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December 05, 2014




I think the only chance Microsoft has in the tablet market is to go after those customers who aren't satisfied with a smartphone OS on their tablets. No matter how much people like Apple, it cannot be denied that iOS is a horrendously crippling experience if you want to do real work. For that, having a file system exposed to the user is not a matter of convenience but a necessity. Apple doesn't have this and tries to work around this by some quite klunky workarounds. The iPad, as well as most Android tablets, are fine for consumer use and some light work, but beyond that the OS's smartphone roots are not working in favor of the hardware.

Of course, the first generation of WinRT tablets were doomed to fail here completely, because they combined the design flaws of the iPad and all its clones with all the bad of Windows but none of the good, and the Surface Pros were simply too expensive. Unfortunately this past disaster. combined with the questionable UI decisions with Win8 have pretty much ruined any chance Microsoft might have had. Now they can only hope that Windows 10 will improve things for them.

John Fro

It should be reiterated that the only reason MS ever gave a c*** about the smartphone market was to keep activist stockholders in check. With a stagnant stock price compared to Apple and relatively small dividends, many stockholders were demanding that MS become more explosively growth-oriented a la Apple. Internally, the managers at MS saw this as a complete distraction. They make money the old fashioned way--bulk license selling to OEM's and corp. purchasing managers. They're entire consumer lineup is built around XBox and the fanboys they want to leave a favorable impression with--and had nothing to do with phones.

It's sort of like asking the question: why didn't Apple ever build a gaming console? You'd think this sort of consumer gear would be right up their alley, but not a peep out of Apple that they'd ever show any interest. The answer is that parents buy gaming consoles for their kids and Apple only sells things to people who are spending their own money (or can put it on an expense account). It's a bad match. It's an equally bad match for MS to sell phones. You might as well ask IBM to make a smartphone at this point, or SAP, or Oracle. Even HP has not made a phone. MS never wanted to be in the phone business, but were forced to as a publicly traded company with a relatively poor tech-sector P/E ratio.

John Fro

Oops! Didn't mean HP, was trying to think of big computer makers like Dell or Compaq, etc.


It's interesting to see how everybody who wanted the Microsoft CEO's job has made so much damage in its own company!

Hi Tomi,

I remembered you talking about Microsoft when I bought my new car, a Ford Fusion with "Microsoft Sync My Ford Touch" infotainment system.

It is funny and obvious that Microsoft even have a clue how Bluetooth, voice commands and other mobile resources works.

I can see my car struggling a lot to do a connection with my cellphone(s) before it fails. None of my old Nokia cellphones connect smoothly with that Sync, in spite they have worked very well with my old "hands free" (a seven years age "Parrot").
The irony is that Iphones works a little better (not perfectly) with this "Sync" equipment.

The "Microsoft Sync My Ford Touch" system was launched in 2013 boarding the best Ford's models as Lincoln Continental and does it till today.

But it's unbelievable and I really can't understand how does Microsoft close that kind of businesses, as it's clear that it doesn't have technology enough to build it now nor even in 2013.

How could Ford allow that dangerous buggy system inside its top cars?
(Have it ever heard about recalls, faulty equipment, etc?). The specialized press is very critical about that "Sync" but Microsoft couldn't fix anything till today!

You know, I think that Alan Mulally wanted the Microsoft CEO's job so much!

He allowed these unfunctional Microsoft touch system board Ford's cars, as he was working hard to get the position in the company.

What a shame, ah?

It's interesting to see how everybody who wanted the Microsoft CEO's job has made so much damage in its own company!


Wayne Borean


2009, not 2013. So the mess with Microsoft Sync hasn't been fixed for FIVE years!



just a crazy idea:
Q4/2015 : Foxconn licenses the name Nokia for its own line of smartphones InFocus
Jan 1,2016: Nokia (actually InFocus) announces the Nokia M320, M520 line of smartphones
Tomi: Nokia is back!!!
a few months later Infocus has 2% of China market
Tomi: I told you , Nokia grew (from zero) thousands of %, grew sales , elop should have choosen android etc


All the components of the old nokia are lying around, I wouldn't be surprised if we see a jolla acquisition some time in the future. The only concern is the imaging unit, perhaps nokia could lure Damien dinning back from jaguar... Keep the brand doing nokia, give us a true 808 successor with a range of e-series keyboard phones.


@john fro


"It is also a way for Nokia to signal to the thought-leaders, the tech press etc, what is the real Nokia vision in gadgets"

Nothing signals real vision like doing as near an iPad clone as possible without being Apple. Seriously, I thought the physical design of the thing is a major embarrassment. I understand that Nokia can't use the design style and language of their previous Windows tablet, because they sold the business, but the fact the N1 looks exactly like an iPad tells me that Nokia simply licensed the brand for the Chinese market and doesn't give a rats ass about the design. Or possibly doesn't have the resources to do original designs.


