When Microsoft, perhaps a bit unsurprisingly, announced its acquisition of Nokia’s mobile device business, much speculation has been made about the future of what was once the strongest phone brand in the world. It seems that outgoing Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has implied one of the first things that has to go: long, unremarkable names.
Nokia has had a rather amusing history with phone names. Starting with phones that that had names comprised of four digits, Nokia transitioned to a naming scheme that grouped devices by a single letter prefix based on their relative hardware and software capabilities. After the company embraced the path towards Windows Phone, phones were divided into just two large categories: the Nokia Lumia Windows Phone line and the low to mid range Asha S40 series.
But with the simplification of categories came an even longer naming scheme. Examples would be the Nokia Asha 501 and, seemingly Ballmer’s favorite, the Nokia Lumia Windows Phone 1020. According to Ballmer, this was due to the fact that the latter, which is Nokia’s latest flagship smartphone, was a product of two independent businesses and had to carry both companies’ name and baggage.
Things might be changing soon, now that Microsoft will be manufacturing the phones themselves. Microsoft will, of course, still have no control over the names of Windows Phone devices that will be made by other manufacturers that Microsoft is still hoping to license the platform to. But homegrown smartphones, and possible future tablets, will need to shave off a few words and syllables.
We still don’t know if such a plan will push through. With Ballmer stepping down soon and Nokia’s Stephen Elop, former CEO and now VP for Devices and Services, expected to take over, the naming direction could still take a completely different turn. Let’s just hope that Microsoft won’t come out with a Basic, Starter, Home, Professional, and Enterprise edition of the same device as well.