back to article Nokia's Great Lost Platform

Nokia has undergone a dramatic convulsion this year, abandoning its two smartphone software platforms, and allying itself with Microsoft. The company’s software was widely seen as uncompetitive, and hadn’t moved with the demands of the market. Nokia has also missed out on the most explosive hardware growth area in recent years. …

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Anonymous Coward

What I still don't get...

When you are up to your neck in shit, like Nokia have been, they decided to pick a smarphone platform with a non-existant marketshare (lower than Bada!), that clearly customers don't want, a platform that allows very little in the way of customisation, so they products look just like the other companies that have been forced by Microsoft (as part of the Android licensing extortion racket) to make some handsets (HTC/Samsung).

Had Nokia gone Android, they could have turned their smarthone marketshare around, made Android phones that were different to all the other Android phones (as HTC, Samsung and SE have done). Instead they make some Windows Mobile 7 crap that nobody wants and looks like all the other unwanted Windows Mobile 7 stuff gathering dust on the shelves.

Nokia R.I.P.

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Def
Bronze badge

Re: Had Nokia gone Android

They would be another phone manufacturer I wouldn't consider when I next buy a new phone.

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Anonymous Coward

And that would put you

into a very small minority - looking at market share.

It looks like Nokia is hoping to be the biggest fish in a very small fishbowl (the WP7 market).

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@AC: 11.39 GMT....

Windows Phone 7, despite the name, is a v1.x release series. Perhaps you're too young to remember this, but the v1.x releases of Android were shit too.

Android is still not great, but it's licensable and saves many handset manufacturers from the burden of developing their own. (Rather like the early growth Windows, ironically enough.)

Windows Phone 7 does, however, have something Android does not: a genuinely different take on the mobile device user experience. Android was, and is, a cheesy iOS rip-off—no, please, don't try to deny it: you know damned well this is the case. The GNU / FOSS community may think they're Codd's gift to technology, but it's becoming increasingly obvious that filthy lucre is rather better at bringing innovations in the user experience field to market.

Personally, if the only options were Windows Phone 7 or Android, I'd go with the Windows Phone 7 device every time. (Not least because at least I'll be Microsoft's end user, not some bloody advertiser.)

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You do realise...

... that *every* platform started life with a market share of zero, right? Even the mighty iPhone was being pointed out and laughed at by people like you... right up until it stomped all over the incumbents.

Windows Phone 7 is still in the v1.x release cycle. Microsoft have the time and money to play the long game here. After all, the first successful version of Windows had a version number of "3.1".

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1.x logic

Aah yes, the old chestnut: "Version 1 is always shit. Get on board because it will get better!"

Sorry that logic only works when V1 is actually good enough to get traction and market share against rivals.

It only worked for Win3 because this gave DOS users a way to get a GUI without having to go out and buy a Mac. MS owned the "killer apps" of Office etc (whatever it was called then) so they didn't have to convince the Office people to support this new crappy platform/

In this case, WP7 will have to get to a point where it is at least as good as Android and with a huge user base to get people excited. Otherwise Joe programmer can expect far better returns from spending his time programming for Android or iOS.

In fact it is worse than that... Both Nokia and MS have burned their ecosystem people badly. They have to offer a very compelling argument to attract people back. Something much better than "Well, yes, it's shit, but it will get better."

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Anonymous Coward

@Fanboi Sean

" Android was, and is, a cheesy iOS rip-off—no, please, don't try to deny it: you know damned well this is the case"

It seems like the fact that iOS is desperately playing catchup with Android on each successive release really grates? Don't worry, the enhancements in iOS are just making it better - Android is open source so it is being given way anyway, for others to use and build upon.

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Meh

Congratulations AC 01.05 GMT!!

First to use the word 'fanboi'. Do not pass go, do not collect £200.

Meh to comments. I usually stop reading at the 'F' word.

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Anonymous Coward

@AC Fanboi

Just because you wish that Android wasn't a poor copy doesn't make it true.

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Sad

A real weepie.

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FAIL

7710, 9500

I have a Nokia 7710 and 9500 in my collection of big, weird Nokias. I never knew that the 9500 was based on Hildon though!

