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« The Nokia CEO 'Burning Platform' memo at Engadget, doesn't ring true to my ears.. | Main | Smartphone Bloodbath 2010: Now Final Numbers Q4 and Full Year 2010 - and each rival awarded their final grades »

February 09, 2011

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Comments

ryzvonusef

Tomi for Nokia CEO 2012!

But admit it, no matter what you say, if they don't *want* to listen, then nothing can persuade them.

N900 owner

History will prove you wrong like it did before... just read your own stuff from a year ago and compare it to the reality.

marty3

i don't think they Will. It would be a stupid thing to do as a company. All the money put into symbian over the years would be for nothing. Symbian^3 is just fine right now. Still few bugs need ironing out but what os doesn't have bugs. And is still new.

Its like its not even been giving a chance. Why would they even consider moving to Google or ms os? Just seems dumb to me on many levels.

irsan gunawan

i totally agree with this article.. Nokia has a huge market, and dominate the market.. but Nokia stay too long in 'comfort-zone', while others trying to make a new market for their own (smartphone bundle with telco/operator, marketapps, etc) leaving nokia with it's own traditional market (dumbphones)

James Barnes

By the numbers Ovi is certainly doing very well. I still think it's the weak link in the chain for Nokia.

Ovi could be doing much better - there's no question that given the installed base it should be the top app store by a country mile. So why isn't it? It's not for lack of developers or carrier-billing, it's through a very poor user experience. That's easily fixed if the will is there.

Here's hoping Elop chops a few heads on friday and rectifies this.

Jonathan

@Marty3

Symbian^3 is NOT just fine right now from the user experience and ecosystem perspectives, no matter now many times that is repeated will change the facts.

I would be surprised if it ever evolved to become "just fine". Not to mention, it should be *excellent* to compete with the two juggernauts, "just fine" does not cut it.

Drastic measures are needed to 1. Get Nokia to US market 2. fight iOS and Android (Apple stealig the profits, Android stealing the customers)

P.S. The Elop memo is real, it also very accurate. I am positively surprised that Nokia executive team has now seen the realities and tries to turn the ship around.

Nemus

Nokia has problem in executing current (imo pretty well thought out) strategy. Not really sure why some people think that dropping Symbian or Meego and adopting WP7 or Android will improve execution?

dj

what I'm thinking is they'll go the samsung way... Samsung has dumbphone, BADA then with Android and WP7 OS.. Nokia will still continue meego and symbian, targeted at the different market segments.. then they will release phones that will ride either the WP7 or Android bandwagon..

Baudrillard

This is a battle of Nokia vs USA. They will continue to pound until they have successfully destroyed the only phone brand that doesn't run an American homegrown OS. They don't even realize how many Americans work at Nokia and how many have worked at Nokia over the years, churning out beautiful products. Some one like Frank Nuovo comes to mind. I think about movies like Minority Report that featured huge interactive Nokia branded monitors and futuristic communication devices and interaction methods designed by Nokia. The phones that came about because of that film were the Nokia 7650 and the Nokia 9290 Communicator. I think back to films like The Matrix withe the Nokia 8110. Where the hell did this hatred come from!

Kai Lukoff

I disagree. Yes, Nokia's demise has been greatly exaggerated, but it is an unmistakeable trend. User experience does matter over time. There's only so long consumers will buy dumbphones or semi-smart phones with a 2nd class ecosystem. Yes, Nokia should milk its dumbphones so long as it can (which it should be able to do even if it "switches"), but it also needs a low to mid-range smartphone that will stand its own against (or with) Android or Windows 7 phones.

Nor does it appear to me that CEO Stephen Elop shares your optimistic assessment: "We are standing on a burning platform." And, "We thought MeeGo would be a platform for winning high-end smartphones. However, at this rate, by the end of 2011, we might have only one MeeGo product in the market." These are dramatic statements if Elop only intends to say, "Stay the course." I suppose we'll find out on Feb. 11th.
http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2011/02/08/nokias-elop-drops-bomb-the-platform-is-on-fire/

Arun

Tomi:

Can you gift me an iPad 2 if you are proven wrong on Feb 11?
Thanks! :P

Yuri

I used to agree with the opinion that Nokia's Symbian strategy is good. That all hanged on the assumption that they can execute this strategy in a timely fashion.

Nokia purchased Trolltech in the beginning of 2008 and in mid 2008 they set up the Symbian Foundation. For me this is the moment when Nokia declared they intend to give an answer to Apple's iPhone/iOS and more importantly to Google's new open source platform. It has been more than two and a half years and we still don't have a Symbian device that can compete with the UX of iPhone or Android. At the same time the development budget of Symbian is huge - according to Asymco it is double that of the iPhone.
For me this is an indication that the Symbian team is working extremely inefficiently and this does not inspire faith that if Nokia stays the course its Symbian strategy will succeed.

