"Did Nokia make the right call?"
Short answer: well, Duh!, of course not.
Long answer: Right for whom? Shreholders? Users? Elops?
Earlier this year, Nokia derailed the MeeGo operating system project it shared with Intel by making Windows Phone 7 the heart of its strategy. This week, developer briefings have been held for both platforms, outlining their latest upgrades (MeeGo 1.2 and WP7 Mango) plus next generation plans. Both are laying claim to be the …
It seems that El Reg continues to ignore common sense.
Put yourself in Elop's shoes. Meego isn't ready for prime time.
What are your options? Partnering w Microsoft was the best option.
That doesn mean you drop everything else...
There are other things happening as Elop continues to reshape Nokia.... So before everyone predicts an early demise for Nokia.. Let's see what happens. android still has a very expensive Oracle lawsuit hanging over their heads....
I agree with you, but if you are hoping that you will get support amongst a certain proportion of the "cognoscenti" here at El Reg then your hopes are in vain. The degree of malicious whistling in the dark we see whenever this subject is mentioned is fairly obvious. They are not predicting what they *believe* will happen, they are predicting what they *hope* will happen.
Nokia was flailing without direction. Strong direction is almost always better than a lack of clear direction. Nokia makes world-class hardware, but no-one wanted their OS. And Meego is already cool, and it would've been a legitimate choice but the board and shareholders should've gone for a non-MS guy in that case.. and they didn't because the sales pitch was better and the perceived financial benefits were better.
And now they have Microsoft as their "high end" smartphone OS (the first WinPho will be the second real* smartphone from Nokia, the first being the N900.. unless their Meego phone still gets released this year, in which case WinPho7 will be the third real* smartphone from Nokia). For the low-end market, they're seeking a different strategy.. one that won't include Symbian.... Take a guess what that strategy might be. Go on! Do it!
* Nobody really thinks of Symbian as a real-smartphone OS nowadays. It might be 1st gen, but it doesn't deliver what people expect from a smartphone OS.
He dropped the platform that had more users than any other, according to Gartner Research.
That's clearly insane, end of story - it ensures that Nokia don't sell a significant number of smartphone handsets for an entire year. Feature phone and dumbphone shouldn't be affected directly, though there may be some crossover.
Yes, Nokia probably did need quite radical changes to the organisation - it should have meant examining what Nokia had, and deciding which of the existing assets to keep and which to wind down.
Instead, Elop threw away all the software R&D that Nokia had, their 3rd-party developer base (many of whom have gone to Android), and bought in something else that either has a terrible track record or no track record at all*.
Either way, he bet the entire company on a single horse, owned by another company who will survive pretty much unscathed if that horse dies.
*Depending on whether you consider WP7 to have anything to do with WM6.x or not.
Uhm... lets get some facts straight.
According to Gartner...
1) What percentage of the world's phones run Symbian?
2) What percentage of the phones being sold, and projected sales are not going to be smart phones?
3) What percentage of the world's smart phones run Symbian?
Now lets not just look at a point in time, but go back 3 years and project the next 3 years. And what do those numbers tell you?
And no, Elop didn't throw away the R&D. He's just put it on the back burner because someone just handed him a Billion dollars.
And you have to ask yourself why Elop didn't toss Meego altogether? Simple. Ask yourself if MS is going to put Win7 on tablets. That was a rhetorical question because MS already said Win 7 isn't going on tablets. And what makes you think Nokia isn't going to field a tablet any time soon?
DO THE MATH... Elop is predictable, and he's not putting all of his bets on MS.
It seems that WP7 isn't ready for prime time yet either:
It seems that it needs "a revamped user interface", and "one worth waiting for". What WP7 chief Andy Lees has said is: 'don't bother buying the current products'.
The main failure of WP7 is that MS have said that it will not be implemented on tablets and it is not for corporates. This has nothing to do with the product itself (which may well be inadequate for these tasks anyway), but is entirely because of the corporate structure, culture and politics of MS.
