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December 21, 2016


Wayne Borean

Talking about smartphone design and Samsung's self lighting batteries...

This is the start of the sequence. You could just hit end and go straight to the punchline, but it is better if you read them in sequence.

Peter F. Mayer

Carl ZEISS lenses too,

there was also a rumor that the new Nokia will be equipped with Carl Zeiss lenses. Am I right, that would mean absolutely clear glass lenses and no cheap plastic as in the iPhone?

Alex Kerr

1.) I hope HMD have the sense to hire you as a strategist/consultant, Tomi.

2.) As I've said to HMD directly a couple of times, I believe removable batteries in Nokia smartphones are extremely important. Look at the issues with battery life in phones today. I think I'm right in saying that Samsung Galaxy S series sales suffered when they stopped making batteries removable after the S5. Having a small, flat spare battery in your pocket (or 2 or 3) is easily the best solution to the power problem, and would really help Nokia differentiate its devices in a market where most other phones' sealed batteries cause flat-battery-anxiety in their users. Plugging in a power dongle is just simply not as good a solution, unless charging can complete in an extremely short space of time. Avoiding power anxiety is also especially important in a world where Android is still less power efficient than Symbian was. I'd be interested in your thoughts on the removable battery issue Tomi.

3.) Plain Android with no extra additions is one of the selling points of Google's Nexus and Pixel. Nokia would do well to copy this.

I've been using the 808 as my main phone since 2012 and it still is today. Wonderful device but a bit slow for my liking now though! :)

Peter F. Mayer

Tomi, what's your take on plain versus skinned Android?

Can Nokia with its usability experience do better? Top 10 brands in smartphone do heavily skinned firmware, Moto who did nearly plain Android was close to bankruptcy before Lenovo sniffed it up.



"The biggest problem - can Nokia make it's UI on Android distinctive enough to get market attention, or will it just be another lightly skinned interface similar to most other Android brands"

I avoid heavily skinned Android phones like the devil avoids holy water! Starting from Android 4.X, I have never ever seen a default launcher which was better than the Google launcher (or now Pixel launcher). I never ever have seen a better contact app or phone app thena Google's (or the AOSP contacts and phone, for that matter).

So I do hope that Nokia stays away from replacing Google's own apps whith Nokia apps. If Nokia insists on haveing a themed Android version, the best they could do is to support RR/ Substratum and just change the color scheme (and let me revert to standard AOSP).

I can say that my LG G5 shipped with a UI which was fugly as hell - you need to install Pixel launcher, Google phone and Google contacts first. Then you need to be rooted to install the Pixel launcher as system app (so that "OK Google" works) and you need to install an AOSP-like status bar and quick settings icons. Then you still get eye cancer by merely looking at the quick settings because the colors are so fugly. So you have to apply a theme.

Then your phone is usable, but you still have to deinstall all this fucking bloatware like Facebook, Evernote, the LG fitness app and another bunch of crapware! _Then_ you actually get decent battery life (and no, I do not freeze apps, I deinstall!)

So whenever possible I flash CM and the (Pico) GApps package instead to get the same result within minutes instead of hours.

So Nokia, please! Give us AOSP with the Google apps needed to call this thing Android and call it a day. I don't mind a Nokia camera app which supports all camera features or a few additional settings, but please don't do a UI redesign! Give us timely updates instead, especially security updates.


> Imagine the iPhone was not ever released. And Android came out in late 2007 as the Blackberry work-alike it was intended to be.

Android wasn't inteded to be the Blackberry work-alike. That's common misconception because early engineering devices looked like Blackberry.

But you shouldn't forget that Android was developed by Google software engineers and HTC hardware engineers. The very same engineers who gave us that device:

And yes, it was on sale LITERALLY in the same month the very first Apple iPhone was on sale.

It contains two most important iPhone "inventions" (slab form-factor and finger-driven interface) already.

HTC Dream? That was A COMPROMISE. HTC made it to make sure Android, developed for Blackberry look-alike, would still work on it - even in first releases. They needed a keyboard because they were not sure Google would be able to create a compelling experience without keyboard, that's why such a strange form-factor. But they were already ready to release iPhone look-alike year before. In fact they did.

THAT is why Google was able to "turn on dime" while Microsoft, Palm, RIM and Nokia failed. Development of Android version for iPhone look-alike was ALREADY underway when iPhone was revealed. Sure, Google picked some ideas from iPhone (and later iOS picked some ideas from Android, there are no shame in it), but "Android as Blackberry work-alike" wasn't supposed to be EVER released. That was INTERNAL DEVELOPMENT version, nothing more!

Without iPhone we would have been forced to wait a few years for the pinch-to-zoom... Oh, wait, we WERE forced to wait few years for that anyway!

So, in the end, Apple did to Smartphone what it did for Personal Computers: it made them fashionable. Nothing more, nothing less.


@Peter F. Mayer
> Moto who did nearly plain Android was close to bankruptcy before Lenovo sniffed it up.

I think Motorola were not close to bankruptcy (documents related to the purchase listed they had some cash still), but they seemed to prepare for extracting patent royalties from other Android vendors. Google had to stop them. By the time Lenovo picked up Motorola from Google, things were looking up again.

Probably neither UI nor security will matter much, for now all that the old Nokia customers want is a Nokia Android device. Whether it comes with custom launcher is mostly inconsequential at this point. And security updates is not something that sells devices to the masses, sadly.

I think we can give credit where credit is due, namely that Apple influenced heavily how smartphones would look and work like for a while. Today not as much as some Apple fans want you to believe (Tomi pointed this out already), but still.

Let's also not forget that even Samsung fell into the "Apple envy" trap and released the Galaxy S6.

