Impact of the Nokia-Microsoft Alliance: Welcome to the Five-Platform World

Like a big collective cow, the blogosphere is continuing to chew on the Nokia-Microsoft announcement.  It seems to be one of those rare events that forces people to stop, step back, and reconsider their assumptions.

I think it's impossible to say today what impact the Nokia-Microsoft alliance will have, because we don't know how well Nokia will execute.  If Nokia executes poorly, there won't be any change at all -- both Microsoft and Nokia will continue to gradually decline in mobile.  If Nokia executes well, I think the impact could be pretty big.  Not asteroid-killing-dinosaurs big, but a very large meteorite, with effects felt worldwide.

For the purposes of this note, I'm going to assume that both Nokia and Microsoft will execute well.  That's a risky assumption -- they would not have formed this alliance if they had been executing well in the past.  But for today we'll give them both the benefit of the doubt.


How many platforms can we stand?

Ignore the hype from Nokia about the "third platform."  The reality is that we're on track to end up with four or five significant smartphone platforms in the US and Europe: Apple, Android, RIM, Windows Phone, and HP/Palm if their new products are excellent.  Japan as usual will be very different, and I don't think all five players will be equally active worldwide.

You might ask if the market can accommodate five platforms.  There's a school of thought that says the smartphone market is destined to go the way of the PC market -- eventually almost everyone will coalesce on a single platform that has the most applications and licensees.  If that's how smartphones are destined to work, nobody seems to have told the customers.  Platforms with small numbers of apps (RIM in particular) have continued to sell well.  Also, back when I was at Palm and we had far more apps than any other mobile device, it didn't let us destroy Pocket PC, or RIM, or Symbian.

I think apps do matter in smartphones, but so far they appear to matter less than they do in PCs.  Without any apps, a PC is useless, whereas most smartphones ship with a lot of functions built in: voice telephony, texting, e-mail, browser, camera, etc.  Third party apps are more gravy than steak, at least for now.

So maybe the magic number is two platforms.  In marketing, many experts believe customers can hold only two major brands in their heads for any market: a leader and a challenger.  Think Coke and Pepsi, Hertz and Avis, Airbus and Boeing.  On the other hand, there are plenty of markets which have dozens of competitors.  Automobiles, for instance.  You can have huge numbers of successful brands there because the market is heavily segmented -- Rolls Royce doesn't compete with Mini Cooper.

I believe the number of smartphone vendors and platforms is going to depend on the actions of the smartphone companies themselves.  If they treat smartphones like a single consolidated market, a shakeout is probably inevitable.  If they segment the market, creating brands and devices that serve different groups of customers differently, I think there's room for all the platforms to survive.

Unfortunately, at this point most of the smartphone companies are focusing only on slavishly copying Apple.  Even RIM, a company with differentiated communicator products, is trying desperately to turn them into iPhone clones.  That's a great strategy to ensure commoditization and market dominance by Apple.

Since we're giving Nokia the benefit of the doubt today, let's assume they create differentiated products that help to segment the market.  I think that would stimulate other handset companies to do the same thing, leading to a relatively stable multiplatform world.

Here's what that means to the rest of the industry...


For the Android licensees, there will be intense competition for shelf space

In a five platform world, I think it'll be hard for all of the Android licensees to survive.  Picture your typical Verisprint store a couple of years from now (Vodorange if you're in Europe).  It probably carries three iPhone devices, because Apple has diversified its line.  There are a couple of RIM devices with keyboards.  We're assuming Nokia and Microsoft are successful, so there are a couple of Nokia smartphones on display.  Since we're giving the benefit of the doubt, we'll also assume HP has paid big comarketing dollars to get two of its devices shelved.  That's nine smartphones.  How much space is left for Android models?  I figure maybe two or three devices, split between Samsung, HTC, Motorola, SonyEricsson, LG, etc.  Life gets very uncomfortable for a couple of those companies.

