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« The Patient Heart Has Stopped. Now the Doctor 'helps' by starting to strangle the patient too (Stephen Elop incompetence) | Main | Why Nokia Board Decision to Fire CEO Stephen Elop Is Now Urgent »

June 08, 2011

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Visitant

"The selected Microsoft WP7 operating system did not have Ovi map support, but it would be added, which would remove a unique Nokia benefit, and gift it free of charge to Nokia's big rivals, Samsung, LG, HTC and SonyEricsson."

I was under the impression that Ovi maps would remain exclusive to Nokia in the transition to WP7, giving Nokia a point of differentiation among WP7 devices. If not, then I agree, a very stupid thing for Elop to do.

PhoneBoy

Tomi, you are spot on as usual. I'm beginning to think I could have done a better job running Nokia :)

I do wonder, why hasn't Stephen Elop been fired by Nokia's board yet? Is there yet more to this sordid, sorry tale?

Timothy Meade (tmztmobile)

Yes, totally yes. But you also reminded me of something, not only will Qt run on Android, on 2.3/3.0 it could theoretically be faster then the Android applications and Dalvik. Also, Ovi could have launched on Android as well with carrier support, supporting the same applications compiled against the Qt 4 ABI as both Android native apks and debs for MeeGo, as well as whatever package format Symbian uses (with a recompile) as a transition. Ovi could have been a third-party market like Adobe's on Android, but the primarily supported channel for certain carriers (especially ones that want more control of content in the market for political or security reasons). Nokia can easily be their hardware and software partner. By the way, Open Handset Alliance included carriers and manufacturers in the Android ecosystem, but it's not clear from a public perspective what they actually do to support Android.

Michael Scharf

Tomi: You said, "He had the biggest army in that war, and one that was being prepared for the very cutting edge of everything anyone could ask for in ecosystems, from open to Linux to compatibility to migration path. Stephen Elop tossed it away, and replaced it with the weakest army, WP7."

While I agree with you, Elop would not. It would appear that he believes that the biggest army belongs to Microsoft, and that they have enough market power to buy their way into the market.

Unfortunately, with the possible exception of Apple, the power in this market still resides with the carriers. I just don't see US, European, or Asian carriers want to help Microsoft out in any way. In the US, we call this an EPIC FAIL!

Vikram

This is crazy talk - thinking that Symbian or MeeGo could have done anything going forward for Nokia is exactly the reason why Nokia is in the trouble they are in.

Chris

Tomi I often disagree with you about the greatness of Symbian in the respect that you see little wrong with it, where as I haven't gotten along with it for over 3 years now. I can't bring myself into using any Symbian devices.

The points you make about Symbian's successes, however are very true and what is happening to the Ovi Store is just plain sad. It is indeed changing a working, strong army into a handful of rookies who've never been out to fight before.

Have you thought of the possibility that history will show the WP7 deal to be simply a "placeholder" OS or temporary OS until MeeGo gets going. Or do you think that Nokia will be run to the ground before anything like that can happen?

viulian

Agreed completely with the post. Let's not forget that on Microsoft store / Android store allow merchants from a small number of selected countries, while on Ovi most of them were allowed.

HCE

While I agree with you that Nokia's strategy is harebrained, I don't think it is right to blame all of this on Elop. The decision to dump Symbian and Meego and go with a third party OS was probably made by Nokia's board before Elop was hired - perhaps, the two homegrown operating systems were in a lot worse shape than what you make them out to be. I am pretty sure that Elop is responsible for the decision to move to Windows Phone but even here, I don't think he would have been able to McKenna such a sweeping change without full buy-in from the board. I think it Is a little unfair to make Elop the scapegoat here - the board is probably equally responsible - if not more so.

- HCE

xizzhu

Just add one more tip to Android compatibility, Alien Dalvik was announced earlier by 3rd developers to bring Android apps to Maemo / MeeGo.

Indeed, I believe an open Linux based OS is the key for Nokia. Just think about it, how many Maemo devices have ever been sold, and how active that community is? In case you don't know, the community even released some major software updates! Not to mention the great weapon of Qt ;)

Ashwin

Tomi,

The points you make are valid. But they are crying about spilt milk. Whether Elop screwed up and spilt the milk or not, is not relevant. Let's accept the situation as it stands now. What would you recommend Nokia do to make the best of this situation? What would make the WPx ecosystem become bigger?

Randall Arnold

Tomi, one caveat: Visual Studio developers will have little or no trouble adding WP7 development to their skillset... and VS is a standard dev tool. Overall, though, I sadly agree with your assessment.

A Reader

Tomi, great post as ever. If only everything in life was as simple.

To play devil's advocate for a second - if the Nokia ecosystem is/ was as great as you mention and use facts to powerfully back up why did none of the newer handset manufacturers "jump in"? Surely it would have made more sense to go this route and join symbian rather than bet all on a company/ OS with no previous experience I.e google and android. Would love to read your thoughts on this.