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi everybody

Hey, happy St Steven's Day (aka Boxing Day aka for non-Christians, this is the 'Second Day of Christmas, the day after Jesus Christ was born on 25 December). As my second name was for one passport misspelled as 'Tapani' and that name in Finnish is the translation of Steven, I have adopted December 26 as my public nameday (Tomi's day) even though there is also a Finnish calendar name both for Tomi my actual name and my second name. Anyway, who cares. The point is, that on St Steven's Day / Boxing Day / 26 December wherever I happen to be, its time for famous Tomi Ahonen pancakes... so consider yourself all virtually served with delicious 'crepe' style 'real' pancakes, baked on two pans simultaneously, all air-flipped (yes I am right-handed and can also flip pancakes with my left hand). And served with jam. Strawberry jam is the standard and in the Swedish tradition of the jam fit for the Queen, we also do the 'Kuningatarhillo' version the Queen's jam version, if sold in the country, we do the real thing (as available in Finland obviously) or if not, you can do your own Queen's Jam mix - its 50/50 split of raspberry jam and blueberry jam. Blueberry jam is of course called 'blubbery jam' in English, as a joke. (Get the raspberry jam version without seeds!)

All kids will have to forego a 'Tomi Christmas Tax' on the first pancake served (adults are not thus penalized; Tomi is obviously evil; but kids get their pancakes first). The Christmas Tax is nominally to check on the quality of the pancakes being served. In reality its a way for the cook to enjoy some pancakes while baking. Also one of my specialities is the 'inflation pancake' - a crepe with a hole in the middle. Imagine a flat donut. Utterly stupid idea obviously but makes for variety at the pancakes table. So yeah, my pancakes are deserts, not appetizers or main course. What are left uneaten, will be stored in the fridge for one night and eaten the following day for breakfast.

With that prologue, consider you all virtually serve a portion of Tomi's famous Christmas pancakes for St Steven's Day. They all are thin 'crepe' style pancakes but large enough to fill a plate. You all received one pancake with strawberry jam (with a tax taken to the cook). A second pancake served with raspberry jam. A third with blueberry jam. And finally the piece d'resistance, the final pancake with the Queen's jam mix of raspberry and blueberry. There was an inflation pancake served but that was not the first (which already had its tax) and not the last (which is the best) so for each of you either a raspberry or blueberry filled pancake was an inflation pancake with a hole in the middle. You will be guided that the pancake is easiest consumed with the pancake rolled and then cut into easy slices.. Merry Christmas!

Now, onto Nokia, Apple and all our fun.

Alex - gosh, thanks. Yeah I do think those boys at HMD do have the rough idea pretty well in line with what we'd hope for and expect. BUT note, it is essentially certain that we all have so many particular pet wishes, that not everything can possibly be done. Even at its peak Nokia could not satisfy every niche it discovered, with a phone optimized for that need.

On the battery, I fully agree with you but I am not certain we'll see removable batteries. There is a clear trade-off with waterproofing and a modernization aspect with waterproof while removable battery translates to 'old fashioned'. Portable standard USB power packs are proliferating in the Emerging World and while this is a clumsy and imperfect workaround, it is a way to achieve the effect and as other phones have made those power packs more common, its a modest investment to make for someone buying a new smartphone (or after owning it a while) and now the battery does support multiple phones and can be taken onto the next phones while a removable battery is unique to the one handset model we are using (or in a tight range of a few handsets within a brand, in the best case). The dedicated removable battery option is always best, and slimmest (smallest weight penalty in the pocket etc) but its also costlier in that each phone will need its own dedicated replacement battery type while an USB charger can support most phones instantly and probably a good deal of them well into the future.

There is a manufacturing issue, the removable battery cover can become broken over time or even lost (forcing the owner to use tape over the back of the phone to keep the battery in place). I would celebrate new Nokia phones if they had removable batteries, but I am not expecting them to. From HMD's strategy point of view, if they were divided on this issue internally, and if there is consensus that the DIRECTION is towards less removable batteries, then now would be a good time to just accept that as the 'new normal' and not bother with those aspects to the design (and the separate support of the accessory lines of removable batteries). Timing-wise, if Nokia did this in 2010, I would have screamed bloody murder. Not anymore. BUT I totally agree with you Alex, the removable battery was a key differentiator and competitive advantage and especially in the whole Emerging World market where most Nokia branded phones, whether smart or dumb, will be sold - there it matters more. Its conceivable that Nokia did what Sony did, offer a branded external battery pack which would function as a 'fast charger' for the Nokia phones but function as a standard USB charger with any other branded phones. But as with any external power packs, you have their USB cables and their casings to add to the clutter in your pocket or briefcase or purse.

Peter - on skinned Android, I'm a fan of the standard UI but Nokia had spent a fortune on the competence to understand the phone user. It is quite likely that Nokia has insights (that Microsoft BTW also had/has) which could create meaningful gains to the user. Then the volume of the smartphone handsets do not justify the effort currently. It could be something they have as an option waiting to be fulfilled later. Any deviation from base Android would add complexity and development time, and at this point I think the venture needs to move quickly with early devices to stop the bleed of market share from the Nokia brand to rivals. The 'fiercely loyal' Nokia user segment will happily take plain-vanilla Android if its the current version and be delighted to get Nokia back. The fight for market share to convince 'Nokia friendly' possible buyers, that can wait a year or two, as long as the most loyal Nokia fans are not forced to go to rival brands now. That is why the urgency to launch on Android with at least a couple of handsets as fast as possible.