Sure WP7 isn't ready for prime time either. But a billion dollars buys you a lot of support from your shareholders...
That's the thing that the commentards don't think about... Do I put my job on the line and go with Meego and foot the development costs, or do I take the billion from MS, get a partner in an interesting space... And keep developing Meego on the side?
And Nokia are currently down by 20% compared to the start of the year, nearly 25% compared to the February high.
That's what the markets actually think of Nokia's current strategy - NOK have been firefighting ever since that announcement in February.
I'm actually rather stunned by the results of the AGM (3rd May) - I was expecting Elop to get fired, but somehow he got elected to the Board. The next day NOK dropped another dollar.
It really feels like somebody wants NOK to hit rock-bottom and get bought out by somebody.
"Put yourself in Elop's shoes. Meego isn't ready for prime time."
Elop could quite easily have prioritized MeeGo or any of the existing Nokia initiatives and pushed them to product-ready status instead of running a hush-hush operation to establish Windows Mobile internally and then more or less say that most people working for him didn't need to know. Such a great way to run a company and really leverage all those people working for you!
"What are your options? Partnering w Microsoft was the best option."
Says either the fanboy or the analyst for whom the strategic alliance and the press conference are the most potent tools of business - even more than actually getting any work done.
"There are other things happening as Elop continues to reshape Nokia.... So before everyone predicts an early demise for Nokia.. Let's see what happens. android still has a very expensive Oracle lawsuit hanging over their heads...."
Ah, the art of business where winning involves suing your competitors or helping other people sue your competitors. I suppose that when the day comes that Nokia is just a stash of patents for acquisition, Nokia will have "won" as far as you are concerned.
(And the scientist logo? Sheesh! Which degree are we talking about here? MBA with the usual interchangeable B?)
How was it the right call? WP 7 is expected to be on 10 million handsets for 2011. In 2009 Nokia sold 67 million Symbian based handsets. in 2010 they sold 100 million Symbian based handsets. So, they sold an additional 33 million handsets from 2009 to 2010. Their net increase was over 10 million more than that of Apple. So iOS was not gaining on Nokia at all.
Symbian was more than capable of tiding Nokia over until MeeGo was ready in the next year or two. Face it, it would have been further along if it was for Maemo/Moblin combining into MeeGo.
......................a lot of postings based on malicious wishful thinking. I, personally speaking, have no idea how Nokia's deal with "The Great Satan From Redmond" will play out in reality. We will have to see, won't we? However, I have a very clear idea about how many of you *want* it to play out.
Nokia after Windows decision is doing great harm to the project's image and who knows what can it do after total Redmond control?
FSF and Intel must politely tell Nokia that the OS plan is way too big to be some kind of hobby for Nokia and get rid of them hiring their developers until it is too late. They can easily replace Nokia with a smaller but trustable partner with a good track record, better European. Even Digia can be trusted more than Nokia, I know their programming capabilities and seen their products.
I'll be convinced Nokia is actually committed to Microsoft once I see reports they are laying off QT devs. So far there has been no sign of it.
Elop strikes me as being entirely capable of saying one thing while always intending to do something entirely different. God knows what the plan actually is, but I'm certain it isn't "go with WP7 and burn all bridges", burning platform memo's notwithstanding.
All the other OSes are crippled by stupid ideas like code-signing or special incompatible APIs. They are all based on a Top Down approach where some store owner gets to decide which applications you get and which you won't get.
The people who currently buy those devices do it, because they want to use "cloud services", as there is no way to do something locally on those devices. However in a few years the "web experience" will have progressed beyond what Apps currently do.
On Meego/Maemo however you can simply port existing applications at virtually no effort. Many applications can simply be re-compiled. So if I want maxima or a Pascal compiler I can simply install them.
