Let’s be honest, since we first blogged about it almost two years ago, the Microsoft-Nokia partnership hasn’t even registered a blip with the man (or woman) on the street. Worldwide there are now more iPhones sold per day than there are babies born, and with just one quick look around, you’ll see plenty of Androids and Blackberries among the iPhone-swiping hordes. Comscore’s 2012 Mobile Future in Focus shows Apple’s mobile dominance and Google crushing the rest, and predicts this trend to continue.
But things may be about to change.
This week, wounded giant Nokia made a bold move: for the paltry sum of $99 in the US, they’re offering their highly rated, CES 2012 Best in Show-awarded, Lumia 900 phone and they just released a hilarious new “hidden camera” campaign featuring what purports to be behind-the-scenes conversations at Apple and Google, to kick-start the excitement.
Along with a competitive feature set, crisp user interface, and bold styling, we think that with this bargain, there’s a good chance Nokia might just persuade a swathe of users to make the switch. Add to that, RIM is haemorrhaging sales, Android has a confusing mash of offerings and a poor experience for novice users, and mobile contract lengths and costs continue to soften as telecom competition heats up.
But it’s not just consumers who could be making the switch; with Microsoft still dominating the desktop PC operating system, and Windows 8 providing the opportunity to align user experiences across desktop, phone, and tablet, a compelling argument might exist for businesses to make the switch, as well. What’s more, Microsoft certainly has the funds, the business imperative, and the track record for making similar moves (X-Box), and despite taking a battering in the smartphone space, Nokia remains the largest cellphone manufacturer on the planet. To kick-start the innovation wagon, Microsoft and Nokia recently contributed $23-million towards an app developing program at Aalto University.
However, simply throwing money and amazing deals at the problem won’t be enough without developers building apps for the platform: Nokia’s greatest barrier to success lies with the huge development community, already spread thin across the various app development platforms. Creating the groundswell in the community for a new app development platform with just a fraction of the market is a huge challenge against the behemoth that is Apple’s App Store and the free-for-all of Android. However, with the right platform, an exciting new UI, good developer tools (something Microsoft has traditionally done extremely well), and users’ wallets to empty, who knows?
We’re staying cautiously optimistic, and most of all, we’re happy to see innovation back in the interface design space after the ubiquity of Apple’s boiled candies design – rounded corners, edible icons, gloss and faux materials - which everyone else has been imitating poorly since the first iPhone. Bring on the tiles!
What are your thoughts? A serious challenge or same old, same old?