In the wake of Microsoft's layoff of 18,000 employees, the company is also revealing other significant changes to its direction. It has decided to end Nokia's development of Android-based phones, feature phones and the Asha operating system.
The tech giant will no longer develop Android phones beyond those that are currently available. The much-publicized Android-based Nokia X models will become another model in the Lumia lineup and will run the Windows Phone operating system.
Nokia just unveiled its X line in February, and it ran a modified version of Android along with such Microsoft services as Outlook, Bing and Skype. At the time the Nokia X smartphones were announced, many observers wondered what the strategy might be, since Nokia was in the process of becoming part of Microsoft.
The new move was signaled in an e-mail to employees by Microsoft's head of mobile devices, Stephen Elop, the same e-mail that accompanied CEO Satya Nadella's to announce the layoffs. Additionally, the layoffs include those employees who had been working on Asha and S40 feature phones. Asha is a mobile OS for low-end smartphones, based on technology acquired by Nokia.
Avi Greengart, an analyst with industry research firm Current Analysis, tolds us the Nokia X2 "is still shipping." The Android phase-out is scheduled to occur over time as part of a "maintenance mode." Services supporting Android, Asha and feature phones will be phased out over 18 months.
"Microsoft is shifting away from devices and services and toward productivity and platforms," he noted, in which case the company "needs to rally around [its] platforms." Greengart said that the X line "was selling pretty well," but the company has made the decision to get "out of devices-for-devices'-sake, [and] make only devices that make the market for Microsoft's platforms."
Given the low single digits of smartphone market share that Windows Phone devices have, such a move "is incredibly challenging," Greengart said.
'Make it Work'
One of the key reasons that Nokia released Android phones -- or ones based on its homegrown Asha OS -- was to help re-establish a position in the lower price points of emerging markets, where most of the smartphone market growth is occurring. The Windows Phone operating system reportedly is not designed to work well on lower-end hardware.
"Microsoft is just going to have to make it work," Greengart said.
Since Satya Nadella took over as head of Microsoft, that company has given off signals that it was moving away from its decades of protecting its own platforms, and more toward working compatibly in a multi-platform world -- especially since it is currently barely a player in the mobile platform environment dominated by Android and iOS.
Nadella has "talked about Microsoft's cross-platform services," Greengart said, and now "he's talking about Microsoft's own platforms."
"If you find this confusing," he said, "that's because it is."
Posted: 2014-07-18 @ 11:37am PT
Time for the world to say goodbye to Microsoft. They will burn the rest of their cash without any strategy.
In devices, they are running into the ground the little good that is left of the once venerable Nokia. Contrast to Lenovo that has a real chance getting the once venerable Motorola out of its ashes.
In platform, they are irrelevant and they will stay irrelevant as Google and others have a formidable lead and are so much more efficient and effective at going to market.
Witness how, in the course of a couple of years and about a dozen interactions Google has made Microsoft's software increasingly irrelevant. Internet Explorer is no longer the gateway to the platforms and Microsoft has nothing left to put up barriers and protect its crumbling empire.
Bye bye, Microsoft, you will not be missed.
Posted: 2014-07-18 @ 11:26am PT
I find this confusing.