DataArt experts on Nokia acquisition by Microsoft

12 December 2013
By Yury Schkatula, Chief Architect

In light of recent events, DataArt experts shared their opinion about the acquisition of Nokia by Microsoft. They told us whether they think that this deal was an attempt to catch up with Apple, whether they believe in the conspiracy theory around this whole story with Stephen Elop and what is their opinion about the changes from the developer’s point of view.

Yury Schkatula, Chief Architect:

It seems to me that “catch up” or “compete” doesn’t accurately describe the aspirations of a monster like Microsoft. What they are after is domination. Operating Systems, browsers, game consoles, smartphones – if a player of this caliber enters a new market, it comes to dominate, not to compete.

Talking about Apple, everyone keeps saying that after the release of iOS7 they are not that awesome anymore and “everything was different under Jobs” starting with maps and ending with the overall “Microsoft wannabes” design.

Apple is really in a difficult situation now, and only a new charismatic CEO-maniac can save the image of the company, and there’s no one on the horizon, apparently. Another option for them, as I see it, is to go deeper into new innovative solutions and markets: Apple Glass, glamorous quadrocopters, neural interfaces, implantable Gadgets – a million hypothetical points to focus on.

It is therefore quite likely that Apple will withdraw from the arena of smartphones (as happened with MP3 players). Of course, this will make it much easier for Microsoft to dominate, just as it happened on BlackBerry shutting. But will the smartphone market be as valuable in 5 years? We’ll see. In any case, Microsoft has come for long.

Talking about Elop, if he was younger and IT-geeky, then I would probably believe that he was sent to Nokia specifically to lower their market value. But there are no ifs in history, so I don’t really believe in a real conspiracy. I’d rather say that Elop was already in a position where communication and accumulated goodwill (a kind of personal LinkedIn-profile) allowed him to monetize himself into the most favorable position. Last time it was Nokia mobile devision that was sold to Microsoft. If it was more profitable for Elop to remain in Nokia, then he might as well continue to be a partner of Microsoft, as it was a few years earlier. If he regarded Nokia as his personal business grave, he would never have agreed to lead a company that was hopelessly drowning, despite his fee. As they say, nothing personal – just business.

As for software development, the Windows Phone is one of the most enjoyable platforms for developers. A common language, familiar environment, initially good SDK documentation, and it does not require tool chain configuration. Take it and start working. Perhaps the only negative point is sometimes Microsoft itself. As is typical for a giant company, it operates with a delay and attempts to “do better” sometimes make the situation even worse.

But in general, once again, for an average developer the environment is very friendly, familiar and logical – welcome on board!

Ilya Kretov, Senior Technology Advisor:

I truly hope that these guys will manage to catch up with Apple by means of this deal. I don’t really follow the story with MS and Nokia, but still I believe that what happened is for the best, no matter what intentions Elop had. On the other hand, Microsoft in some way confirmed the fact that they won’t be able to create an über-smartphone without some additional help.

As for software development for the platform, some aspects have improved and some have become worse. The development tools are nice and convenient and are consistent with current requirements. A definite plus is standardization of working with phone hardware. However, in terms of SDK capabilities, when compared to Windows Mobile, where you can do everything, here the options are not so diverse. Moreover, the very existence of licensing, associating devices to the account and the possibility of deploying the apps to the device only after connecting to the internet I find uncomfortable and restrictive.

Sergey Titov, Senior Developer:

Speaking about my own experience, all developers around me use MacBooks. All used tablets are iPads. All smartphones are iPhones, maybe several Samsungs and only one Windows Phone.

What Microsoft is doing right now looks like “we have a tablet too, and we also have a smartphone”. They have their variant of an App Store and they are opening Retail Stores. However, everything seems to be half-finished. I tried to find a Retail Store nearby, but after 20 seconds of loading I got a message:

“Whoops, seems we’ve run into an error.
Please check the information you have provided. Don’t worry; it happens to the best of us.”

Yep, “happens to the best of us”, sure. Meanwhile, Apple shows 5 stores within a second (try it with zip code 11102).

In my opinion, it is not the best solution for Microsoft to make gear. I can be mistaken and everything that I just said about their devices is not a representative selection, better to look closer into the statistics.

Aleksei Kachanov, Chief Architect:

Microsoft seems to be really willing to start manufacturing devices, but there is a certain feeling that they don’t really know how and where to start.

They have the resources and capacity for this, but they are lacking expertise and I suspect that the problems are global too, some sort of feeling about the scale of things.

There is no charismatic leader in the company as Gates or Jobs that could lead the company to a beautiful future.

Not a single top-manager that has a clear comprehension of what he is doing and why.

Microsoft is becoming clumsier and slower and they are no longer able to catch up with the speed of changes and tendencies on the market.

The acquisition of Nokia looks more like a simple step to solve a difficult problem, but without a throughout understanding of what to do with it and where to go from here.

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