Nokia might be saying it “put these Microsoft takeover rumours to rest a long time ago”. But there’s just no escaping the fact that talk of the Big M taking over the ailing Finnish phone maker’s smartphone division will not die.
Eldar Murtazin, the well-known Russian mobile watcher with excellent connections inside Espoo, fired-off a string of tweets last week suggesting the deal was edging ever closer to reality.
But even if this does come to fruition (and despite Nokia’s protestations, it looks highly likely that it will), can it save Windows Phone from being a well-received but poor-selling competitor to Android and iOS?
It seems safe to say that no matter how much Microsoft pays Nokia and whatever it spends on marketing and advertising, it doesn’t stand a chance in the next two years. Windows Phone might be almost two-years-old, but there’s been an abject failure in getting it to compete.
The slick OS has less market share than its clunky, work-focused predecessor Windows Mobile.
This is down largely to partners preferring the free, customisable world of Google Android to the straitjacketed, closed Windows Phone.
Following the poor showing of the Nokia Lumia 800, a sleek phone that just hasn’t captured the wider imagination, its become abundantly clear to all that Windows Phone has no future as a third-party operating system.
Microsoft needs to roll up its sleeves and do everything itself if it wants to gain even a modicum of success, say double-figure market share, by 2013. The fear is, though, that simply buying up Nokia’s smartphone division just won’t cut it.
The world has moved on. Google has stormed ahead in terms of volume, thanks largely to the fact it allows manufacturers to tweak the OS as they please (despite the problems this can cause with fragmentation).
Apple, meanwhile, is taking more cash than ever, raking it in through high handset costs and hefty cuts of app sales.
There’s just no room for Microsoft. It wants to battle it out with its big rivals in the mobile space, but unless it builds and releases a phone that’s light years ahead of the competition, it stands no chance. It missed its chance years ago and has been playing catch up ever since.
Microsoft will buy out Nokia’s smartphone business, of that there is little doubt.
But expect the results to be every bit as disappointing as they were when the first array of WP handsets were launched and the Lumia landed last year.
It’s not nice to say it, because Windows Phone is great to use, but frankly its days are numbered.