Or maybe they get lucky and a RIM or HP gets knocked out of the picture.  That would leave space for more Android vendors.  But the Android licensees can't control that -- they're counting on Google to drive one or two of the other handset platforms out of business.  Is Google prepared to fight that sort of alley knife-fight against an HP or RIM, companies that might otherwise be Google partners? 

Android was a fun product for Google when all it meant was bleeding Microsoft.  But it eventually made Apple into an enemy, and now Nokia.  HP is next, and RIM will come after unless it licenses Android.  Is that the lifestyle Google wants?  I doubt it.

By the way, I think the Android shelf space problem is one of the reasons why Nokia went with Microsoft rather than Google.  Nokia has more control over its fate as a Windows Phone vendor, and it knows Microsoft is willing to do anything to win.


What happens to the other Windows Phone licensees? 

It's really hard for me to picture them sticking with the platform in more than a token fashion.  They avoided Symbian because it was a stacked deck in Nokia's favor; I think Windows Phone now looks the same.  The only way they'd invest more is if Nokia's WinPhone products started to take off strongly in a couple of years, and they were afraid of being left out.  I presume that's what Microsoft is counting on (it's how they dealt with IBM in PCs).


Can HP really be the fifth platform? 

HP is by far the weakest of the five mobile platforms.  Although it has a great legacy, it has neglected its developers tragically and its products are late.  The recent HP event shows it still has a legacy of goodwill in Silicon Valley, and you can't count out the world's largest PC company.  But HP's success depends on great execution.  If its products are timely and deliver on their promises, I think it has a good shot.  I am especially impressed by the things HP wants to do to link its products together (another on the long list of things Microsoft fumbled years ago).

But can HP execute?  It's been steering a zigzag course in PCs.  For several years it invested heavily in differentiation, and hired a lot of former Apple staffers.  But in the last year it laid off many of those people, killed its advertising campaign, and focused on Acer-style price competition.  Now suddenly HP is talking like it wants to go back to being a differentiated premium vendor.  That sort of inconsistency will be deadly when competing directly with the other smartphone platforms.

I can't figure out if the HP guys are Jedi knights or middle-aged paunchy men playing with plastic swords.  Based on history, I'm about 60-40 in favor of the plastic swords.


For the mobile operators, all of this produces immense happiness

Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good, and the Nokia-Microsoft deal is a huge stroke of luck for the operators.  They have always wanted the handset vendors to be barefoot and pregnant, too weak and divided to fight with them for control over phone customers.  A five-platform world is immensely attractive to them because the platforms can be played off against one another.  If RIM gets too uppity, you can just tip the product mix toward HP, or vice-versa.

The downside of this for the operators is that five platforms are a lot more work to support.  So they'll have conflicting temptations -- carrying more platforms gives them more leverage, but adds to their costs.  I think the biggest operators will choose the leverage; Verizon proved that it's not healthy to be cut off from a successful platform, and you can never tell which one is going to be successful next. 


For app developers, there will be more pain

The prospect of a five platform market is a nightmare for developers.  It's already hard to support two platforms (Apple and Android); the idea of supporting five is a logistical nightmare.  Most developers will focus on one or two, but that limits their potential revenue because the available market is smaller.

This situation favors large established developers that can afford to do ports to all the platforms.  Unfortunately, large software companies are usually the slowest to innovate, so I fear the net result of a five-platform world is likely to be less innovation in mobile apps.

There will probably be intense interest in cross-platform development environments that let a developer write once and deploy anywhere.  The platform companies will resist, and probably governments will eventually get dragged into the debate as they are asked to define what constitutes restraint of trade in an online app marketplace.

The one silver lining might be if the platform vendors start to compete for developers by giving them benefits -- for example, by loosening restrictions in their app stores, and taking a smaller cut of revenue.  I hope that will happen, but it's not enough to make up for the fractured development platform.


What it means to Nokia: A chance to survive

Although Europe is really a collection of nations rather than a single place, there are a few things that seem to tug on heartstrings across many European countries.  The Eurovision song contest is one, Airbus is another, and Nokia is a third.  It represents European style and marketing prowess, and it proves that people in Europe can lead a high-tech industry.  So the deal with Microsoft represents far more than a business deal; it feels like a betrayal of a European jewel at the hands of a rapacious American company.

