgrace. They manufacture their phones in China yet sell them at inflated Western prices. So not only do they deny American workers their jobs but are supporting a repressive communist state. I don't understand why anyone buys their products.

  • Comment number 81.

    Prediction. The first company to make a tablet pc (a big phone in reality) with a stable Google or Apple operaring system which has an integrated phone you can detach and use separately that fully syncs every time you dock will have won the game.

    Currently the Android system (Froyo) doesn't lend itself to anything bigger than a 7" screen but the next generation systems (Gingerbread and Honeycombe) will be fully supported on all size screens. Once this is in place I reckon the likes of Samsung will walk away with the market, their Galaxy series is currently the only real competitor for Apple. As for Nokia and MS, forget it, windows is awful on phones. Microsoft should stick to beating off the competiton for their netbooks because tablet pc's are the future of portable devices.

  • Comment number 82.

    @9. At 09:54am on 11th Feb 2011, yam yzf wrote:

    Nokia 1101?

  • Comment number 83.

    . At 10:54am on 11th Feb 2011, Stephen Simpson wrote:

    It depends what is meant by partnership. HTC (a Chinese company) ... with the Android Operating system (Google - US company).


    HTC are Taiwanese. Nitpicking you might say but as far as I'm aware a mainland Chinese company has yet to design their own smartphone though they do of course manufacture them for the likes of Apple etc. and do produce low-cost bog-standard dumbphones. I doubt whether a mainland Chinese phone manufacturer would ever have any kind of partnership with Google, given the tense relationship Google has with the Chinese authorities. I could be wrong but that's my gut feeling. It would be interesting to see which OS a genuinely Chinese smartphone would use, an existing one or a home-grown one that doesn't allow the CIA to hack into it.

  • Comment number 84.

    When will people learn, its not the hardware although a stable and well built device is important, and its not the OS although again a stable and easy to use os helps. Its the applications. And on this Apple and to some extent google have this warped up. Its the same with desktop OS Windows is by far the most widely used because of the applications and games it has available, MacOS and GNU/Linux system, are both technically superior to windows in almost every regard security stability ease of use and performance yes they are only a fraction of the market because they don't have the applications available ( although MacOS is improving in this regard in the last few years).

  • Comment number 85.

    Surely a perfect example of companies combining expertise is Formula 1. Plenty of F1 teams pool resources with other companies, Mclaren and Mercedes, Red Bull (plus many others) and Cosworth etc. It can be done, just a case of how organised the management is.

  • Comment number 86.

    To quote from "The Sixth Sense", I see dead people.

  • Comment number 87.

    Can there be a 4th place in a 3 horse race?

  • Comment number 88.

    Oh right, it's refer-factually-correct-statement to the moderators day.

  • Comment number 89.

    it's only a few days ago since Nokia's new CEO, Stephen Elop, sent an internal memo to staff describing the company as standing on a "burning platform" with pundits predicting that to move forward Nokia would have to make "some drastic decisions" _ presumably Mr Elop reckons that tying his burning platform to Microsoft's sinking one will produce some kind of equilibrium from which Nokia can move forward _

    however _ and on the off-chance that someone from Nokia might be interested enough in public opinion to actually read these comments _ i would suggest one new policy that will bring at least one old (& previously loyal) customer back to the fold...


    alternatively you can look forward to more &more people joining the growing BDS (Boycott Divest Sanction) campaign and simultaneously leaving you and Nokia behind

  • Comment number 90.

    Is it not the case that all hybrid offspring are sterile?


  • Comment number 91.

    54. At 11:32am on 11th Feb 2011, saf312 wrote:

    "MS have the power to get developers on board and build a huge app store and that along with the smooth interface will make this a success"

    What, more than open source? - I don't think so.

    I have no doubt microsoft will have a giant app store - but will it be any good?

    Open source is the future and Microsoft refuse to embrace it - it will be their downfall eventually as no corporation can ever keep pace with the 'world army' of independent developers who are writing as we speak - not for reward...but for the love of it - making better apps as a result which are more popular.

    This is more difficult on any windows O/S - so they don't bother. Microsoft cannot compete with the innovation of millions, and to try is simply fatal.

  • Comment number 92.

    I still use a key to wind-up my no frills mobile! Its worth in trade-in value £0.25p So I'll be hanging on to it....still makes calls..........well if you can get a decent signal

  • Comment number 93.

    I always thought Nokia were quite nice really. Quite nice really doesn't make you rich or profitable but is getting into bed with those guys at Microsoft any better?

  • Comment number 94.

