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« Matti Makkonen, inventor of the SMS text message, died on Friday | Main | Last Lifeline from Microsoft to Soon-to-End Lumia Handset Unit - 7,800 more jobs lost and $7.6B written off the books »

June 30, 2015

Comments

Tomi T Ahonen

For the record, before the Microsoft layoffs announcement is made (if NY Times article turns out to be true)..

I think Nadella cuts ex-Nokia unit remaining staff roughly in half, essentially ends the Asha & dumbphone business, and gives Lumia one more chance, meaning about 18 months more. Part of the staff will be refocused to Surface and other hardware business. If there is internal conviction that Lumia is viable and can be turned around, this would make sense for the CEO.

But the smart move, if Nadella has studies the picture and also talked to the carriers and retail channel, as the Lumia business is dead, is to shut down the whole business, all phones dumb and smart. In reality it is a dead business and no sense in throwing any more good money after bad. We will almost certainly see a write-off of part of that business anyway today with this announcement. So shift what staff he can to Surface, fire all the rest. Stop any further Windows 10 development on the mobile side to keep Windows 10 only for tablets and PCs and servers, and write off the whole Nokia investment and focus only on profitable and promising businesses. No more handsets launched, let the existing inventory sell to the channel and shut it all down. Thats the smart play. I am expecting however that 'one more chance' move now.

We'll know soon.

Tomi Ahonen :-)

Per "wertigon" Ekström

@Lullz:

Because there would've been massive carrier backup for Meego.

Oh, sure. Meego wouldn't have gone anywhere big the first two years. But it *would* reach atleast 1-2%, and it would've been received way better than Lumia was.

iPhone, when it started out, didn't have many apps either. Neither did Android. No ecosystem does, why would it? Look at the newest batch of consoles - a handful of games in the beginning, more to come later. Noone would design a console and say "Ah screw it, we don't have any games right now so it won't sell" - but in the beginning of an ecosystems lifetime, that doesn't really matter.

After a few years, that's when app availability matters. And the easier it is to develop for your platform by then, the better you'll fare.

Tomi T Ahonen

Lullz & Per

About MeeGo launch. We have a very good analogy from Symbian S^3 launch in 2010 which had 3 phones all in the premium and mid-price range. This included the N8 Nokia's previous flagship to the N9. They sold 4 million of those phones in the first quarter. This is what Nokia could do 'in its sleep' because Nokia had the best carrier relations and global reach and there was always pent-up demand for its next flagship. So MeeGo on 3 devices released in mid 2011 would have done at least that well (probably better, as the market had grown) but if we only say 4M on the three devices, it would have been about 2.5% market share for MeeGo straight out of the box - note this is better than iPhone in its original launch as a new OS platform. And from there it would have been up and away, shifting premium and mid-price customers from the obsolescent Symbian to the brand new and highly beloved MeeGo which many contemporary reviewers in 2011 said was as good as - some even called it better - than iOS, something no rival OS at the time achieved.

So we can never prove it, but a very solid analogy, same brand, same designers, highly highly loved first devices (N9 and N950) and a new OS so there won't be a ton of apps yet, Symbian S^3 launch in Q4 of 2010 just half a year earlier would suggest 4 million is a fair count of where MeeGo would have started off, had the CEO operated under normal motivations of wanting his company to succeed (rather than Elop who had his Nokia bonus clause tied to the destruction of the handset unit and sold to Microsoft).

PS what do you think of Microsoft layoff rumor out of New York today?

Tomi Ahonen :-)

Per "wertigon" Ekström

@Tomi:

Yes, that strategy of Microsoft sounds about right, I agree that the smart move would be to just kill it off, but I think there's too much market share in some countries to make Nadella write it off completely. However, I do think he sees the writing on the wall and right now he's manouvering to make a clean break.

Cutting off the head right now would lead to a whole lot of disgruntled staff, they need to realise themselves that it is a lost cause first. Else Nadella will create both unneccessary martyrs and enemies within Microsoft, and I'm guessing Nadella wants to avoid that as much as possible.