If we think a bit longer term, the business/enterprise side was mentioned here in the thread. Nokia owned one third of the global enterprise phone market as recently as 2011, about the same share as Blackberry had (with Windows, Palm, iOS, Linux, Android and others dividing up the last third. Nokia did this with Symbian obviously). So it was the famed Nokia E-Series (Enterprise series) led by its flagship phone the Communicator. As the enterprise world now is mostly Android with some Blackberry, Windows and iOS thrown into the mix (iOS is rarely used by the whole enterprise smartphones but often is the one demanded by the marketing department; main exceptions to this rule are media and advertising and creative industries where iOS often is the only smartphone supported by their IT departments). Nokia could rather easily pursue the 'serious Enterprise' option among Android phone makers and perhaps convert some of the enterprise client base to standardize most of their smartphones onto the Nokia brand.

That would require several areas of particular needs - all that Nokia has supported in the past with the E-Series so the competence at least used to be in Nokia and they could far more easily develop a 'serious business phone' and needed apps portfolio and various security elements to do this. That COULD be done with carriers and their enterprise sales support, with things like dedicated intelligent SIM cards so the phone would not allow access to sensitive enterprise services if an 'enterprise' SIM is not active on the phone (which could also then be a dual SIM phone haha).

I think this segment would seem like 'easy low-hanging fruit' for Nokia IF it wanted to get into UI and OS differentiation. THAT is software work. I am not sure HMD would want to go there. If Nokia still was on the Symbian-MeeGo path, this would be a natural and very powerful differentiating feature. In the Android world now, it would seem more like a luxury. Now, Nokia E-Series sales teams would have had considerable and very deep insights into some industry sectors and their needs. They could very well have the customers waiting eager to make bulk purchases of Nokia Android business phones if they have initially abilities A, B and C; and if Nokia then later commits to developing D and E. As Blackberry bowed out of the handset space and Microsoft is shrinking its last Windows efforts to mainly the Surface tablet series, any enterprise smartphone IT buyers will not have many options. A more secure or more remotely-controllable Nokia on Android would be 'better than nothing' haha.

But note this is drastically different when compared to Android development generally out of Google. Now, meanwhile the consumer? Gosh, just very simple things like alerts, the clock functionality, the camera operation, things that often are ridiculously difficult or complex on Android phones (and often very different from each other) were things once Nokia did rather 'intuitively' and smartly. There could be very simple things that could be done (for which in almost every case, Nokia also owns the intellectual property or long since has acquired rights to it, so there is no patent issues to deploy that technology or idea). So I'm thinking of things like the permanent clock display, where Nokia would only turn on the individual pixels rather than use the battery of the whole display and run down the battery ie keeping the display fully on 24 hours a day, but rather light a few dots on the screen and use something like 2% of display physical area and thus a negligable battery drain but a huge advantage to the phone user where you don't have to touch the phone or push any button to see what time it is (LOL or for a jetlagged consultant, to know what DAY it is today haha).

(ok, I'll deal with the Apple argument separately)

Tomi Ahonen :-)

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Wayne Brady

(we have two duelling Waynes here in the discussion, both with surnames starting with B so I can't even call you Wayne B and not be clear haha. Hi also to Wayne Borean)

Fair points and again, we do mostly agree, its a matter of nuance. So right off the bat, the iPhone (not Apple as a whole) killed Palm and Microsoft (and Motorola) in phones and if we take Apple as the company overall, that killed RIM/Blackberry (which foolishly decided to take Apple iPad tablets head-on). And of Nokia, let me show where I partially agree. Its possible that Nokia had utterly totally comprehensively failed with its MeeGo based 'next generation' Linux based coalition of handset makers for which several tablets and netbooks already existed in 2011 and Nokia commercially launched the N9 (plus released the N950 in a limited run to developers). Bear in mind MeeGo was the OS path selected by a wide range of carriers/operators and had much of the Symbian partnership of handset makers in its coalition, plus many IT and tech companies that were not yet in phones. In January of 2011 MeeGo was seen as a very serious about-to-be-launched OS platform with a far larger portfolio of equipment vendor support than Windows, nearly on par with Symbian at its peak, and second only to Android.

But lets say the MeeGo project was a total complete flop and the N9 and its family was crushed worldwide in the premium smartphone wars to the iPhone 4 class of Apple devices and its further editions. Lets say Nokia lost ALL of the premium smartphone market (which however included a large slice of E-Series enterprise smartphones which would not go to Apple voluntarily haha). But lets say for the sake of argument that the WHOLE top end was lost to Apple.

With what remains, of Nokia branded smartphones sold that cost less than 400 dollars each, in 2010 or the start of 2011, what Nokia sold in units of smartphones (and with large profitability) would still keep Nokia as THE LARGEST SMARTPHONE MAKER in the world. Even if Apple took 'all of Nokia's candy' for those who can afford an iPhone. There was no iPhone strategy to go after the bulk of Nokia's customers. Nokia KNEW this. Nokia sold desirable, popular and fully functional smartphones (with the second largest app store) at prices where Apple would not go - for FIVE MORE YEARS.

If we take your argument that Apple killed Nokia, that is impossible. Because those customers who were buying Nokia are still TODAY not able to buy the cheapest iPhones. Even after the new cheaper iPhones released earlier this year, they would only get to that mid-range of smartphones. In 2010 Nokia had brought the bottom end of its smartphone price range to below 200 dollars. The two first Nokia Android phones now rumored, cost 150 dollars and 200 dollars each (plus likely a flagship in the 500 dollar range). Apple's cheapest phone costs 400 dollars (without subsidy obviously).

YES it would have been painful if Apple took every smartphone customer in the premium range. But even if I give you that, if we assume Nokia utterly collapsed EVERY TIME it met Apple in the stores, Nokia would still OWN 70% of its customer base who could not AFFORD the iPhone. And for THOSE customers, when Nokia offered things like Xpress Music service, or NFC or removable battery or microSD or multiple SIM card slot, etc, those were enormous competitive advantages.