MIP

This topic is directly related to what I posted the other day in response to one of your earlier posts:

http://www.mobileinfoplanet.com/2011/06/05/was-stephen-elop-right-to-go-with-wp7/

I.e. though I think that 'ecosystems' is something that will hopefully disappear in the future, or lose relevance or turn into something less restricted at least, there is little argument that MeeGo would have been the most open platform of them all - I would love to see what the open-source community could do with MeeGo if given half the chance!

Yuri

The biggest irony in it all is that Microsoft decided to sabotage Windows Phone half a year before Nokia will even get a shot at its new strategy.

They announced that the touch optimized UI of Windows 8, their tablet OS, will be based on anew HTML 5-based framework, instead of the Silverlight-based one, already developed for Windows Phone.

It is not enough that Windows Phone is doing very bad on the market, that all of its current device makers are cold to the OS, and that the channel is choking WP7 too, but now this. No continuity of Windows Phone applications to Windows 8. Something that you get almost for free with Android and iOS.

Microsoft has done it again - after discontinuing Windows Mobile, now they do the same for Windows Phone. Simply unbelievable.
If I were a .NET / Silverlight developer I would be running screaming.

Microsoft, the stalwart of closed-source software is showing everybody why open-source is the only future-safe choice. And Nokia gave up its first-class open-source ecosystem for that. Truly ironic.

ozozdil

Nokia will not be using the standard wp7 os , they will add their own whereas other manufacturers can't.

Abandoning meego was wrong but killing symbian and choosing wp7 over android was the right decison.

hari

hi tomi - do you really think Nokia still had a chance to fight apple & google wiht symbian/meego... your post on E7 explains how bad symbian is.. & Meego never saw the light... it is way too far before Meego can even pose any challenge but by the time google would rule the industry...

i dont think Elop's decision is wrong.. he had no choice but to dump symbian & meego & bring nokia to profitablilty & competence soon... he had a choice of android or MS.. with MS i see there is a chance of fighting back. as WP7 user i like the OS.. it is futuristic & provides good integration to Office & Gaming.. it is far better than Symbian .. I dont know if it is better than Maemo or Meego but from a Nokia Shareholder standpoint - they cant wait for ever for Meego to get acceptance & start making profits.. i like your posts as always you give great insights but this post i would have to disagree to an extent..

Symbian was the best app store, symbian was the most # of used smartphones but now mindshare &marketshare of symbian is eroding..

Dan Thornton

Looking purely at the ecosystem debate and the app/developer side of Symbian and WP7, then I'd be supportive of Elop moving to WP7.

Good Symbian developers have been able to command a premium for the last few years, due to the intricacies of the platform and device compatibility, which is a problem when you can throw a stick and hit someone who develops iPhone/Android apps. And while that has paid off in terms of the download numbers, it's as much down to a lack of competition as anything else when it comes to smartphone Symbian downloads.

Whereas WP7 allows non-mobile developers to move from web to phone pretty quickly. And if the smartphone app ecosystem is what matters, and you've got problems with your share of developer interest, making it incredibly easy and cheap is far better than continuing with a platform which is perceived rightly or wrongly as a bit different.

WP8 using HTML5 is a bit of a problem, but there's an ever-increasing number of HTML5 developers - it's not as huge a leap to go from HTML5 sites, HTML5 apps for iPad etc, to HTML5 for WP8 as it is to go from building a website to building a Symbian app.

I'm a huge fan of open source philosophy and products, but I don't think that's critical in the business decision - sometimes open source works fantastically well, and sometimes it doesn't.

And I think you're neglecting two key points in favour of Microsoft - their success with the Xbox games platform, which not only has been successful in capturing users and brining them online with a robust platform, but is also heavily and increasingly integrated into WP7/WP8, and their approach with Kinect, which has also been really successful and has shown an open approach to dealing with hackers and outside developers.

I haven't really played around with MeeGo, but it seems like it still has a chance of success, alongside Web OS as the other dark horse, so we'll see how it goes, but given the history I've had with several Nokia handsets and producing apps on the 5 major platforms, I'm personally not sad to see the back of Symbian and Maemo.

And don't forget that the long tail of developers are also phone users. If the best user experience is on an iPhone, Android or WP7 phone, and those are what all the staff use on a daily basis - does it make sense that they'll spend time and effort developing for Symbian except at a premium?

And although app downloads and market share may be huge for Nokia outside of the Western world, inside the app ecosystem, which application purchasers and advertisers drive the most profit? I don't think I've seen a geographical breakdown of both app purchasing habits + advertiser spend by territory, but that's also an issue.

DS

I'm affraid the high hopes for OSS devs to innovate on OS layer would not materialize.

Mameo have been around for years and while N900 is touted developers dream, while oss devs have had mountains of existing quality linux application code to cherrypick from, no killer apps that would put shame on IPhone emerged.

Delivering good experience and functionality apparently requires focused, synergic developement of programmers, UI designer, graphicians, etc. (read: commercialy managed).
And Gnu/Linux just hasn't delivered as a good commercial developer ecosystem (no stable api, spoty documentation, useless debugging). As much as I love it, love the opennes, ability to tinker, you'll find plenty of evidence MS has much better track record in that regard.

