Not the three horse race you’d expect

My experience of Nokia phones started with the Nokia 6150 which was released onto T-Mobile (then known as one2one) in a midnight blue colour and was well ahead of it’s time. For a start it was dual-band which meant that once SIM unlocked it could be used on any network in the UK, not that anyone really changed network very often as on-net and off-net calls were charged differently so you were on the network most of your friends were.  It was a solid phone and besides an un-optimal battery design was pretty much perfect including a UI that was well ahead of the single-line UI on other handsets.  It even had games.

Eventually I started descending down an ever slippery slope of exclusivity, deciding that I wanted something that even fewer people had and that was the 8810 which was silver and very shiny.  The 8810, was not plastic (it was plated in some metal) and weighed very little but enough to feel expensive it was tiny in comparison to the majority of other handsets – the battery design was worse than the 6150.  I rocked WAP before anyone else with the 7110 and finished my Nokia journey on the 6210.

There was one thing that changed very little between those handsets and that was the user interface which worked, so there was no real reason for it to change. Unfortunately I stopped using the last of my Nokia handsets because it had lost what first had in spades and that was reliability.  My 6210 was victim of constant crashes.

I pretty much jumped shipped to Windows Mobile in it’s various guises, mainly through HTC handsets although also a Samsung, before giving up on the stagnant platform to go ‘modern’ and buy an iPhone 4.

I find it funny that given the recent announcement my phone history has has more than a liberal helping of Nokia and Microsoft peppered with some Sony Ericsson (or just Ericsson as they were once known), Motorola (who couldn’t help but adore the StarTac) and an iPhone 4.

There was one comment that Stephen Elop, CEO of Nokia, made that intrigued me.  I think that it is a techies view but not one of a normal person.  This comment was about it now being ‘a three horse race’ which had been interpreted as Microsoft-Nokia vs Google Android (plus friends) vs Apple, but I am not sure I agree.

My wife carries a HTC Desire as her current handset, is not totally happy with it but regards it as a HTC handset first and an Android set not at all.  She wouldn’t buy my 2nd recommendation which was the Samsung Galaxy S because it was a Samsung handset ignoring the fact that it was still an Android set (my first recommendation of an iPhone 4 was deemed to expensive).  Given the massive differences in user experience between the handsets running Android, I imagine that most users wouldn’t be able to tell that they were the same other than having the same App Store.  I believe they think they have HTC handsets, LG handsets, Samsung handsets and Sony-Ericsson handsets, all I imagine are bought for the simple reason that they aren’t the iPhone, either because they are cheaper than or less disliked than Apple products.

Given the above, I believe the two horses currently racing are Apple and Blackberry because other marques are insignificant and provide no material differentiation from one-another.  I do believe that there is a real opportunity for the ‘Microsoft-Nokia’ alliance to become a genuine third player with a real identity among the other competitors.  I personally would love to see Nokia become Microsoft’s new mobile devices division replacing the other OEMs to provide a genuine and consistent Microsoft Windows Phone (and potentially other iPod Touch-like spin-off devices) to give Apple a real run for their money.  If the alliance yields a Nokia N8 like device with Windows Phone 7, a significant amount of storage then I may well ditch the iPhone, or at least give it to my wife.

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