Nokia could have been damaged by Apple had Elop not happened at Nokia, yes. Nokia would still today easily be the largest smartphone manufacturer and the story would today be about the fight for number 2, between the iPhone vs Samsung. Nokia DELIBERATELY pursued the EMERGING WORLD market and its needs. Symbian had HUNDREDS of app store millionaires in INDIA !!!! It supported Chinese as a language (Windows did not when Lumia launched haha) and Swahili and all sorts of languages for the regions that the iPhone couldn't be bothered with. Nokia had carrier BILLING with over 100 carriers allowing the app developers on Symbian, MeeGo/Maemo and System 40 to sell apps (including on Java) via the Ovi store to a vastly larger market - who do not have credit cards TODAY - and did this six years ago. No, the argument that Apple caused Nokia's downfall is silly.

Nokia collapsed because of a suicidal CEO. Nothing Apple did would have jeopardized Nokia. Android, that did damage Nokia OS hegemony but even Android wasn't selling at SYMBIAN levels in year 2010 and Nokia had its MeeGo ready to sell in 2011.

You are looking at the market from a US myopic viewpoint. Motorola died due to the iPhone as did Palm, RIM/Blackberry and yes Microsoft's smartphone vision. Nokia was immune from the iPhone. The best market geographically for the iPhone in 2010 and still today, is North America. North America was Nokia's worst market. Because Nokia faced 5 local handset maker brands on 4 local OS platforms out of North America (and most foreign brands didn't bother to even fight for North America), of course Nokia had a small slice of that market (as did Symbian). But in ALL OTHER CONTINENTS except North America, Nokia was the bestselling smartphone brand AND Symbian was the bestselling OS in 2010 !!!!!! Apple crushed its local competitors, Motorola, HP, Palm, Dell, Blackberry etc and their domestic OS platforms. Nokia was as near as relevant IMMUNE to the iPhone (but not to Android).

Note, against this 'disaster' was the Nokia N8 which set the Nokia record for best launch of a new smartphone in Nokia history in Q4 of 2010 and was driving a strong Nokia profit quarter and by every signal Nokia was headed to a strong year 2011. Not that Apple was pulling away from Nokia - as I wrote - even in year 2010, Nokia smarthpones GREW MORE than the iPhone.

So if we take your thought experiment, yes, if there was no Apple, then Nokia would not have died (in handsets). That is true. But the cause was not Apple. The cause was the idiot CEO Stephen Elop (who was infected with the Microsoft corporate disease of Apple Envy and Nokia Board did not understand this illness). If Nokia had not hired Stephen Elop, but took his finalist rival for CEO, Anssi Vanjoki - a few things are certain. One, there would be Nokia on MeeGo today and Symbian would have been shut down with a far more gentle run-down schedule. Nokia would be safely the largest handset maker today but would have completed its transition to smartphones (Nokia led all handset makers on this metric until Elop). Note while some makers like Motorola and Sony have completed this transition, others like Samsung and LG have not yet shifted to 100% smartphone-only production. Note Nokia had its LOW COST Linux project for THIS PARTICULAR NEED, and they nearly completed their work - when Elop destroyed that project.

Even if you love Apple, you cannot provide ANY evidence that Apple could have grown market share past the rich user niche it now dominates. And Nokia's majority of its business is at the mid and lower end of handsets. If Anssi Vanjoki had been Nokia CEO, Nokia today would sell 400 million phones, all would be smartphones, and Nokia would still tower over its rivals. And at every Quarterly results, the press would write stories that 'Nokia saw decent sales but its profitability is far less than the iPhone'. One thing that scenario would have EXPEDITED is Apple's need to move down-stream in pricing. If Apple faced a determined Nokia pushing its own smartphones seriously at the premium end (N-Series, E-Series, X-Series) there is absolute certainty that Nokia had held SOME share even at the premium end. And therefore Apple today would have less than its 13% and therefore APPLE not Nokia would have had to adjust more - and their response would have been - what I forecasted years ago they HAVE to do - is to move down-stream in pricing. The 400 dollar entry-level iPhone would have come to the world probably around year 2014 if Nokia had stayed its course rather than now in 2016 because Nokia abdicated its leadership.

Wayne Brady, seriously, you need to address this issue. 75% of Nokia EXISTING and fiercely loyal customer base was OUT OF REACH of iPhones in 2010-2015. But Nokia's MAIN sales were focused on that segment, already in year 2010 - with clear plans we found out later (Meltemi the low-cost Linux based smartphone OS for under 100 dollar smartphones) - were already in place to pursue the market where the growth was clearly going to be. Nokia was not in any jeopardy by iPhone, not directly and not indirectly via Android either. All those Android 'rivals' that Nokia faced, they were NOT in control of their own destiny allied to Google. They were already once defeated by Nokia when everybody used the same OS (Symbian) where Nokia just grew its share and its rivals lost their shares, gradually over time.

But what Microsoft did at that time (2010) announcing they would not offer a migration path from Windows Mobile to Windows Phone - that would have been a GREAT opportunity for Nokia MeeGo ecosystem to pick up random struggling Windows Mobile manufacturers especially those wary of Google's growing dominance - as Nokia wisely had set up MeeGo as a partnership for its vendor community, not as a single-managed 'forced upon us' OS like Windows or Android are to their users. Its not certain MeeGo could have been as big as Android, it would easily have been far bigger than iOS on Nokia branded smartphone sales alone not to consider all the other vendors committed to it back then, and nobody suggests iOS is too small to survive today..