As a side note:
The theme here seems to be that Symbian was #1 ecosystem and Nokia was undisputed leader due to its high market share among Symbian. And Elop blew it.
In December 2009 when Finnish Rovio launched Angry Birds on iOS, was it because Symbian was the #1 ecosystem? When they launched it on Android summer 2010, was it because Rovio could not understand the order of ecosystems? When they finally bothered to launch it on Symbian at end of 2010, they only targeted ~5M Symbian^3 devices, ignoring then installed base of hundreds of millions of older Symbian devices. Did they do this because they were just stupid?

Or is the unit market share once again wrong metric for ecosystem ranking?



Let's be blunt: Symbian had no ecosystem. Before Symbian^3 and Qt it was an unprogrammable mess. It still sold massive volumes, though. It still would have sold massive volumes through 2011, had Elop not killed it. And everybody knew that it had to be replaced by something more modern.

Only that this 'something more modern' should not have been Windows Phone.

So, yes, Symbian would have been a problem - but a long term one, not something that required panic reactions, but a careful strategy. THAT's where Elop blew it.


Yet another one who doesn't understand what the N1 is supposed to achieve. What Nokia wants mainly is to remain visible. You cannot spend larger volumes on money on something like that. The entire thing looks like a low-cost, low-risk way of just keeping the Nokia brand around, nothing more, nothing less.


@Rotten, I think you may be under the influence of the Tomi RDF. :) Nokia was in a steady decline. Elop accelerated it, but Symbian would have collapsed eventually. Nokia had been coasting for several years, and despite all the lip service OPK had given about regaining importance in the US they never were serious about it.

Switching to Android would have been a better decision in 2011 than switching to Windows Phone, but in reality Nokia missed the boat in 2009. Once it was clear adding touch capabilities to S60 was no easy task, they should have started experimenting with Android. Instead, they maintained blind faith in an ecosystem that didn't exist, going to great lengths to try (unsuccessfully) to maintain compatibility with the existing S60 app database. The N97 was a complete disaster. I had one myself, and my frustration with that device was so great I bought a Nexus One and later an iPhone 4s. Either of those two phones were night and day compared to the N97.



Yes, Symbian would have collapsed, but we do not know what would have happend if the MeeGo launch had been done properly, with the full force of Nokia's market share backing it.

But the Symbian collapse would not have happened in 2011, as bad as the system was, it still SOLD! (And if it just was due to badly informed customers.) And you do not prematurely kill a business that still makes a profit, you wind it down in a way that its revenues can sustain the transition phase.
Nokia sure wouldn't have been able to keep their 30% market share, but they would have survived with a more careful approach to resolve their problem.

Agreed on having missed the boat in 2009, though. What happened in 2011 was ultimately just the result of the panic reaction to their past mistakes. But it was that panic reaction that killed them.


Sensible comments! I thought there would be disagreeing text sharing Tomi's view that analyst consensus at end of 2010 was that Symbian will continue as the world's biggest smartphone OS as far as end of 2015. And that in applications Nokia's app store (Ovi) had the second most apps behind only Apple at the time and Ovi would have passed Apple quite easily in the next year or so.

I'm positively surprised.


@RottenApple, as I'm guessing you would agree, a "panic" switch to Android might have had the same result. The real issue was that in February 2011 Nokia basically said that their Symbian phones were garbage and that they wouldn't have any new phones until December. Ironically, one stated reason they went with Windows Phone was that it had lower hardware requirements than Android (as did Symbian). There wasn't enough of an ecosystem of Symbian apps to protect (though Nokia wasted a lot of time and effort in the OPK era trying to do just that), but I think a better move would have been keeping the project under wraps until the phones were closer to release. Another move may have been saying that they would release Android and/or Windows Phones alongside Symbian phones. I.e. at least publicly pay lip service to Symbian to avoid a collapse.

I don't think Meego had much of a future. Had it been waiting in the wings when iOS first came out, maybe it would have had a chance to be the "Android" of our time, but by 2011 Android had become "everyone else's" smartphone platform, and so Meego would have been in the same position as Windows Phone (i.e. trying to establish itself as a third OS).

Fast forward to late 2014/early 2015, and it's obvious that Android is the OS of choice for a cheap tablet. Granted, it has the hardware to run Windows 8.1, but I wouldn't be surprised if Microsoft's non-compete doesn't permit Nokia to sell a Nokia-branded Windows tablet, and I think even Microsoft will now admit that Windows 8.1 doesn't scale well to 8" tablets (since all their focus is on the Surface Pro).