Lullz

@PWE and Tomi

What worried me about the Qt strategy in 2010 was that the new Qt apps were not shipping as fast as Android or iOS started getting apps when they were launched. RottenApple had a reasonably good explanation for that and while it's only a theory, it's a good one. That would explain why the Qt apps were not shipping in volumes when N8 was launched even while the tools had been available for a long time and there was a huge installed base of Symbian phones. This is not really about unit sales but a question about Qt apps starting to ship. At what point and how fast would it have been possible to get Qt apps in volumes? Some believe that apps doesn't matter but some believe that the consumers wanted phones with apps. No matter if they were actually used or not.

For PWE I want to say that comparing MeeGo to Lumia isn't that fair. A painted rock with a straw glued on it would have been selling better than Lumia, assuming that Microsoft had nothing to do with it.

Also back when iPhone and Android launched, most apps used to be JavaME based relatively simple games and it wasn't that easy to browse the apps from the phone as it's today. It was completely different back then and starting with a new phone with no apps was easier. Back in 2011 it was a totally different game with both Android and iOS having a vast selection of apps. Maybe not that profitable to the developers but the media was full of stories about how you needed apps and how nice it was to use apps. Launching a new OS with less apps might have been a really difficult task no matter how good the UI was.

What it comes to the Microsoft rumor, I'm not sure about that but obviously something big is going to happen and probably really soon. What are the options really? Microsoft has already effectively ended WP8.x and focused on Windows 10 Mobile. This means they have failed with at least 3 major mobile operating systems since iOS and Android started gaining some serious market share. WM6 is gone, WP7 is gone and now WP8.x is gone. In a way the strategy with Windows 10 Mobile is a logical one, but Microsoft must be aware that it's most likely not good enough. They need more.

Microsoft has already launched some tools for getting iOS and Android apps for their platform, but that's obviously not enough. The compatibility with the desktop Windows may be enough for a reasonable amount of corporate users, but it's definitely not enough for consumers and since the consumers want games, it might make sense to make some kind of Unity deal. Controlling unity might have some serious value since half of the games are done with it.

Per "wertigon" Ekström

@Lullz:

Regarding apps not being developed; I think it wouldn't be impossible. The reason it wasn't done was that it was non-trivial to write a decent Meego App (just as it is non-trivial to write a decent iOS/Android app).

The reason you didn't see much activity is because every developer worth his salt knows that a platform is vaporware until it is actually released. Once the platform is released and has a good enough backing (and an instant market share of 2.5% was good enough back then) then you will see app development.

Meego had reasonable chances but yes there were some clouds on the horizon, it wasn't a guaranteed success story by any means. It still had a fighting chance in 2011 though.

Lullz

@PWE

"The reason you didn't see much activity is because every developer worth his salt knows that a platform is vaporware until it is actually released. Once the platform is released and has a good enough backing (and an instant market share of 2.5% was good enough back then) then you will see app development."

What are you trying to say? I wasn't only talking about MeeGo apps but Qt apps. Back in 2010 there was ahuge installed base of Qt enabled Symbian phones and we didn't see the Qt apps starting to ship in volumes. Are you now suggesting that Qt apps would only started to happen, in volumes, when the first MeeGo phone would have been released? What kind of migration path is that if there was not supposed to be lots of, according to you, Qt apps on Symbian?

chithanh

@Tomi
> PS what do you think of Microsoft layoff rumor out of New York today?

I think there is a 50:50 chance that Lumia will get the boot today. Nadella already prepared his staff with the "tough choices" memo.

For one, Nadella knows that Lumia is moribund, and he will not be able to blame it on Ballmer if he waits too long to shut down the handset unit.

We have Digitimes reporting that smartphone manufacturers are "conservative" about Windows 10, and not ordering components or investing many resources into development. Certainly this is because the carriers told them they are not interested, and likely Microsoft got the same notice.

http://www.digitimes.com/news/a20150706PD205.html

If however Lumia survives today's announcement, then I predict that it will be scaled down to one or two signature devices per year like Surface.

Per "wertigon" Ekström

@Lullz:

No, I'm suggesting that apps would happen in volumes once Meego phones were available. Those apps were QT apps, too.

