As we’re starting to return to full steam here at Windows Phone Central from the holiday season, we need to evidently begin reporting on the stupid again (thankfully it's not more Android-Nokia rumors). This time Forbes online contributor Tristan Louis is “predicting” that Nokia will exit the hardware business this year and sell off their assets to Microsoft and/or Huawei.
No evidence is provided, mind you. Not a single “unnamed source” or even the tried and tired “people familiar with the matter” go-to device for reporting on irresolute rumors. And if you’re scratching your head at who Tristan Louis is or why you should care about what he writes, you’re not alone as we’ve never heard of him either (he’s evidently an “entrepreneur”, which we think means something along the lines as “guy with money”).
We have no idea why this story is getting any traction at all. Louis, as far as we know, has no solid track history in this area for prediction. In a quick poll of the editors of Mobile Nations (iMore, Android Central, CrackBerry), none of us have ever heard of him. That of course doesn’t mean he’s wrong, we’re just not sure why his opinion here has any more merit versus some guy on the street...
Then there is the Forbes Online thing. Forbes the magazine has a distinguished name and is the go-to source for a lot of business orientated news. Forbes Online, on the other hand, is kind of like a playground for random tech news, superficial enquiries and wannabe techies. Some of the straight reporting is okay but the predictions and analysis are often third-rate, at best. This is one of those instances. (For another example you can read their travesty of a “review” for the Lumia 920, an embarrassment of tech journalism).
Now before we run the bus over Tristan too much, we should note the he's just making a prediction here for 2013. It's a guess and it's not like he's even link-baiting with his article's title. In that sense, we'll cut the guy some slack.
The danger here is in the rest of the tech media taking this as something worth re-reporting on. It's not. And it's dangerous to treat it as legitimate news but we're already seeing this being passed around mostly because the name "Forbes" carries with it pre-ordained authority. It shouldn't. And sites who give air to this should be ashamed.
What are Nokia’s plans for 2013 and beyond?
A legitimate question is asking what shape Nokia will be in for 2013 and going forward. Towards the end of January, Nokia is expected to give their financial report where we can finally judge how well the company is doing with the Lumia 920 (and their other Lumia phones). The news could be really good, bad or somewhere in between. Our bet is on conservative and we believe Nokia will have done well but it is still too early to break open the Champagne.
Going forward, we see no reason why Nokia will retire from hardware and become a straight services company. That’s not to say this is not a viable option for them at some point in the future, as surely they are positioning themselves heavily in services—but everyone is trying to do that too. HTC, Samsung, Apple, Google are all cross-branching into new areas. Google bought Motorola for hardware, Apple is heavily going “cloud”, Samsung has Bada/Tizen…etc. It’s clear that in order to compete in 2013, you need to have your toe dipped in every aspect of the mobile world
We suppose if things become dire at Nokia, they will have various options for restricting the company. Heck, Palm did the whole “split” thing years ago breaking into separate hardware and software companies (it’s also considered to be one of their worst mistakes). But as of right now, there’s nothing signaling that Nokia planning on doing anything like that in the near future. Their hardware, especially the Lumia 920, is being praised by just about everyone in the business and even consumers are finally being wooed back to Nokia and to Windows Phone.
In conclusion, there is nothing to see here with this prediction. Our confidence level on this is practically zero as the source behind it is just not someone who is considered a talking-head in the Microsoft-Nokia world of tech journalism. So let’s just move on and see what happens later this month.