johndrinkwater

Nokia, Microsoft facepalm

written by John Drinkwater, on

They were great

Nokia has always made their own hardware and software, so they have been able to control the stack, keep software licensing to a bare minimum (things like real player, PDF support). Because they have been the most active company in developing the technology for these devices, they have patented (disturbing, but thats what they do) and licensed the tech to other handset makers.

This put them in a great position for over a decade. From cheap disposable (more disturbing) dump phones for the Asian, South American, and African markets, mid‐range phones for the common people of Europe, and top notch smart phones for Europe too.

Then they weren’t

Then companies like RIM with Blackberry, Apple with iPhone, and Google/OHA with Android have stolen the mind‐share that Nokia had. If you followed American tech blogs, you’d be surprised that Nokia even existed. Of course, because Americans use English, and the Internet is surprisingly English‐dominant, this brainwashing has filled Internet‐savvy Europeans too. Most of my friends don’t consider Nokia devices worth buying anymore.

Nokia has floundered because there has been no clear strategy to regain their promenence. Being clear that Symbian was the future, they started R&D work on a platform called Maemo using GTK as a framework. The next year, Maemo was shipping on their phone/tablet/padd thing. But they bought Trolltech which develops another framework called Qt. Nokia came out by saying Symbian is still the future, Maemo is now Meego. Oh, and we changed the framework to Qt. So any gtk developers they gained on Maemo they alienated. It has been a good year since Meego was announced, and we have yet to see a device shipping with it.

Today

The announcement today, which I believed wouldn’t happen because its bonkers, is as you may have guessed by now: Nokia is putting WP7 onto their smartphones. Think about that. Microsoft partnering, with Nokia. Nokia confirmed Meego is still coming, and that Symbian stays on. What is Nokia thinking?! It is almost as if Steven Elop was sent by Microsoft to inflitrate Nokia and corrupt it to become yet another MS partner. That’s what one audience member at MWC (two days later) yelled, ‘are you a trojan horse?’.

General thoughts from Investors, Shareholders, and Employees have been OMGWTFBBQ with their share price dropping 14% in a day. Impressive work. No wonder it has been labelled the Elopcalypse.

Afterwards

So after filling you in as to how Nokia got where they are, I’ll fill you in as to why I think this move wont be the be all that Nokia hopes. WP7 has been out since before Christmas, September I believe. It has had negliable market share gains. If you are to believe some numbers, it sold below WebOS when it launched. Which is pretty terrible. This was with a decent selection of handsets from well known phone manufacturers. With both partners jointly making hints that WP7 will be a more unique experience inside this partnership, what must LG, Samsung, HTC think about the future? Android phones created by them are selling well, WP7 handsets are not.

It was pointed out, possible by Elop himself, that the phone industry shouldn’t become a duopoly, that this move was about choice. What is likely to happen is that HP has WebOS exclusively. Nokia has WP8 and beyond exclusively. Apple has iOS. Everyone else has Android. So it’s all a monopoly of platforms. Bridging these systems is only one common thing, and thats the Web with HTML. Future is looking bleak on WP7 with IE.

Epilogue

Haven’t come across many people that think Nokia’s move is good. @tnkgrl thinks it’s great, knew her stance months ago, been filling the Engadget Mobile podcast with lust for a Nokia device to have Android or WP7. Maybe this piece at the Beeb is neutral verging on all praise, but that is Rory all over.

Plenty of tabloid furlongs about the demise of Nokia, and so far I can’t fault any of them. From an outside appearance it is as if Microsoft has bought Nokia for the princely sum of nothing.

Additionally, it has been rather nice to read comments from French, German, Finnish people, it appears everyone but WP7‐pundits believe it to be a bad thing.

Guess time will tell.