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Laymans take-Trying to look at Nokia and Microsoft move

with 16 comments


February 11, 2011 will be marked as one of the most remarkable day in history as finally against prediction of we all Nokia fans, bloggers and developers, Nokia actually announced a partnership with Microsoft.

Did it

This was being speculated since the day, ex-Microsoft Elop joined Nokia as CEO, but not many of us believed it considering the fact that Nokia just been in a partnership with Intel to develop MeeGo and was going big guns (at least in words) around Qt.

I was much tied up with my own arrangements and office works after a real long holiday just spent but there were still some readers, who wished to read my views on the whole scenario now, so I was push myself for “summarizing” that what’s Layman’s take on Nokia + Microsoft?

  1. Shocked community and outburst of emotions on “End” of Symbian journey
  2. What Nokia and Microsoft said officially on it?
  3. Should consumers bother if Symbian is no more a priority for Nokia now?
  4. What is this “War of Ecosystems” and why there were not much choices?
  5. What still seems to be risky for Nokia? What could go really wrong from here?
  6. Is this the end of Symbian era ?
  7. What about the promises made by Nokia to deliver the updates on symbian 3 platform?
  8. What about the much awaited symbian 3 overhaul?

Shocked community and outburst of emotions on “End” of Symbian journey

It never seemed possible that one day they will say to developers that this Qt thing was all haox, the tools they developed, the amazing apps which just started popping up around Ovi Store were just stop gap solutions. The 4 millions downloads that were happening daily from Ovi Store, were nothing in comparison. The 5 million Symbian^3 devices sold in last 3 months were on a platform that will phase out in two years.

But it happened … we seen Nokia shares dipping down to 10% within two hours of the same announcement, we seen negative responses from all over the world from twitterverse, we seen negative but cautious responses of big developers like @janole / @roviomobile and Nokia Officials like @Chansearrington & @whatleydude trying to handle whole of situation with heavy heart.

RovioThe developers of world leading addictive game Angry Birds on making Angry Bird for Windows Phone 7.

janole
The developer behind the leading Symbian app Gravity that been only incentive being with Symbian from year

Chanse
Head of developer marketing, Nokia on the partnership

Whatley
James from @1000heads, the company handling PR for Nokia


What Nokia and Microsoft said officially on it?

Watch the video of Nokia and Microsoft Press Conference here.

 

Also read the official statement from Intel that followed later on, they are sure not very happy on this all ..

While we are disappointed with Nokia’s decision, Intel is not blinking on MeeGo. We remain committed and welcome Nokia’s continued contribution to MeeGo open source.

Our strategy has always been to provide choice when it comes to operating systems, a strategy that includes Windows, Android, and MeeGo. This is not changing.

MeeGo is not just a phone OS, it supports multiple devices. And we’re seeing momentum across multiple segments – automotive systems, netbooks, tablets, set-top boxes and our Intel silicon will be in a phone that ships this year.


Should consumers bother if Symbian is no more a priority for Nokia now?

nokia-connecting-people-logo

End of Symbian or not? Why does it matters to you? I intentionally sent some continuous backlashes for Nokia from my twitter account @nkumar_ in last one week to access the sentiments (annoyed many of my friends too). Everyone including officials and normal users were looked disappointed and so was I, but there are some practical points to notice.

Haven’t we made shift from S60 to Symbian easily? Weren’t you waiting for the UI overhaul? Weren’t you came across Maemo, which was a lot different from Symbian with even some of the features missing from its Symbian companion? Weren’t MeeGo was a brand new OS and even could have been exactly like Windows Phone UI (in case the it was not already there, who knows)? Open or closed, why this matters for you?

Many reasonable points to show that Its nothing like that the world ended if Nokia decides to pull of strings from an operating system which even on giving numerous chances again and again did nothing more than pulling Nokia back in eyes of tech reviewers and specially in eyes of operators.

A brand new operating system! This is what they called to Symbian^3, but with the same UI approach which sucked for many and moreover with missing essential elements like split portrait/ landscape input and a decent browser experience .. there were still big reasons to hate it and troubles got worsened by immature Qt approach which lead us to legendary Nokia N8 Hard Reset Issue.

