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Steadily Depressing, Low Down Mind Messing, Working at Nokia Blues

February 4th, 2013 - 11:04 am

Nokia looks to expand its portfolio of devices hardly anybody wants to buy:

“It is the case that in the months and years ahead, you will see us broaden out the portfolio, which means pushing to lower and lower price points, in some cases smaller form factors and so forth,” Mr Elop said.

“We haven’t announced tablets at this point, but it is something we are clearly looking at very closely. We are studying very closely the market right now as Microsoft has introduced the Surface tablet, so we are trying to learn from that and understand what the right way to participate would be and at what point in time.”

They lose money on every sale, but they’ll make it up in variety?

Nokia has pretty much bet the farm on Windows Phone. And Microsoft has bet one of the chickens on its farm on Nokia. Microsoft is in a nice position because Nokia as long as Nokia remains on the tether, it will keep placing bets Windows. Nokia’s problem is that Microsoft now produces three mutually-incompatible “mobile” operating systems.

There’s Windows Phone 8, which really is a touch-optimized mobile OS. It can’t run Windows applications, but that’s OK — it’s silly to try and squeeze desktop apps onto a 4-inch phone screen. And keeping a mouse in your pocket to run them would lead to too many “or are you just happy to see me?” jokes.

Then there’s Windows RT, which runs on RT tablets, and is only partially-optimized to run by fingertip. RT is Windows 8 recompiled to run devices based on low-power ARM chips. It can’t run Windows applications, because they’re written for Intel-compatible chips. But, and this is where things start to go seriously wrong, it also can’t run Windows Phone apps. Microsoft has been paying developers to write apps for RT, but it hasn’t been able to pay consumers to actually buy the silly things. What’s the marketing slogan? “It might be crippled for touch, but at least you can’t run any of your apps on it!”

Finally, Windows 8 also “works” on tablets like the Surface Pro, providing you have a keyboard or a mouse to go along with it, because it really, really sucks as a mobile OS. It won’t run Windows Phone or Windows RT apps. It can run any Windows desktop app in the world — but you won’t want to, because it really, really sucks to run desktop apps with your finger. And because it really, really sucks to carry around a keyboard or a mouse all the time for a tablet.

Nokia must know all this. Hell, everybody at Microsoft (other than Steve Ballmer) must know all this. And yet here is Nokia, practically forced into wasting resources on a tablet nobody wants, which is incompatible with their phones they can’t sell.

You have a few drinks with Steve Ballmer and you wake up the next morning in an alley with your wallet missing.

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