Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Editorial: Has Microsoft betrayed Nokia with the HTC 8X/8S?

In September this year, shortly after the unveiling of the Nokia Lumia 920 and 820. HTC showed off two new Windows Phone 8 devices to compete with Nokia and Samsung’s offerings. But what shocked us the most was the way that these new devices were presented in.

Starting with the devices names, officially called the 'Windows Phone 8X' and the 'Windows Phone 8S by HTC', one would think that these devices came straight from Microsoft if it wasn't for the 'by HTC' at the end. And there's a reason behind Microsoft allowing HTC to use the Windows Phone brand; Microsoft plans to make the 8X and 8S 'the face of Windows Phone’ in their marketing material. So every time you see a Windows Phone 8 commercial in the future, the 8X or 8S will be starring in them.

Oh but It doesn't end there. Microsoft is also making the phones their 'signature' products, emphasizing the devices pure design in conjunction with the Windows Phone Metro Modern UI design philosophy. Meaning that Microsoft will be recommending these phones to people first before any other Windows Phone. While we can't argue that the 8X and 8S do indeed feature the cleanest form of industrial design we've come across, the Nokia Lumia 810 (T-Mobile) also sports clean lines and a simple design, we don't see that phone getting that much attention from Microsoft.

So why would Microsoft in their right mind backstab (or is that too harsh) their most successful Windows Phone OEM to date? A partner that have sold more Windows Phones than any other before, despite their late entry into the platform? Especially now that they aren't in such a good position financially? There could be numerous reasons. None officially confirmed but we can still speculate.

The first is that too many people are starting to associate the Windows Phone brand with the Lumia brand which Microsoft doesn't like. People think that the Windows Phone OS is developed by Nokia. Some might see it as a newer version of Symbian, now we can understand why Microsoft really doesn't like that one bit. It’s likely that Microsoft approached Nokia about this is order to get them to change their marketing in order to clear things out. The two companies probably couldn't reach an agreement, so Microsoft went to HTC instead to get them to promote the Windows Phone brand as a Microsoft product.

The second reason could be that Microsoft could be afraid of what would happen if Nokia CEO Stephen Elop gets ousted by the board for failing to turn the company around financially. Needless to say, it's impossible to accomplish a task like that in the time he has given. A replacement CEO might decide to ditch Windows Phone for Android as the company's primary operating system. And so Microsoft, deciding not to put all its eggs in one basket, made HTC it's 'signature' partner instead.

Despite this surprise move by Microsoft, recent polls show that people are still looking forward to purchasing the Lumia 920 rather than the Windows Phone 8X by a large margin.

However, as Windows Phone fans, we can't be too critical about this, as Microsoft is clearly trying to do the best for the platform as a whole, and more devices means more choices for consumers which in turn results in more developer activity (apps) and a stronger platform.

What do you think? We'd love to hear your thoughts on the matter in the comments section below.

Note: Thoughts portrayed in this editorial are the sole expressions of the author and do not represent TUJ or any of the entities mentioned within.

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