Meego gave Nokia some control over their destiny. It would have been better for them to stick with rather than the tardy lateness of MS in bringing even basic features to their Phone OS. The fact that MS don't have an adequate tablet plan shows where MeeGo could have given Nokia a tablet strategy way before MS would have one ready as well.
Glad to see MeeGo has a good future.
Despite what this story implies, Nokia are still spending R&D money on MeeGo. They call it their "future disruptive technologies" programme, but you can't help feeling that it's alos their "what we're going to do if Windows Phone flops" programme.
Nokia continue to keep up ARM support for MeeGo (and that's hardly an Intel priority) and they also maintain MeeGo as a fully-supported platform for Qt.
Nokia's "hobby project" has made valuable contributions to MeeGo, and ones that make the platform more than just another Linux distro. They continue to spend money on this work, and MeeGo continues to benefit from it, so what exactly is the problem? Are Nokia not ideologically pure anymore now they're doing business with Microsoft? Or is it just convenient to blame them for the glacial progress of the entire MeeGo project?
Nokia gave Moblin things it sorely lacked: mobile communications, better power managment and a modern application development framework that was fully featured and could compete with the commercial platforms.
How exactly were Intel or FSF "petting" this anyway? They don't pay for the work being done, and like any FOSS project, they get to decide whether to take in Nokia's work or not.
The comment from Jim Zemlin could prove crucial to whether MeeGo succeeds as a handset platform or not:
"You own the platform. You can create your own app stores. You don't have to pay royalties for anyone for it. You can devise your own services on top of it."
When you consider that HTC pay Microsoft $5 for every Android device, and other manufacturers may have to pay between $7.50 and $12.50 to Microsoft for every Android device (Microsoft has in fact earned 5 times more income from Android than it has Windows Phone).
By comparison, WP7 costs about $15 per device to licence. And with neither Android or WP7 are manufacturers allowed to run their own App store in order to earn additional revenue.
When viewed against these costs, MeeGo should be quite tempting as a complete, free to licence, totally open source, alternative platform under the control of the manufacturers, not the software companies.
At the very least, it could be an effective bargaining chip to reduce the costs demanded by Microsoft and when viewed from this angle, the Microsoft/Nokia deal which caused major harm to MeeGo as far as handsets is concerned is pure genius from Microsoft's POV.
If I were a handset manufacturer faced with $12.50 licence costs (or $15 if you go all-in with Microsoft) and no recurring revenue stream on what are rapidly becoming sub-$100 devices at the low end and with ever reducing margins at the higher end, I would most definitely be looking at helping make MeeGo a major player in the handset market.
For what it's worth, I can't see MeeGo succeeding WITHOUT a viable handset platform. The future of mobile systems will be interoperability, it's what iOS has and it's what MeeGo needs. Imagine your MeeGo phone automatically syncing with your MeeGo in-car system. One begets the other; without a viable MeeGo handset platform the other MeeGo platforms become far, far less relevant, or likely to succeed.
Just a small point in a much broader article, but the article mentions that Mango devices are coming to Verizon next month.
That's not actually the case; the first Windows Phone 7 devices to launch on Verizon will be released with the most recent NoDo update preinstalled (it had been previously thought that devices might launch with a pre-update build and be updated later).
Microsoft itself states that Mango won't be arriving until "Fall", with the most conservative estimates suggesting that devices might be sold with Mango on board from September at the earliest.
It would probably be wise to base comments on a different interface if you'd actually used it. Windows Mobile 7 is substantially different to other smart phones OS' in terms of the homepage appearance and behaviour. I have used iPhones for a number of years personally although for work I have used BlackBerrys. I have also played quite a lot with Android and WinMo 7 devices. Although there is quite a lot of similarity between Android and WinMo 7, the application integration in WinMo 7 is more extensive and quite appealing. I haven't used Nokia devices since my 6310i which was great but they have not produced a smart phone comparable with other offerings.
What is certain is that there is some good competition between the different options which will result in better products for us to choose between based on the features we want and need. To the end user the nonsense being spouted here is completely irrelevant.
