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« Some Symbian Sanity - why Nokia will not join Google Android or Microsoft Phone 7 | Main | Great Analysis by Michael Mace, yet is Completely Not Relevant to RIM ie Blackberry »

December 13, 2010

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Robert Scoble

I started reading, but when you said I meet with mostly USA based folks, that is absolutely totally false. I just spent a week in LeWeb, which had attendees from around the world. I talked with folks from Russia, Vietnam, Israel, Spain, and many other places. I was pitched by many developers from around the world. Not a single one showed me their app running on a Nokia phone. The trends I'm seeing are happening world-wide, if not equally yet. Yes, Nokia is a big company, but it is in trouble with the developers and that means it's a fat chicken that's running around the yard vigorously, albeit with its head cut off. I'll read the rest later.

Jason Grigsby

Tomi: Do you have a link for the Deloitte survey? It verifies something that I've suspected for quite some time. Would love to reference the survey.

Don

Not enough credit is given to Qt, which has been spoiling developers for more than a decade.

With Qt Quick available (and I'll admit it's not quite, although almost, there yet on Symbian) there is no such thing anymore as a "Symbian device" for developers; it's a Qt device. I may not know much about strategy analysis, but I do know development, and things do not get much better than what Nokia is working round the clock on right now (yes, you can follow the public bug tracker, task lists and repositories yourself).

If the horrible Symbian C++ got as much traction as it did, just wait what a proper API, one that's actually a pleasure to use, is going to provide. Did you catch the recent release of the Push Notification (Qt) API, free to use for all? Combined with operator billing and a 1€ barrier of entry for the Ovi Store.

I'll even throw in a bonus: within a year you can write Android apps in Qt, including the Qt mobility API. Unofficially of course.

Give it 6 months for Qt Quick and tools to be polished for Symbian, for Symbian to implement some of the S^4 improvements (font server), and Ovi Store to be set up to allow 4.7 based apps, and there is the most attractive mobile development platform, right there.

Wessel van Rensburg

As somebody that lives in Europe and used to be a huge fan of Nokia I have to say, I think in the short term you are right, but in the medium horison (3 years) Scobleizer is.

Now I have an iPhone. It's gorgeous and has a fantastic UX, but it's a terrible phone. The mic is substandard and the reception is not great.

You mention how Nokia phones have had features that the iPhone only recently introduced but still does not have. That is true. But that is not what matters to consumers.

And it don't matter to me, because of the Apps AND UX of the iPhone really solves my problems. The phone is no longer just a device for talking. It's an interactive content & service hub. The value from iOs and Android is not just the phone. It's the fact that its becoming a fantastic PLATFORM.

I now want a phone that MUST have certain Apps. I want an uncomplicated intuitive and sexy UX.

If Nokia does not improve its UX and its apps base I see them loosing their current lofty position. Because although Apple might not get much cheaper soon, I see Android phones coming soon that are a allot cheaper, has carrier support, much better UX and a big library of apps to choose from.

Jukka Multisilta

Jason: I think the Deloitte survey Tomi was referring to is Revolutions 2010: A State of the Media Democracy Survey.

It can be found on the url below.
http://www.deloitte.com/view/en_US/us/Industries/Telecom-Telecommunications-Technology/a1ff00ede8f0b210VgnVCM1000001a56f00aRCRD.htm

Troed Sångberg

To support Wessel; Tomi is right about developers and influencers, but the trend is for the mobile industry (at the same time the mobile phone industry is becoming the all-mighty-digital-connecting-thingie-gadget industry it's changing in itself as well) to become one where developers and influencers ARE important.

This trend is not projected to stop, but to accelerate. Thus Scoble is right.

enyi

Tomi,

Nokia should hire you now. Good to see Scoble put in his place.

Bob Shaw

Apple enthusiast tend to demonstrate the following:

1. Very limited understanding of the market needs for communication outside North America.

2. No recognition of the fact that this is a first inning of a multiple innings base ball game and Apple's competitors have the innovation capability and deep pockets to fight back.

