A couple years ago the general consensus was that Nokia (or at least Elop) had gone bonkers, partnering up with an almost non-existent OS with a market share so miniscule that it had many of us scratching our heads. I won’t call the WP strategy a “complete” success as it took longer than I would have liked to for it to pick up speed, but in the long run Nokia is no longer in “critical mode”. More importantly however would be the fact that Windows Phone is becoming globally recognized, it’s officially the 3rd ecosystem (still a long way to go to match Android, but in some markets it’s outselling iOS).
The obvious factor that contributed to Windows Phone’s success would have to be Nokia, anyone who says otherwise is a liar, plain and simple. Nokia’s own reward for sticking with Windows Phone would be their commanding 80% share of the admittedly small WP marketshare. I think Microsoft’s Hail Mary should they have failed to get Nokia on board with Windows Phone would have been releasing their own homegrown Windows Phone (a Surface phone if you will), and I don’t see that working out too great for them. Thankfully for them they were never put in that position, unfortunately the same can’t be said for their tablet OS; Windows RT (side note, since Microsoft never bothered making the “RT” actually stand for anything, I always end up associating it as “Windows Retweet”), last year Microsoft revealed their own tablet, the Surface in two flavors; RT and full Windows. Their reasoning for releasing the tablet was to give other OEM’s a “model tablet” to base their future devices on.
Unfortunately it didn’t seem to work out for them, as earlier this week Asus officially announced that they will no longer be making any Windows RT devices, instead focusing on the full blown Windows experience. Meaning short of Microsoft’s own Surface tablets only Dell remain on board the RT ship, putting Windows RT in a very similar (if not worse) situation that WP was in before Nokia joined. The real question that remains is will Nokia bother pumping out an RT tablet (probably later this year) or will they go ahead and make a full Windows tablet? And if they make a RT tablet will it succeed?
The issue with RT in my opinion is the fact that it has no idea where it’s going, what’s its end game? Will phablets or tablets eventually run both RT and WP? Or will they be stuck with either or? When will we finally see true app cross-compatibility between the true OSes? There are a lot of questions, but the real big one is “How far as Microsoft willing to take this?”. Microsoft are in no means “strapped for cash” and they’d probably have no problem waiting for RT to catch on, provided there’s a glimmer of hope for it at the end of the tunnel, with Windows 8.1 around the corner carrying some major fixes (I’m not sure if those are only for the full Windows version or for RT as well?)it might have a chance. Of course to have a chance at success OEM’s must first give it a chance and that’s where Nokia *Might* come in.
Provided Nokia go with a Nokia RT tablet it definitely won’t be an overnight success, in fact it’ll probably follow along the lines of their first WP release (Lumia 800 & 710) where it took an almost unbearably long time for them to catch on, but now that people are starting to accept WP their “stick-to-itvness” has paid off. So does Nokia need a tablet to sell millions on their first try? Or will they settle for a learning process and a slower ramp up? For example the Lumia 800 was very much a trial/soft opening, think of the meager number of Lumia 900′s sold in the US after millions of dollars of backing and advertising, now imagine if the Lumia 800 was launched instead? An annoying pentile screen, a mediocre camera, and no front facing camera.. yeah I don’t see that working out very well.
Let’s face it Nokia don’t get hardware right on their first try, there’s always room for improvement; 800–>900, 610–>620, 920–> 925; but recently they seem to have started getting things right with the 1020 and 925 getting glowing reviews all around (hardware wise at least). There’s nothing to suggest that Nokia’s first tablet would be a perfect hardware specimen either, and even then that’s not a guarantee of success (the Surface has a stunning design, awesome build quality and some sweet add-ons yet it struggles). Surely Nokia’s name alone or a tablet with a great camera can’t change all that over night can it? What a Nokia tablet needs most of all to be a success would be acceptance for the OS it runs, and it can’t get that until it becomes a partial success (a regular old Catch 22).
I think it’s pretty obvious that no OEM will be an overnight success with Windows RT, but the real question is which one (if any) will take the plunge and carry it on their back to the top of the mountain? Sure Microsoft can entice Nokia to do their dirty work for them, maybe giving them a similar deal to the WP one; with cheaper licenses, payments, and special permissions. Of course the question is are Nokia (or more importantly their board members/shareholders) willing to wait on another mediocre product to gain mainstream success?
*Disclaimer: A while back I posted about why Nokia SHOULD NOT release a tablet, especially a RT one
Another major issue facing the success of a Nokia RT tablet (and the RT OS in general) is the price-tag, before the recent price-cut the Surface RT 32Gb version was priced at $600; that’s $100 more than the iPad for an unproved OS. The reason of course are the expensive licensing fees for Windows and Office apps, something that Microsoft have to find a way to lower. True you can pick up a 32Gb Surface RT for close to $300 now but that’s after a major price-cut and over a year on the market; and let’s face it, there’s no way in hell Nokia would release a tablet at that price point (is there?). Of course the issue would stand in the way of the success of a full Windows 8 Nokia tablet, it would simply be way too pricey compared to the iPad and the even cheaper Android tablets out there, no if Nokia are going to release a tablet they probably won’t bother with full Windows (unless they released two version of their tablet).
So if Nokia have no way of pulling off a hit tablet on their first go should they bother at all? Or should they do what they did with WP and nurture Windows RT till it’s able to fly on it’s own?
What do you guys think?