Nokia & Microsoft Alliance: Dream or nightmare?

It is alleged that a Google insider described the potential alliance between Microsoft and Nokia in less than glowing terms; “you can’t join two turkeys and make an eagle”. With Android growing at 800% in 2010 and Apple/iOs the darling of early adopters and innovation fans – Microsoft and Nokia have increasingly looked off the pace. As I’ve said consistently (and I’m only agreeing with what other partnership marketers have stated previously) – collaboration and alliances are going to be the future of marketing.

Its not new – innovation has always been driven more by sharing and working together with useful friends – rather than working in glorious, secretive isolation. As Xerox say it will increasingly become ‘collaborate – or die’. The jostling is clearly underway and you can see camps emerging. Samsung, Sony and HTC are becoming poster boys for Android. Apple is carefully working with media content publishers such as News International to help reinforce its reputation for cutting edge innovation and lead in the Tablet markets. A potential Microsoft-Nokia alliance could be a dream collaboration or a horrible nightmare. Could they work together to create something great a la Sony-Ericsson? Can Microsoft achieve what they did with the Xbox and reinvent themselves? Or will the alliance embody all that has been the problem with the two brands: massive sales and technically ‘OK’ – but neither are brands that people love? This story will be a fascinating one to follow. As a lover of content and technology I want to see any link up work and in the past both Microsoft and Nokia were brands I used every day wheras now they are on the edge of my radar. Google apps offers superb free alternative to dear old Microsoft Outlook. My Android or Apple devices have replaced my once cherished Nokia 9300 James Bond stylee phone. The frustrations of the Symbian and Microsoft mobile platforms meant I closed the door. Another one opened as soon as I downloaded my first apps on my Apple HTC Android phones. Partnerships, alliances and collaborations are not always the answer but for Microsoft and Nokia they need to make this work. I don’t think the big challenge for them will be an inability to create great product and software – after all they have massive resources and at the end of the day like Premiership football teams they can buy-in the best talent. Not so much highly paid Spanish prima dona or Geordie 6ft 5 inch monsters -but designers, creatives and engineers. I think the biggest issue they may have will be the ‘soft-stuff’. Culture, people, styles. Its this soft stuff that is often difficult if not impossible for accountants, analysts and technicians to understand. Unfortunately – it is often the most critical element of any relationship as everything else can be solved if the people and cultures ‘fit’ wheras without it – nothing is possible. I am sure the partnership gurus at both organisastions will know this and they will make it work. Rather than helped create the joining of two turkeys – Google and Apple may have woken up two sleeping giants.

Author: Andrew Armour

Andrew Armour is a marketing and media professional, a specialist in business partnerships and the Founder of the consulting business - Benchstone Limited. His career spans from the UK music industry to the America's Cup, from winning agency pitches to securing key digital content deals. He is married to Viv, lives in Hampshire and works in London.

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