3. No mention of the financial interest of the carriers and their power to influence the smart phone market. After all carriers are partners in making the smart phone work.

Mark

Tomi, I do think that the Android market is ahead of Ovi. I am all for Nokia, and agree they have the best strategy, but they need to improve execution. Both in number of apps & downloads they are behind Android currently.

Tomi Ahonen

Hi Robert, Jason, Don, Wessel, Jukka, Troed, enyi and Bob

Thank you all for the comments. Will respond to each individually.

Robert - thanks for stopping by. I will also come to your blog to comment there. About the US reference, good point, and I did go back and add correction - that you tend to meet either US developers or those visiting in the USA - but even so, I am happy to grant you, that you will not see in the USA any Symbian development. It would be silly. RIM, iPhone and Android account for over 80% of all smartphones in the USA, Palm, Windows Mobile and Phone 7 all have more than Symbian in the USA, so it would be really silly for any US based developer to even think of developing Symbian for that market.

And globally, ever since the iPhone launched, its been far easier to develop for, than Symbian - so anyone with anything new or cool, would be very smart to develop their demo app on an iPhone, on any continent, even Africa. Now Android is somewhat similar - some developers say its easier to develop for even than the iPhone. But that you Robert do not meet developers who have developed recently for the Symbian OS, obviously does not mean that there aren't any. How else would Ovi store become the second biggest app store by number of apps and number of downloads? Obviously there is a huge developer pool for Symbian, far bigger than for Android or Palm or RIM or Windows Mobile or Phone 7 or Bada. Don't you agree? That you dont see developers showing cool new apps to you on Symbian, does not mean they aren't developing also for Symbian. But because iPhone and Android are easier - of COURSE new cool apps are developed first on those platforms. Makes perfect sense, but does not in any way invalidate my argument?

Jason, yeah, Jukka found it for you already.

Don - I appreciate the comments, thanks. But I have to be 'against' it - to remain consistent to my view haha. I do not think apps, nor developers, decide who wins in smartphones. QT will help Nokia do better - to some degree - but it will not decide the battle either. It only helps get some developers to do Nokia platform (Symbian/MeeGo/Ovi) better/easier than in the past. But if I argue apps are not the key to win - as I am certian they aren't - then even if QT is the best solution, they won't help Nokia too much. It really is other things, especially carrier relations, which decide.

Wessel - I hear you. But there are customers who have been disappointed with their new fancy 'non-Nokia' phone, and found that for example, the iPhone doesn't have a memory card slot, so suddenly they can share pictures and videos and songs with their other phone - and with friends - but not on the iPhone. Or the older iPhones didn't record video, or didn't do MMS etc - all of these were standard on all Nokia phones they were accustomed to, and there are some customers who then have decided, they want a phone - like the iPhone (touch screen large screen) but one which 'conforms' to standard phones. I grant you this is nowhere near the majority of iPhone users, but even iPhones do not have anywhere near 100% customer satisfaction - there are many advanced phone users, who have had an iPhone, and decided they will not get another. And there is a small trickle back to Nokia. But also, I'll grant you, that alone won't win it for Nokia

You say you want apps and a good UX. Fine. First, you have to admit, not all who buy a premium phone, rank those as their most needed features. As we had the Deloitte study just from this October, the apps come ranked way low on the needs. Less than one in 5 think like you. That is relevant yes, but of all people on the planet with a phone, its down to 4%, pretty much exactly where Apple's total market size is today. Maybe that will grow (maybe not). Maybe that will DECREASE if those who believe 'mobile web will win over apps' - will end up being right. You have to admit, that the mobile web argument is at least plausible, it clearly won the first fight of the PC apps vs web, and the cloud thinking that is very popular by the technologists, strongly supports web vs apps as well. I am not saying its inevitable, either may win, but its no way certain that apps will be as important in 5 years as they seem to be for techie-geeky early adopter tech users of today.

