Why Nokia is still doomed, no matter how many words Tomi Ahonen writes

Tomi Ahonen just wrote thousands of words about why Nokia has the best smartphone strategy in the market. It’s a very compelling read and I found myself almost ready to give up my iPhone and new Android-based Google Nexus S Samsung smartphone and move to northern Europe.

Not.

Definitely the prevailing view in high-tech communities I talk with around the world is that Nokia is doomed. Maybe not as doomed as RIM, after all, Nokia is a huge business that still sells the majority of phones around the world. But last week at LeWeb I met with people around the world. I saw dozens of new mobile apps. Not a single one was pitched to me on a Nokia device.

This alone tells me that Nokia is doomed and has no strategy. Don’t believe me? Just watch Marko Ahtisaari, SVP of Design at Nokia, as he presents last week at LeWeb:

What is Nokia’s strategy?

1. Attack Apple. Er, attack America. Make it a “Europe vs. America” thing.
2. Talk about all the cool things they are gonna do for us.
3. Don’t show off anything new.
4. Arrogantly insist they are OK and will dominate in smartphones.
5. Insist that Meego will save the world.
6. Say that there’s a “Cupertino distortion field” happening. Funny line. But isn’t good strategy.

My view? Nokia is a chicken that has had its head cut off. It’s not the only one. Read this excellent analysis of RIM’s business and why their execs are unable to really come to terms with how bad a spot they are in. This could apply very well to Nokia.

Why is Nokia in a poor spot? Because I’ve had several mobile executives visit my home carrying Nokia phones. Funny enough they always are also carrying iPhones and Android devices. I poke at the folks carrying all these devices. “Do you like the Nokia N8?” The answer is always “no.”

The thing that Tomi and Marko don’t admit is that Nokia’s strategy is in a deep hole with influencers and developers.

Now, do these folks matter? Not in the short term.

But in the long term? Oh, yeah. Microsoft is already learning how important they are. Why? Sales of Windows Phone 7 haven’t been very good at all. And Microsoft is already way ahead of Nokia. How? They have an awesome user experience with a new, rewritten for the modern age, OS. Plus, Microsoft is WAY ahead of Nokia in developer tools. Building apps for Windows Phone 7 is easier than for other platforms, my friends, who include Zagat’s top developer, tell me. Nokia is, they tell me, a real mess to develop for in comparison (and RIM is even worse).

Here’s the deal. People around the world are going into Apple stores (and the ones in Paris were as packed last week as the ones in Cupertino) and are playing with phones. Even if you hate Apple you take note that there’s hundreds of thousands of apps and most of the coolest ones are coming out for iPhone and NOT other platforms (there’s another one coming in an hour, come back here then for a first look).

When those customers go and look at other phones, that have far fewer apps, plus are much harder to use, they balk.

The chicken has no head. I don’t see any Nokia strategy to get app developers to build for it that will work. That’s what’s missing from Tomi’s analysis and why it still doesn’t ring true, no matter how many words he writes.

UPDATE: Tomi just wrote some more words in response to me. Good debate!

Comments

  1. This is by far the best to-the-point statement on Nokia. I’m from Europe and I used to love Nokia phones – 10 years ago. Robert, you are so right. And watching the Noika guy during LeWeb was a pain. Arrogant. Ignorant. Doomed.

    1. Hi Robert and all at the Scobleizer blog.

      First, thanks for the kind mention, Robert, you know I am a big fan of yours and read your blog regularly. We have an honest disagreement here on some points, and agree on others. Most relevantly, I will grant you that most developers you’d see anywhere, even in Finland haha, will show you iPhone (or Android) apps, not Symbian apps, for many good reasons, not the least of which is that its far easier/faster/cheaper to develop for iPhone (or Android) than Symbian, so any clever programmer today, with a ‘great’ idea, is smart to do it quickly on the iPhone rather than attempt a sthe first version one on Symbian.