So I agree with you about 70%. For North American vendors they all died because of Apple, but the iPhone was not the primary reason Blackberry died (their tablet was) but here you and I disagree on the degree. You see the tablet as a contributing factor while the handset/OS strategy was decisive; I see it the other way that the handsets & OS were contributing factors but the tablet was decisive. You say Potato, I say Tomato. We mostly agree on that. On the other NAm vendors Motorola, Palm, HP, Microsft, Dell, they all died due to the iPhone yes.

Nokia. No, even if Nokia failed utterly with its intended Symbian-to-MeeGo strategy AND if Ovi suddenly collapsed as an app store (it was the second most successful app store by January 2011 behind only iOS) and even if EVERY premium customer Nokia had, was somehow lost to Apple. Even then, Nokia would have 75% of the loyal Nokia buyers safely in their hands and Nokia would easily today continue to be the bestselling smartphone of India, China, Brazil, Russia, Nigeria, Egypt etc. And I'd like you to address this key point Wayne. Can you argue HOW could Nokia lose the under 400 dollar smartphone market to Apple if no iPhone was ever released to that price segment for five years to come? And Nokia was not only SELLING to that segment, Nokia was DOMINATING that segment. Blackerry was not selling to that price segment either back in 2010 and Blackberry was the second largest smartphone maker then (Apple was only 3rd biggest).

One last bit of evidence. Again, the US myopic view. What about LG? How can you explain LG then? Why did Palm, Motorola, HP, Dell and Blackberry die, and Sony and HTC are on the rocks while both Sony and HTC had been ranked number 3 in the past years, but LG? LG was another Top 10 brand, it has been ranked at its peak at number 3, it still happily sells smartphones as a Top 10 brand and still sells a few dumbphones too? You can't argue 'scale' because the scale argment went for Samsung (taken Scale from Nokia).

If Apple is the poison that kills universally, and we could see clear evidence of that in Motorola, Palm, Blackberry (HTC and Sony) then why not LG? They were in almost all ways similar to Motorola, HTC and Sony - sold smartphones on the Symbian, Windows and Android OS platforms, quit the Windows platform like almost all did in late 2011, and went pure Android. And they survive today? Why did that happen? I say why. Because HTC and Sony tried to do premium phones and go head-to-head with Apple. That is a suicidal move. Samsung and LG went the 'mixed route' of premium AND lower price smartphones. They are viable today. The market went from US centric and contract based subsidised smartphones to Asia-centric full-price-paid non-contract phones in the past ten years. USA lost its lead as the largest market to China in 2010, now this year lost its second place to India and is only the third largest smartphone market in the world.

Apple still sells US-oriented US-optimized very pricey smartphones with English-language optimized (and credit card payments-designed) apps etc. And Apple's best markets (USA, Japan) are among the last to still do mostly contract-based phones so the end-user price is hidden and real phone prices are not considered by consumers when buying phones. Even in 2010, in EVERY country that sold phones without contracts, Nokia was the bestselling smartphone brand. In EVERY country where price was taken into account, consumers found the price-performance value of Nokia FAR superior to that of the iPhone.

So Wayne Brady, please address this issue in your next response. How could a Nokia fall if most of Nokia customers bought under 400 dollar smartphones and Apple didn't go there in the next 5 years? Wouldn't this mean, on the contrary, that while Motorola, Blackberry, HTC and Sony were indeed THREATENED by Apple's iPhone - Nokia was not. Nokia was 'safe' not at the premium end like the flagship back then, the Nokia N8, but the vast majority of Nokia's lower end smartphones, that typically cost 200-300 dollars back then in 2010? So on non-Blackberry US makers, we agree 100%. On Blackberry we agree mostly but disagree on the the emphasis of which was decisive factor. On Nokia we don't agree at all, even if I took the most-pro-Apple possible view, Nokia would only lose one in four smartphone customers it had in 2010 (meaning one in eight total handset customers because roughly half of Nokia total handset sales by the end of that year were dumbphones). And Nokia was the only handset maker in history to never have reported a loss in either its smartphone or dumbphone unit, out of all major 'full portfolio' handset makers who made both the profitable smartphones and the far-less-profitable dumbpohnes. None of Nokia's rivals were able to consistently sell low cost phones profitably (until Elop destroyed this track record too)

Tomi Ahonen :-)

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Wayne

Sorry, I of course then got so deep into the weeds, I FORGOT to add the parts where we agree. I do agree, Nokia too was dramatically changed because of the iPhone. The whole touch-screen evolution of Symbian and the touch-screen emphasis of the MeeGo OS evolution (vs its predecessors Maemo etc) and the form factor evolution and the teenager-youth-girl-obsession with slimming figure - type of changes were all due to Apple's influence.

The touch interface is the most revealing. Nokia had released its WiFi 'tablet' type of device, not a phone, that was touch-screen based, about a year or two before the iPhone. It was a market failure. Nokia 'learned' about that device and its lessons were well on the minds of Nokia execs when they witnessed the hysteria around the early iPhone. If you remember, most major 'legacy' handset makers (and Microsoft as Windows parent) were claiming the early iPhone as a dog that would die (I didn't, I said it would be a huge success, in fact it would have the most successful launch in handset history - the numbers which I predicted perfectly; but I was not one of the Apple fanatics who imagined iPhones would take over the world - there were those who drank the iCool-aid who thought Apple would crush the handset makers).