I would further argue that within 3 years there is no noticable difference in apps stores of any major manufacturer. They will all have similar stocks of mostly the same branded apps by the same makers, costing the same. There is no sustainable difference in app stores - but the most desirable feature by app developers and consumers - is carrier billing - something currently only Ovi offers. If all other things were even (and they aren't, Nokia will also have by far the biggest installed base, but even if all other things were even) then Nokia still has a major advantage through operator billing. If the Angry Birds is the same on all platforms, but Nokia reaches 3x more phones and offers billing that gets 2x more adoption - that means Nokia will generate 6x more payments than the second best app store. I do think this is early going and the real competitive advantages are not yet even seen.

Remember, Nokia was in this game once before, with a vengeance, but was rebuked by the carriers. They have had the strategy waiting for a long time. They are not new-comers to the game, that is why Ovi is so far ahead of the other app stores, behind only the first-mover, Apple, and Ovi is destined to soon pass Apple. Look at their growth numbers and you see the trends.

Jukka - thanks!

Troed - ok, lets assume for a moment, that developers and influencers will become the key to deciding smartphones (I don't think they ever will, I think they are only of interest to geeks and nerds and early-adopters) - but who is ahead and who is behind? Nokia's Ovi is half as old as the iPhone App Store and already generating more than half of Apple's total downloads - Apple total market share growth has stalled, the app developers are already migrating apps to other platforms, there is a natural stalling of Apple App sales/downloads, that will correspond to its real reach. Meanwhile, Nokia keeps adding national language editions - far more useful than downloads in English, to the rest of the world, haha, not only 'connecting English-speaking people' and adding carriers with carrier-billing. The Ovi store will keep growing until it reaches Nokia's true reach. So why can't soon Nokia own the developer and influencers? THey won't remember how horrid N97 was and the early touch screens on Symbian, they will see the new Nokia phones which will be just as good as any Androids, almost as good as the iPhone. Why would Nokia not be able to be just as good? Microsoft was always worse than the Mac, yet Microsoft had the bigger reach and has vastly bigger library of apps for the PCs. Its a numbers game. The ONLY reason why Apple is still ahead, is because they started first.

enyi - haha, thanks

Bob - excellent comments. Yes, this is first inning (arguably 2nd inning haha) and the battle will continue at least for this full decade. The winners in the end of the decade, are those who knew how to play long-term. I find it very astonishing how poorly Apple is playing this game (refusing to release a simple iPhone Nano or a QWERTY version, for example - which they should do now, in 2010, not when their market share is in terminal decline sometime next year, when that move is seen as a desperation move, rather than a brilliant strategy, which is how it would have been seen now in 2010..)

Also cannot believe how poorly Microsoft is playing this game (Kin?)... But Samsung is the hottest player in smartphones and Nokia is executing perfectly for the long game, willing to invest in the low-cost models now, when they can still buy market share in the low-cost markets. In Africa, India, Indonesia, etc there is no market for Motorola or SonyEricsson or even LG now. the iPhone will only play for the very rich. But Nokia will fight it out with Samsung and ZTE (and RIM) in those markets where the big populations live.

Thank you all for writing

Tomi Ahonen / HatRat :-)

Tim Johnson

With basic studies in social psychology I was wondering did Scobleizer ever thought that maybe the people who pitched to him tried to please him?

I don't know much about pitches but I have understood that the idea is to get someone excited about some new product. Someone showing apps to Scobleizer on Nokia would make just a fool out of himself. Right?

Another observation. After little reading of Scobleizer, I would not call him very global guy. From that perspective it can be difficult to understand global business — like the mobile industry. I have been in Paris, too.

pk de cville

Seems like Tomi 'doth protest too much'.

It's not just Nokia, but Motorola, Msft, Palm, Dell, Verizon, the NetBook league of headless chickens, the music industry, and so on.