It's important to understand what the alternative was for Nokia.  If the company had continued at current course and speed, the decline in gross margins would have put it close to breakeven this year, and it would have started losing money in 2012.  Things were already so bad that restoring 10% operating profit this year would require laying off about a third of the company.  Obviously the cuts won't be that severe because Elop is aiming at a multiyear recovery, but the numbers show how close Nokia was to a death spiral in which spending cuts and revenue declines start reinforcing each other.

Nokia was like a plane rapidly losing altitude.  If you don't pull back on the yoke in time, there's nothing you can do to avoid hitting the ground.  The company was very close to that point.

I believe Nokia's directors knew this when they hired Stephen Elop, and his charter was to restructure the company radically before the problems became unsolvable.  In that sort of situation, you don't ask what products you ought to save.  You figure out how much money you can spend, you make a prioritized list of everything you do, and you start cutting from the bottom of the list until your activities fit into the budget.

I think when Elop and the board did that exercise, all of Nokia's OS business was below the line.  They just couldn't afford it.

Although stepping back from OS is emotionally devastating to many Nokia employees and fans, I don't think it's necessarily bad for the company.  Operating systems are like plumbing; they don't actually add much value to the building, but if they're built wrong they can destroy it.  Symbian advocates talked persuasively about its superior power management and ability to run on low-cost hardware, but as far as I can tell that was never reflected in higher margins for Nokia smartphones.  Most Symbian users didn't even know the OS was there, and if they had they would not have paid extra for it.  Symbian was enormously complex and difficult to work with, and it cost Nokia a fortune.  According to Nokia's annual reports, it paid about $800 million when it bought Symbian, and it reportedly employed at least 2,500 Symbian engineers (link).  Those engineers probably cost about $500m a year, or about $5 per Symbian phone sold.

Nokia went into the OS business because it was afraid of depending on someone else's plumbing.  Now it's betting that Microsoft is weakened enough that it'll actually cooperate with Nokia.  Microsoft will reportedly end up paying Nokia more than a billion dollars to adopt Windows Phone (link), and Nokia can reassign the Symbian engineers to tasks that will actually differentiate Nokia's products.  The deal with Microsoft could end up being not a surrender for Nokia, but a liberation.

But as I've said before, it all depends on execution.  For the folks inside Nokia, things will feel worse before they feel better.  The layoffs are still to come, and until then it will be hard for employees to focus on their jobs.  Even after the layoffs are done, it will be a lot of months before Nokia can ship new devices designed to take advantage of Windows Phone.  Until then, Nokia is unlikely to reverse its gradual loss of share in smartphones. 

When I first held a Nokia n97, I was lost in admiration at how beautifully the hardware was put together.  Everything from the shape of the case to the motion of the sliding hinge screamed elegance.  Then I tried the software and I wanted to toss it out a window.  Nokia's smartphone task is now very simple: produce some great devices like the n97, marry them cleanly with Windows Phone, and partner with Microsoft to get them distributed as broadly as possible.

If Nokia targets those products at real customer needs, and differentiates them from the iPhone rather than just trying to top it, it has a good chance of creating the multi-platform future it's talking about.

It's not as much fun as conquering the entire tech industry, but it's a lot better than going broke.  And it's probably the only choice Nokia had.

22 comments:

Harel said...

Great analysis as usual.
From app perspective I think that the 5 Platform World will donate for the rise of web apps (not talking about tablets), now when it is seems that there is no upcoming changes in the OS eco-system, developers are really in a problem choosing the OS they will be working with, and web app is a kind of solution.
Secondly there are the tablets, Apple, Android, RIM, and most recent HP would try to sell the package, a tablet and a phone, like HP showed.
In the last 4 years smartphones were all about software, they will still be, but hardware and more important, technology and innovation will be "under the spotlight"
And last Nokia, good or bad they will need to bring Windows Phone 7 device ASAP, as customers will wait or in the worst case for Nokia will leave the brand

Michael Scharf said...