Poifan

I think this is a very narrow view of ecosystem, it not just about phones. Apple and Google are both creating integrated ecosystems of devices (Phones, PCs, Tablets, STBs, and Game Systems) and content (Apps, Music, Video, Photos, Video Conferencing, and Game Networks). All of this is designed to working seamlessly across devices. The ecosystem is the platform, not the devices. Nokia, RIM, and HP are getting boxed out of these ecosystems. Microsoft is attempting a 3rd ecosystem built around Windows 7/8, Xbox, WP7, Bing, Zune, and their Live services like Skydrive. Nokia just doesn't have the reach to compete in all these spaces as shown with Ovi. It's better to partner and concentrate on what they do best.

Louis

Tomi, this whole post strikes me as slightly kooky:

(1) There are some seeming technical howlers, like Android software (even at the kernel level) just running on MeeGo or Visual Studio not being a standard development tool. (One would guess that Visual Studio is the single most popular development environment.)

(2) You blogged early this year that Symbian had stalled out in 2010, and Nokia had just been stuffing the channel to make it seem like it still had any momentum. Plus (somebody else pointed out) that your own recent review of Nokia's latest smartphone was that it was an unusable mess.

(3) The Bloomberg article on Nokia basically tells us MeeGo didn't happen.

(4) Here's the biggest problem with what you write: by "ecosystem" Elop really seems to mean "be competitive with the iPhone and Android". It would have been unsurprising to him that by 2012---when Nokia could realistically make a change---that to be considered at all a platform would need: (a) a usable attractive interface; (b) a big app developer community that includes the US; (c) a "cloud" story for search, email, backup, etc. (Notice that Android has been converging to the iPhone on (a) and Apple recently went big with (c)).

Now, I don't really think it will work out, but MS---unlike Nokia---actually has a story in all three areas. WP7 is pretty nice looking, but there's also Bing and Xbox that MS brings in. Visual Studio is probably the most well-known development environment, period.

So Elop chose "catalyze" from his list of options. Plus, probably this is all that was available to a floundering company: Apple is a closed system and Google has a lot of low-margin OEMs. Microsoft might have been a bad option, but it seems like the only one.

Herchu

Elop believes that Symbian ecosystem sucks and can't be improved in time. With that premise in hand there aren't many alternatives. It's MeeGo, Android or WP7. Google didn't let Nokia be THE partner; MeeGo, as we now know, was nothing more than lab test devices; Microsoft gave Nokia lots of cash (*). Hard not to sympathize with Elop.

Of course we are left with the truth value of the first premise. You seem to give Symbian more value than many in this regard.

(*) It would be very interesting if we can learn a lot more that it was said and written about this three events (Google negotiations, Microsoft agreement and MeeGo's state of development). Please, write some posts about them from someone that knows Nokia well ;-)

So Vatar

Herchu, we know that Elop said that Nokia will receive billions from Microsoft. We do not know how many billions, and what the terms and conditions are. Without knowing more, I would discount these "billions".
What we do know is that the stock-market punishes Nokia. Since the Feb 2011 announcement of Symbian's death (burning platform) and WP alliance Nokia's market cap lost around $20 billion, more than 40% of its value. $20 billion lost in less than 5 months.

Now is this Elop's fault? AFAIK he was brought in to turn around the steady loss of shareholder value (downwards since 2007). It has not happened, on contrary, the downwards spiral has accelerated.

It now looks that the financial markets think that time is running out for Nokia. While MS has the deep pockets and cash cows in Windows and Office, Nokia lost their most important profit maker, their smart phone business. WP's performance is dismal, and while WP will sell more phones if and when Nokia starts to deliver WP phones, I have a hard time to see how Nokia can sell anywhere close to 20 Mio devices per quarter.

And I fail to see which other elements of Microsoft's ecosystem can bring in a similar or better amount of money to Nokia.

Elop has to go. And yes, the board needs to take consequences too. However, it might be already too late. Maybe the best outcome now is to break up Nokia and sell the pieces. This is truly sad.

cycnus

Tomi,

Great analysis, and i think that Elop wouldn't select any other OS than Microsoft OS because he's from MS. He's decision is not objective.

Nokia/Symbian is not strong in USA, it would be best for nokia not to select a CEO from USA because he/she would not understand the real value of nokia.

And I'm really affraid if Espoo didn't understand the problem with the monkey they hired, Nokia would be really finish by the end of 2011.

Nokia were doing great, and as in any other product in the world, when the new competition coming in (first iphone, then android), the leader market share will erode. So, it's not symbian fault. it's the American media FUD.

I'm really sad that nokia has fallen into this American media trick. Nokia should listing their share on UK or China or HK rather than USA.

Toni

About Meego, Elop said that problem with Meego was that they cannot bring lowend meego powered devices fast enough in the future. Just to clear some things.

We will see, in what state is Meego, in Nokia N9/N950 device.

Niilo

I think you are right to beat up Elop on what he has done, but to say that the platform was not burning before 2-11 is just not true

Symbian was a doomed operating system from the moment the iPhone launched.

Nokia then failed to get behind Maemo/MeeGo. I had an N900 and loved it, expected it to get more apps and support and then nothing. According to Nokia insiders I know, Symbian was just politically too powerful to lose its primacy on the roadmap.

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