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Nokia and Microsoft’s MAD (or Beneficial) Partnership

By - Source: Toms IT Pro

Survey says: Struggling Nokia absent from top five U.S. mobile phone manufacturers.

James Alan Miller

James Alan Miller is Managing Editor of Tom's IT Pro. He is a veteran technology journalist with over seventeen years of experience creating and developing magazine and online content. Founding editor of numerous business and enterprise computing sites at the network, James headed up the After Hours section at PC Magazine, as well as hardware and software sections of various Windows publications.

Survey says: Struggling Nokia absent from top five U.S. cell phone manufacturers. Will Windows Phone partnership with Microsoft lead to a mobile renaissance for both companies or pave the way for their mutually assured destruction in the mobile space?

ComScore released a report detailing the results of three-month survey of 30,000 U.S. mobile subscribers today. The announcement detailing the report is chockfull of interesting tidbits regarding the state of the wireless market in this country.  What really jumps out, however, is the glaring omission of one particular company: Nokia.

It really is remarkable how absent Nokia is, particularly from the list of top five cell phone manufacturers: Samsung, LG, Motorola, Apple and RIM. The company’s (dying) Symbian smartphone operating system does make it into the ranks of the top five smartphone platforms, but only by the skin of its teeth, with  a mere 1.9% of subscribers saying the own a Symbian-run handset. Rounding out that list are market leaders Google, Apple and RIM, followed by distant fourth-place Microsoft , which nonetheless accounted for nearly three times the share of Symbian.

Sure, Nokia never made a big dent with smartphones in the U.S., but its feature phones used to dominate the GSM market in this country. The take away: IT pros aren’t going to see very many of Nokia products in the enterprise again anytime soon, if ever again.

No one really talks about this, but Nokia was one of the first handset vendors to offer a tablet computer, the Linux-run 770 Internet Tablet back in 2005, followed by the N800 model a couple of years later. I remember Mr. Fantastic carrying one of these around one of these in the last “Fantastic 4” movie a few years ago. The character made it seem pretty cool and useful.

True or not: poor execution and an inability to keep up with the times has, apparently, doomed Nokia to also-ran status for the foreseeable future, even though it once had a huge lead in smartphones and a chance to get the tablet-revolution rolling. Maybe the product placement for its tablet in second-tier super hero movie wasn’t such a good thing after all.

Nokia still has plenty of cell phone and (even) smartphone market share elsewhere in the world, however—although that’s hemorrhaging as well. So if it can finally get some good Windows Phone products out, maybe Nokia will be able to do more than just limp along waiting for a buyer: a la Motorola with Google. And if it does find a buyer, maybe it’ll have more to offer than just a large patent portfolio.

The ComScore report also shows that Windows Phone just surpassed 30,000 applications, twice as fast as Android and nearly as quickly as Apple for the iPhone; and pretty impressive for a platform that’s been around less than year with little in the way of carrier and manufacturer support. What this demonstrates is the amount of faith many app developers continue to have in Microsoft.

Whether that faith is misplaced or not depends on how well Nokia executes with the launch of its Windows Phone products. You could say Microsoft and Nokia have signed an agreement that’ll lead to either mutually assured destruction (MAD) or success in the mobile space.

While both companies have a lot at stake, only one of them, Microsoft, may be left standing should they fail.