Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Google's Schmidt says Nokia still welcome to join Android

Eric Schmidt, now chairman of Google, seems to have developed into a permanent keynote fixture here at Mobile World Congress.  Last year, just his very presence was enough to stir up an atmosphere. This this year, in the immediate wake of the Nokia/Microsoft tie-up  - which left Google's Android the loser -  perhaps Schmidt and Google appear less the all-conquering threat and more like just another powerful player in the mobile ecosystem.
“We would have loved Nokia to choose Android and we certainly tried,” Schmidt told those assembled.  Asked what might happen if the alliance between Microsoft and Nokia failed or was less successful than anticipated, Schmidt answered: “The offer remains open for the future.”

Indeed.  The question many people have been asking here is not "Why Microsoft?", but rather why didn't Nokia hedge its bets and adopt both operating systems?  It doesn't appear that the agreement with Nokia involves any exclusivity and it's an approach other companies have adopted. Elop has also called Android "a worthy candidate" so the option doesn't appeared to have been ruled out on the Nokia side. Plus, having more or less dumped both Symbian and Meego, Nokia has the R&D resources. 

As things stand now, Nokia is facing a significant sales shortfall in Smartphones over the next 6 months as its potential users either wait for its new Phone 7 phones to appear or, just as likely and even more damaging, go out and buy an Android instead.  Then there's the possibility that, when Phone 7 Nokias do arrive,  users find themselves unexcited by them and don't buy those either. 

If Phone 7 doesn't generate big smartphone sales for Nokia and its share price tanks even further, perhaps Schmidt's offer will be taken up.

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