On paper, the 7710 looks great. It does everything that the iPhone could do, but it came years before Apple's phone hit the market. That's on paper.. in reality it was awful, mostly because the hardware was simply not powerful enough just then, partly because the UI still needed work. Bizarrely, the 7710 lacked 3G or WiFi, so there was no high-speed network access at all.

The 9500 wasn't bad, but again there was no 3G (at least this time it had WiFi). Of course, it it was based on Hildon it could have had a touchscreen!

The 7710 was a sales disaster, the 9500 wasn't much better. The principle was good, the implementation wasn't. But instead of going back and improving the hardware and software, Nokia simply shitcanned the whole lot. Alas, this is a typical Nokia approach..

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Anonymous Coward

Indeed. The typical Nokia (and entrenched vendor) approach was to parcel out stuff to the punters but never give them everything they wanted. So where it seemed obvious that punters would want GSM and WiFi (and 3G when ready), the vendors would withhold the WiFi because that wasn't what the operators wanted - they wanted punters to pony up for their shitty Internet-over-GSM offerings - and large sections of Nokia and chums probably also believed in the superiority of GSM and mobile industry technologies. So, no WiFi for you, Mr Punter!

You can probably make the same observations about all the other features in phones of the era, as well. As a result, the incumbents left a convenient hole in the market for the likes of Apple (but also newer players like LG and HTC) to fill.

As for Symbian-derived stuff that "could have been a winner", the writing has been on the wall for so long that especially if Nokia had run with this stuff, they'd still have been struggling to find a successor at the end of the first decade of the 21st century.

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Jah

I really like my 7710 and 9500. I believe the 9300 was a sales success, however.

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Bronze badge

Scratching the surface of canned projects

Oh if walls in Espoo and Helsinki could talk ...

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Silver badge

You bloody well can

call a project Brian.

The opportunities are endless....

"I'm Brian, and so's this project"

"Lifecycle of Brian"

and some other stuff.

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Anonymous Coward

maybe he meant to say

"you can't call a project Brian without coming across as the kind of weenie that endless regurgitates MP quotes to compensate for their intrinsic lack of a sense of humour and any originality"

in which case, he was quite correct.

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Anonymous Coward

project hildon could have been the messiah of nokia,

instead, it ended up being a very naughty boy.

igmc

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Several years of my life into these phones. Wish I'd got hold of a 7710. I also wish the follow-on products had actually made it out before S90 was canned. I'd have bought one.

Still remember hearing the news of the canning. Ouch.

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That thing on page three of the article looks well weapon. A certain N Barley of Shoreditch would love one of those.

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Thumb Up

Nice one...

Any plans for a similar feature on Maemo? I'm still intrigued by the decision to chuck it all in the bin and start again with Meego, just as it was coming together.

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Maemo?

Little bit surprised that it wasn't mentioned that Hildon lived on and developed as the UI for the Maemo tablets - 770, N800, N810 and N900.

Although Nokia managed to shoot themselves in the foot every time by re-inventing the wheel and not applying the final polish.

I have one of each of the above and although they are all really capable devices, and I wouln't part with mine for anything.

The one thing each one lacked was commitment from Nokia, and ongoing support etc was left to the very vibrant community.

The Nokia N9 is the latest incarnation and has been received with unprecedented praise, but Elop has done his level best to strangle the thing at birth by only releasing it for sale in limited markets, mainly so that it doesn't show WP to be the crud that it is.

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FAIL

Meego

And then immediately killing Meego. The N9 was the first phone to get me excited since my HTC HD2 2 years ago, the first phone to make me consider switching. I still like and occasionally use my N800, despite the (now) weak-ass processor.

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I still occasionally use its daddy, the 770, if only for internet radio streaming. For me that was its killer app (if you can call it that) right from when I bought it in 2005: the music app sitting right on the "desktop" by default, handling bookmarked Shoutcast streams really well, and the speaker (located on the front of the device) producing a surprising bit of oomph.