Mike:
Spot on analysis... A couple of points:

1. I agree that other WP7 licensees will head for the door. There's no reason to stick with the platform.

2. Nokia will slim down as the divest the parts that Microsoft does not want. I see the sale of their feature phone unit (Symbian included) and NSN.

3. The guys with plastic swords have no good track record when in comes to software. Just take a look at the embedded systems that come with their printers. Although it probably was not considered, Nokia could have purchased WebOS as their new core OS. As it stands, HP won't succeed in this market.

4. I believe that Microsoft will end up purchasing Nokia. What we will end up with is three vertically integrated platforms, Apple/iOS, RIM Blackberry OS/QNX, and Microsoft/Nokia/WP7 and one franchise platform, Google +.

shoobe01 said...

> if the platform vendors start to compete for developers by giving them benefits -- for example, by loosening restrictions in their app stores, and taking a smaller cut of revenue...

I was waiting for the next clause to be "for exclusive development on their platform." That would be a good way to get governments involved.

Building on what Harel says, I think that HP not only wants to sell phones and tablets, but integrated computers. That's the logical next step, and the WebOS-on-desktop announcement seems to indicate this.

Apple seems to have this in mind, with the addition of flavors of iPod other than iPhone, but they can't sacrifice the PC market so don't have a lot of synch differentiation.

I wonder if this will change sometime here. Having multiple devices might make it a lot more painful, if nothing else, to switch platforms when the contract is up or the next cool competitor handset comes out.

PeterScott said...

I really question the idea that Microsoft is giving Nokia Billions. I believe what they are getting are "in Kind" benefits. Meaning they get mentioned in Microsoft marketing, free WP7 dev training, loaning of engineers etc... Handy yes, but you can't take it to the bank as cash.

The flow of money will obviously be from Nokia to Microsoft for license fees.

Otherwise what is in it for Microsoft? Yes, Nokia saves 5$/handset on internal development and likely will eventually send $10/handset to Microsoft. :)

Direct Quote from Elop:
http://www.engadget.com/2011/02/13/live-from-an-evening-with-nokia-at-mwc-2011/

"We pay Microsoft royalties for the use of their software. And, of course, the balance to that transaction is that we are able to reduce our operating expenses. We pay them, but we are not also internally developing the software ourselves."

Andrew said...

Good stuff, thought-provoking. I would personally have been betting on more consolidation rather than a 5-platform world, but you've made me rethink that a bit.

Agree with Harel above: in a 5-platform world, it seems like HTML5 is going to become a must for cross-platform app compatibility. While the apps won't be as nice as the native experience on each platform, they might be "good enough". I used to work in the videogame business, and porting to the different consoles was enough of a nightmare that at most there were only ever three serious players at any given time. Unless there's some kind of middleware solution that ends up being cross-platform - which seems unlikely for many reasons - web apps seem to be the only way a 5-platform world works.

Carlos said...

I also worked in video games some time ago. I was wandering if the decision of not using native code (C++) will hurt Microsoft-Nokia. Apple, Android and HP support C++ and OpenGL development and I heard that RIM was thinking of adding it to their QNX system, then it will be easy to port games between this systems. But WP7 is a completely different thing.

For example, Angry birds can run in Apple, Android, Symbian, WebOS but no in WP7.

Joe Harris said...

I haven't seen it mentioned anywhere else but I strongly believe Nokia should have moved heven and earth to get webOS. Their overlap with HP products is minimal. The HP brand is meaningful in NA and meaningless elsewhere. Nokia vice-versa.

For Nokia it would have meant a first class OS which is ready to roll on current devices. For HP it would have meant a guaranteed global presence for webOS, hugely valuable for attracting developers.

I think the fit is so good that HP should consider buying Nokia outright to make it happen.

Joe

Baron95 said...

You are confusing vendors with platforms.

