Windows Phone might be the most impressive bit of software Microsoft has produced – but it isn’t setting the world on fire. The iPhone and Android go from strength to strength – the latter proliferating so widely even Google doesn’t know how many Android systems are out there. (It can’t count the Chinese forks which don’t use any Google services and don’t phone home.)
This discrepancy puzzles people. Reviewers like WinPho a lot – it’s clean, fast, functional and forward-looking. The social media integration is very clever. Operators have a soft spot for Nokia and WP7 too, because – if for no other reason – they dislike and distrust Google and Apple even more. So what’s the problem?
Three weeks ago I raised the prospect that there may never be a third smartphone ecosystem – something upon which Nokia has bet the company. Many markets only have room for two leading players – and in the technology platform world, many have only one. On the margins the niche players are little islands. No matter how impressive WP is, if the needle doesn’t move, then it too becomes a marginal player. Ecosystems can perish more rapidly than they arise. If Windows Phone is to avoid the same fate as WebOS then the dynamic has to change.
But what might this be?
Continue reading “Five ways to rescue Windows Phone”
There’s a whiff of something – it isn’t desperation, more like earnest exasperation – around Microsoft’s phone business these days
Humiliatingly, Nokia was forced to deny rumours last week that it was planning to break up and sell its crown jewels to Microsoft. Normally a company can remain impervious to Twitter-born gossip, particularly from a known antagonist.
Acknowledging the rumour simply gives it a chauffeured ride around the internet. But not this time: the ‘Microsoft buys Nokia’ story fulfils so many conspiracy theories, thousands of people wanted it to be true.
And the notion of Microsoft buying a hardware company and ripping up its licensing business has become much less outlandish after Google’s acquisition of Motorola’s phone business. Ah, but that was desperation, I hear you say; the Chocolate Factory had miscalculated its IP strategy catastrophically, and it had to grab what patents it could at almost any price.
But there’s a whiff of something – it isn’t desperation, more like earnest exasperation – around Microsoft’s phone business these days. Redmond has got an excellent product, for the first time, and people who have a Windows Phone love using it. But there just aren’t many of those folk around. The phones aren’t shifting. Christmas has come and gone, and while we wait for some reliable channel figures, Nokia’s flagship seems to have made almost no impact on the UK market. It’s the phone that leaves no footprints.
Continue reading “Perhaps there’s no ‘Third Ecosystem’?”
Pundits this week are describing Nokia’s fall from grace as one of the greatest corporate car-crashes of all time. But here’s an unfashionable view. Nokia’s problem is not Stephen Elop, or his strategy. Its problem is it didn’t have Stephen Elop, or his strategy, in place two years ago.
Continue reading “Don’t blame Elop or Microsoft for Nokia’s catastrophic fall from grace”
Nokia is taking over the governance of Symbian, leaving the non-profit Foundation as a vestigial organisation in name only.
Continue reading “Nokia grabs control of Symbian, downsizes Foundation”
Nokia has bowed to international pressure and agreed to end the cruel and unusual practice of programming natively for the Symbian OS. It still wants developers to target Symbian, but using the more humane Qt APIs instead.
Nokia has also torn up the OS roadmap, and will speed up the delivery of new functionality to users in chunks, as and when it’s ready, instead of in milestone releases. In less prominent statements, Nokia has clarified what had become a very confusing development picture.
Continue reading “Nokia ends cruel and unusual ‘Symbian programming’ practices”
You may have had your fill of Nokia analysis and features, but I’d like to draw your attention to one more – one that’s very special. The Finnish daily Helsingin Sanomat has published a report based on 15 interviews with senior staff. It reads like the transcript to an Oscar-winning documentary where the narrative thread is held together entirely by the talking heads.
The report is very long on detail and short on opinionising – and for those of you fascinated by technology and bureaucracy, something quite interesting emerges. What we learn is that the company’s current predicament was fated in 2003, when a re-organisation split Nokia’s all-conquering mobile phones division into three units. The architect was Jorma Ollila, Nokia’s most successful ever CEO, and a popular figure – who steered the company from crisis in 1992 to market leadership in mobile phones – and who as chairman oversaw the ousting of Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo this year.
In Ollila’s reshuffle, Nokia made a transition from an agile, highly reactive product-focused company to one that managed a matrix, or portfolio. The phone division was split into three: Multimedia, Enterprise and Phones, and the divisions were encouraged to compete for staff and resources. The first Nokia made very few products to a very high standard. But after the reshuffle, which took effect on 1 January 2004, the in-fighting became entrenched, and the company being increasingly bureaucratic. The results were pure Dilbert material.
Continue reading “When Dilbert came to Nokia”
Rather like the old Soviet Politburo, the goal is internal conformity, rather than exciting and surprising the punter.
Read more at The Register
A couple of months ago, a book appeared in Finland which has become a minor sensation. In the book, a former senior Nokia executive gives his diagnosis of the company, and prescribes some radical and surprising solutions. Up until now, the book has not been covered at all in the English language. This is the first review of the proposals outlined in Uusi Nokia (New Nokia – the manuscript) and draws on three hours of interviews with its author, Juhani Risku.
It’s very, very timely – and even if you don’t follow Nokia, mobile or telecomms it’s a fascinating exercise in business analysis and organisational studies. Enjoy.
Read more at The Register…
The audience are the actors in writer Tim Kring’s latest adventure. In his famous creation, the TV show Heroes, people discover they have superhero powers, and go off and battle Evil. In his latest, people go and battle Evil, and discover they have been given Nokia smartphones.
The ambitious, Nokia-sponsored interactive extravaganza began this weekend, and it’s an interesting experiment. In Kring’s own words, this series of events, called Conspiracy For Good, is “not quite a drama, not quite a flashmob, not quite an ARG [alternate reality game]”.
What is it, then, and how did it come about?
Continue reading “Tim Kring”
Every day brings fresh gloom for Nokia – and the criticisms are now so familiar I won’t elaborate on them. But I was struck by a recent observation likening Nokia’s plight now to Apple’s in the mid-1990s.
It seems absurd, at first – Nokia is still turning a profit in the billions, while Apple’s annual loss was in the billions of dollars. But one thing should focus minds of executives and shareholders for one reason that’s never mentioned – the Sudden Extinction Event.
A recent theory suggests that life on Earth is extinguished and starts over every 27 million years. Coincidentally, 27 million years is how long it takes the Dave TV channel to show every repeat of Top Gear without showing the same repeat twice [*].
Businesses suffer Sudden Extinction events too, and we saw one in the past 12 months right in Nokia’s backyard: the rebirth and crash of Palm. Some businesses are much more vulnerable to Sudden Extinctions than others, and I’ll explain why by using Apple’s pre-Jobs quandary to illustrate it.
Continue reading “Nokia, Apple and Sudden Extinction Events”