      That being said, my argument was that Nokia’s strategy is right, that it is better than any of its true rivals (Apple is no more a direct competitor of Nokia, as Porsche is a direct competitor of Ford, even when Ford makes occasionally supercars like its GT). Nokia’s real global rivals are Samsung, LG, SonyEricsson and Motorola (and ZTE) and against those, clearly Nokia has the best strategy and the best execution into smartphones. I don’t think you took this main point to task in your blog. If your point is that Nokia is ‘doomed’ then arent 4 on that list of 5 rivals far more doomed even than Nokia, as four of the other five even own their own OS and have no control of their destiny. At least Apple, RIM and HP/Palm (and Samsung) make their own OS like Nokia, and have a chance to win whether the phone world goes for the phone-makers or the software-makers?

      Anyway, wanted to stop by and say hello. On my blog we have over 50 more replies and I’ve had hundreds of Twitter comments today, so I have been crazily trying to respond to most of them. I think the ‘verdict’ is pretty evenly split – the majority of North American views support your view, Robert, and the majority (but not all) of the views outside of North America seem to be supporting my view. In a few years we’ll see, both of us will be around to see if Nokia was indeed doomed, or whether their Symbian+Ovi+Meego+Qt strategy ends up working out..

      Thank you all and please continue the discussion here and also visit my blog if you’d like to join the discussion there

      Tomi Ahonen :-)
      bestselling author of 10 books on mobile

      1. Hi Tomi,
        your Porsche vs Ford agrument might be not valid.
        Don’t you remember what happened to MP3 player market once Apple decided it’s worth descending?
        Just wait for iPhone mini, iPhone nano and iPhone trash-it versions. 100 / 50 / 1 EUR each accordingly.
        Apple will try and squeeze more of the mobile market, once it’s done with those MSFT/GOOG guys.

      2. Your Porsche vs Toyota argument is totally invalid.

        First. Toyota owns and sells Lexus in the luxury market.

        Second, Porsche is part of VW autogroup that includes VW, Audi, Seat, Bentley, Porsche, Lamborghini and Bugatti. They are in every market from $10K to $1.6M.

        What is the best strategy from what you called the dumbphone makers? Samsungs.

        They have the most desirable Android phones in the market. They have Android tablets. *** TODAY *** not next year – linux based, open source, modern – just like Meego **** MAY ***** become. They also have their own modern OS BADA. And they are open to Windows phone 7. And they are doing Google/APps TV to boot.

        On top of that, their R&D costs are a fraction of Nokia’s. They compete head to head with the iPhone in the US and Japan. The top two smartphone markets (by value) in the world.

        Nokia is completely excluded from the top two markets in the world by value – US and Japan.

        How can that be a winning strategy?

        Would Porsche be the icon it is if it did not sell at all in the US and Germany (the top two auto markets by value)?

        You wrote a lot of words and picked a lot of favorable points. But you missed the most important.

        You can not have the best strategy if you are excluded from the top markets, if customers don’t name your products as the most desirable and if you are not capturing a share of profits that is proportional to your investment.

        There is something caller ROI, you know. How long can Nokia continue to invest much more than Apple (or Samsung) to capture less and less profit?

      3. IMO, you won’t have to wait a few years; where Nokia is heading will be evident by this time next year, after their announced Symbian updates and their roll out of Meego have come and gone.

        2011 is going to be a make or break year for them.

  2. Normally, as a European i’m somewhat critical of Robert’s US centric viewpoint, but i’d agree with 90% of the tome above, the trouble with Nokia, is it fails to see the gravity of it’s dire situation.

    1. Funny, but every year I go to Europe. Most of my attitude isn’t American at all. It comes from watching Europeans. Glad to see you’re finally seeing it too. I wrote pretty much this same post in 2007, 2008, and 2009. Interesting to see that I’m not getting ANY pushback. Compared to previous years THAT is a huge change. Translation: it isn’t just the bloggers and analysts who are seeing the problem here.

      1. True Robert, but moreover the Finns in particular, who are very proud and bullish as regards Nokia Corp, Most of Europe has adopted Android and iOS with glee, globally, Nokia is being pushed out towards India and the Middle east, where it still holds sway.