A brand new operating system! This is what they called to MeeGo and we loved it by just glimpses of Maemo, thinking that it will be the key to solve all the misery of Nokia. Note that we were ready to get lined up for an operating system, we didn’t actually seen performing at par with even Symbian yet other than in talks. True there was a big momentum going on behind MeeGo and it still will be, but as we seen in recent MWC MeeGo previews, we found ourselves asking ourselves that was this MeeGo?

The thing is, its nothing that we can’t handle a new OS again, we just handle Symbian^3 and were even ready to make a switch very soon, when MeeGo devices were expected to be shipped, so why a cry, if there is just another name Windows Phone 7?

open closed 

Don’t go by the word of gimmicks like Open or Closed. What an open source OS does for you, if open source developers like VLC find themselves happy in making apps for iOS but Symbian like open source never stands as a top priority to them? or when open source supporters and even competitors like Google put their iOS special version of web apps, but ignore Symbian? We can find out many services which have their apps on a closed source platform without even being requested but Nokia and its open source talk wasn’t able to woo them.

I know that still there are many things that will change when one goes from open source to closed source and there are some disadvantages as well, but seriously do you think that as a consumer, you find yourself at a loss, when Nokia still continuing with their S40 devices like C3-01 at a price Rs. 7200/- and S60 V3 devices like C5 around the same price? Think logically, its only a small high end segment where you will find Symbian disappearing and it was requested by you only.


What is this “War of Ecosystems” and why there were not much choices?

Fighting with giants doesn’t go by the way that you just place better things than them as their large experience and expertise will always keep them competitive and they will keep bouncing back to trash you. You seen AMD fighting with Intel, you seen Apple fighting Microsoft in that way. Fighting with your competitor on their grounds never works big way.

war

The other way is to bring the competitor to fight on your ground by creating a new ground from scratch. It takes innovation, it takes a completely different game like Apple played once. This is not their phones which were awesome from the day one, but its  their ecosystem. Transferring of goodies between non-Apples was tough but between Apples like iPad, iPod, Mac, iPhone always been easy and unified. Moreover, this was touch game.

Apple succeeded because they never fought Nokia at point where Nokia was strong. They created new points where Nokia was going to be a starter just like them. Apple never bothered about non-touch phones, they never bothered about multiple level of consumers at first. They started with only and only touch experience in mind and just one product line to work with and that’s what made them focused to the touch experience alone, which finally won the ground.

After four years, Apple was successful to make an ecosystem with fine looking and performing hardware with fully touch focused software on top of it. Easy development investments and heavy revenues in return as Apple was with enough powerful hardware to run even heavy things than Nokia who kept their hardware barely powerful to keep the balance of price. Steve always said that its only Nokia that can make $50 smart phones.

apple_iphone_zoom3

Apple created an experience, attracted a load of apps and soon things were circling around them to make an ecosystem, which was closed and was making revenue by engaging people with their devices and developers by growing revenue day by day as people were buying apps.

Then second was Google, whose services were already known as best, most of us were using Gmail, Gtalk, Google Search already and in somewhat had a belief in company.

In case of Google, the most special thing was revenue part. Google gets most of its revenue by their targeted search and advertising by learning from users internet behavior and when they were moving toward mobiles from PCs then Google was needed to keep them engaged. From its own resources, Google was able to lower the cost of making, maintaining and developing an operating system like Android and hardware vendors and users were assured that its Google…its not going back. On the top of that, Google was able to learn from the mistakes that Symbian made by focusing on lower cost of hardware and hence a sub par experience some of the time. Like Apple, they again focused on high end and touch genre only.

For many geeks and people, it was easy to use a Google OS based phone as most of their daily life usages services were already here out of the box. They had Gmail accounts, they had dependent on Google searches, they loved Google Maps, they preferred Gtalk for IM, they grow watching youtubes.. everything was here with their first login to the device. And from here ecosystem played the role, people who didn’t knew Picasa much, were able to see it in impressive action. Except the email experience where Android clearly favors Gmail even now, Google took a cautious approach and never let anyone feel that its forcing them to use their services only. It never forced Orkut over Facebook, it never forced Buzz over Twitter. They only relied on their best services that were already on top.

google-apps-marketplace

Like Desktops, Google was again not in direct revenue game. Their ads were flowing inside apps and system, they were learning at same or increased pace about users behaviors that was contributing to their core services. They are easily achieving their first motive to not be outside of the game, when world is switching to mobile devices than desktop. They made, they retained their ecosystem.