On another note, Foxconn is quite brazen lately, producing a Lenovo S90 and now a Nokia N1 that basically look like clones of the devices that they assemble for Apple. Perhaps that's why Apple is shifting business to Pegatron. Yes, there are only so many ways to make a tablet or phone with rounded corners, but those designs are quite blatant ripoffs (in Lenovo's case all the way down to the ad campaign). It's a bit disappointing to see established companies like Lenovo and now Nokia lending their names to these devices.



One of the major screwups of the switch was that they made all work being invested by external devs into Symbian development a complete and utter loss. Even if they had switched to Android some of that could have been salvaged. But Windows Phone was completely incompatible with everything else, not being able to have native apps AT ALL! So what did the devs do? Yes, right: They all went for Android/iOS, not for WP.

Re: MeeGo. Yes, I know that Americans think that - but there's two things to consider here:
1) Nokia still had a lot of influence
2) Qt Developers were eager and waiting to get stuff out. They were WORKING on it when it all went down.

I think that even under the worst conditions, MeeGo would have performed a lot better than WP ever could. To catch up with Android - for that it was too late, no need to discuss that. But this is not like Blackberry who had to launch their new OS from a 2% marketshare position.


Don't fool yourself with idea of Qt developers. What were those Qt developers working on? Indie projects? Regional apps? Still at end 2010 Symbian was largest smartphone OS (Q4 market share was 32% compared to 30% of Android) and had WAY larger installed base than Android.
For services used globally (not just in US) we have:
No Paypal app.
No LinkedIn app.
No Twitter app. Not even in 2014.
No eBay app.
No Kindle app.
No LINE (hit in Japan where Tomi has said Symbian was ruling).

Angry Birds and Shazam are exceptions, not a rule. Even Facebook app Nokia needed to do themselves to get decent user experience and even then Facebook directed its users to download the web-wrapping "Facebook for every phone" instead of Nokia's own "Social" app.



I know that my employer back then had to ditch 5 ongoing projects that were in the pipeline in anticipation of the upcoming MeeGo launch. This cost the company a lot of money (and three people their jobs.) None of these projects was restarted for Windows Phone 7 because aside from one single person (a MSFT fanboy who fortunately had no decision making powers) nobody in the entire company believed that this stunt could have worked.

As for the rest of what you say, Symbian before Qt was not even a coherent ecosystem, it was, for all intents and purposes, unprogrammable.

So, any kind of serious development would have started around mid-2010 at the earliest. And everything went down the drain in early 2011. This was a lot of wasted work.

Your entire argument is BS anyway because it's made from a revisionist viewpoint. Symbian/Qt never managed to become a viable ecosystem, because it was killed of right at the point where it finally was showing some signs of life and Nokia finally managed to get their act together. Had Nokia managed to keep 10-15% marketshare, which I consider very likely, all these apps would have appeared sooner or later.


I believe you. And my point is that Nokia should have gone Android. That way they would have jumped to existing aoos from "perhaps emerging in 2011-2012" apps. What comes to this:

"Had Nokia managed to keep 10-15% marketshare, which I consider very likely, all these apps would have appeared sooner or later."

Why? Tomi here has repeatedly said that Apple ecosystem will soon stop attracting developers because nobody wants to target 10%-15% market if you can target the remaining 85%-90% through Android. First it will be Android first, then it will be Android only.
Main difference is that Apple customers are much more likely to actually pay for their apps. Nokia/Ovi users presented good deal of $100-$150 price point buyers.



"Even a prominent Android site has nominated the iPad Air 2 as the best tablet"

Which one?

A tablet which even doesn't support real file browsers and has a locked - and unlockable - bootloader simply cannot be the 'best tablet', because you can do jack shit with it except of downloading Apps and surfing the net.

When I use an iPad I feel so restricted that I immediately put it away. My Sony Z2 Tablet is leaps and bounds ahead.

Again you fall for the fallacy that people only buy Android tablets because they are cheaper. But there actually are people like me who do not accept the locked-down Apple crap.

When I buy a computer, _I_ give the orders, the computer then executes them. As soon as there are restrictions, I stay away and buy something different. And I do not care whether this is a desktop, notebook, tablet or phone - as soon as I spend my money, I'm in command. Everything else is unacceptable.

"Just a million "made for phones" apps that "scale up" and look ridiculous compared to their made-for-iPad counterparts"

Bullshit. On Android, you do not have extra tablet-apps because well-written apps recognize they run on a tablet and adjust the UI accordingly.
Only rarely do I encounter 'made for phones', and even then mostly it's not a big deal: When I e.g. use the tablet as a remote control for my receiver, I can live with the scaling.
Some apps for DLNA-playlists 'just' scale, but nevertheless there are more files visible on the bigger screen, which is the whole point of using the tablet instead of the phone (Duh!)

But occasionally I _DID_ encounter apps which looked shitty on the tablet. Luckily, there is always a well-programmed alternative available.

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