In technology 3 seems to be about the right number for platforms.

In PCs: Windows, Mac, Linux.

In Search: Google, Microsoft, Yahoo (97% between the three).

In Mobile CPUs: Arm, Qualcomm, Ti

Video Content: Flash, Silverlight, HTML5-HLS

Server OS: Linux, Unix, Windows Server

Paid Database: Oracle, SQL Server, DB2

Your example with cars, was falwed because you counted brands, not platforms.

There are two major car platforms: gasoline and diesel, with a fight for emerging fuels (alcohol, electric) developing.

For drivetrains there is FWD, RWD, AWD.

Francisco Kattan said...

Great piece Mike. You wrote that a five platform world would be a nightmare for developers. This seems true at first glance.

But as you stated (and I agree) we will only have a five platform world if the players go after different user segments. In this case, most apps would not need to be ported to all five platforms as they too would likely target different segments.

Anonymous said...

For a second I thought why on earth HP brought Web OS, it was the best part Nokia would have chosen Palm at that rice seemed so cheap for anyone to grab.
HP is so lousy at technology I can only imagine the advances my printer could have had but did not. Think AirPrint , apple pulled it not HP
Apple surely didn't want kill Web OS otherwise that also would have happened
Then Dell what on earth these guys doing, palm buy out would have solved Dell future in one shot
This only then proves another 1 to 2 year free ride for Apple imaging Apple comes with iPhone 6 ultimate when Nokia filly lunchs the first opiates WP7?
Other hand Android already seems in to canabalosm
So mostly it is as someone put it 3 platforms for a while I guess

alex said...

Couple of comments to this interesting note:

1. Magic number of platforms
You didn't mention the influence of the operators on that number. With 3 platforms, they can play them off very well - you give the stick to one, while two have to share the carrots. Since operators also want to minimize the number of platforms, as you wrote, the magical number is 3.

2. Nokia without OS
Agreed that saving the cost to develop the plumbing is a blessing for Nokia. However, Microsoft also controls the API/SDK, hence the value potential for 3rd party apps. So Microsoft reaps most of the benefits. When Nokia sells large volumes, other OEM will likely come back to WinPhone (as you write), and then Nokia is in hardware commodity game. End-result: Microsoft will buy the useful parts of Nokia.
(Disclaimer: I am an ex-Nokia employee and still somewhat emotionally invested.)

3. Nokia and webOS (Joe)
webOS was for sale just a few months before Elop was selected as CEO. If Nokia's financials are so close to a death spiral, as you write, it was maybe the biggest blunder of the previous CEO not to buy webOS while is was still available.

4. Microsoft paying Billions (PeterScott)
Elop said this quite clearly today.
That's paying for a distribution channel - direct sales + excellent operator relations for indirect sales.
One could also consider it as a first instalment on the purchase of Nokia.
License fees for WinPhone are competing with "free" Android. Android has hidden costs in the unclear patent situation, and eventually OEMs will have to pay patent royalties. That sets a natural price level for WinPhone - probably lower than today, but more than zero.

Michael Mace said...

Thanks for the feedback, everyone!


Harel wrote:

>>From app perspective I think that the 5 Platform World will donate for the rise of web apps

Ahhhh, mobile web apps. My great obsession for the last five years. I agree that they make the most sense, but without some vendor making sure all the pieces come together, I'm not sure when they'll take off. It has already taken a lot longer than it should have.


>>Nokia, good or bad they will need to bring Windows Phone 7 device ASAP

Not sure I agree, Harel. If they rush out a product and it's mediocre, I think that could do a lot of harm to Nokia's brand.


Michael Scharf wrote:

>>Nokia will slim down as the divest the parts that Microsoft does not want. I see the sale of their feature phone unit (Symbian included) and NSN.

I could definitely see them getting rid of NSN (but would anyone buy it, considering that it's basically a nonprofit business?) Not at all sure they'd part with the mobile phone team, though. It seems to me they may be the strongest part of the company right now.