OTOH the browser was always prone to crashing, videos had to be converted on a PC in order to be properly displayed, and for most every other task it had neither the processor speed nor the necessary ram.

But nevertheless the 770 continues to be a handsome looking (internet-) radio on my night stand. :)

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Linux

Over here in 'stralia

There's actually quite a big N9 marketing campaign.

It's a pretty phone and I love my N900 but... the specs are way below market average now, and there's no keyboard.

I really, really hope it appeals to the masses and Nokia/Maemo get to continue, but I don't think it's the phone for me.

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Jah

I have the N9, 7710, 9500 and 9300. All the best Nokia devices (the E6 is very good as well!)

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Still have my N770, N800 and (most of all) N900

In fact, the N900 is still my primary phone (on T-Mobile in the USA). I *still* get comments like, "Ooh, is that a new phone?" despite it's not-exactly-cutting-edge 600 MHz single-core processor and resistive WVGA screen and a shape oddly reminiscent of a brick. It has a real (not artificially limited) OS, and it runs Python apps exceptionally well. It's web browser still runs circles around my iPad's (who in the name of Steve Jobs decided that reloading a site when switching tabs was a *good* idea?!?). And I just loaded a new app from Ovi last night.

Nokia - clutching defeat from the jaws of victory for over a decade... *sob*

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FAIL

Psion’s working codename for the project was Brian.

Easy solution - fall back to the Techie mainstay of Monty Python quotes and project "Naughty Boy" would have been born. Surely a much bighter future would have resulted!

Paddy

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Happy

Oh, and that Nokia 9000

... wasn't based on any of the mentioned platforms. That (as my ex-GeoColleagues would rush to tell, you, if they read El Reg) was based on Geos. Geoworks produced a desktop competitor to Windows, which was developed into a mobile offering when the world went Microsoft. As a result, the N9000 actually contains an embedded Intel 386. Which partially explains the joke battery life.

For it's time, however (1996!) it was a really good mobile internet terminal. It could also send and receive fax, and also happened to have a really good speakerphone implementation, so it made a better conference phone that the expensive Polycom devices we used at the time. So, for the busy-businessman-on-the-go it really was a pocket Office.

The platform was a dead-end (X86 assembler, anyone?), so when Geoworks presented their new, portable 32-bit offering, Nokia realised that they would be starting from scratch with a brand new, untested (almost certainly unfinished) system, that would require that any apps they'd written were rebuilt from scratch. So the 9100 was done with Symbian.

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> So the 9100 was done with Symbian.

There wasn't a 9100 - there was a 9110 but that was still Geos, as was the 9110i.

The first Symbian Communicator (and open Symbian phone, indeed - following the closed R380) was the 9210.

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Windows

@ gaz 7

"..every time by re-inventing the wheel and not applying the final polish.."

Anyone remember that hilarious moment in Formula-1 when Todt was leaping up-and-down in the Ferrarri pit with fury, because some muppet engineer had forgotten to bring the 4th wheel with him?

This is a bit like that. Except, with Nokia, there's no-one to jump up and down anymore (Until, of course, Ballmer buys Nokia, then he can do his 'monkey dance' whilst lobbing chairs around).

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A nostalgic former Psion, N7710 & E90 owner agrees

I had a 7710. Great design, crippled by no Wifi or 3G. It would actually support a 1GB MMS card, though - I had one. Worked fine. Took several hours to format the thing, but that was a one-off task.

I then went to a friend's old (free) SE910i for a while, but a 9500 would have been a much more sensible move. Then an E90, which had great hardware, let down by a poor, substandard OS. I still long for an "E90i" with a faster chip, an internal touchscreen, USB charging & a standard headphone socket. That would be the perfect phone handset for me.

This story explains a little of why Nokia made such bizarre decisions when it did. It's still a massive shame, though.

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Did I see what you see?

I can't believe my eyes - icons with rounded corners! :-)

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The Burkiss Way

I have always wondered if the origin of the name EPOC for Psion's previous OS and the early name for Symbian, EPOC32 came from The Burkiss Way. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Burkiss_Way

The official reason, that it was a 'new epoch' is not convincing.