Half a year ago Nokia clearly stated that its platform strategy lies in Qt. It is not Symbian that is at the cornerstone of Nokia's transition path so why should Nokia live with the obvious inefficiency of Symbian's development. The argument that Symbian is optimized for low-end hardware does not hold water anymore - the prices of higher-end hardware are coming down much faster than Symbian is progressing.

Finally there is another problem that Nokia is facing. Regardless of how good its long term strategy is, Nokia is a publicly traded company and it has to please Wall Street enough to stay independent. This may not be Nokia's fault, but they have to play that game too.

If Nokia has a way to port Qt, Ovi Store and Ovi Maps to Android I don't see any reason not to do it. Naturally they have to do it slowly, slower than they push MeeGo so that developers don't abandon Qt for Android. If they announce two or three Android devices for 2011 and say 5 MeeGo devices it should send the right message. Also Symbian should be phased out slowly, in the course of two-three years, or just limited to a small number of low-end devices as to decrease its development cost. I believe Nokia can do that by releasing only candy-bar smartphones on Symbian, midrange touch phones on Android and high-end touch and QWERTY phones on MeeGo.

Romain

Hi Tomi,
I don't want to nitpick, but Palm/HP's WebOS is actually Linux based, contrary to what you say in your article.

Also, I totally agree with you that it is an advantage for a handset maker to have full control of its OS, which is why Samsung made Bada. However, why are you then saying that the ultimate smartphone OS should be developed with partners ?

The whole "developed with partners" part sounds incompatible with having "full control of your own destiny"...

And you don't elaborate on why being "Open Source" and "Linux-based" is important to be the ultimate smartphone OS...

Actually, I think you are probably right if your definition of the ultimate smartphone OS is for a manufacturer-neutral OS, and looking at your definition of the ultimate smartphone OS it seems like Android matches all your criteria !

MarkW

Tomi, I think your analysis is essentially correct. The current strategy is good and they absolutely need to execute on it to prosper in the long term. Unfortunately unless insiders are being deliberately asked or fooled into putting out a smokescreen to build hype around the announcement then they will switch to WP7. (WP7 does at least make more sense than Android because they'd at least have more carrier support there).

I see it like this, they have a goose that used to lay golden eggs but it's sick and the eggs aren't coming out so shiny. The right thing to do is cure the goose (but that's a very difficult management thing to achieve, fixing a giant and broken software development organisation), the easy thing to do is kill the goose, and buy eggs from someone else and sell them on. Eat what you were going to feed the goose to save on food costs (short term excess profit).

Maybe Nokia decides to use Qt on WP7 in the medium term. Only buying a comoditized core OS from M$ at a pre-agreed excellent price (to save M$ from doom in mobile). Then at least they are still adding value at the UX & services layer. If not then the result is almost certain doom. Giving up control of the core OS when you have a highly capable option still seems a little crazy to me though.

judsontwit

Hello. Are you also aware that iOS is actually originally based, like Apple's OS X, on FreeBSD - another *nix variant?

Not that it matters - contrary to point, you don't have to base your system on a *nix OS to be successful, and "open-source" wasn't what made Symbian successful in the first place.

They're both irrelevant points, disproven already by history and Nokia itself.

Kalle

Efficiency has been a big problem with Symbian development and still is. For some reason this very basic issue hasn't been solved over the years. Basic things like slow starting debugger on emulator or device, documentation which lists only function prototypes without full explanation, installing SDK, tracing, untracable exceptions if one mistake is made with resources, resource compiler that doesn't tell you what you did wrong, USB connnectivity that works or doesn't work, strange panics just to mention few.

When things are done right then Symbian runs fine, but when they are done wrong it will result in endless debugging nightmare.

Fix the basics and make programming for your platform fun and everything else will fall into place.

Wolfram Herzog

Keyproblem No.1: NOKIA bosses in their majority are still hardware-people. But Nokia needs a software strategy - and this was never understood or executed by Ansi Vanjoki and all the other "big finns". (Changing the OS deos not help here at all)

The problems can only be solved if Nokia understands the dynamics of software. And this means moving faster!

KPO'M

I think you are right that they won't abandon Symbian. However, they won't be using it to fight iPhone/Android, that's for sure. It will be relegated to the space currently occupied by S40, which is fine, since they still dominate that market. Apple won't ever go there, and it will be a few years before truly low end hardware can run Android acceptably.

MeeGo appears to be on the chopping block. For all its open source roots, it is taking forever and a day to come to market. That is puzzling to me. N900 was out last December. WP7, while inadequate at the moment, is at least out in the marketplace. Maybe Nokia can port Qt to it and move Ovi to it pretty quickly. Elop certain has connections at Microsoft, and MS might be willing to give Nokia a final shot at keeping WP7 relevant.