>>Nokia could have purchased WebOS as their new core OS.

Could have, maybe should have, but think about it. Nokia would have run Palm into the ground. And if it hadn't, Nokia still would have run out of money and ended up shutting it down. Symbian and MeeGo are not being shut down because they are losers, they are being shut down because Nokia can't afford to fund them.


shoobe01 wrote:

>>I was waiting for the next clause to be "for exclusive development on their platform."

Ahhh, I didn't think of that one, but you're right.


>>Having multiple devices might make it a lot more painful, if nothing else, to switch platforms when the contract is up or the next cool competitor handset comes out.

Excellent point.

Michael Mace said...

PeterScott wrote:

>>I believe what they are getting are "in Kind" benefits. Meaning they get mentioned in Microsoft marketing, free WP7 dev training, loaning of engineers etc... Handy yes, but you can't take it to the bank as cash.

I think it's probably a combination. The way Microsoft usually does these things is that they officially charge full price for the license fee, but then offset it with all sorts of credits so that in practice little or no fees are due. So for example, Nokia will probably get a credit for every web search that it routes to Bing.

Then there will be comarketing funds. I'd bet you there's a big marketing budget, especially in the US, that's tied to this agreement. It'll be Microsoft advertising featuring Nokia products, and Microsoft will probably pay the majority of the cost.

I would be very surprised if Nokia ends up sending any cash at all to Microsoft for at least the next two years, maybe more.


Francisco Kattan wrote:

>>we will only have a five platform world if the players go after different user segments. In this case, most apps would not need to be ported to all five platforms as they too would likely target different segments.

Hmmmm, good point.


alex wrote:

>>You didn't mention the influence of the operators on that number. With 3 platforms, they can play them off very well - you give the stick to one, while two have to share the carrots.

Fair enough, but if there are five differentiated platforms the operators will carry them all, because they won't want to miss out on two other market segments.

>>Agreed that saving the cost to develop the plumbing is a blessing for Nokia. However, Microsoft also controls the API/SDK, hence the value potential for 3rd party apps.

I know I'm a heretic on this, but I don't think apps are as decisive in mobile as they were on the PC. I think most of the people who really care deeply about apps have already bought iPhones.


>>When Nokia sells large volumes, other OEM will likely come back to WinPhone (as you write), and then Nokia is in hardware commodity game.

Agreed that is a huge risk for Nokia.


>>End-result: Microsoft will buy the useful parts of Nokia.

In your scenario, there will be nothing left of Nokia that Microsoft would want.


>>One could also consider it as a first instalment on the purchase of Nokia.

I don't understand why everyone thinks Microsoft will buy Nokia. Microsoft eventually wants several strong hardware licensees, so they will commoditize each other and drive down the price of WinPhone hardware.

I do not think Stephen Elop went to Nokia to sell it. His career path depends on fixing the company. I think only if that fails would he look to a sale.

Anonymous said...

Good analysis. Amusing to see almost everyone else treat this announcement as a blank canvas to deface with their own preconceptions. The reactions range from cautious optimism to Ahonen's Apocalypse - see http://communities-dominate.blogs.com/brands/2011/02/when-things-get-even-worse-than-you-thought-1st-preview-of-potential-for-nokia-microsoft-partnership.html

It will be instructive to come back in a years time and take note...

Anonymous said...

I don't think this post and Tomi's analysis are in conflict. This article was about how the Nokia and Microsoft combination will work once the Nokia WP products are there.

The analysis by Ahonen depicts the difficult journey from this point to the one where Nokia has a WP7 portfolio available. This certainly hasn't been made easier (either internally or externally) by the way the MS co-operation was 1st framed and subsequently announced.

tim said...

Michael, I've read elsewhere that Symbians advantage was the excellent 3G signalling stack and that advantage was eroded when chipsets were produced with the function embedded. Is that right?

I absolutely agree with your analysis that apps are the gravy to the steak.

