The Motley Fool Previous Page

Should Nokia Have Gone With Android?

Dan Radovsky
April 17, 2012

By now, most people are aware of the Keystone Kops routine played out during Nokia's (NYSE: NOK  ) launch last week of its flagship smartphone, the LTE-capable Lumia 900, on the AT&T (NYSE: T  ) wireless network:

  • Poor planning: Scheduling the Lumia 900 coming-out party on Easter Sunday -- Easter Sunday!!!! -- guaranteed a smaller-than-optimal turnout.
  • Poor product testing: After accusing other smartphone makers of foisting unproven handsets onto unwitting customers, a "software glitch" rendered Nokia's Internet-capable phone incapable of connecting with the Internet. Not only was this embarrassing; it was also expensive. Nokia offered the phones for free to anyone buying one before April 22 -- even if the phone was problem-free.
  • Poor financial news: Nokia released an earnings warning three days after the Lumia's debut that the company's first-quarter outlook looked grim. Its bread-and-butter feature-phone business in India, the Middle East, Africa, and China was being encroached upon by cheaper smartphones running Android.

Woulda, shoulda, coulda ...
Could Nokia have avoided all those troubles by choosing a different OS to go with, after the company found its homegrown Symbian platform to be wanting as a smartphone operating system? Rather than Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) established and popular Android OS, Nokia chose Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT) thinly used Windows Phone mobile OS as its smartphone platform.

Should it have gone with Android? After all, smartphones made by Samsung, LG, Huawei, and Motorola that run the Android OS together have grabbed more than half of the world's smartphone OS market share by the end of 2011, according to market research firm Gartner. Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) iOS, running iPhones, was in second place with 23.8%. Windows Phone was in sixth place. Worse yet, rumors abound that the Cuprtino powerhouse will launch another iteration of its iPhone at some point in the second half of the year.

So why Windows Phone?
As for why Nokia chose to go with the mobile OS that it did, we have to go back to February 2011 and listen in on a joint Nokia-Microsoft press conference, where Nokia CEO Stephen Elop announced the companies' cooperative venture to the world.

Why Windows Phone? "It gives us the opportunity to lead," Elop said. "It gives us a faster path to the United States marketplace."

Elop then said that Nokia assess