Re: Bloody hell..
" The cost of the MS WP licences. But more importantly, the 'cost' of being tied to MS dictating requirements. They can only build what MS allows them to in terms of actual SoC used, UI, layout of the screen, and many other."
WP licences are cheaper than Symbian development. Yes SoC is limited, but as a developer I think this is a strength of the platform, not a weakness. Ditto UI layout. I think allowing manufacturers to skin Android is a major flaw of the platform.
"So your claim is that they are not developing these beyond what they were two years ago and merely ported them ?"
No, I'm saying that whether they're developed for Windows Phone or Symbian, the cost of ongoing development is going to be the same, because the new development is a replacement for, rather than an addition to, what was being done before. Don't take my word for it: look at the company's financial reports. R&D costs have fallen far more than licensing costs increased. A net saving.
"I doubt that Android was the only choice. Symbian collapsed not because of the costs but because it was announced as being dead when sales were actually increasing. "
This is a myth. The decline in sales started in late 2010. Advance orders for Symbian devices collapsed at this point, as the N8's introduction turned sour (Bluntly, the hardware was excellent, but the software was not finished, and return rates went through the roof). Sales drops in 2011 were down to networks not renewing orders for Symbian devices back in late 2010. Hardware industries have long lead times: causes go back long before the visible effects. The collapse of Symbian orders, combined with the inability to finish the MeeGo software prompted the famous "Burning Platform" memo; it was not the other way round.
Memo or not, Symbian was already on it's last hurrah, and was never going to continue past Symbian^4, scheduled for 2011 but abandoned in 2010 (but many of its features, running on S^3, came into the Belle release in late 2011). The engineering efforts to get Symbian3 onto the ARM11 SoCs used in N8 and subsequent devices was grossly underestimated, and were the reason why the N8 itself, scheduled to release in early 2010 barely scraped onto the market in November 2010. Nokia's version of Symbian had poor separation of functional layers and was just too difficult to bring into today's more powerful hardware. (open-sourcing the code also sucked time and energy out of the company: perfectly good, working code was re-written to allow the entire OS to be Open-Sourced, and in the end nobody used it.)
"I still have and use an N800. It is not a phone. "
I know that, but telephony is an application; it's not intrinsic to the OS. As an application platform, which was more mature? N800 or the Android release of the time? Actually, if you insist on pedantry, compare Maemo5 on the N900 with Android Cupcake (1.6), both from late 2009.
" as [N950] was killed off so as not to compete with MS products"
No it was not. N9 was put on sale because it was too late to stop, and there were customer orders in place that needed to be fulfilled, but there was no future in the OS. MeeGo was an absolute disaster. It failed to achieve any of its goals, and Intel had failed to deliver any of the hardware that was to propel its progress in tablets - even now, where are those low-power Atom tablets? I love the N9, I think it's a beatiful combination of software and hardware, but it was two years late. The N950 is actually the hardware that N9 was supposed to launch with, but wasn't shipped because there was no software ready. You need to stop seeing this failure as a Microsoft conspiracy, it was entirely of Nokia's own making. It's unpalatable, but true.
Nokia's problems were all in full force years before they signed up as a windows licensee. I waited for N8. I waited for N9. Neither of them were on time, neither as good as they should have been (N8 disgracefully so). My main phone is still an N8. With the last software release on it, it's a pretty good phone, but, again, that was nearly two years later. Had N8 launched on schedule, with Symbian Belle on it (hell, even with Anna), there would have been no problem. It didn't.
Nokia went with Microsoft for solid business reasons. Not liking this outcome doesn't make the whole deal a conspiracy. Google was the other option, and they were approached (I believe WebOS was also considered) and it simply did not make business sense.
Here's a major reason: Google would not allow Nokia to preserve their mapping and navigation apps if they became an Android licensee. They would have been asked to ditch their entire investment in buying Navteq, and all of the work they'd done to make Symbian's maps and navigation class-leading, for no revenue return. Going with a "non-Google Android" would have let them keep Maps, but wasn't a viable choice - the only truly good things about Android are Google's online services: they'd have been locked out of Calendar, the app store, and all of the things that Android does very well, and been castigated by the press for it.
Those services are another reason why Android was a no-go. The post above says that the Android phonemakers have been reduced to box-makers on narrow margins, with no recurring revenue, which is a pretty good assessment of the situation. By choosing Microsoft, Nokia were able to bring their existing services (music and navigation) to Windows Phone that give them recurring revenue streams; those services are made available on all WP handsets, not just Nokia's. That wasn't an option on Android.
Finally, you have to consider the loss of first-mover advantage: Windows Phone 7 was less than six months on the market when Nokia signed up; Android had had nearly two years, and Samsung's position as top dog was becoming very clear.
"And Android is not trying to do that either. Google makes it available and it is up to manufacturers to do as they wish."
That is not how it works. Google churns it in secret, with no input from its customers, spits it out, and leaves it there: then it's up to the non-favoured manufacturers to try to get it working. Linux doesn't work like this; Qt doesn't work like this; WebKit doesn't work like this. Almost every open-source project out there lets you see the sources at all times, so that you know what's coming down the track. Android springs it on you, becaue it's the minimum that Google have to do to be acceptable to the "Open Source" evangelists.
We obviously disagree about this, and there's not much I can say that would change your mind, but you cannot blame Nokia's current woes on Microsoft, or on not choosing Android. They, and they alone, are the authors of their own past misfortunes. That said, their future looks better than some who chose Google's "free OS".