        1. Just to add some Asian & Indian flavor to an Europe versus America discussion. While Nokia still has a lot of fans here, the situation is changing slowly but surely. Apple doesn’t has a lot of fans here for various reasons, one of them being Apple doesn’t sell the latest version of iPhone here. There are still no signs of iPhone 4 in the Indian market, so how do you expect people to buy them except for the small number of Apple fans who buy them from the grey market. But I can already see Android catching up here & surprisingly Blackberry is doing very well. It isn’t a Nokia only market any longer.

        2. Maybe you should look at sales figures before you make fake claims. Most of Europe has not adopted Android or iOS

          1. It is simple, if Apple is sitting at 2 or 3% market share, and android the same, that means they would 50% of iPhone sales, and 50% of Android sales would be in Europe everyone in Europe to be owning one;. It is simple statistics.

            Maybe a lot of your friends have them, that doesn’t equate to everyone owning one

  3. Very well said….Nokia has the “technological debt” that it inherited from the past and is unlikely for the company to get rid of that in the near future. If anything, Nokia is committing more resources towards technology, which at best have a very minor chances of success.

    Nokia needs to do a fresh analysis of situation and take drastic steps to ensure that the company remains relevant in the times to come. One strategy, which Samsung seems to be following, for Nokia is to develop an Android line and simultaneously develop MeeGo handsets (if the company chooses to).

    I am still not sure why this obsession with having your own OS. Granted, it gives some control over the entire ecosystem, but at this time it is (at the cost of exaggeration) a survival question for Nokia…

    1. I too do not understand the obsession with owning your own linux OS kernel. it’s stupid. you can change android kernel into whatever you want. android in china is unrecognizable. you can tie it into to your own app ecosystem. you also gain entry to all the existing apps. rimm and nokia have their own kernels now. big whoop.

  4. You are still missing the point completely. Symbian is dead. Long live Symbian.

    The new king is Qt.

    Try writing an app in QML/Javascript and see how different it is.

    Just about every dev I have ever read is talking about Symbian development from 3 years ago. They made their opinion back then and they can’t get out of their own way ever since.

    1. That might be true, but not a single developer at LeWeb showed me an app done on a Nokia platform. Not a single one. So, this is a message that is NOT getting to developers and, if it is (I think it is, actually) it doesn’t matter because the user experience on the phones sucks and developers don’t like building apps for platforms that have bad user experiences. Why? Devs do things for love, just as much as doing them for money (I know three developers who’ve turned down money from Nokia, because Nokia is going around the industry trying to talk developers into building for its platforms).

      1. I have absolutely no problems with the base functionality on the phone. The calendar, SMS, etc are completely solid.

        The only problem is that Nokia doesn’t carry that through everywhere. My biggest bugbear are the Web Runtime apps that Nokia insists on shipping (Social app, I’m looking at you).

        But I still prefer my N8 to my wife’s iPhone4. Her phone is crippled by Apple and just can’t do the things I want.

        1. I agree with that, but I’d add the native podcasting functionality is pretty bad on every Nokia handset I’ve used. I’m using GPodder at the moment which is a fair bit better.

      2. qt platform for symbian is still quite new, so it has not attracted many developers, yet.
        but the platform is good, developer tools are ok and nokia is doing many activities to promote it.

        all they need is to bring back the hype and sexiness, that they lost, to become attractive for developers.

      3. How is Nokia offering money to developers any different than the way Apple got that party to start the fund for developers when they started apps? Or is it different when Apple does it?

        And it is fine if developers don’t want to develop for Symbian, it just means they won’t get my money, even if I owned an iPhone or Android phone I wouldn’t purchase from them on principal.

      4. 3.5m downloads a day now on Ovi store, and growing at the rate of half a million every 3-4 weeks. Man, you must have met some extremely precious and financially inept developers.

        As others have already said, Qt is by far the easiest development environment available – this is confirmed by numerous developers that have actually tried it, rather than those still living in the past. It’s a bit like suggesting that developing for Windows 7 with Borland Turbo Pascal is a pretty horrible experience – time to move on, stop living in the past and catch up with what you have missed.

      5. All you did was mentionning anecdotal evidences that doesn’t mean much. I see lots of people with Macbook in conferences. What’s Macbook’s global marketshare again?

