Not a day passes by without a comment from industry pundits claiming Nokia would have been better off had it gone for Android instead of Windows Phone in 2011, after newly appointed CEO Stephen Elop penned the oft-quoted “Burning Platform” memo. According to Elop, Nokia was like the guy standing on the edge of a burning oil platform in the North Sea. He had two choices – either to stay put and be consumed by the flames or jump into the icy cold water below. He had seconds to make a decision and he decided to take the plunge. On February 11, 2011, Nokia took that plunge when it announced a strategic partnership with Microsoft and that its smartphones would exclusively run on Windows Phone. In return Microsoft would pay Nokia a platform support fee and also help it market the devices. But signing on the dotted line meant Nokia had bet the entire farm on one horse. There was no going back. While this angered many Nokians as well as shocked analysts (and continues to do so), Elop still stands by that decision and feels that was the right choice, given the circumstances. Also Read - Beware! This new iOS bug breaks WiFi on iPhones: Here's a quick fix for it
In an interview with The Guardian on the sidelines of the Lumia 1020 launch, Elop maintains that he is happy with the decision and the Android scenario played out just like they suspected with one player dominating the ecosystem and market share, which translates into margins and profits. Also Read - PUBG New State receives over 17 million pre-registrations as closed alpha testing ends
“I’m very happy with the decision we made,” he said. “What we were worried about a couple of years ago was the very high risk that one hardware manufacturer could come to dominate Android. We had a suspicion of who it might be, because of the resources available, the vertical integration, and we were respectful of the fact that we were quite late in making that decision. Many others were in that space already. Also Read - Apple CEO Tim Cook claims iOS is more secure than Android
“Now fast forward to today and examine the Android ecosystem, and there’s a lot of good devices from many different companies, but one company has essentially now become the dominant player.”
While it is impossible to fathom whether the scenario would have been any different had Nokia gone for Android instead of Windows Phone, one thing is clear, that from the beginning of the transition, Nokia was aiming to be the third dominant smartphone player rather than aiming its guns at Samsung and Apple. Heck, even two years later, Nokia is finding it hard to do a simultaneous global roll-out of its best smartphone ever, the Lumia 1020, while Samsung does global roll-outs covering 110 countries in a fortnight.
For Nokia, with its limited resources and tiny marketing budgets when compared to the likes of Samsung and Apple, its best bet lies in creating niches for itself in individual markets and rebuilding itself by achieving smaller milestones. It might not have the Lumia 1020 in every market but it does have the likes of the Lumia 520 that is doing extremely well in those markets.
It might not be the best case scenario, but given the circumstances Nokia had found itself in, this ain’t the worst either.