[This article was first posted on gooroo.io]
Recently Microsoft announced they intended to cut some 7800 jobs, mainly from their acquired Nokia division. While these are real jobs and I have full sympathy for the people that are about to lose their position, it was also a necessary step for Microsoft to not get stuck in the past and continue to move forward. Unfortunately, the way it was announced by the tech giant was unfortunate and quite poorly handled. If you think that Windows Phone is dead and there will be no Microsoft mobile experience, you couldn’t be more wrong. Pure and simple.
The History of Microsoft Products
Microsoft has since its inception been a software company. Sure, they have dappled with hardware and even been extremely successful with devices like the Xbox and more recently the Surface. Yet, I would argue they are still a software company at their core.
The model Microsoft has used over the years involved lots of partners to get their product onto as many devices as possible. Microsoft has used their partners to push their products and in effect exponentially grown their reach, which has been very successful (just look at the penetration of Windows in the past 20 years). Today you can buy PCs from just about any hardware manufacturer. You can even build your own, if that is your thing.
When Microsoft acquired Nokia in September 2013, it seemed like a natural progression of how things were going. Nokia had adopted the Windows Phone OS for their entire smartphone range and the vast majority of Windows Phone devices sold were indeed Nokias. At the same time Nokia was going through a tough phase having been the absolute supreme ruler of the world when it comes to mobile phones, and now having a hard time just keeping up. Players like Apple, Samsung and HTC were each taking their large slice of the Nokia cake, leaving only crumbs for the former giant.
Microsoft were lacking a global logistics mechanism to deliver not least their new Surface device, but also other hardware. One of Nokia’s strengths was and is their ability to have products in all corners of the globe. It seemed like an obvious company for Microsoft to pay top dollar for.
Pushing Out Partners
When Microsoft purchased Nokia, the Finnish mobile maker had about 89% of the Windows Phone market, so in essence Microsoft bought out their single biggest partner of Windows Phone and became their own biggest customer.
Yes, they did get the global supply chain they wanted, but they were also in one stroke competing with all their partners. Over the next year and a half this number only grew and what happened is that other manufacturers stopped making Windows Phones, except for small manufacturers in local areas. Microsoft had gone from producing proof of functionality and platform hardware, like they had done with the Surface, to being the sole provider in an entire segment they were competing in. This was as far from the strength of Microsoft in having partners as you can get.
I am therefore not surprised that Satya Nadella made the announcement to cut back on the Windows Phone division and make it part of the premium devices engineering division. Microsoft is going to focus on premium devices and allow all of their partners to produce devices and have a piece of a pie that I believe and hope will grow significantly over the next 2-3 years.
Windows 10 for Mobile
Windows 10 is in the wild, it has been released and millions of updates are putting enormous stress on the Microsoft servers everywhere. As reports tell, millions of devices are running Windows 10 after only a few weeks and days. This is good news, because the goal is to have Windows 10 on 1 billon devices in 2-3 years.
These devices will be anything that can run Windows 10, including desktops, tablets, phones and IoT devices. My point here is that Windows 10 on mobile is not “another version of Windows Phone”. It is in fact a brand new development of their major operating system running on a handheld device. Yes, there are phone specific features of the operating system in the mobile version of Windows 10, but it is the same core.
Windows Universal Apps
One of the great selling points of Windows 10, is the single core shared across platforms. This allows developers to build a single application that will run across form factors and device types. Sure, there will be some custom code to allow for the platform specific features such as mobile connection or battery level for example, but the amount of rework is limited. These Windows Universal Apps are worth much less without a mobile experience.
The short sighted message coming from the media that Windows Phone is dead and has no value is just not true. While the platform has been struggling in especially North America, other markets have picked it up and selling 8-9 million devices per quarter is still a lot of devices. Pairing Windows 10 for mobile with new innovations like Continuum, Universal Windows Bridges and Universal Apps makes the platform a big part of the Windows 10 strategy.
Is Windows 10 for Mobile facing an uphill battle? Absolutely.
Is Windows 10 for Mobile on the way out? Hell no. It’s all part of the full experience.