        Then, you talk about WP7. MS is “way ahead” of Nokia with WP7′s UI. So what? WebOS’ UI was “way ahead” as well. Same with developers tools. So what? It’s only but one aspect. Better in one or two aspects alone doesn’t mean doom for MS’ competitors. It’s even way too early to tell if MS WP7 will become of any significance.

      6. “Once you have used it for a short while, QML is significantly easier to develop for than Symbian, iOS, even Android”

        http://mobilephonedevelopment.com/archives/1170

        You’re basing your opinion on a very small sample, and there is no way to judge the quality of this sample either (other than your opinion of them). To say it’s flawed is an understatement.

      1. Did the word “cheap” you mentioned in your post confuse you? If you purchase a cheap item then more than likely it would be a cheap item.

  5. Well, isn’t the Nokia guy Marko “my daddy won a Nobel Prize and that’s why I got this job” Ahtisaari? Enough said.

    1. He was the co-founder and CEO of Dopplr which Nokia bought a few years ago. That’s how he got the job.

    2. well, his father was finnish president and you bet it’s more important (in finland) then being nobel prize winner.

      but although i don not know him, he acheived something outside of nokia, so he should not ignored so easily.

  6. Today, in an espresso bar in Amsterdam, NXP people came in a tried to be cool and asked how RFiD chips worked, they acted like tourists so we thought they were stupid. They tried – badly – to explain how RFiD worked and explained that Nokia was already supporting the NFC chips, which they will activate in February – after January when the uptake of te new phones is bigests – says NXP.

  7. I’m a hardcore Linux user and used to love Nokia. The N900 was the last chance they had to keep me from moving to Android. They’ve lost me (typing this from a Galaxy S XD )

  8. Scobleizer – great post. You hit the nail on the head when you mentioned that “Apple is the one that developers want to put the primo apps for.” We are increasingly moving toward an app-centric world and if nobody wants to build apps for your platform (hello RIM), then you aren’t going to win down the stretch. Plus, I’ll make two additional points in your favor:
    1) as a guy that has been vocal about my frustration with AT&T for their bad phone service, I am still a loyal Apple guy. Why? Because the iPhone is one of the most elegantly designed pieces of hardware created. EVER.
    2) I used a Blackberry for 6 years, then a Palm 7 before I switched to my iPhone. All I have to say is that it felt like going from caveman tools to a technology brought back from the future.

    Amazing to see Nokia snatch defeat from the jaws of victory after having such a stranglehold on the market.

  9. While I’ve ribbed Tomi a few times about Finnish patriotism for Nokia, I do think you’re confusing the developer ecosystem with the consumer world. Developers and those in the mobile industry have the chance to play with all the operating systems, evaluate them, and in the developer’s case, go where they’re paid to go by media agencies and brands.
    Whereas many consumers are looking for many different things – some will have been swayed by the UK XFactor app being a Nokia exclusive, for example.
    Having been involved in apps on all major platforms (and knowing people at all the manufacturers etc), I can say that the two best platforms in terms of user consumption were actually iPhone (no surprise) and Nokia (Symbian in this case). Android was growing, but was still not only an emerging market, but one which was hard to break into without a success on another platform due to the lack of Android marketplace discovery, and BlackBerry is probably the most idosyncratic in terms of users.
    I’ll be the first to admit Nokia has a lot of work to do, and that even the latest version of Symbian is still not the best mobile experience, but MeeGo could solve that. Certainly the main problems for developers are the difficulties of developing for Symbian and the huge range of handsets and functionality – both of these are being reasonably well sorted by QT.
    And it’s not surprising that Nokia hasn’t finalised a highly coherent global strategy yet considering that we’re in the gap between Symbian and MeeGo, most of the senior management is changing, and there are also changes happening in marketing etc.
    I’ve seen a lot of apps being pitched on iPads, but that doesn’t mean that websites are dead (despite what Wired may claim), or that PCs are dead. It means that the success of iOS has spawed a million iPhone and iPad developers (Throw a stick in central London and 1/2 the time it’ll bounce off an iPhone developer), and that’s the format they’ve learnt first.
    I’m not anti-iPhone, and I think it’s a fantastic device, as are several Android handsets. But having done a lot of research into mobile handsets and mobile application markets, and also experienced cross-platform development and user adoption, the idea that Nokia is dead or isn’t worth developing for is against all the facts.
    Windows Phone 7 and BlackBerry are more interesting to look at in terms of survival – I suspect Windows Phone 7 will follow the Xbox route of perseverance and support to eventually build a sustainable following, and it’s definitely an attractive interface and development environment. BlackBerry is the one which I agree is most precarious – the userbase is pretty much split between business and young people using BBM, and it’s harder to build a successful app business on the back of BlackBerry App World