So Nokia had tried a pure touch-screen device and marketed it. And when it failed, Nokia studied why. And Nokia learned an unfortunate lesson. Nokia thought the consumers would tire of the system because the WAY NOKIA DID IT was not good enough. Nokia used a resistive screen, Apple the newer capacitive screen. Nokia of course had like every touch screen up to the iPhone before also had, a single-touch screen. Apple came with the multi-touch, with swiping, pinching etc. And multi-touch (made easier to use mated with a capacitive screen) was the 'magical' bit of the iPhone. THAT is why the iPhone users did not experience the user-fatigue that Nokia had measured on users of its own tablet experiment. Nokia predicted that in 6 months the iPhone users would tire of the device (I said that won't happen) and obviously, 6 months later the iPhone users were only ever more in love with their iPhones.

And somewhere perhaps at that point in time, towards Christmas 2007, Nokia HQ also became convinced that gosh darn it, the iPhone is not going to die away. And then the rush job came to go fully touch-screen, and that being Symbian (a partnership) a ton of arguments with Symbian partners so the real answer from Nokia to the iPhone did not come 2 years after the iPhone (normal cycle) but actually in 3 years, for Christmas 2010. But by then Symbian S^3 was 'good enough' to go head-to-head with the iPhone (obviously not as good as iOS) and one of the best OS platforms for touch-based smartphones, better than Blackberry or Windows, but not as good as the new Palm OS (which HP was buying back then).

And here is THAT point. Good enough beats best, if price is taken into consideration. The Mac has been better as a PC OS every single iteration of both OS platforms (going back to DOS days). Every time Mac OS was better and every time Microsoft DOS/Windows outsold Mac by a minimum of 3 to 1 and up to 10 to 1 ratios. Good enough is what the MASS MARKET needs for its winner, and BEST is what the NICHE needs to differentiate. Nokia had migrated Symbian by the end of 2010 to be 'good enough'. Not as good as the iOS but good enough that ANY cheaper Nokia smartphone with now-also-multi-touch could do Angry Birds and Facebook and the mass market was buying them. The N8 broke the record for launch quarter as best-selling Nokia smartphone in the company's history. That is what good enough does for you. And Nokia once it decided, ok we need to do touch-screen, then yes, it did it 'all the way'.

But here I agree with you, yes, Nokia's sudden and total conversion from 'touch screens are a fad' to 'all touch screens' was ONLY due to the iPhone (and thus Apple). I agree with you on that.

Many other things followed, some better, some worse. I think the worst is the conforming to the i-Envy in the form factor. I personally am certain some people do not mind 'fat' phones and will buy a better phone that is fatter, than the slimmest phone that looks like a supermodel aka iPhone. A thicker phone form factor can fit a larger battery for better battery life (a notorious problem with every generation of iPhones and one where Nokia has a reputation of being one of the best battery lives). A thicker phone can hide a far superior camera element (and may result in various 'camel humps' like the massive one on the Nokia 808 Pureview). A thicker phone can hide a slider/folder mechanical full QWERTY keyboard (like the Danger Sidekick or Nokia Communicators, or the Blackberry Priv). But in their 'Apple Envy' the iPhone did drive Nokia execs to prioritize the slab phone form factor. Not slavishly, but to a strong degree. I personally think this is a bad thing but others might think otherwise.

So I do agree with you, yes also Nokia was changed quite dramatically by the iPhone but I disagree with you that Nokia was IN ANY WAY threatened by Apple and its premium tech toy from California. Nokia was connecting people. Nokia 900 million more people than Apple has active iPhone customers TODAY. Those 900 million Nokia owners were all so poor they could not afford an iPhone if they saved for YEARS. But they proudly carried a Nokia phone, their most valuable personal possession. Some of them had smartphones, others only featurephones/dumbphones but of those more than half have by now upgraded to their first smartphone (some to Nokia's Lumia series on Windows, most went to Android on typically Samsung, Huawei or LG brands)

So yeah, while you and I don't agree on whether Apple was killing Nokia, we DO agree that also Nokia was altered quite dramatically by the arrival of the iPhone. It is the only transformational phone this industry has seen, where the whole industry was transformed by that revolutionary phone of 2007. That was, however, nine years ago :-) What have you done for me lately, Apple?

Tomi Ahonen :-)

Abdul Muis


"Jesus Christ was born on 25 December"

Abdul Muis


"Sorry, I of course then got so deep into the weeds, I FORGOT to add the parts where we agree. I do agree, Nokia too was dramatically changed because of the iPhone. The whole touch-screen evolution of Symbian and the touch-screen emphasis of the MeeGo OS evolution (vs its predecessors Maemo etc) and the form factor evolution and the teenager-youth-girl-obsession with slimming figure - type of changes were all due to Apple's influence."

Not entirely true....
In 2003, Nokia have Nokia 7700, touch screen, bar type, no numerical keypad!!!
In 2004, Nokia have the 7700 successor, the 7710.
In 2007, nokia have the N800, the successor to 7710... nokia called this 4.13" the internet tablet!!


Nokia D1 And Nokia E1 Sketch Images Leak


I’m finding it hard to get excited for new Nokia branded phones. It sounds like there might be money to be made but that’s a far cry from being a disruptive or even innovative force in the market.

I wonder what could have been if they had pushed forward with MeeGo. I quite liked my N9 for many years but it doesn’t offer much that’s unique in today’s marketplace. Hard to tell what 5 years of innovation would have brought us. In hindsight I think they should have offered midrange Androids with good cameras 5 years ago as a hedge against MeeGo. Symbian was toast either way but Elop sure left a lot of sales on the table. QNX on a communicator style device would have been pretty sweet if not a pipe dream. Nokia never did perfect email. Windows Phone was always a terrible idea as I’m sure Tomi will remind us for years and years to come :)

Tomi T Ahonen

No Wayne

I asked you a SPECIFIC point. Do you accept that Apple was NEVER a threat to the majority of Nokia customers who back in 2010 and still cannot afford to buy an iPhone even if they wanted one, but happily bought NOKIA brand, and NOT the others. Nokia was safe. Or argue the point, of why would a 600 dollar (unsubsidised price) phone somehow steal customers paying 250 dollars for their phones? If Apple was never a threat to Nokia global rule as the biggest handset maker then obviously Apple also did not cause Nokia's downfall in any way, it was a lunatic CEO with his delusional views.

