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Microsoft reportedly canning Nokia and Windows Phone brands for good

Spot the phone

A leak verified by a couple of tech news sites appears to confirm that Microsoft will completely phase out all Nokia branding starting with its holiday season marketing. The leak also implies Microsoft wants to stop differentiating its desktop and mobile Windows brands, dropping the ‘Phone’ part.

The internal Microsoft document was originally published by Geek On Gadgets and then supported by additional research from The Verge. They make it clear that Microsoft is in a hurry to distance itself from the Nokia brand, having only completed the acquisition of Nokia’s handset division last spring, which always seemed inevitable.

What is slightly more of a surprise is the apparent decision to abandon the Windows Phone brand. This was launched amid much fanfare at MWC a few years ago and, until now, has been intended to make a serious dent in the Android/iOS smartphone platform duopoly.

The rationale is clear enough: Microsoft wants to merge its desktop and mobile OS roadmaps to create one grand unifying OS for everything. Unfortunately it remains addicted to the anachronistic Windows as a brand and seems convinced it still has standalone appeal.

It’s useful to remember that Microsoft’s business model revolves around selling software licenses. It continues to do this very successfully with regular Windows and Office, but the mobile market is a different matter entirely. With Android positioned as ‘free’, there is little appetite for paying for a mobile OS. In fact Microsoft makes far more money from Android patent royalties than it does from Windows Phone licenses and the acquisition of the largest Windows Phone customer in Nokia always seemed to be an admission of defeat in terms of directly monetising its mobile OS.

So with OS software revenue hard to acquire, Apple owning all the hardware margin and Google owning all the advertising business, Microsoft needs another plan. That appears to be selling other software and services to the Windows installed base. The plan will be to sell Office, Skype minutes, media streaming, online game time, etc to anyone who has a ‘Windows’ device, be that a PC, Surface, Xbox or phone.

But as Microsoft has proven repeatedly in the past, the market doesn’t buy boardroom PowerPoint presentations. Unless Microsoft can persuade the average consumer that Windows means something unique and exciting now, it will remain an 80s beige box brand, and that’s pretty far from ideal.

  • Nokia Corporation


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