    1. What you’re forgetting is people change. They all have friends showing them cool new modern devices with tons of cool apps. The apps themselves are selling phones. That’s why the chicken is running around without a head.

      1. You might actually be able to believe what Tomi says, if you didn’t know Nokia. Like most Finnish companies they produced wood, compare a block of wood and a Nokia telephone and you understand the Nokia predicament. (Sadly I actually know Nokia people, and can testify that this isn’t a parable.)

        1. I think that’s definitely been the case for many of their handsets (N97, N900 etc), but if you’re going with a foldout keyboard, it’s always going to make it tough to look slim and sexy.
          The N8 isn’t there yet – the C7 was another step closer, but one thing the iPhone did was to encourage better design in mobile handsets. I’m not sure many other manufacturers have really cracked it though, and Nokia aren’t alone…

          1. To be fair, when you have long cold winters, and nothing much else to do, whittling wood is probably going to have an influence on you for a long time ;)
            (I should probably point out that’s a tongue in cheek comment inspired by winter visits to my Scandinavian in-laws)…
            I’ve mentioned my hypothesis to a few people at Nokia in the UK – they spend 4.5 days designing new hardware, and then at lunchtime on Friday someone might start thinking about handset design and the OS.
            It does feel like that’s changing a lot, inspired by the success of the iPhone etc. I do wonder whether it’s more challenging for Nokia to meet the design challenge, or Apple to meet the hardware challenge in the future…

          2. To be fair, when you have long cold winters, and nothing much else to do, whittling wood is probably going to have an influence on you for a long time ;)
            (I should probably point out that’s a tongue in cheek comment inspired by winter visits to my Scandinavian in-laws)…
            I’ve mentioned my hypothesis to a few people at Nokia in the UK – they spend 4.5 days designing new hardware, and then at lunchtime on Friday someone might start thinking about handset design and the OS.
            It does feel like that’s changing a lot, inspired by the success of the iPhone etc. I do wonder whether it’s more challenging for Nokia to meet the design challenge, or Apple to meet the hardware challenge in the future…

          3. a company these days can’t afford to say “whoops” as often as Nokia does. You can’t just keep shrugging off mistakes like N8 and not be punished by the forces of the marketplace. nokia moves to slow and makes too many product mistakes. symbian is way behind and even nokia admits that announcing today that it needs 5 major improvements in the next 18 months to finally be “fixed”. my question is where is bada android iphone and wp7 going to be in 18 months? when you get behind in technology you can’t catch up.

          4. a company these days can’t afford to say “whoops” as often as Nokia does. You can’t just keep shrugging off mistakes like N8 and not be punished by the forces of the marketplace. nokia moves to slow and makes too many product mistakes. symbian is way behind and even nokia admits that announcing today that it needs 5 major improvements in the next 18 months to finally be “fixed”. my question is where is bada android iphone and wp7 going to be in 18 months? when you get behind in technology you can’t catch up.

          5. a company these days can’t afford to say “whoops” as often as Nokia does. You can’t just keep shrugging off mistakes like N8 and not be punished by the forces of the marketplace. nokia moves to slow and makes too many product mistakes. symbian is way behind and even nokia admits that announcing today that it needs 5 major improvements in the next 18 months to finally be “fixed”. my question is where is bada android iphone and wp7 going to be in 18 months? when you get behind in technology you can’t catch up.

