During the CES 2012 introduction of the Lumia 900, Nokia’s CEO Stephen Elop was touting the fact that the company would have exclusive apps from heavy-hitters on its Lumia line before any other Windows Phone got it. While Nokia needs to stand out from the crowd, Elop clearly stated that the company would never do anything to fragment the platform.
As Nokia and Elop have said many times, it’s now a battle of ecosystems between iOS, Android and Windows Phone. While Apple controls most of the aspects of iOS (the App Store still relies on third-parties for content), Nokia is in a trickier position because the success of HTC and Samsung Windows Phones could eventually help Nokia by raising awareness of the platform. That doesn’t mean that Nokia wants to cede any ground to these companies though.
With the Lumia line, Nokia is trying to strike a delicate balance of differentiating its lineup but not making the Lumia line so different that it changes the fundamentals of the platform. It can have exclusive apps like Nokia Drive or something from ESPN but Elop insists that you won’t see things like specific APIs on the Lumia line that aren’t other Windows Phone.
In previous conversations with Nokia, the company has told me that it’s itching to get its fingers into the Windows Phone software. The company signed its pact with Microsoft about six months ago, so the Lumia lineup is essentially the finished Mango software with Nokia hardware and a few new apps. Without discounting those apps, I’m sure that Nokia could do a lot to improve the core platform itself – like using its ownership of Navteq to boost Windows Phone’s core mapping capabilities. These improvements would flow to other Windows Phone makers like HTC and Samsung.
It can be a little tricky but I believe Nokia can pull it off. For example, it said it will work with EA to bring some exclusive games to its Lumia line but these will eventually get to other Windows Phone handsets. While exclusive app time frames may stink for users on HTC or Samsung, they can rest assured that they’ll get that content eventually. I guess that’s good enough.