Editorial by Andrew Kameka on Thursday July 18, 2013.
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Nokia CEO Stephen Elop today claimed that he has no regrets about his decision to take his company full-steam ahead into the world of Windows Phone because he rightly feared that one company would dominate Android. In Elop's mind, trying to challenge the runaway train that was Samsung becoming the leading Android manufacturer was not a good strategy. Instead, Elop took Nokia down a path to become the very thing he feared: the unrivaled dominating party of an operating system.
The difference between dominance in relation to Samsung and Nokia is that Samsung's dominance actually matters. The Korean manufacturer has soundly outpaced rivals HTC, LG, and Sony to the point that Samsung isn't really competing with other Android manufacturers; it's competing with Apple for overall leadership of all smartphone market share. Nokia on the other hand is the big fish in the little pond and capturing all of the attention in an ecosystem that's currently in a distant third place. Windows Phone is on the rise, and Microsoft has outlined a strategy that would most benefit Nokia, but being the leader of Windows Phone has so far not been very kind to the Finnish phone maker.
Today, Elop told The Guardian and group of reporters that he has no regrets about choosing Windows Phone over Android. Elop stated:
"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.
"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."
The "one company" Elop speaks of is Samsung. It's a company that grabs all the headlines and market share for its respective OS - just like Nokia does on Windows Phone. Should that scare away companies from trying to compete? Should LG abandon its consideration to reenter the Windows Phone market because Nokia has built up such a seemingly insurmountable lead? Of course not. Under that logic, Google had no place creating Android at a time when Apple's iPhone was racing ahead of the competition, and Apple never should have entered the phone market at all considering BlackBerry had enough market share to laugh at pesky upstarts. There will always be a company with an established position, and there will always be someone foolish enough to challenge those companies directly.
Nokia's embrace of Windows Phone might make sense as a way to differentiate and roll the dice on a small competitor that could make waves in the future. However, Elop's supposed fear of dominance by one company shouldn't be a source of pride or reason for shying from competition. Nokia could have just as easily have selected Android and still managed to sell millions of devices. Does anyone truly believe that a Lumia 1020 with Android would not be something that attracts attention? Nokia might not have sold as many Android Lumias as Samsung sells Galaxy smartphones, but it could have potentially made the same sales pitch as a superior smartphone camera on Android. It could then have removed the hurdle about having to educate consumers on app choices or learning a new UI. Even second place in Android might have been good enough for Nokia.
Nokia wasn't wrong to choose Windows Phone, but citing fear of a competitor yet to ascend to a dominant position is not a valid explanation for that decision. Elop chose Windows Phone because he made a calculated bet that being the sole bright spot of one OS was a path better than being a moderately successful also-ran of another OS. It's premature to judge the wisdom of that decision just 18 months later, but let's not applaud Elop for suggesting that he anticipated Samsung's meteoric rise a year before it occurred. Let's reserve credit for if and when Nokia's dominance translates to a better position in the overall smartphone market. That's when the choice to embrace Windows Phone will be proven right.via: BGR
Andrew is MobileBurn.com's managing editor. He is based in Miami, Florida.