As Nokia adopts Microsoft's Windows Phone as the platform of choice for its smartphones, the opportunity for developers is huge.
to adopt Microsoft's Windows Phone as its principal smartphone strategy has
far-reaching implications for developers.
In a Feb. 11 blog post
describing the impact of the
deal on Microsoft developers, Matt Bencke, a general manager at Microsoft,
said, "I'm incredibly excited about its long-term potential and how it could
enable us to innovate, differentiate and combine strengths to build a new
global ecosystem that creates opportunities beyond anything that currently
exists today. We're creating an entirely new ecosystem of possibilities for
developers. For our part, Microsoft is first and foremost a platform company,
which means that nearly everything we do begins and ends with the developer
community in mind. This deal is no exception."
a tools and platform perspective, Bencke said Microsoft is "working to make it
as easy as possible for developers to take advantage of this new opportunity."
Indeed, "Nokia's Windows Phone portfolio will support existing Windows Phone
applications, while Nokia's existing developers can now enjoy an application
platform that was specifically designed to make building amazing apps and games
for Windows Phone quick and easy," he said. "This means that Windows Phone apps
and games will continue to use the free Windows Phone Developer Tools;
comprised of Visual Studio 2010, Expression 4, Silverlight and the XNA
founder of Microsoft analysis and strategy service provider Blue Badge Insights
, said, "For developers, this
is big news. It moves the conversation from one of WP7's technical merit
and potential, to, quite possibly, it being one of three major
platforms. This will be less about getting in on the ground floor of a new
platform, to quite possibly about supporting one that is well-established, with
a big install base. This would shift the conversation from why you should
develop for WP7 to how you can't afford not to. That's when tech gets big:
when the price of implementing it is a small cost on the way to making money somewhere
Brust said his
opinion on the deal is generally positive but with some caveats. Brust
acknowledges that Nokia is a huge player in the smartphone market, though not
in the United States, and with market share that is declining. And
although Windows Phone is "an excellent platform" and Microsoft is a huge
brand, Brust said, it is clearly a tarnished one in the mobility
space. "The two companies are on their respective back feet," he
said. "But they can certainly help each other: Microsoft gets global reach
and market share from Nokia; Nokia upgrades from the somewhat stunted Symbian
OS to something modern, touch-centric and contemporary in design value, through
for Nokia, told eWEEK: "Qt remains the development platform for Symbian and
MeeGo. For Windows Phone, Silverlight is the best tool. We are committed to our
developer relationships, and both companies recognize the importance of
developers in building a successful ecosystem."
Al Hilwa, an
analyst at IDC, sees a bleak forecast for Nokia's Symbian side of things. "The
Qt ecosystem for smartphones was in the very early stages," Hilwa said. "Nokia
had an uphill battle to get that to be a major player in the new touch world. I
still think it is better to have mobile platforms that run multiple frameworks
in a given mobile ecosystem, but this particular partnership looks focused on
building Windows Phone 7 as we know it today on top of Nokia hardware. They
likely have no time to prioritize bringing Qt to Windows Phone 7, given the
velocity this market is moving at. In the long run, it would be a good
idea. I don't see Java as coming to the Windows Phone 7, however. So the
risk is that Nokia may stand to lose the Symbian developer base. However,
clearly, that was not working for them anywhere in terms of taking them to the
next level, so they had to throw Symbian off of the burning platform."
Microsoft's Bencke spells out the opportunity for developers, saying the
partnership with Nokia can dramatically increase the customer base for Windows
Phones and, by extension, Windows Phone applications and games. "This equates
to both a larger and more localized consumer market for apps and games on
handsets, as well as an acceleration of innovation in back-end services and
core infrastructure," he said.
Nokia already has strong relationships with operators in more than 190 markets
and manages an application marketplace that delivers four million downloads per
day, Bencke said. Add to that the Windows Phone developer community, which can
boast more than 8,000 applications and games, 28,000 registered developers and
more than a million tools downloaded, he said.
Brust said he
sees two things developers should keep in mind. One is that "Stephen Elop is
now Nokia's CEO, and he's working hard on changing things. So Nokia's past
malaise is not a definitive predictor if its future prowess." The other is that
Windows Phone "will now be pushed through two outlets: the Nokia channel, whose
model is somewhat Apple-like in its brand, presence and power; and WP7
continues its push through the multi-OEM channel, which is Google's current
model. That opens the war on two fronts, and that's a big deal."
Microsoft's mobile developer ecosystem has become one of the company's
strongest assets and this opportunity with Nokia will only bolster that. "The
stage on which you can shine just got bigger," Bencke said.
For his part,
Brust said he sees even more specific opportunities for Microsoft/Nokia to
compete against the likes of Google and Apple.
of current Google-ite and ex-blue badge Vic Gundotra's now infamous -two
turkeys don't make an eagle' tweet," Brust said. "But I'm also mindful of one
pertinent example of where he'd be wrong: Bing + Yahoo have now created serious
competition, both technically and market-share-wise, for Google's search
engine. With that in mind, I think it's certainly feasible for WP7 + Nokia
to challenge Google's Android platform in a credible way, if not in a
threatening one. And, yes, a challenge to the aging iOS platform, too."