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Thumb Up

Again?

It's about the third or fourth time that Andy has ripped Nokia a new one because of Hildon. As a Symbian 1.0 owner (in the guise of an Ericsson MC218) can't say I disagree.

But how about swallowing the pride and doing something similar on Maemo? Andy has covered everything up to the Elopocalypse well enough, methinks, with the series on how "for a lack of an UI toolkit a whole kingdom was lost" about the imbecile power struggles between the S60 and the Maemo toolkit engineers. We just need the final chapter sir, how Nokia pulled from "a contractual obligation phone" something so much better than the rest that it isn't even funny how it was immediately buried, just to deliver Nokia in the sweet, sweet embrace of Microsoft. All this stuff that Andy has been masterfully bringing to the light just shows that Nokia, at the heart, is a broken company, so beaten up by all this crazy stuff that it became incapable of making the final bet (in development resources and support, in payola to companies like Amazon, Instapaper, Evernote, DropBox to build official apps for Maemo) on a software strategy that almost tragically is the first that makes sense in almost a decade. Way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, AGAIN!

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: Again?

Yep. It's pencilled in for 2019 :-)

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Trollface

Cool! Right around the Meltemi launch.

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Anonymous Coward

If I was you

I'd have it ready to run a lot sooner than that.

Just sayin'

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I had a 7710

And it was brilliant. It should have had wifi and 3g (and the camera was a joke) but some of the things it could do were 'new' on phones years later. It also had an awsome 'sensible soccer' clone which was one of the best mobile games of all time.

Oddly enough, I did know about the series 80/90 convergence at the time. I didn't realise it was a secret.

I replaced it with an N95 and a 770 and regretted it; although the 770 was nice it just wasn't the same.

Then came an N97 and the end of the road for me a Nokia. Shame really.

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Silver badge

Nokia

If there was ever a company cut out for Open Source, it is Nokia. They are a free-thinking, quick changing, fast acting organisation (by tradition), everything Microsoft isn't. They need to dump Windows' Ass quick and get right into Linux or some other open kernel.

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Free thinking and quick changing?

That burning platform is the result of endless infighting, bickering and turf war. Free thinking? Yes. As long as you agree with the boss.

Where have you been living? Under a rock?

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(by tradition)

Oh please. See the little words in brakets ?

Regardless of the last 10 years' debacle, Nokia is by long tradition and adaptable and mercurial organisation. As any Finn will tell you, they started off making tyres and bog roll, then changed to mobile phones almost overnight. They need that "quick change" quality right now and no mistake. If there is any of the old spirit left, they might do it. I learned this working for Nokia in Finland. Can I go under my rock again now ?

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Silver badge

Experiment

Nokia in a sense have been a bit like Google, not afraid to experiment then not afraid to can projects, but for the wrong reasons. They actually can them before they get anywhere. At least Google give them a few years.

Where they went wrong was flailing about with OS. There was a moment when they experimented with hardware (they went through a phase of experimenting with hardware, if you the mobile with a form-factor of a camcorder, the mobile with DVB-M, and all that cool stuff.

They should have had a coherent OS strategy and carried on experimenting with hardware. Unfortunately they realised too late, tried to jam everything into Series 60/Symbian which wasn't up to the task and then became conservative on the hardware front too.

Result: Meh.

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Anonymous Coward

I was a proud 6600 owner and made the move to the N95 8gig and then the N900. I was a Nokia fanboi for years (still am at heart) and the 'downfall' of maemo followed by MeeGo was so disheartening from a user standpoint...

Time and time again Nokia 'dropped the ball' with so many projects (mostly through their own fault - short attention spans and internal politics) which really gave every user a bad feeling about every platform. Couple that with very limited post-sale support (eg N900 delayed flash updates - they where a joke on a device less than a year old!) really led to the situation they found themselves in.

I'm now a day-to-day iOS device user and i do half the things i used to do on my mobile device... Yet i still have my N900 which i use for everything else! Will be very interested about every Nokia device in the next couple of years, but it remains to be seen if they'll get my money...

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Please, s/Vanjokki/Vanjoki

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