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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



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.


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:


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. 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.


Great discussion everyone, especially Tomi & Robert. Now lets all hug and agree that you BOTH are right.
The current state of matters is that

1. Apple utterly dominates the high-profit luxury smartphone category that Media loves while Nokia is dominates the low-profit cheap (smart)phone category.

2. Current Nokia smartphone lineup is no match to iPhone & Android markets, but it will sell pretty well. N8 is pretty bad UX-wise but it still might be 'good enough' for masses. The lack of green Call key sucks, because the Symbian UI has been designed for phones with Call key. C7 is actually pretty good.

3. Nokia scale, Open Meego platform, QT developer environment and Ovi store may be incredibly good combination IF Nokia can implement their strategy not to fuck up the Meego UX they will kick ass in the second round. Tomi, you are right in that

4. Nokia has more than 9 lives. The Nokia history and the strategy is full of examples of how the industry giant could not be the fist successful innovator, but they have always knocked out their competition in the second round. This is where they are good at. The glory days of Symbian was just an anomaly.

App Man

I run an app agency in a European country. For professional reasons I cannot say which agency.

We get more demand than we can handle with our current staff of 22 developers. All clients (without exception) ask for iPhone apps and/or Android apps. We have never had a request for a Nokia app. Except from... Nokia.

That's right, Nokia is willing to pay us hard cash to develop apps for other commercial brands (whith which they are not affiliated). Just to be able to say that there these brands are in the OVI store. I hear Tomi say that apps aren't very important - well, Nokia disagrees.

And even then, even when Nokia wants to pay thousands of dollars for an app, our clients refuse. They have all had a Nokia, they all hated it. They don't want to be bothered with it.

Nokias are becoming weird little computers that don't show or run the content that everyone else is enjoying. They are doomed. (Unless they go for Android)

Jelle Verkleij

Tomi and Robert, if you want to talk about startegy please do use research and numbers in the argument. There should be numbers for each OS and hardware:
- Market share active devices
- Market share sold
- Costumer satisfaction
- Costumer loyalty
- Costumer apps download each month
- Developer satisfaction
- Developer loyalty
- Developer apps published each month

However I did read it all. The interesting quotes for me:

1) "And who is the planet's master at carrier relationships? Nokia. On every continent except North America."
Is this about sale deals, supply chain or about co-creation? For the sale part I think that in a good democracy the carriers would respond to people demand and not the manufacturing. So in that case a bit of weird point to make.

2) "Symbian's legacy developer community globally is far greater than Palm or Bada or even Android today. But yes, they hate developing for it, I'll grant you that."

3) "Far more apps have achieved a million paid downloads on Ovi than on Apple's App Store which seems to be only Angry Birds, haha.."
Great statement but do have figures for this?

4) ".. intellectual exchange .."
You cannot win a argument if you don't define the terms Tomi. When you started talking about apps you take hardware in the argument. When you talk app development you take global reach in the argument. This was really just a dumb exchange.

However you have a good point when you say Nokia is bad at PR. This is bad PR.

Duncan Sample

I defected to an Android (Nexus One) device about 8 months ago after over 10 years of being a Nokia device fan and advocate (I detailed my choice on my blog). Is that because Android is better, well, for now the applications seem to be there since the 'hip' startups are in the valley out of touch with Nokia, but I wouldn't say the device quality was there by any means.

Would I go back to Nokia? Certainly, in fact I've already said a few times that I'll willingly buy a new Nokia device and swap back from Android, but only when they've settled down a bit with the platforms... MeeGo is just starting to settle down, Symbian's once again in a state of disarray (from my point of view), but once a MeeGo device is actually released I'm pretty sure I'm going to love it.

Nokia's hardware quality is still the benchmark for durability and workmanship, even though the designs may have looked a little less appealing to some in the past.

Come on Nokia... wow us! I know you can do it.


I just thought to add my 5 cents here.

When claiming that Nokia is doomed, one should also take a look at history: Nokia was found at 1865. It has survived this long, surely it has some tricks to do that. Of course it wasn't making phones at those times, but that's exactly the point. It has changed totally its industry several times and was able to do successfully that. Something that many companies can't say (instead many have tried to fight against everything that threatens them, and eventually many companies lost since their time passed). Nokia can accept that world changes and they change along it.

On the other hand, pretty recently found Apple went nearly bankrupt without Steven. How well do you think it can manage when Steven retires?

belstaff jacets

good post and thanks for share with us

belstaff jacets

thanks for share with us.

Vesa Tormanen

Tomi, (and Robert for that matter too): I think you're both missing the real threat to Nokia's strategy. If it was just the old big-5 threat things would be fine for Nokia. The same thing that's threatening Nokia is threatening the other members of the so-called big-5 even more. What I'm talking about is the wave of low cost feature phones coming from China which in 2011 will be followed by another wave of low-cost Android smartphones (think close to 100 USD, or even less).