          6. And why the heck does Nokia design a phone whose camera protrudes from the back like a hunch back? Is it to “achieve differentiation” with a gizilion megapixel camera? How does it feel to have a hump in your hands every time you touch that phone?

      2. I’m not forgetting that people change, and many devices and apps are being sold because of social recommendations. But not every consumer wants a device with a ton of cool apps. Most don’t even download that many on the iPhone – it’s about the right core apps for most people. Nokia have certainly made efforts to solve that problem – the UK launch of the N8 featured several app partners – Tesco, LastMinute etc, which were all recognised brands and good apps (Disclosure – I was involved with the Absolute Radio app for the N8 launch, as they were my employers at the time).
        My 20-35 year old friends in London media are definitely concerned with the amount of cool apps available. My 20-35 year old friends in the suburbs who work in non-digital jobs don’t know augmented reality from a QR code. They can see the value of a barcode scanner, or a decent Facebook app, but beyond that and maybe a download of Angry Birds, they don’t give a monkeys – yet. And that time is allowing Nokia to improve the handicap of legacy support for dumbphones, Symbian etc, which Apple doesn’t have.
        Plus, I forgot to point out that there are definitely areas in which Nokia beats everyone else – they just haven’t necessarily done a great job of communicating them – e.g the HD video output from the N8, meaning I can show my friends a film on my mobile (for example), without having to carry my laptop/tablet or download it again at their house (assuming they have broadband).

        1. You are clearly an intelligent person, with valid observations and I enjoy reading your comments.

          But you are losing your ways by focusing on the spec sheet.

          Using your N8 to play HD movies on TV. So how do you go about it? Do you carry an HDMI cable with you? Do you reach behind your PS3 unplug its HDMI cable and plug it on the N8? Then you stand by the TV to control the video or do you sit down to watch it? It is not usable.

          What is the alternative? Something like AirPlay. You can stream any content from your iPhone or iPod to your PC screen, your TV (via things like a $99 AppleTV box or your already connected PS3).

          There, sitting in your sofa, play the video from your iPhone/iPad or Android device, no wires.

          Now, *THAT* is useful.

          So, I’ll submit to you that including an HDMI connector in the N8 is a huge fail. Fail to understand that customers don’t want to have their phones dangling from a cable attached to a TV or rewire their living rooms to watch a phone video. It increased the BOM of the N8 unnecessarily, reducing their profit margin – $1 times 1.3B devices is real money, right? It made the phone less attractive because it has an extra hole. Some people will FOR SURE try to stick a USB cable in there – e.g. in the dark and damage the phone. All sorts of issues.

          So what is an *advantage* in the spec sheet is of marginal, zero or even negative value to users.

          See the dangers of spec sheet checkbox device design? Same as the OS checkmark symmetric multiprocessing – so what?

  10. I am not sure that calling a company doomed only for its lack of strength in the high (luxury) end of the smart phone market is appropriate. There is also a mid and lower end smart phone segment with quite a bit of opportunity to make a decent amount of profit. The competencies needed in the high end segment is creativity which Apple has plenty of it. However the competency needed in the mid to lower end segment is cost efficient execution as the customers in these two segments tend to be very price sensitive. I believe Nokia is more in the latter segment and Apple is more in the former segment. Unless Nokia looses significant market share in the mid and lower end of the smart phone market, I would not call it doomed.

    Also the whole business of apps is moving very fast from native apps to web apps since it brings tremendous benefits to app developers. We have to see how many paying native apps will remain going forward.

    1. Yes, but that market will eventually be satiated and eventually will disappear. Certainly it will be a low margin and low growth business and, I believe, will not justify keeping Nokia at the size it currently is. If a company stops moving up market it is doomed. That has played out many times in the tech industry. The computer history museum is full of companies that had most of the market share in their times. This is a chicken without a head and it’s not a good place to be in, even though the chicken is fat and is running around the yard vigorously.

      1. you are wrong, because nokia has (had?) right strategy, but bad execution.
        the problem is not that they do not know what to do (no head), but how to do that.