Tomi Ahonen :-)

Abdul Muis

Finland-based HMD Global is expected to announce its first Nokia-branded smartphones in February 2017 at Mobile World Congress (MWC), and has been cooperating with supply chain makers in Taiwan to develop four more models for launch in the second and third quarters of 2017, according to industry sources.

The four new models will have display sizes ranging from 5.0-5.7-inch at WQHD or Full HD resolutions, said the sources, adding that panel suppliers will include LG Display, Century Technology (CTC) and Innolux, and that FIH Mobile will serve as production partner.

The first Nokia smartphone to be presented by HMD at MWC is likely to be the Nokia DIC, which will be available in two versions, depending on the amount of memory and display size, according to a Chinese-language report.

The higher-priced version of the two variants will cost US$200, and come with 3GB of RAM and a 5.5-inch Full HD (1080p) display. The cheaper version is to cost US$150, packed with 2GB RAM and a 5-inch Full HD display, said the report.

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Everybody

For those slaving at work in this, the last week of the year 2016, and who want a bit of relief, I am doing my typical pre-order offer when the next ebook is about to be released. I don't want you guys here at the CDB blog to be left out of what my Twitter followers get, so just so you know, I have sent a Tweet out with a 10% discounted pre-order link to the new 2016 edition of my handset industry statics volume, the TomiAhonen Phone Book 2016. It will be 200 pages, 100 tables and graphics. Its the sister volume to the popular TomiAhonen Almanac but the Phone Book only comes out every alternate year (Almanac comes out every year). So the Phone Book will shortly be released. If any of you wanted it, please go to my Twitter feed (I am @tomiahonen on Twitter) and you'll see the link to the 9 Euro price. That discounted price will only be valid before the ebook is released (only days/hours to go) so you can't use the link after the ebook is formally announced (which I will do on this blog shortly). BUT if any of you wanted the new Phone Book, then yes, of course, I'd like you also to get that discounted price. So just go to my Twitter feed and the link is right there, and you can pay via Paypal with your credit card and be among the first to read the brand new Phone Book before the year ends...

PS George Michael, Carrie Fisher.. RIP

Tomi Ahonen :-)

Per "wertigon" Ekström


Re Meegos chances versus Android, we will never know.

Had Elop done a 180 and pushed the N9 like crazy once it was apparent what a great telephone it was, things might have been different.

You say that carriers killed the alternatives since Android said "Yes sir!" to everything they demanded. But remember that Nokia had a *very* strong carrier relationship. Extremely strong. That relationship would have been leveraged to push Meego ahead of Android in many countries. Remember that at the time of the N9 being released, apps were just starting to drive phone sales.

Nokia would therefore keep their #1 place, Samsung would rise to #2, possibly starting to sell Meego phones alongside Android phones, and iPhones would settle at a nice #3 spot with even less marketshare than today.

Would Android eventually phase out Meego? Perhaps. But the platform would slowly be sinking today, from a peak market share of maybe 20%.

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Per and Wayne (one of the Bees..)

About MeeGo. Yeah, its a 'counterfactual' so its pure hypothesis that can never be proven one way or the other. BUT. Many things we do know.

One, the Nokia loyalty was incredible and in MOST countries the Nokia loyalty was tops in handsets. Not in the USA obviously and not in all European countries but starting with China and India, top loyalty. WHATEVER Nokia offered would have sold SOMETHING (witness Lumia on Windows haha) and when Nokia delivered a great product (eg N8 on Symbian) then Nokia could sell huge numbers. And the N9 was better than the N8 and MeeGo was miles better than Symbian.

There is no guarantee the N9 would have outsold the levels the N8 did but had the CEO given the phone its fair chance, it well might have. Remember it received unprecedented praise such as the German weekly newsmagazine Der Stern telling readers to drive to Austria to buy the N9 because stupid Nokia refused to sell it in Germany; and that the N9 won the 'Design Oscars' beating out Apple's brand new iPad 2 as the best tech gadget design of the year (but Elop refused to then sell it in England either, where this merit would have given Nokia an enormous PR opportunity in that country).

But we KNOW on this blog, that the main driver of handset sales is not apps, its not the consumers, its not whose phone is slimmest or fastest or cheapest. The gatekeepers of the handset industry are the mobile operators. As Per said, Nokia had the best carrier relations (up to Elop messing them up) and there are two SPECIAL case operators that were particularly relevant to Nokia's ambitions in the OS wars. Nokia's strategic carrier partner in the Symbian partnership was NTT DoCoMo of Japan (has half of the Japanese market plus a modest footprint abroad) and Nokia's strategic carrier partner with MeeGo was China Mobile (world's largest carrier/operator and has over half of the Chinese domestic market, plus a modest footprint abroad).

Nokia had not only secured a rich family of manufacturers to support MeeGo including Fujitsu of Japan and Lenovo of China, but the two BIGGEST CARRIERS in those countries. That meant, that with MeeGo there would have been a DEFAULT requirement for both Japanese and Chinese app developers to develop FIRST for MeeGo. Because its going to essentially half the country. The OTHER app stores would SPLIT the rest, with Android, Windows, Blackberry, iOS, Bada etc.