    The smartphone is a computer that can make phone calls, so it is no wonder that computer-based companies, i.e., Apple and Google have made such a huge impact on the market.

    Nokia is primarily a phone maker, albeit a very good one, that is a player in the smartphone market. Mircrosoft is a computer company, but one that does not play in hardware, so a marriage between Nokia and Microsoft may work well, providing they play off each other's strengths and don't meddle in each other's area of expertise.

    Don't underestimate Nokia. Anyone that has met a Fin knows that they do not go out without a fight and full marks to Nokia acknowledging that they have a mountain to climb. You can't change something unless you acknowledge it is broken.

  • Comment number 95.

    My only experience owning a windows based smart phone, coupled with experience of windows generally , but not Win7, is that Windows is too unstable. I would nto buy a phone running any form of windows and have just made the swap to Apple on my laptop and use Linux on my server. My own belief is that Nokia have made a huge mistake and should have gone with Android. However the main thing is that they need to design exciting, usable products and it wont matter what OS they use if they don't do that. They need the kind of expertise that Apple excels at design and engineering skills that produce products that both perform and engage.

  • Comment number 96.

    There are a lot of people above seemingly speaking from a position of ignorance about Microsoft's current mobile offering. Windows Phone 7 was a complete departure and fresh start from the old Windows Mobile OS (hence the name-change), designed from a blank sheet of paper and for consumers rather than business users. I'm a user of WP7, and it is incredibly smooth, intuitive and user-friendly.

    Microsoft seem to be a victim of their own poor reputation at the moment, which is their own fault. I'm no business expert, but if Microsoft can get WP7 into a lot of users' hands by being on Nokias based on the familiarity of the Nokia brand (outside of the US at least), presumably that could "get the word out" about the brilliant user experience, gain some of the much-vaunted "mindshare" and win more customers. Plus Nokia gets a decent OS for once.

    I hope that's how it pans out, because I really believe Microsoft deserve success for WP7.

  • Comment number 97.

    Neither one can do it alone, because both are behind. Together they are capable of catching up. The effective boss is and will remain Nokia, because it will be a Nokia device that people purchase. M'soft are facilitators/enablers of those devices, who need to collaborate in their own interests. So effectively, Nokia have hired M'soft and made it look like equal partners - that's a promising start. It feels like they're going for across the board competititon in every stream. It actually feels like the Ford equivalent in mobile devices. They'll pinch the lower strata, (or they certainly should),reducing the slice of the pie that Apple and others currently get. That's how I think it will play out.

  • Comment number 98.

    Fail, fail and fail. Who wants Windows on their phone? Not me for sure, I'm sick of it enough from work and home. And no-one wants Symbian. Where are the apps to compare with iOS and Android? Nokia lost the game a long time ago, their best bet is to come out with a quality, affordable Android phone and consign Symbian and Windows Phone 7 to the dustbin of history.

  • Comment number 99.

    There seems to be a lot of people who don't know what Windows Phone 7 is or what it is like. It isn't a continuation of the tired Windows Mobile interface, it is a redesign influenced by Android and iOS.

    Nokia need to stand out from the crowd and jumping on the Android bandwagon isn't the way to do this. Android phones have too many variations which impairs the overall user experience.

    With iOS and WP7 there is a consistent user interface and this makes for a better user experience. Hardware makers don't like being told they can't change the interface as it stops their efforts to stand out from the competition. But for the end user it is a good thing.

    I think Nokia have made the right choice, it was becoming clear that they make good hardware but aren't software people.

  • Comment number 100.

    Microsoft seem to me to be going backwards with their products instead of forwards. I've used Windows 7 and found it to be a slow, clumsy beast of a system, based solely on fancy graphics and far less user friendly than its predecessors. Windows is notoriously unreliable, so why would you want it on a phone?

    Apple have one big advantage - with the exception of the iPhone 4 blunder, they've always polished their products and released something that functions properly. Microsoft churn out software as fast as they can with little regard for whether it works or not.

    Nokia, meanwhile, have failed to keep their finger on the pulse. The popularity of Nokia in days gone by, I believe, made them complacent - they thought they would always be number one, but of course in the world of technology you can't afford to stop innovating for one moment.

    At the other end of this scale would appear to be RIM, whose Blackberry has the business market all sewn up. I'm not a great Blackberry fan myself, but it would appear that the corporate world is.

    As for the Microsoft/Nokia partnership - I foresee a mutant that will probably fade into obscurity once the marketing millions have run out and everyone has realised that whatever they create doesn't offer anything new anyway. Because I don't think it will. Microsoft are salespeople, not innovators.


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