Past choices of operating system are starting to catch up with mobile phone makers. News came down today that Windows Phone integrator Nokia is cutting 10,000 jobs by the end of 2013, and several members of the executive team are leaving their positions.

Nokia news

This announcement follows a similar decision at HP last month to eliminate 27,000 jobs by the end of 2014, 9,000 of them by October 31 of this year. Research in Motion (RIM), maker of BlackBerry handsets, also said in May that it was planning “significant” layoffs this year.

What’s happening? Is it just a bad economy? Or is it just that their phones don’t run iOS or Android?

For Nokia and RIM, it could very well be just that simple. The iPhone and Android devices overtook both the BlackBerry OS and Nokia’s previous in-house operating system, Symbian, with remarkable speed. HP has a much wider product and service range, encompassing laptops, desktops, servers, and enterprise solutions, but its purchase of Palm in 2010 did cost it $1.2 billion.

Eric Zeman of InformationWeek worries that Nokia may suffer the same fate as RIM: falling precipitously from a leadership position to one of a minor or forgotten player. HP barely got even that far in the tablet world last year when it released and then quickly discontinued the TouchPad running Palm’s webOS. Zeman said that sales of Nokia’s current Windows Phone handsets have been “OK, but not spectacular.” If that’s enough to carry Nokia into the fall, perhaps Windows Phone 8 devices can revive the company, but he worries that it’s a longshot.

The lesson? Choose your platform wisely. And as with any investment, it helps to diversify. Just as manufacturers can produce multiple devices with different operating systems, mobile application developers can create apps for multiple platforms. When one wrong choice can sink a whole company, the solution is to make sure you keep more options open.

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