Apologies to QML fans but I’m going to to extend the interruption of that series by at least one more article. Blame a cynical friend’s recent conversion to the Dark Side of mobile Microsoft.
As regular readers know I’ve been a dual Microsoft/Linux power user for many years. While some friends see that as a bad case of cognitive dissonance, I prefer to call it technical agnosticism. I was never interested though to include Windows Mobile in that scope, mainly due to an observance that it was just Windows scaled (badly) down to a handheld device rather than something specifically designed for the form factor.
Microsoft finally realized that, bit the bullet, and created Windows Phone from scratch. But the product still carried Windows branding baggage and has been panned by some mobilists and tech pundits– many of whom did so with ten-foot virtual poles.
This has been especially true of Nokia fans (self included), particularly those who saw great things in the Linux-based operating systems Maemo and then MeeGo and had high hopes for the sexy N9. Nokia’s CEO had brought about the Elopocalypse in accepting Steve Ballmer’s engagement offer, and no one from the Linux side of the family wanted to be part of the post-wedding reception. Some later snickered at the Spanish meaning for “Lumia” (as tempting as it is to riff on that further, I’ll demur).
So far the MicroNokia nuptials have resulted in two acknowledged offspring: the fraternal Nokia Lumia twins, 710 and 800. There’s nothing apparently spectacular about the 710, hardware- or appearance-wise. Its low price is the most attractive feature. As for the 800, photos don’t quite do it justice. You have to use this device to realize its true beauty.
The same can be said for Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 OS. Yes, videos seem compelling, but jaded smartphone users aren’t easily impressed by moving pictures. Experience it first-hand, however, and the skepticism melts. I admit to encountering that at Nokia World when I first got to play with the Lumias.
This sort of mindset conversion is never more dramatic than when a diehard open source devotee is swayed. Such was the case when my aforementioned friend Johan Paul surprisingly tweeted the following:
I’m highly interested in what he’ll have to say further, the more he uses his Lumia 800.
Now, I can’t quite profess unconditional love for these babies. Some of the beauty is only skin-deep and there are genetic defects only a mother could overlook. My personal OS peeves are no tethering, no Bluetooth file transfers and no USB mass storage mode. HUGE step backwards in my opinion and a MUST fix. As for the Lumia 800, lack of TV output combined with omission of a front-facing camera have my teeth gritted. I also have to wonder why support for quickly-trending NFC was left out.
Beyond feature failures, Microsoft and Nokia face distinct but obviously related challenges here. The former needs to get Windows Phone in general out of the market share basement. The latter needs to re-establish their specific phones as must-have products. I have yet to see a clear signal on how evangelical overlap is going to be handled by the two, particularly where software development is concerned. I also still wonder if the marriage between them will ultimately put off other WP participants (not that I actually care).
Nevertheless, if outreach efforts can get examples into the hands of prospective buyers everywhere, even doubtful ones like my friend Johan, Microsoft and Nokia do indeed have a potentially winning combo. The 25,000 device-seeding effort won’t hurt! In addition to my QML explorations, I plan to develop for Windows Phone and can’t wait to start showing off my own Lumia 800.
I just need to get that pretty baby in my hands…