The developers probably didn't put in as much effort on Symbian since it was a dying market, so developing an app supposed to be ready in 2013 or so didn't make much sense. Developing to Meego and being able to easily port to Symbian (and by easily I mean less than 40 man hours) would make more sense however, Symbian would then be supported a few more years as Meego took it over and there would be a clear migration path to all Symbian owners to the new, cool Meego platform.

So... Yeah.

Lullz

@PWE

"The developers probably didn't put in as much effort on Symbian since it was a dying market, so developing an app supposed to be ready in 2013 or so didn't make much sense. Developing to Meego and being able to easily port to Symbian (and by easily I mean less than 40 man hours) would make more sense however, Symbian would then be supported a few more years as Meego took it over and there would be a clear migration path to all Symbian owners to the new, cool Meego platform."

You are not making any sense now.

You are seriously suggesting that the migration path would have been for porting Qt MeeGo apps for Symbian but virtually no Symbian apps to MeeGo? What kind of migration path is that? A backwards one?

Why would anyone buy a new laptop if the software from the old computer would not work on the new computer, but the titles written for the new computer would work on the old one you no longer use as your primary tool?

Also, if the developers would have started working on MeeGo apps only when it was released, those apps would have started shipping only in late 2011 while MeeGo would have started shipping much earlier. Having a new OS with almost no apps would have most likely been a disaster. RottenApple's explanation sounds much better than the one you are trying to offer.

Per "wertigon" Ekström

@Lullz:

"Having a new OS with almost no apps would have most likely been a disaster."

No, that is where you're wrong.

Was the PS3 a disaster, since it had virtually no launch titles? Was the PS4 a disaster? The Wii? The Xbox?

A new OS won't have many new apps to play with. Yes. This is undoubtedly true. However, a new platform doesn't need apps to survive in it's first few years. It doesn't need them in the first few months, when everything is built on hope and hype. It will have six to twelve months to make stuff work and prove itself, and those six-to-twelve months are all Meego needed.

As for the migration strategy, it was partially a hook for Meego development (develop to two OS:es for the price of one!), and partially a hook for current Symbian users to upgrade to Meego, but yes, it was also a bridge for any Symbian developers to develop to both ecosystems at the same time.

However, would you rather develop an app released to an aging, old and near-obsolete system, or a new, vibrant system with the added benefit of easy backwards compatibility? From a developer standpoint, surely the second option is the better one yes? And that's what could've saved Meego.

Sadly, it was never allowed to do so. Now, enough kicking on this dead horse! :)

abdul muis

@Tomi
Just an update for your 2020 $10 phone.

http://ee.co.uk/our-company/newsroom/2015/07/07/EE-launches-the-UKs-lowest-priced-4G-smartphone-the-Rook
EE just announce the £49 phone.

The Rook runs the latest Android 5.1 Lollipop operating system, and features a 5 megapixel camera, a 4” high resolution FWVGA display screen and 8GB internal memory, all powered by a fast and energy-efficient 64 bit MediaTek® 1GHz Quad-Core processor enabling faster web browsing, smoother game play, quicker multitasking and further improved battery life. The Rook also comes with a 1,500mAh battery, which is good for over five hours of talk time and over 400 hours stand-by-time on a single charge.

Lullz

@PWE

The game consoles typically have a very limited set of games pushing the hardware sales. None of the current generation consoles have game libraries as vast as iOS or Android have.

If you believe that apps are not needed for the launch, you might also believe that Nokia could start over with MeeGo on 2016 when they can re-enter the phones market. If that is not the case, entering the market without lots of apps in 2011 might have been almost as hard as it would be today.

"However, a new platform doesn't need apps to survive in it's first few years"

Can you point examples of this happening? Surviving doesn't sound too good if it doesn't mean capturing enough market share. You yourself have pointed out how a platform should have 20% market share. This has been true for iOS in the past, on the installed base. I highly doubt MeeGo could have captured 20% of the installed base if launched in 2011. MeeGo + Symbian combined is another story, but a 20% market share if the installed base with modern enough phones 12-24 months after 2011 launch? That sounds tricky since the next generation Symbian phones didn't even beat iPhone sales in 2010.

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