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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




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.


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.


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.


Oh yes - Meego is looking better every day:

From Reuters: Nokia drops first MeeGo phone before launch -sources

Dead dead dead. No matter how much the Nokia fanbois may wish it is not so, you cannot stop the rising tide.



Yeah... except we've all known the N9-00 was replaced by the N9-01 about three weeks ago.

Do try to keep up.



So I can go and buy my N9-01 today then?

All vaporware. Won't ever launch

Joe Buck

Your argument for Symbian makes more sense than your argument for Meego. They can crank out Symbian phones for the low end, it's mature. But Meego? They just don't have the ecosystem. There aren't a large number of developers cranking out Meego applications, and they're having trouble delivering. They don't "control their own destiny" either as it's a Linux-based platform.

They'd be better off using their engineering skill to build the best-in-class Android phone for the high end, while keeping Symbian for the low end.

M Risch

The Symbian-Story reminds me of Apples neglection of it`s MacOS 7. Apple tried to develop a new OS an struggled with it. During that time they did nothing for the old OS.
Later it came to their mind, that the old MacOS was the only working OS they have and that it`s in many aspects still better then everything else (Windows). The then improved versions of MacOS, 8 and later 9 were a success and helped Apple in the transition period to MacOS X.

Space Gorilla

"That is not market leadership, that is market dominance. And this is what Nokia has to 'manage' as it transitions from dumbphones to smartphones."

What you are missing is that the transition is not to smartphones, the transition is to mobile computing devices, and one of the many thousands of things those devices do is make phone calls. To win in that space you need a robust mobile platform, and I would argue Apple is the only company that has done that. Android isn't there yet, it's still in the smartphone space. To take the next step you need a much larger ecosystem, apps in the hundreds of thousands, developers, content, etc. I'm sure Android will get there (although fragmentation is a problem) but to talk about Nokia transitioning to smartphones is one step behind, again. It seems like you're bragging about dominating the buggy whip market when the world is moving on to automobiles.


In earlier discussions Elop noted that the world is a big place and that different markets can support different ecosystems. From this I draw the conclusion (with credit given to Horace Deidu who pointed it out on Asymco) that Nokia will partner with MS in the US and retain Symbian (and probably Meego in the future) for other parts of the world.

This makes sense to me - the smartphone market is huge and growing incredibly fast. The US has a particular situation with a mix of CDMA and UMTS and strong carrier influence with subsidized phones.


In an earlier comment "Space Gorilla" remarked that the transition that Nokia has to manage is from dumbphones to mobile computing devices. I partly agree.

1) There is the transition from basic phones to better phones in the emerging markets, billions of devices will be sold there. Cheap, low spec requirements, very good battery life, robustness will remain major factors. S40 can do that, but Symbian can do that better.
2) The "developed" markets gravitate to mobile computers, starting at the top end coming down from there. Symbian is not the answer for this segment, as Nokia admitted. They had the answer in Maemo, but they blew it. And Meego is nowhere to be seen as a real product.

Elop earlier stated their strategy is Qt, linking Symbian and Meego. Nokia has also proven that they are currently not able to deliver quality Software on time, a problem of execution.

So what should Elop do if he recognizes that his organization is not able to deliver the goodies?
1) Stick with Qt
2) Stick with Symbian for low to midrange smartphones (but fix the development process).

So, he has this glaring hole on the top end for mobile computers.

What about Meego? This really depends on his analysis where Meego is today, how long it will take to make it ready for the market, and how promising it looks benchmarked against iOs, Android, WP7 and maybe WebOS.

If his analysis is positive, then go for Meego full steam.
If his analysis is negative, then he has no good options. Partnering with either MS or HP for the high end devices seem to be the best of the worse options.

I still hope his analysis shows that Meego is the way to go, but I would not hold my breath.

.net jerkface

Windows Mobile outsold WP7 last quarter so that must mean MS should not have abandoned Windows Mobile.

The PS2 also outsold the PS3 for years. Maybe Sony should have never abandoned the PS2.

Symbian is selling now but that says nothing about its long term viability. MeeGo phones were supposed to be out last year and the CEO doesn't seem to have faith in it. Cut and run.



No matter how you spin the 5M sold Symbian^3 phones, it is a horribly low number, pointing out that WP7 is doing even worse does not make it better.

Your logic about the ultimate metric is failing in so many ways that I do not know where to start... It simply does not make any sense and the numbers you are quoting do not show anything about the loyalty rate of today, or more importantly, of tomorrow.

As a previous commenter noted, weakness of symbian is it's future potential. It will continue to sell in low price category for years, but it is not something to build future on and android will eat both marketshare and margins from it. Remember moore's law. Today's high end is tomorrow's mid end and given Nokia as no offering there it looks bleak.

I hope MeeGo does the trick, I am afraid it will not, competition is much more fierce than before and Nokia's software execution has not been very good at least during last five or so years, possibly longer.


Symbian to Android with Meego on top would be a valid play for Nokia.

