You have to love Twitter and you have to love Vic Gundotra.
This morning, the Google Vice President decided he was going to have some fun on Twitter. “#feb11 “Two turkeys do not make an Eagle”.,” he tweeted. To anyone outside of the tech space, that sounds like gibberish. Hell, even to many of those in the tech space, that seems like a completely random thing to say. Except it wasn’t random. It was cool and calculated.
The February 11 date that Gundotra references is clearly meant to signify Nokia’s annual Capital Markets Day, which takes place this Friday, the 11th, in London. There, new CEO (and former Microsoft president) Stephen Elop is expected to announce radical changes to the company’s plan and vision. For weeks, rumors have swirled that Nokia may ally with either Microsoft or Google going forward in the smartphone business. Gundotra’s tweet this morning made it very clear who Nokia is going with. The other guys.
How cool is that? A pretty well-known figurehead for Google just dropped a tweet bomb on both Microsoft and Nokia, subtly exposing their news early. And he did it by blatantly insulting both companies. Oh, and by the way, he used to work for Microsoft! For 15 years!
Could it be that Gundotra was just taking a stab in the dark with his quip on Twitter? No way. Gundotra, while now believed to be heading up the social stuff Google is not-so-secretly working on, is also very familiar with Android. He’s been the guy on stage at Google I/O evangelizing the mobile platform to no end. He’s so good at it, that he could almost sell Android to an iPhone user. Almost.
If something as significant as Nokia/Android talks were going down, Gundotra would know about it. On the flip side, he would also know who else the Nokia guys were talking to. You can be sure that he wouldn’t tweet about anything unless he knew something and knew it was a done deal. And you can be damn sure that he wouldn’t tweet calling anyone a “turkey” until he was sure it wasn’t going Google’s way.
A more, um, nuanced report tonight in BusinessWeek confirms that Nokia will partner with Microsoft to put Windows Phone 7 on their smartphones. It’s something we actually first reported hearing earlier this week. And it’s something we’ve been talking about for months, after we heard about Elop’s cordial exit from Redmond. The writing has been on the wall.
That said, Google did have a shot at this partnership. We know that Elop was talking to Google CEO Eric Schmidt a few month ago as Nokia’s MeeGo group was in turmoil. And in recent months, you can bet the discussions between the two sides intensified as Elop considered what was best for his new company. But going with Android, while perhaps smart, would have been the equivalent of Elop punching Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer in the face. It wasn’t going to happen.
Instead, the company which still has an absolutely massive mobile reach (Nokia) will partner with the company with endless pockets (Microsoft) that has actually managed to develop a pretty damn good mobile operating system. The problem is that it hit the scene at least a year too late, and perhaps two years too late. A Nokia partnership is exactly what Microsoft needs to have a chance to get back into the game. And it’s what Nokia needs to enter the smartphone game (and maybe even the American market) in a meaningful way.
And that’s why Gundotra’s tweet, while awesome, is perhaps ill-advised. Two turkeys may not make an eagle, but they might look pretty tasty to some new customers hungry for smartphones. This deal makes some sense.
But wait, the tweet actually goes even deeper. It’s actually even more of a mind game.
As Engadget points out, there’s quite the history behind the statement “two turkeys don’t make an eagle.” Specifically, former Nokia VP Anssi Vanjoki said it in 2005 in reference to rival BenQ buying Siemens’s handset business. And you may recall that Vanjoki is the guy who earlier this year compared people using Android devices to Finnish boys who pee in their pants for warmth during a cold winter. Yes, he really said that. And we know for a fact that Google didn’t like that too much.
So yes, there are many layers in such a short tweet. One layer of malice, one layer of intrigue, one layer of humor, one layer of irony, and at least four layers of awesome.
[image: flickr/pen waggener]