Home' LAPTOP Magazine : April 2011 Contents It just got personal between the world’s
largest PC maker and its largest partner.
During the joint news conference to
announce that Nokia would now be using
Windows Phone 7 as its primary smart
phone OS, Nokia CEO (and the former
head of Microsoft’s business unit) bragged
about the scale of this strategic partnership.
He said “it’s now a three-horse race.” I’m
assuming he was referring to Android, iOS,
and Windows Phone, leaving no room for
webOS at the top. It’s official: Microsoft and
HP are at war.
Here’s how I see this battle shaping up.
In This Corner: HP webOS
Scale—it’s the same word HP used to
describe the advantage webOS will have
during the launch event for its TouchPad
tablet and two new phones. HP (a former
licensee of Windows Mobile) paid $1.2
billion for Palm, but the first fruits of their
marriage look like a mixed bag.
The new TouchPad tablet from HP innovates
in some compelling ways. For instance,
the 1.6-pound device automatically stacks
activities in its slick interface, making it easy
for users to multitask. The new webOS 3.0
also takes unobtrusive notifications a step
further, allowing you to swipe through e-mails
at the top of the screen without having to
open the e-mail app.
What impressed me most, though, is
how pervasive and integrated HP has made
social networking. You can see your friends’
Facebook comments on a given photo and
reply right within the photos app. And if you
just want to post a status update, you can
tap the Just Type bar on the home screen
and start pecking away on the touch key-
board. If HP can convince more developers
to embrace webOS, the TouchPad will be a
strong competitor to the iPad and the slew
of Android 3.0 slates coming to market.
The two new webOS phones don’t push
the envelope as much as they cram and
stretch the platform into smaller and larger
designs. The Veer is a tiny vanity phone, and
the Pre 3 has a large, cushy keyboard and
a fast 1.4-GHz processor but won’t hit the
market until this summer. HP thought outside
the box in how the two handsets interact
with the tablet. You can touch the phone
to the slate to share URLs, and Bluetooth
syncing lets you see who’s calling on the
TouchPad, as well as text message from
one to the other.
HP’s scale will certainly give webOS a
leg up in retail for the TouchPad, but it
won’t necessarily help win over wireless
carriers or phone buyers. However, the fact
that HP plans to put webOS on PCs will be
a fantastic billboard for the platform. The
company boasted that it ships 120 PCs
every 60 seconds, or 60 million annually.
Even though webOS will share space with
Windows on laptops and desktops, I can
easily envision webOS taking over HP con-
sumer products and Windows becoming
the de facto business OS.
And in This Corner: Microsoft & Nokia
Yes, Android and iOS have all the momentum
right now, but there’s no denying that Nokia
is still the world’s leading smart phone maker.
It shipped twice as many units as Apple in
the fourth quarter (according to IDC), and it
shipped 100 million smart phones in 2010.
That’s double what Apple and RIM sold com-
bined. Does adding Windows Phone 7 to that
mix give Nokia an edge over webOS?
To some degree, Microsoft’s OS is more
intuitive than webOS. The Live Tile interface
is friendlier and more customizable, and you
don’t have to master any gestures just to
get around. Palm has admitted that getting
consumers over that hump in the first few
minutes is critical to them embracing the
webOS experience instead of returning the
phone. And in those first few seconds on a
Windows Phone device, you see exciting
and familiar options such as Office and
The distinct webOS advantage is multitask-
ing. Not only was it there on day one, it’s
also a hallmark of the platform. Windows
Phone 7 doesn’t let you use third-party
apps in the background yet. The OS didn’t
even have cut and paste functionality as
of press time. Nevertheless, when you
combine Nokia’s excellent hardware with
Microsoft’s slick software, it could be a
I say “could” because Microsoft sold
more ancient Windows Mobile devices
than Windows Phone 7 handsets in the
fourth quarter. But the platform hasn’t
yet matured, and when you add some of
Nokia’s other assets to the table—including
Nokia’s applications and Maps—there’s no
question that HP should have a very tough
competitor in the phone space.
Who Will Win?
I’d really have to get my hands on the first
Windows Phone 7-powered Nokia phone
to say whether HP or Microsoft will gain
the advantage in the mobile device war.
But right now it looks as though HP will
have a sizable head start in tablets, and
Microsoft will be the bigger player in
To a certain extent, the partnership between
Nokia and Microsoft should increase the
pressure on Microsoft to bring a Windows
Phone-based tablet to market. The world may
not wait for the next Windows to show up on
slates. At the same time, Microsoft’s tie-up
with Nokia just made it harder for HP to entice
developers to create apps for webOS. The
TouchPad tablet will be a hugely important
back door for creating apps that run on
webOS phones—and eventually PCs.
One thing’s for sure. For the first time
ever, Microsoft and HP are now competing
for the same customers.
Microsoft & hp: freneMies
Nokia’s decision to embrace Windows Phone 7 makes these partners mobile rivals.
Laptop | april 2011
NeWS & TreNdS
Editor in Chief Mark Spoonauer directs LAPTOP’s online and print editorial content. He has been covering mobile and wireless technology for more
than a decade. Read his weekly SpoonFed column at www.laptopmag.com/spoonfed, and follow @mspoonauer on Twitter.
by Mark Spoonauer
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