This is an article that you could throw at my face two years down the line. Or bring a print out of it to show me, make a bow and say: “This is why I revere you”.

I strongly believe that two years down the line, Nokia will still be the most popular handset brand.

We all know that a few months back…after courting both Google & Microsoft for a few months Nokia decided to sleep with Microsoft. Will this partnership succeed? I think so.

Before we move to the reasons why it would succeed, let us take a look at some numbers & history. Today, there are 1.3 billion Nokia users worldwide and its Symbian mobile operating system is the largest in terms of current usage. And recently Nokia retained its position as the leading global smart phone vendor, with a share of 28%.

Before partnering with Microsoft, Nokia was working on its own smartphone OS called MeeGo (in partnership with Intel), which was dumped because it realized its limitations.

I have huge respect for anybody who identifies & understands their limitations, and looks for workarounds. This is the sign of a true leader…and this is why Nokia will continue to be the leader.

We also know that the power of two is more than the sum of parts – if the two work in tandem. And why would these two work in tandem? Because Nokia is fighting to delay death….while Microsoft is trying to live the mobile life but needs a partner who can deliver compelling mobile handsets. In short, they both need each other.

Note: According to Google’s Zeitgeist, Nokia was India’s most popular Brand in 2010. It would be interesting to see what is in store for Nokia in 2011. Check out Google’s Zeitgeist 2010

Now for what Microsoft brings to the table.

Microsoft, the company that band-wagoned itself on IBM, is no newbie to the Mobile OS business. They have been doing it for the last 10 years. Remember Windows CE (Know More about Windows CE) and we shouldn’t we be naïve enough to say Microsoft doesn’t know how to make software. If you remember right, the earliest smartphones ran on software built by Microsoft. I would say, it wasn’t the case of incompetency in software design but incompetency in strategizing that left Microsoft behind.

Having been around for 15 years now, handsets are a commodity. And Microsoft has been selling to consumers and enterprises alike. That they have been around for decades ensures strong partner relationships and sales channels.

If you feel apps decide the winner amongst Smartphones….then yes, today the windows platform lags behind in a big way. But we need to understand that the number of apps available on a platform is determined by the number of developers – and who can question the fact that Microsoft has the largest number of developers rooting for it. Though, they haven’t moved to mobile yet. The gap between Apple and Microsoft (once they launch) is waiting to be bridged.

Today, Smartphone users are trying to complement their presence on PC with their presence on Mobile when they are on the go. I could be wrong here….but I think for a smartphone user the order of importance is:

1) Business
2) Productivity
3) Entertainment

And in Business & productivity nobody excels like Microsoft does. And if I include Microsoft’s gaming ventures, I could even say that they excel in Entertainment as well.

To top it, they can combine the power of Skype in all the Nokia-Microsoft handsets. Make free data calls whenever possible, and when it is not an option the user can make regular voice calls. This is when popular mobile applications like Nimbuzz will become indispensable for other handset manufacturers. (Disclaimer: I work for Nimbuzz)

Only one thing is capable of upsetting the Nokia-Microsoft applecart (pun intended). And that is Microsoft’s history with Personal Computers, where the OS upgrades happen once in couple of years. But I am not really worried about this because I expect Nokia-Microsoft to know that when it comes to mobile an OS upgrade once every year (if not six months) is the only option.

What is that one thing that Nokia-Microsoft should do?

Nokia needs to undercut the Apples & HTCs of the World. Being a medium range handset maker it knows how to work on smaller margins. But they can compensate by also trying to make money from the user during the user’s lifecycle. They anyway take their share of money from every paid app downloaded. Now, they just need to figure out how a share can be taken out when data is consumed or mobile content is downloaded. Or create an Adsense for Mobile – the way Google created it for its search engine & other content publishers. That Nokia is present in 190 countries and amongst these it already has 132 billing relationships with the operators should help pave this business model.

Let me know what you think.