Rest of some major player of the world been likes of HP, IBM, Yahoo, Microsoft, Intel and our Nokia. These were the ones, who would have been able to create an ecosystem, but despite of their individual successes in their fields, creating an ecosystem didn’t happened to be their game.

Its not that Nokia didn’t realized this in time. Remember they spent big money on acquisition of Ovi Maps, they tried to place their own mail/ IM solution in place, they placed Nokia messaging with push messaging, came up with idea of Ovi Music and their Ovi Store efforts were not any lesser. They did tried but its just that they were far away from Apple’s successful pure touch experience on their high end devices and could not even dared to challenge Google’s services. They tried other ways too and recently went partnering with Yahoo and Intel, but probably it was too late now. Neither of both the partners were able to create an ecosystem even if some of the hopes were shown when AMD and Intel joined hands on MeeGo efforts. But still it was not forming an ecosystem or additional source of revenue which was of most importance as even lower end device segment of Nokia was badly hurt by local vendors like Spice etc.

Nokia could have tried to be brave, they even were showing off the same with Symbian^3 and MeeGo plans, but management was getting numbers that were clearly downhill and it was clear that they wont be leading the future.

Ovi Maps, Ovi Music, Nokia Messaging like services that took big effort and money from Nokia wasn’t giving much in return than just keep some of the consumers. Ovi Maps was best in class but never became a solution like Google Maps, which was making money for Google outside the mobile world too. Ovi Music was a huge, but the stronghold market of Nokia was emerging economies and buying music wasn’t a fashion there. Biggest question was “From where to make money?” Making excellent hardware doesn’t cut it alone and it was clear when even on providing Nokia N8 like hardware in half of the price of rivals, it was not able to pick the sales beyond imaginations.

nokia-micro-chart-520

Nokia + Microsoft ecosystem possibility isn’t bad at all, if we look closely. We were asking Nokia to reply their competitor by making a killer device to shut the mouths, but from where to recover the price? Were you ready to pay alone for the hardware? Were developers giving their days and nights to make apps? NO!!! When even their once stronghold emerging markets were torn apart by cheaper devices from local vendors and at high end, still careers were continuously refusing them, then they were not here to do some charity, they had to make a move and they did so. When their devs continuously failed with three different operating systems, then do you think that they were having enough luxury to sit on their asses when their revenue from cheap devices were also on sinking mode?


What still seems to be risky for Nokia? What could go really wrong from here?

True that a partnership with an equally desperate but way powerful partner could bring back Nokia in profit game but their were many other implications of the same decision and I posted some of the hints in first section only.

Elop Chappell

Don’t know whenever I think about it, Elop and his way of executing things reminded me much of Greg Chappel and his saga with Indian Cricket before & in last world cup. Theoretically, there are issues in the deal but also many big hopes too.

The first risk is the outburst from their own employees and internal staff We seen some glimpses of the same in PlanB, I shown you some of the initial unedited reactions and we seen the news when more than thousand employees walked out of Nokia HQ. Its impossible to deal with a change that asks you to accept that you are loosing after being emperors for years and for Finland, Nokia is a reason for their national pride. Biggest question is to win the heart and passion of those gems inside Nokia, Elop talked about.

The second risk is the delay associated with a totally different operating system When you say that in place of making things, now you will ask for APIs and will try to understand them to make something out of it to accomplish the feature level of Symbian, then you know that there is a huge task in the way.

Microsoft can really ease the way developers make apps for them and it could really give the required pace to Nokia, but its in initial phases like iOS once been and took a total 4 years to reach where it is now. Though on the advantage side, now they know what are the features that they are targeting for  and with expertise of Nokia, its sure that they can reach there, where it will be a real sweetheart ecosystem to bet upon .

But the question is if they can keep the momentum going for them. Market didn’t waited for Yahoo or Microsoft to come back in search game, Google maps never let their rivals stand a chance, once lost other IMs never got a grip of market again Gtalk. Will it wait for Nokia + Microsoft to come back again, when they seems not much to show for at least this year?

What could really go wrong from here, if under any circumstances, Nokia pulls back the step and seemed like pulling back. If it happens then you should forget that Nokia will ever get back the trust that they kept on loosing in last three years and then lost in sudden on February 11, 2011.


Is this the end of Symbian era?

Not yet, but the hopes diminishes just like hopes for MeeGo. Symbian already lost many of its founders like SE and Nokia was their last life line. They tried enough but sadly they didn’t made enough of this chance in their Symbian^3 try. What everyone of us expecting from a PR2.0 here, must have been here in the first place with release if they wanted to push this end a little more away. Once they failed, it was imminent.