Nokia is NOT a special case. It's unfortunately trying to make a living in this time of the iPhone, iPad, iApps.

Challenge: Show us where Nokia isn't losing altitude, where it's boldly increasing Revenue AND Profit TODAY.

Not talking about your strategic dream, but what's happening NOW in the fact based world of corporate reports.

Fernando Guillan

You are right Tim, with only a few words you show us how shortsighted the Scobleizer is. Thank you.

James Rem.

Very good writing.
I agree with many things Robert have said but the end message of him was quite shallow and well... dramatic. Either to get discussion going on or a bit of a arrogance.
Nokia's current route is very promiaing as is the speed that OVI is picking up on downloads.

It all lies on the MeeGo + Symbian marriage created by Qt and i have no idea how that will go next year. It will be uphill battle for MeeGo that will be certain.

Mario Rojas

Tomi, you are a hero.

new era hat

yes you are a hero

Asfaq Tapia

Thank you for putting the record straight, Tomi. For the record, I am from India and know only too well how the iPhone has failed (rather miserably at that) to make any dent in the mobile space in my country.

While everyone here believes that Android phones - with their ability to change the keyboard language to Hindi - will make a huge dent in the non-English speaking Mobile market in the country, Nokia understood these problems back in 2004 and addressed it, successfully. You also mentioned your micro-payments platform Nokia Money and that has done brilliantly too.

Kudos for setting the record straight.

peto

Tomi,
Nokia has best dumbphones in the world, and I used one until about month ago. Being an undecided person, it took me months to choose a smartphone, and I also visited Nokia shop which showcased a lot of Nokia phones, both dumb and smart. And guess what, I couldn't find one smartphone, which would be appealing to me. None.

I think your problem is, that you just don't have good smartphone operating system, I mean something comparable to iOS, Android, or WP7. You just have to invest much more into good developers and really build a powerful software house. That you will need to do if you want to compete in the smartphone area. Of course, in dumbphones you are very good.

Sergey

Watches has to display a time. Phone has to make and receive the calls.
I owe N82 and N97 - It is a horror after 6 months of usage!
I think that they are last Nokia phones I have bought.

David Doherty

@Tomi great post - thanks

@Tim Johnson - highlights the abundance of false consensus with the i-market. Because all my mates want/have/modify Porsches doesn't mean the days for Toyota are numbered...

Tg

It is the 2nd inning and here is why:

Last year it was at the exact same LeWeb conference in Paris where everybody could hear Michael Arrington say 'Nokia is Roadkill'.

Marko Ahtisaari said at his recent speech in Paris: "The smartphone market looks to me as so hot and so overcovered by the media, that we are sometimes under the false impression that all of the innovation is done, and that the dominant design for a smartphone operating system is already here. I think that's a mistake. I would argue that we are where the automotive industry was during the 1890's"

That's bold. And I like it.


http://inventors.about.com/library/weekly/aacarselectrica.htm

Jax667

Tomi, there was nothing intellectual about that little discussion. You analyse the reality and prove your points with facts and numbers. What does Scobleizer do? His arguments are based on chats with a small number of people in no matter how many countries he claims to have been visiting. Too much influence by the media and far too subjective without only ONE attempt to prove anything written in his article which is the complete opposite of you Tomi.

That is why I and many others think that you are one of the best sources regarding analyses of the mobile market, perhaps THE best source.