Nokia dropped 2 good mobile OSes including the market leader for possibly the least complete and immature OS out there. everyone else has gone with a nix core, so nokia run the other way.
Maemo was/is very stable and other than a bit of polish could be very consumer friendly. Nokia should have knocked out a range of handsets with it and pushed it much more. given the number of people using android, I am convinced it would have been a winner with some sexy hardware in the format most users want. An N8 and E7 with maemo on would be awesome.
i don't like this concept of competing ecosystems. It's my data and i will put it where i want.
i have gmail as it is the best fit for me, but i don't really use any other google services.
I would prefer MeeGo on my phone or tablet over Android, iOS, Blackberry and for sure over Windows 7.
Nokia failed not only for fouling up their OS development. They also fell due to kneefall after kneefall to Telcos.
Continual volunteered bum-sniffing to carriers disgusts the type of customers that buy the most expensive (profitable) devices. Why is that a surprise?
I won't buy ANY Nokia device if it means having M$ on it, in a market where they can't force me by monopoly power. Windows is an annoyance I can't avoid, but I'll sure avoid M$ closed source arbitraryness where I can.
Microsoft did brilliantly wrestling Lotus 123, because in order to do it, they looked at what mattered to spreadsheet users and designed stuff that help them work better, faster, easier.
The days of designing to really help the customer are long gone. Today Microsoft designs by "how can we establish more cloud tollbooths" The customer focus is relegated to focus groups, who's work mostly results in making something "easier" for inept people, while also making it more cumbersome for power users. Kinda like Apple: "Rule 1: Protect our idiot customers from themselves by any means"
I'd suggest less customers than corporations think are morons.
All the disks, printouts, tapes, unsold phones, etc and load them into a Viking style vessel with full square sails and rigging. Then as we push it towards the horizon, a few flaming torches tossed into the pitch smeared hull to send it off to Valhalla in classic Nordic style.
The hard part? Convincing Elop to be duct taped to the front of it as the figurehead.
That's what this piece reads like.
For years people have been championing the "openness" of Linux as the key to the mass market and we're still waiting for it to happen. Oh, wait. It has happened - it's called Android.
Intel is desperate to get into the small device market to sell x86 and has poured resources into development and marketing sweet talking partner after partner into making public statements about releasing a mobile phone or something based on the next "platform" only for the devices to be MIA. And Microsoft going very much the same way with hardware manufacturers seeing much more business with Android and, so far at least, no competitor with an unfair advantage, assuming they ignore Google while MS has effectively demoted them all to tier 2 status now that Nokia has got into bed.
So there is the licensing - Android is more or less free. For manufacturers it is obviously "free enough" and Google is hard at work giving them what they want. There is a "FAT" tax but many manufacturers may be willing to pay that as the price of interoperability. Perhaps more importantly the ARM chips on which all the stuff is running are significantly cheaper than anything from Intel and are better in the "power to weight" ratio so important for all the gadgets; and that is the only hardware Intel has ever been interested in. True, this has been less of an issue for set top boxes but they have so far been spectacularly unsuccessful - Google's abortive Intel based Android boxes a case in point.
So Intel commissions UI makeover after UI makeover and still fails to convince, although I think the budget pails in comparison with what Google has reportedly thrown at Android. At the same time Android and Apple continue to attract developers to established and growing markets. As getting existing programs to run on the new form factors - what applications are these precisely? Photoshop, Office, Autodesk? First of all, arguably the most portable full stack framework Qt is currently languishing inside Nokia, future definitely in doubt as it certainly doesn't have one with WP7. Furthermore, in contrast to what is suggested in the article you can program for Android using the standard tools, just not a whole heap of people really interested in porting the Posix world to the phones just yet but that may change.
The title was conveniently auto-completed for me by my browser, as this isn't the first article spewing FUD as well as just bizarre statements about the 'unique' live tiles, which are demonstrably not unique in any way, shape or form.
