Around here we’re all pretty sure that when SkyNet goes sentient and starts making Terminators to kill all of us, it’ll be running a very customized version of Android or Linux, because Open Source, in the long run, is going to win. It’s going to win because there are brilliant folks tinkering with it on a constant basis, without any budget, and it’s going to win because it’s super-responsive to its user base. Walking along and think to yourself that there ought to be an App for something? You go home and code it yourself, and two weeks later version 0.5.6 is being used around the world.
Do Nokia Phones Dream of Android Sheep?
However, that’s the long run. It might take thousands of years. In the short-term, phone makers like Nokia, once the dominant phone company in the world, have to make some money. After a lengthy rough patch, Nokia clawed its way (barely) back into profitability last year thanks to a strong holiday season, posting a paltry-but-significant $585 million profit. And, of course, every phone Nokia sold last year ran Windows. The question is: Would Nokia do better to switch to Android, which is the most popular phone OS in the world?
On the one hand: Yes. Android is the most popular phone OS in the world, and Windows is like the 189th most popular phone OS. Windows is so deprecated on the phone, in fact, that we’re pretty sure every Windows phone sold comes with a letter of apology and jailbreak instructions, standard. In fact, Nokia marketed their Lumia line solidly on the hardware, with the operating system in parentheses.
Putting the Lumia 920 and Android together would be so transparently awesome it might actually be the Moment of Sentience for SkyNet. Windows Phones are so lackluster – the Live Apps are watered-down and widget-like, the customization is complete rubbish – that a switch to Android would make Nokia phones better by an order of magnitude.
On the other hand: No. Everyone else except Apple is running Android. There’s an argument to be made that one of the reasons for Nokia’s profitable year was that their phones stand out as Windows phones in a sea of Android – Windows is, for all the Haterade thrown at it, a distinct alternative to iOS and Android. Plus, Microsoft has a long history of introducing lackluster starter projects that then develop into something truly great over time (have you ever seen Windows 1.0? Sweet Pete.).
Plus, Microsoft is like a parasite with their hardware vendors: They burrow in and make a home inside them, and this can be advantageous to the manufacturer.
Android for the Loss
So we’re actually going to surprise you and come down on the side of No: Nokia should not switch to Android. Because, let’s face it, if you want a top-of-the-line Android phone, you’re going to buy a Galaxy III or IV. Switching to Android would instantly make Nokia just another of five million phone companies listing Key Lime Pie in their marketing materials. The fact that they run this bizarre OS called Windows is what makes them distinct. And apparently Nokia’s CEO agrees with us.
We can’t believe we just recommended someone stick with Windows OS on the phone. We need a moment alone.