Man reason is dumb phone sales are dropping. Because smart phones are getting cheep to produce. So more and more peoples first phones are smart phones. In the past most people could not afford smart phones.

"Nokia did not abandon Symbian - the world's bestselling smartphone operating system still today" Currently Symbian is second best to Android and still falling.

Android and Meego both share Linux kernel and other parts. So maintaining Android along side Meego will be less overhead.

Migration to android of the Symbian market would make sence with long term more powerful meego coming out with possibly icedroid that allows android applications to be run on it.

Android would fit in as a stepping stone to Meego.

WP7 I cannot see how this can fit into Nokia long term plans at all. Not like Meego will be able to run WP7 apps without risk of having to pay patents. WP7 will require independent driver development to Meego.

Really I would like to find how people come up with the idea that its wise for nokia to go anywhere near windows phone 7.


"And this is what Nokia has to 'manage' as it transitions from dumbphones to smartphones."

As I wrote on your Return of the Jedi post, Apple changed the paradigm. It's not a handset battle, it's an ecosystem battle, so the transition is to an ecosystem. The ecosystem provides the user experience, of which the handset is just a part.

Digital convergence implies that industries are being absorbed into the mobile industry. As that occurs, the question is which ecosystems will draw in the content providers (and thus provide a better user experience) but still provide monetization opportunities for the handset maker. (By content, I include apps, music, movies, ebooks, games, digital money, advertising, etc.)

As I wrote before, there is a chain or stack. Which element(s) in the chain will have control over monetization? Is it the device maker? Or the OS provider? Or the carrier (pipe provider)? Or the content retailer? Or the content provider? How does an ad provider (source of $) alter the control?

Apple built its iOS ecosystem and acquired the most content for its users even though it controls the monetization (to the content providers and carriers partial detriment). It's been able to do that because the iPad and iPod touch have almost doubled the size of the iPhone's highly appealing customer base.

In this context, the customers are no longer the carriers. Apple saw that and turned them into dumb pipes by putting its potential user base in AT&T's sights. And it could promise that base because it appealed directly to the user.

Those are the trends that Nokia missed, even though they first brought forth many of the content pieces. It's as much business model as it is technology.


100% agree. MeeGo (+Qt/QML) all the way, very slim, fast OS, great potential. I bet since MS DOS there was no public OS that required less then 5 min to install (yes, on tablet/netbook). It works out of the box. No reason it wouldn’t work on handset. It is ready in few months, aborting it now or setting preferences to something else will be a disaster. Dealing with Microsoft it is a win for MS and huge loss for Nokia.

Ness Mess

Very interesting article. People indeed cant pick apples apart from oranges and get the fact that Nokia's target demographics is different from purely smartphone makers like Apple. BTW if I'm not much mistaken, Samsung's BADA is not an OS in entirety, something like a development platform..

 Tomi T Ahonen

Ok lets do replies..

Hi ryzvonusef, N900, marty3, irsan, James, Jonathan and Nemus

ryzvonusef - haha, thanks and yeah, they won't listen..

N900 - I am a forecaster and an analyst. On my forecasts, I get many wrong, like every single professional forecaster. That does not make forecasting useless. We all say very openly that we all make mistakes. The point is to try to have more forecasts right than wrong (as I do) and to be less wrong than your rivals (which I mostly am able to be) and when you are wrong, to know why. Since you've been here before, are you honorable enough to admit, that I am the first person in every case to report when any of my forecasts is wrong. And then I will go in public to explain WHY I was wrong, what was the wrong assumption etc. I don't see most pundits even admitting they were not right, far less that they would be willing to discuss in the open where they went wrong.. Since you accuse me here on my blog N900, are you honorable enough to come back and acknowledge that at least I am honest with my forecasts and am the first to report when I was wrong?

marty3 - I agree with you, but this is also quite uncomfortable, the new CEO, is it possible he somehow 'didn't get it' haha.. I am pretty sure he understands and we'll hear pretty amazing stuff tomorrow.

irsan - we agree, thanks

James - its mostly a timing issue. Look where Apple was a year ago? They passed the 2 Billion-per-year level. Nokia Ovi was at 1.5 Billion-per-year level now in December. So in rough terms, counting time from when they launched, Ovi is nearly as big amounts of downloads as iPhone App Store.

Jonathan - if you say Symbian is 'not fine' from the ecosystem perspective, then apart from iPhone, which other OS is better in its ecosystem? After iPhone, Ovi has the next best downloads? Isn't this the ultimate evidence of a well-functioning ecosystem - that the users love it, return to it, and use it? Or are you arguing Palm has a better ecosystem today, or RIM or Phone 7 or bada or who?

But I agree with you, yes, the themes of the memo are perfectly right and this is exactly what Nokia needs, whether that is a real memo or not haha. And its a positive surprise that this is the sentiment that the new CEO uses, the sense of urgency and pending doom.

Nemus - haha, exactly! Totally agree

Thanks all

Tomi Ahonen :-)

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