Just check out what has happened in the "dumbphone" market in Asia in the past couple of years and then think what will happen to the traditional vendors (including Samsung, RIM, Apple) when the same ecosystem starts playing in the Android space, and globally.


one of my colleagues bought a phone recently and he narrowed down his choice to an IPhone and Android based phone. And he chose an android based phone because it was more affordable. He did not think much about apps because he reckoned the apps are there both on android and IPhone. This is how an an average customer thinks I guess. And yeah he rejected Nokia outright


Excellent Debate, please keep it going!


Regarding the discussion of developers and operating systems, what kind of a distortion field exists there, hiding J2ME from discussed technologies? It is by far the most used application development platform for mobile devices (check the stats anywhere). Yet the discussion revolves around Qt, Symbian, iOS, and Android.

As an application developer, I have preferred J2ME over Symbian, as have many other developers. I bet Java apps in OVI Store outnumber the Symbian apps and Qt apps - combined.

As an application developer, I too have recently lost faith in Nokia. The Maemo did not support Java applications, and the same will apply to Meego. The smart phone division of Nokia are pushing QT so hard that they are ignoring the impact on the lower end devices. Tomi, you also many times refer to developing countries and low-end devices. When do you think those devices will have Qt?

The Java implementation on all Nokia platforms (Symbian and S40) has always been top notch, and they have handled forward and backward compatibility and device fragmentation much better than any other technology available for app developers.

Since the high end devices from Nokia will no longer support J2ME applications, this critically affects the feasibility of developing those apps. My company is moving on to Android, specifically for this reason.


Wow, Barron95, that is probably the most comprehensive example of missing the point I've ever seen. Did you read any of the articles?

Anyway, the proof of the pudding is in the Q4 (and even more importantly the Q1 2011) results. Everything else is supposition.

Bob Shaw

The point is well taken that the HW side had matured so the advantage went to SW side and companies like Apple with SW strength benefited. This may be current situation and it is not cast in stone. Already the SW side is showing signs of maturing and new developments like NFC chips, etc. are evolving on the HW side.

There is opportunities for disruption both on the HW and SW side. Nokia may not have reacted with the speed with which it should have to developments on the SW side. However all is not lost, it can still play its strength and disrupt the market either on the HW or SW side and regain the advantage as well as the momentum.


Baron95, wow, did Nokia do something bad to you? There is so much negative emotion in your post, why? You might have some valid points, but there is one fundamental factor: Once Nokia goes Android, they are reduced to compete on just hardware merits, which in my book will devalue their brand and their share value.

Now, will they succeed with their Qt/Symbian/Meego strategy? We will have to see, but I think they have a fair shot IF they execute well. A big if, I agree. But not impossible.


Tomi, two excellent posts! I mostly agree with you on Nokia's best strategy possible but think you're a bit biased.

1) Who copies from whom and does it matter? Yes, it took Apple a few years and iPhone generations to bring all the features available with Nokia from 2005. But it doesn't actually matter who introduced the features first but who made them really usable and user-friendly. Nokia's problem is that they take an engineer's approach to UI/UX with terrible service discovery and usability. Apple definitely beats Nokia on that front.

2) Let's talk about the meaning of "smartphones". Nokia sells tons of smartphones but do consumers buy them because they're smartphones? I don't think so. Actually I think most of Nokia's smartphones are dumbphones in disguise. What really separates a Nokia S40 dumbphone from its smartphone kin? Only usage of advanced features like positioning, web browsing (real, HTML5-enabled browsing), etc. It's the real usage that defines success of smartphones, not the number of devices sold. Here's some really good stats (I don't know if you've seen them or not) Yes, Symbian rules (with around 33 % of usage) but iOS is close enough, and Android has grown into a real force for a 2year mobile OS. Can Symbian keep its share and Meego make a breathrough?

3) But there's another thing to observe from those statistics - the geographical distribution of mobile OSes. Symbian rules in Asia, Africa and South America while iOS is top in North America, Europe and Australia. There's a clear line between them, Symbian is strong in developing markets, Apple - in mature developed ones. This brings a question of the value of users from the ecosystem's point of view. Who is more preferred - high income users with understandable lifestyle and values or hard-to-reach, low- or mid-level income clients with mixed priorities and perspectives? Which segment is easier to monetize bringing happiness to the whole value chain of carriers/developers/advertisers/manufacturers? Of course, it doesn't mean that the potentially large BOP (bottom of pyramid) user segment should be abandoned and ignored (and I really applaud Nokia's efforts with its Money and Lifetools services) but it takes time and attitude to nurture and grow them into consumers and buyers. Of course they constitute the potential for Nokia's future business in hardware and services, but no one can guarantee their loyalty when their income will allow for more choice.

4) Talking about Ovi store and its success could you please back it up with stats and reports on developer payouts and downloads?

Finally, there's some info on mobile OSes and trends here

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