Theodore Ts'o

My contribution to the debate: http://goo.gl/Ou3r4

Nishith

An Amazing post,
Well I do agree with your post about Nokia having a Good strategy but I don't agree that it was the Best Nokia could have done.
In fact I would say Nokia has Missed a lot of opportunities in the past 4 years
> Nokia Has totally left Vertu off the battle. Well I guess you know Vertu, it was supposed to be where iPhone is now. Nokia has never used it In fact the latest Vertu does not even have a touch interface. For Vertu there was no Migration it was a luxury phone and it is a luxury phone maker but somehow it missed the train to the recent era. Just imagine if we had a Vertu designed N97 mini/5800 or N8 based phones instead of the E5 based Constellation Quest.
> Well Nokia will be missing a lot of its old symbian developers when its migration to QT will be over. Though Nokia is giving all means to Current developers to migrate themselves but many gaming companies will have to rewrite a lot of things to migrate to QT. Many were relieved when Mr Elop had announced that there will be no Symbian 4 but still is the backward compatibility to AVKON was not guaranteed after the update. Hopefully Nokia makes that transition smoothly and does not screw it up.
> I liked what you said about NGage and it was a wonderful platform but rather than reusing NGage models (In app conversation model, Its multi player strategy, Game purchase model(though it was annoying but was better than OVI's first purchase model)) Nokia introduce the new basic OVI store without any of its pros. After Looking at Ovi store I felt NGage was way ahead of it. Is this Ovi strategy justified? In fact an Ngage user will hate Ovi store.


Matěj Cepl

Toni, thanks for the very good two articles. It really persuaded that my N900 is not as doomed as I was sometimes afraid it is. Let me put here three comments though:

a) to iPhone lovers ... N900 has pretty half-baked operating system, now abandoned, which really doesn't make me happy (see below on more), but it clearly shows that Nokia guys know how to do phones. Clear nice sound, very stable connection, even in Boston when I bought it originally (I live in Czechia), where everybody complained about AT&T and iPhones it hold call without interruptions even on arguably even more crappy T-Mobile network. Nice.
b) I was in Guadec 2007 conference in Birmingham, UK where Nokia presented then new shiny N800 tablets. And everybody there just wondered why in the world, they didn't put 3G chip to this device (already quite expensive) and didn't make it into the phone. If they did, IMHO, they would really attract developers, and I believe that momentum and development of Maemo would make Android just a footnote in history of the software development. They ignored what they have in hands for years, and now they are playing catch-up with Meego. And I am sorry, they do. They probably will make it, because their position is so strong, they can survive some bleeding, but they missed an opportunity to completely eradicate some competitors (or even to start).
c) And only Nokia managed to sell $400+ phone and completely ignore users of its flagship product. ovi.com maybe nice and shiny, but I still cannot register my N900 here. Where are Ovi Maps for N900 for offline use? Where is Ovi Maps navigation? Why in the world they managed to split their App store into two (most N900 apps are in maemo-extra repos not in the Ovi store)? Again, Nokia has excellent technologists, but their marketing and PR people should be shot in the morning. Any morning.

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    Tomi Ahonen is a bestselling author whose twelve books on mobile have already been referenced in over 100 books by his peers. Rated the most influential expert in mobile by Forbes in December 2011, Tomi speaks regularly at conferences doing about 20 public speakerships annually. With over 250 public speaking engagements, Tomi been seen by a cumulative audience of over 100,000 people on all six inhabited continents. The former Nokia executive has run a consulting practise on digital convergence, interactive media, engagement marketing, high tech and next generation mobile. Tomi is currently based out of Hong Kong but supports Fortune 500 sized companies across the globe. His reference client list includes Axiata, Bank of America, BBC, BNP Paribas, China Mobile, Emap, Ericsson, Google, Hewlett-Packard, HSBC, IBM, Intel, LG, MTS, Nokia, NTT DoCoMo, Ogilvy, Orange, RIM, Sanomamedia, Telenor, TeliaSonera, Three, Tigo, Vodafone, etc. To see his full bio and his books, visit www.tomiahonen.com Tomi Ahonen lectures at Oxford University's short courses on next generation mobile and digital convergence. Follow him on Twitter as @tomiahonen. Tomi also has a Facebook and Linked In page under his own name. He is available for consulting, speaking engagements and as expert witness, please write to tomi (at) tomiahonen (dot) com

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