The China Mobile deal alone was big enough that MeeGo itself was sustainable as a market. China Mobile ALONE has 835 million subscribers (2.5 times total USA market) and the majority of those now have smartphones. Nokia had built the world's largest handset factory right next to China Mobile's headquarters in Beijing, just so the Chinese knew how closely Nokia intended to serve its most important customer. Nokia was the first handset maker to deliver 3G smartphones running on China's TD-SCDMA standard etc. The China Mobile annual handset sales to this one carrier customers ALONE are 200 million units. A total Apple sized market was owned by Nokia. Not all of China Mobile's phones would have been Nokia branded but the vast majority would have been - and when China Mobile says 'we use MeeGo' then all OTHER Chinese vendors would have dutifully put MeeGo onto their smartphones. So Huawei, Xiaomi, ZTE, TCL/Alcatel, Lenovo, etc would all have produced MeeGo handsets - simply because their domestic market would expect it...

Its not certain MeeGo would have won with this strategy worldwide, but gosh its a stronger start than Blackberry had or Apple's iPhone had or Android had. Nokia went IN to MeeGo to build a WINNER, doing 'everything correctly'. They did not own the OS alone, they had an equal partner-developer in Intel (who had done their own Linux smartphone OS called Moblin) so the rival handset makers did not have to fear Nokia in the way they feared Microsoft or Google. Etc.

And then there was carrier billing and language support. But then OVI STORE. The Nokia Ovi Store had a potential reach of one BILLION users by 2011. Apple has barely over 500 million iPhone users today. Ovi sold apps but also music downloads, ringtones, other content to cheaper phones that ran Nokia's proprietary dumbphone OS platforms of which System 40 was then evolved into the Asha featurephones. Ovi had the second largest army of developers, Ovi had the second most downloads behind only Apple and Ovi was minting millionaires in countries where mobile was YEARS ahead of the USA. Any other CEO would have proudly crowed about how great they are, as Ovi was already in year 2010 closing the gap to Apple's iPhone App Store and would likely have caught it by late 2011 or latest 2012 (because Nokia had such a vast lead in the installed base - and was selling more than the iPhone and Nokia was converting its dumbphone users into smartphone users) but instead Elop killed the Ovi store.

And last, Qt. In 2011 most global app developers (like say a Rovio makers of Angry Birds) would need to support at least 5 OS platforms in smartphones - Symbian, Android, iOS, Blackberry and Windows (two incompatible versions of Windows actually, Windows Mobile and Windows Phone). But Nokia had developed the Qt app developer toolkit that allowed easy and fast developing of apps to multiple platforms. At its launch in 2011, Qt supported all Nokia OS platforms (Symbian, Maemo, Meego and System 40) plus Blackberry. Android was added next. It meant that already that year, if a developer used Qt they could develop once, and publish on 3 of the 5 most popular OS platforms AND have their MeeGo version 'automatically' also created !!! This was not so with Windows, not with iPhone or even today, this is not the way you gain when you develop Android apps. But that was the level of dedication Nokia put into MeeGo. The early developers who used Qt said it was a dream to develop on it, after the nightmare of Symbian. So at least all of Nokia's loyal Symbian developer army would have mostly gone with Qt and THAT would potentially be a game-changer, turning Symbian-MeeGo (via Qt, and with Ovi store support) into the preferred APP option, over both Android and iOS.

Again, we will never know because idiot Elop killed Qt too (or actually he sold it).

Every single industry analyst who gave a forecast for the smartphone market in the 12 months prior to Elop announcing his Microsoft alliance, every SINGLE ONE of them predicted Nokia would DOMINATE the smartphone market EASILY into the next 5 years. Not ONE OF THEM said that Nokia was in danger of losing its lead. This was WITH the known fact, that Symbian was going to be killed off, and the user base migrated to MeeGo. Its not that Tomi Ahonen and 'his friend Per' haha (Per we often do agree..) claim somehow bizarrely that a wild future fantasy was lost - actually EVERY ANALYST like IDC, Gartner etc - every analyst who published a forecast before that fateful day, said yea, with the Symbian and MeeGo (and Ovi store and Qt) strategy, Nokia is UNASSAILABLE. No way will Blackberry or Apple's iPhone or the new Android crowd catch Nokia as the largest smartphone maker in the next years as far as they could see.

That was not a 'radical' view. That was the CONSENSUS view of the analysts who specialize in the handset industry. If you remember the disastrous Windows saga, from the start there was dissention on that strategy, some thought it would work, others thought it would go badly (and I said it would destroy Nokia). So there was no consensus of song and dances by the analyst houses about the new strategy by Elop. But the old strategy - including migration from Symbian to MeeGo - all analysts every SINGLE ONE OF THEM agree, that will work fine for Nokia. Their main gripe was that Nokia was taking so much time, that Nokia should be moving faster. But all agreed, Nokia will easily win that transition game...

I do wish we had some way to know for a fact haha...

Tomi Ahonen :-)


I am currently in negotiation over writing a warehouse management app that's supposed to scan QR codes and automatically update the company's database.
Android only. Thanks to Apple's tight control over app development it's utterly unfeasible to do this thing for iOS. There's no way to do quick updates if the need arises because Apple's submission procedure would completely nullify the effect and the entire development would just cost too much. According to the company's boss, he'd rather buy each employee working with this thing an Android phone than spend the extra money on iOS development - the phones are cheaper.
And I really do not think this is an isolated occurence. iOS by its entire design is an utterly useless platform for such tasks.

What a comblete bullshit. If you want to have company specific app you do not need go through the App Store. You are completely free from Apple's supervision and you can do what ever you want to. Apple does not slow you down in any way or form. They actually provide all the tools what you need.

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