Note that there are still at least one year in hand to receive a WP7 handset with Nokia like features, hundreds of millions Symbian devices already out there (with Symbian^3 devices doing really good already), one more hundred yet to be sold and investment of thousands of developers not ready to go anywhere else till consumers are buying it. Symbian is not dying anytime soon even if sales will halt for a while after this announcement.

Old Nokia consumers will find their faiths shaken, when even old Nokia supporters will turn their ways, moderately high priced devices like Nokia C7, Nokia E7 will get a setback in sales, when people will be told that these devices gonna be out of support. But do you think that people will still resist buying devices like Nokia N8 or even C7/E7 once they will realize that what’s this end of support? How many of Androids got Froyo or how many of the current devices will get Honeycomb? No device get supported for more than one two years except Nokia and I am sure that consumers would get the point if presented rightly.


What about the promises made by Nokia to deliver the updates on symbian 3 platform? This is what I am talking about presenting rightly. Yes! updates are still on the way, still there are more than one and half a thousand employees working for Symbian itself in Nokia HQ and they are not going to be fired in coming months.

Nokia and all related channels still confirming that PR2.0 is around the corner and Nokia has not deviated from plans to revamp the Symbian^3 UI with PR3.0.

Its not reasonable that the working teams will dump all the efforts which are already almost complete and in bug fixing cycles. Do you think that they will keep that Qt based browser and split input interface under the wrap without any usages left for the market? Even #NokiaMsft made sense but not this. So, be assured, current segment of Symbian^3 device owners has no reasons to be worried. As was mentioned somewhere, Nokia E7 is seriously going to become the most important Symbian^3 handset of the year. Symbian’s future depends on it and I still wonder if the same device is capable enough to bear the weight on its shoulders.


What about the much awaited symbian 3 overhaul?

As I said, the full revamp or much awaited Symbian overhaul is pretty much on the way but don’t expect the same to appear before the first MeeGo device. The earlier plan was to launch the same UI at the same time on both the platforms, Symbian^3 and MeeGo together and it doesn’t seem to be deviated from the same as of now.;

Hint: The UI, you see in Intel MeeGo device previews in MWC is NOT the UI developed by Nokia itself.


So, this was pretty much what I thought about this Nokia + Microsoft thing. Hope I given many of the answers you were looking for in some “simpler” words, but I know there is a lot and lot left to be explained and we all wish that Nokia itself do a better job explaining all this by delivering things than just talking about future.

Hit me with your comments, I am all waiting for them and really wanna thank you all, who stayed with the blog and twitter account of mine even when I was much occupied to write a post about these critical advancements.

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Written by Nitish Kumar

February 12, 2011 at 8:03 am

16 Responses

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  1. Looks like there will be only 2 people in this World, Google & Microsoft. No Nokia, No Symbian, No Open Source…nothing.

    Actually this was on the cards due to recent Nokia fallbacks. It would have been a little better if they would have join hands with Google.

    At this point its just a partnership. After a year or so, it may be a complete takeover of Nokia by MS.

    Param

    February 12, 2011 at 11:54 am

    • Param,
      I haven’t expressed much of views in post yet as it was just reconciliation of initial views on web. Will come back with rest of the post to update about war of eccosystems, why Google wasn’t an option and how things possibly went and what may come or may not come.

      Be tuned in. As of now, I am in office so can’t complete the post.

      Nitish Kumar

      February 12, 2011 at 12:13 pm

  2. hope they will build better windows phones capable of running good games and browser with html 5 ! and missing features like file transfers via bluetooth ,copy paste etc will come to nokia windows phones as in once they start to introduce into market…

    as a consumer it doesnt matters much to me as long as we get good products whether its symbain,wp,web os,android!!!

    pradeep

    February 12, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    • Pradeep,
      Very true. It wont matter for users if they deliver it right way and sure they have everything to do the same. Problem is just nick of time and faith. The reactions from inside and third party developers show that they didn’t took anyone in confidence neither inside nor outside. Just a deal between new CEO and Nokia Board. That’s what worrying part.

      Developers which were their biggest concern got the biggest blow in all this. Nokia at edge of loosing best of them (not all can go as they have to make a living out of it). Have to see that what Microsoft developers could bring on.