Who are these hordes who are champing at the bit to get their hands on a WP7 phone?
Why on earth did Nokia kill MeeGo? Because it wasn't ready for primetime. Yeah, right. So why can't the hordes get their hands on the WP7 holy grail live tile-spewing device? Because WP7 isn't ready for pri...
Follow the money.
Because they are morons! Did they even see what the Maemo community were doing on the N900? Had a very mature debian arm repo to boot.
Enter Intel. Right, partner with them and look like a big company, kill off Maemo.
Enter Microsoft, partner with them and look like a bigger company, kill off Meego.
All the loyal customers, just treat them like shit. Symbian might not be as hot as new boys but given what it can do on a 369 MHz cpu, it wasn't bad. It even has a nice bluetooth HID stack that the new kids were missing.
The probably invalid software patents only apply in the US market as I understand it. As the market for phones and tablets is far, far greater outside the US, I cannot see the Chinese allowing their manufacturing companies to pay royalties unnecessarily. China could buy both Apple and Microsoft with their spare change and not even notice, if they wished to! If the US government is prepared to allow it's people to be screwed by the big corporations (as seems likely), then it's only a matter of time before the citizens class action lawsuits start.
Nokia appears to have committed commercial suicide. Losing 33% of your sales and 25% of your stock price in a single quarter, if I've the figures correct, should be terminal for the board. Certainly I'd be dumping their shares if I owned any. The present is littered with past big names who have achieved commercial failure. Microsoft are following a commercial path, which gives cash now, but many of their early patents, however invalid (see the patent attorneys appraisals of U.S. Patent No. 6,891,551) are reaching towards their run out dates. The Barnes and Noble lawsuit looks like being one too many for microsoft. Too many players are freely contributing to the B & N prior art pool.
Android is reaching more and more WORLD markets with phones and tablets following, whilst microsoft in Europe, the US and beyond, is losing out to the Apple computing bandwagon on phones, tablets and laptops. With the customers going for Android (and free Open Office?) in a big way, it is only a matter of time before Windows becomes second/third/fourth choice. As HP are also coming in with their own software product/OS the field looks very overcrowded. Are we seeing another Betamax / vhs situation? with a Unix based customer decided conclusion.
The time looks right for a major shakeout in the electronics product sector, we shall see.
Dont you guys get it ?? Symbian phones would be declining already with or without the announcement, all the while android is getting cheaper and better - S^3 is still trying to catch up from android 2009, just where did you think the market was heading for nokia ? They could see this, they had to be proactive instead of falling on their sword. The only way to do this was to announce the WP7 switch. Which they needed, not just for the phone os but everything else that makes a smart phone these days.
I have to say Im not impressed at all with WP7 - yet, seems abit cartoonish to me and I hate that I can't change those stupid stupid huge icons. I still use my N95 8Gb and am still waiting for an 'upgrade' from this to be produced at some point.
Plus as well, if your going to hive 7000 symbian dev's out of your organisation - there is no pretty way to do this. The end of is that they could see S^3 going barely nowhere even with the amount of tekkies working on it - what else could they do ?
The core of S^3 is excellent - all it actually needs is an overhaul of the UI to be 'as good as' Android.
- Possibly better, as the apps can be much faster than on Android as they don't need the overhead of a JVM.
If we ignore the possibility of malicious intent, it would appear that Elop looked at the pretty pictures and decided to throw it away, on account of having no clue whatsoever about what really matters in an OS.
User Interfaces can be replaced very easily (eg HTC with WM6.x, and most industrial machinery hides the underlying OS completely), core OS features... Not so much.
That said - S^3 is pretty much dead now. The devs were hived off to Accenture, and nothing has ever survived being sent to Accenture...
The real problem at Nokia was all the siloing and rapid changes of direction - the solution to that problem is *not* yet another rapid change of direction.
In less than five years time, Nokia will have been bought out by somebody (probably Microsoft) at a rock bottom price.
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