nokiaQ: What’s the one thing that people fear most?
A: Change.

I remember mobiles becoming mainstream in 2003 with many of my friends having a Nokia 2100 phone. In fact it wasn’t just my friends that had this phone, it seemed like everybody did. Here in the UK, Nokia phones were more common than Burberry being worn by the local gang of lads in the town centre! every Tom, Dick and Harry had one.
Over the next few years although the model of the phone would change, the brand remained the same. Users were very loyal to Nokia and it’s simple navigation that barely changed with each new phone released.

 

People stuck to Nokia throughout this period because it is what they knew, what they felt comfortable with.

This is why it’s so difficult to launch a new operating system and this is the reason why, when things changed with the adoption of the smartphone, Apple’s iOS and Googles Android platforms were next in line to enjoy such success.

When Apple launched the iOS on the iPhone it didn’t just give us a fancy new interface, it gave us a user experience that was so simple yet powerful, it was perfect for a handheld device. That’s also why, 18 months later when the first commercially available Android OS Smartphone (HTC Dream) was released, it showed Google hadn’t so much re-invented the wheal as given a very similar wheal some new tyres!

As much as Android and Apple fan-boys may argue about it, the experience is not massively different and that is why both systems have been such a hit. Apple’s iOS defined the way in which smartphones should operate and any challengers to that would have to overcome the one thing people (even tech-loving innovative people) fear most… Change!

This is why the recent deal between Nokia and Microsoft just doesn’t make sense.

While I agree Nokia needed a smartphone OS other than the ageing Symbian platform. Why wouldn’t they follow the likes of Samsung, Motorola and LG and choose an open platform that is successful and growing at an astonishing rate?

Why wouldn’t they rely on what they do best (which is build quality handsets) and adopt Android as their platform?

While I take my hat off to Microsoft with their Windows 7 OS, it had to tick one of two boxes to make it the new mobile user experience of choice.

1) Be the first quality OS on a smartphone – impossible. While Microsoft should have invented this touch panel interface instead of their Vista styled Windows Mobile 6 (powered by Windows CE 5.0) in Feb 2007, they didn’t. Instead they were dealt a knock out blow by Apple four months later with the release of the iPhone and it’s iOS.

Or

2) Make the Windows 7 OS quick, slick and easy to develop for. Unfortunately, while many would argue it is slick, few would say it’s quick and it certainly hasn’t attracted the large developer base it needed.

The outcome of the Nokia/Microsoft deal will be interesting, but I don’t see it changing the mobile experience enough to win market share.  Apple’s iOS will remain popular enough to keep the iPhone as the no.1 selling handset and Android will be the platform that continually innovates enough to ensure the top mobile manufacturers continue to use it for their platform – resulting in Android being the no.1 smartphone operating system.

The winners and losers in the mobile industry are quickly being identified.  Companies that are not reacting quick enough and who’s innovations have fallen below par, are starting to suffer.  I’m only surprised by the fact that Nokia and Microsoft appear to be two of the companies that suffering most.