      Nitish Kumar

      February 12, 2011 at 12:55 pm

  3. Hello,

    Your articles are very interesting and i just love it.

    I have some question
    1) Is this the end of Symbian era ?
    2) What about the promises made by Nokia to deliver
    the updates on symbian 3 platform?
    3) what about the much awaited symbian 3 overhaul?

    There are many questions to ask but i guess above three question will answers the most.
    I would appreciate if you could throw light on the symbian development.

    HardikLive

    February 12, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    • Great questions. Reflect the views of many. Will sure try to answer with facts

      Nitish Kumar

      February 12, 2011 at 4:49 pm

  4. Rest in Peace Symbian soon?

    Devashish

    February 16, 2011 at 11:17 am

  5. Excellent blog…I want to see a Twitter and Cloud based phone from Nokia where the User can define how he wants content served to his phone without the need for apps. A user defined event stream from social media in an Appfree environment

    Christian Eidenert

    February 16, 2011 at 3:11 pm

  6. Dear Nitish,
    Thaks for the insight about the Nokia Microsoft deal, as you promised.

    Nice read and clears many things for reader like me. keep it up.

    Still confused though about one thing. How did Nokia ended up from being a world leader to this situation where they have to eat this bitter pill.

    pankaj

    February 19, 2011 at 7:46 am

    • Pankaj,
      The simple reason, as much big and successful one becomes, it makes it harder for them to change. Innovating is easy when you are starting something new and you have to focus on simple things, but not with kind of variety that Nokia offered. This was never possible for them to make sudden changes across hundreds of different Nokia models available, while for competitors, its been similar form factor hardware most of the time.

      The another reason was that people get bored with same things in each hand. They want unique things, a change.. if properly provided. Anti-incombancy factor!!!

      Nitish Kumar

      February 19, 2011 at 1:11 pm

  7. I must disagree about this view. Nokia was on the right path with the XpressMusic Range, the 5800, the N97 mini but then they just stopped…like a deer in the headlight they froze. Ollila and the Board must explain this to the the shareholders because it makes no sense at all. I have been using iOS on iPod 4 for six months and I really can’t see why Symbian couldn’t provide a better and more integrated user experience. One of the most appreciated functions in my Nokia 5630 XM is push mail which is really great…every email I receive is like receiving an sms. For me the apps are not crucial what I like is the ability to have a user defined event stream in my phone and the ability to respond fast. And I like a phone to be small and light with the ability to type with the number keys and T9 predictive text which is more productive than touch screen. There should be a function to quickly change language text input though for international users with several languages and this was certainly limiting. My next phone will be the Nokia N97 mini which despite being 16 months old is my top phone choice despite being a little bit heavy. I still love Nokia but of course feel disappointed that they stopped innovating for the past 18 months which is a considerable time. Something must have happened which we still don’t know about.

    Christian Eidenert

    February 19, 2011 at 2:04 pm

  8. Hi,

    I was planning to buy a new phone. Had zoomed in on E5 (cost, camera, and GPSwith ovi maps without internet)although was also considering galaxy 551. The main attraction for nokia being the offline maps.

    I just read this and am now confused whether to buy a nokia with symbian 3/ wait for prices to drop or go for an android phone.

    Please help

    Seema

    February 20, 2011 at 2:11 am

    • Well! the deal not affecting E5 likes for sure. All services and features will continue. Mid End has no major impact than the buzz around.

      For cheaper phone range, there is nothing like Nokia on connectivity and other features in best price.

      Nitish Kumar

      February 20, 2011 at 12:08 pm

      • Thanks!

        Do you expect a price drop for a phone like E5 in the near future?

        Seema

        February 22, 2011 at 10:47 pm

    • I love Nokia but sad to say I have finally decided to buy the LG Optimus Me P350 which I managed to get for USD 220 here in Sweden. I understand that the camera is decent and it runs on Froyo 2.2 thus I am able to use it as a mobile hotspot like Joikuspot on Symbian and it also has a lot of cloud based services including Google Goggles which is exciting. Only drawback is the low resolution but again I don’t like a big chunky mobile device. If ur budget minded u may want to consider the Huawei Ideos U8150 which sells for USD 150 here. LG is leading the way now together with Samsung…the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Gio looks awesome but the price will probably be around USD 250

      Christian Eidenert

      February 23, 2011 at 12:17 am


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