Michael Scharf

Tomi:
I have to disagree with your analysis of Nokia's situation....
From my RSS feeds this morning:
- Nokia cancels N8 launch in the US
- Nokia scuttles N9 (Reuters via BGR)
- Elop's memo published describing the "burning platform" as one filled with development issues, not just strategy issues

What I think you're missing is that Nokia's issue seems to be as much or more about their ability to deliver than it is about their strategy. If Nokia's new management believes that MeeGo is still the best long term high end OS, then they should stick with it. If they believe that Symbian is the best mid-tier OS, then fine. If this strategy is close to correct, then it's all about execution.

What I expect to see on the 11th is more about how to deliver than which OS they are going to support (or how many they will support). Do I think it's possible that they will move mid-tier phones to Android, sure. Is it possible they will use WinPhone 7, yes - but I hope not. More importantly, Nokia's new leadership needs to tell the world how they will deliver great products - beginning this year.

I believe that Nokia will expand their presence in the US dramatically. Rumor is that they will create a US HQ focused on software development. If true, and if successful, it could begin a turn around in Nokia's ability to deliver new products and grow.

If however, Nokia is not successful in delivering the kind of ecosystem that will move their customers from their existing phones to smart phones (from Nokia feature phone to Nokia better phone to Nokia smart phone) then we're going to see continuing decline in market share across all sectors.

If the platform is burning, they need to make the right decision, right now.

Bob Shaw

Tomi - I agree with your analysis. You bring up one very important point about Symbian and that is its ability to work on a low spec and providing a long battery life. This is critically important especially in feature phones. This is what Samsung is trying with its Bada operating system. Nokia needs to keep its eyes firmly on Samsung. Let Microsoft (WP7) and HP (with WebOS) fight it out with Apple (iOS) and Google (Android) in the American Planet (13% of the Market). Nokia can do very well just focusing on the rest of the world (87% of the Market) where its brand is held in high esteem.

adigitalife

Tomi,

While I agree with some things and disagree with others, the overall tone of your post sounds very "Nokia-ish". In my opinion, Nokia needs to think more outside the box if it wishes to succeed in the coming years.

I agree that Symbian isn't going anywhere yet. It still has a lot of mileage left. As for MeeGo, I have a lot less confidence. Why does the ultimate smartphone OS have to be open-source? Why does it have to be Linux-based?

Give MeeGo a chance? I'm sure many people would but where are the phones? While the Nokia die hards are waiting, everyone else is buying iPhones, Android phones and other smartphones. If MeeGo's so great why isn't it out already? At this rate, it'll probably be faster to drop MeeGo and launch a Win Phone 7 device.

Consider this scenario:

1) Nokia partners with Microsoft. With Nokia's expertise in HW and an OS that's actually out in the market already, Nokia's next-gen smartphone will be launched in no-time.

2) Ovi Store is converted to become THE app store for both Symbian AND Win Phone 7 (thanks to a partnership deal with MS) devices.

An unlikely scenario but I think it would work.

peterjhuynh

Nokia must control it's own destiny when it comes to the OS. Anything else would be foolish - there is still sufficient scale to exert industry-wide influence.

However, if the execution of strategic planning is not achieved in a timely manner, then the quality of the strategy itself becomes almost irrelevant.

Nokia's clearly stated issue is with execution - speed of execution, timeliness of execution, quality of execution.

ingo

Tony - I agree, however for me the only logical step would be to use webOS for Nokia phones. The OS is brilliant and needs just bigger support - at least it is much better than phone 7....

 Tomi T Ahonen

Hi all

thank you for the comments. I will be back shortly to answer all relevant comments. This thread is about smartphone operating system strategy. If you have been commenting on other Nokia matters, I will delete your total comment as irrelevant. I made it very clear, that the topic here is the smartphone OS strategy. If you think there are faults with Nokia handsets or its corporate profitability or whatever else, those comments are now all deleted. I won't waste the time of my readers on irrelevant drivel. If you have a valid comment on the smartphone OS strategy, including the Ovi Store, the ecosystem - and obviously any rival offerings, they are included.

I was very clear to say many times that Nokia has tons of problems in other areas. Don't waste our time elaborating on them here. This is about hte operating system strategy only

For the rest, please keep the comments coming. As usual on this blog, every comment will be replied to, individually, by me. It will probably take some time now, as today the blog seems to be flooded haha..

Tomi Ahonen :-)

Rob Uttley

I would be very interested in your reasons for asserting the ultimate smartphone OS needs to be open source and based on Linux. Why?
Thanks for an interesting read, though.

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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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