I think one of Nokias mistakes was making too many phones and not supporting them enough. I cannot believe how many engineers were needed for Symbian, a mature platform. It can only be due to the complexity of supporting it on so many platforms (and even then it's a struggle). I use an E71 and despite that being one of their successes I am still surprised at some rough edges that should have been firmware fixed ages ago.

Dwarakanath Yadavalli said...

Liked your analysis. About the app developers and mobile platforms... I have a couple of points:

1. the mobile app developers are small and fragmented. Most are not in a position to commit millions of dollars and wait to recoup them over years. They need the churn and the premium that early adopters drive and are willing to pay.

2. The ecosystem and the pace of innovation that is happening requires the app developers to be nimble footed. This reduces the probability of large fish survival.

These two feed into each other by keeping the app developers flocking to platform that promises innovation and has momentum. At least the past few years MS and NOK have failed the developers on both counts.

Anonymous said...

Apps are overrated. My Macbook runs virtually without any 3rd party apps. My Blackberry cannot even install any apps: that's the company policy. Still I live fine with both. I do have an iTouch though. Almost all apps I've ever downloaded I have used once only.

Michael Mace said...

Thanks for the comments. A couple of thoughts...


Anonymous wrote:

>>Amusing to see almost everyone else treat this announcement as a blank canvas to deface with their own preconceptions.

Good point, it is kind of an ink-blot test, isn't it?

I believe this is one of those "Snakes on a Plane" cases where the commentary online is vastly different from the way the average customer will react. I've seen a lot of online predictions that Symbian phone sales will collapse because the OS is dead. But the average Nokia customer wasn't aware of Symbian in the first place, so I really don't expect to see a dramatic increase in Nokia's rate of decline, especially if Nokia does a good job of marketing its products in the next year.


tim wrote:

>>I've read elsewhere that Symbians advantage was the excellent 3G signalling stack and that advantage was eroded when chipsets were produced with the function embedded. Is that right?

I don't know enough about the inner workings of Symbian to know if that's the case. They usually talked to me about battery life. But what you describe sounds like the sort of things the Symbian folks would cite.


>>I think one of Nokias mistakes was making too many phones and not supporting them enough. I cannot believe how many engineers were needed for Symbian, a mature platform. It can only be due to the complexity of supporting it on so many platforms (and even then it's a struggle).

It could also be the old Lotus 1-2-3 fallacy (if it takes a hundred engineers a year to turn the product, then 600 engineers should be able to do it in two months). A big hardware manufacturing company like Nokia would be very prone to overstaffing a software project and trying to brute force their way through it.

Dr. Petri I. Salonen said...

Very good analysis of the situation. I have been blogging about this as well as I specifically work in the Microsoft ecosystem. I truly believe it is an opportunity as long as Nokia and Microsoft executes this well.

TheRohan said...

This is going to be a great partnership. The world's leading phone manufacturer with an awesome OS. It will get better and better. Just look at iOS. When it was released it was laughable and now it is rockin. What is the point of being so disappointed? Just give it some time and we will definitely see success.

I think Nokia has the license to customize WP7 now, which is a good thing. Actually, they claim they'll be working in partnership with MS to that purpose. So, I'm already assuming that the WP7 OS we'll find on Nokia phones will be to some degree different (albait compatible, I really hope) from the one on other hardware producers.

I also think it will be quite likely we'll see other features I can't really understand why are currently missing in WP7, such as thetering and Sync with Outlook.
In other words, I think this degree of exclusivity may be enough to generate that uniqueness that is indeed needed to compete against the iPhone.
Check this to see what other developers have to say: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kfWFvCJJaNs

A–Gonzaga said...

The analyst is clearly talented. Meanwhile, anyone thinking Finns will/would/could sell Nokia to anyone "simply don't know a thing about Finns and Nokia". Elop is the only non-Finn siting in the decision room. The other is a Nordic man, Norwegian Statoil's CEO--considered a brother more or less. Imagining Finns selling Nokia is like imagining Swedes selling Ericsson (not SonyEricsoon), or best yet, imagining the Dutch selling Philips. It's that unthinkable.