    2. What makes you think that Nokia’s mobiles phone operation is *ANYWAY* more efficient than Apple’s? What evidence do you have of that? Apple has much lower R&D costs per unit sold. Apple has an exemplary chain and is known to lock up commodities (like flash storage) and leave competitors scrambling. It has a much simpler product line. It has economies of scales with iPod Touch, iPad by component, os, architecture, desig sharing. It sells a lot through its own stores helping keep margins up. It spends a ton less on marketing – the stuff just sells.

      So what evidence is there that Nokia can ever beat Apple on costs?

    1. Yes Mr Scobleizer he is right, what an arrogant and naive way of writing an article. I clearly shows a lack of knowledge about the matter you are discussing. Just my two cents. You are clearly FAR, FAR behind Tomi Ahonen when it comes to what the future holds the mobile phone industry. No matter how many thousand followers you may have on twitter, you are still clueless. Just my two cents…

    2. I think you miss the mark, Scobez. We’re the racecar drivers of the biz, and no matter how great a Lambo or Bently is on the track, we can’t use that experience to convince friends to buy them. They’ll still fall back and buy Audis and Volkswagens instead. The point is, not everyone can access WP7, iOS, and Android, though Android is making inroads.

      Nokia’s ecosystem allows better access to more people. The Toyota effect. And while the UX may lag, we all know its improved, and their UI revolution may just change everything in the coming months.

      Plus, since Nokia’s strategy is rooted in Qt, even if MeeGo AND Symbian fail miserably, Nokia is sound. It can always port Qt to WP7 and Android and continue to leverage its own custom apps, navigation, web browser, PIM, and calendar to whatever OS is the flavor of the moment.

      Compare that with Google having to make separate Google Maps for each platform. Nokia has it made, and in the future, I think we’ll see the Android also-rans going Symbian to differentiate, maybe even signing agreements with Nokia for its Ovi Suite of apps and stores.

      You got it all wrong, buddy. But we still love you. Enjoy watching Apple struggle to reach twenty percent, and Android flirt with Symbian before the new UI allows them to reenter growth mode again. Its far from over, Scobez.

    1. nokia of 2008 and nokia of 2010 are VERY different.
      in 2008 they lacked services, platform and execution.
      in 2010, services are working and improving (store, maps, messaging), platform (qt) is fresh but technologicaly viable and execution will have to be proved, but change of key people should deliver.
      they are making right choices with symbian. we will see, if meego can be miracle they hope for.

  11. Around the time I was born, Nokia was doomed because it’s investments on electronics were supposedly not creating revenue quick enough.

    Around the time I was teenager, Nokia was doomed because television production was moving to generic brands from Asia and PC industry was taken over by Wintel boxes.

    Now I’m in my mid-thirties and apparently Nokia is doomed again. You might be right about Nokia’s handset business, altough I disagree. What I seriously doubt is that Nokia is doomed, no matter which one of us is right. Nokia has existed since mid-19th centrury. The current crisis isn’t even nearly the worst one it has gone trough. If Google really wins the mobile-platform war, I would rather see Nokia making it’s next big technology leap to something totally different than to see it becoming generic ARMdroid manufacturer.

  12. Around the time I was born, Nokia was doomed because it’s investments on electronics were supposedly not creating revenue quick enough.

    Around the time I was teenager, Nokia was doomed because television production was moving to generic brands from Asia and PC industry was taken over by Wintel boxes.

    Now I’m in my mid-thirties and apparently Nokia is doomed again. You might be right about Nokia’s handset business, altough I disagree. What I seriously doubt is that Nokia is doomed, no matter which one of us is right. Nokia has existed since mid-19th centrury. The current crisis isn’t even nearly the worst one it has gone trough. If Google really wins the mobile-platform war, I would rather see Nokia making it’s next big technology leap to something totally different than to see it becoming generic ARMdroid manufacturer.

  13. I don’t think Nokia is necessarily doomed but 2011 certainly will be a make or break year for Nokia’s high end smartphones. If their strategy with MeeGo, Symbian and Qt fails they will have to join the OEM’s and start dishing out Android and WP7 phones. If it succeeds, well then their in the same league with Apple, Google and Microsoft. They are pretty much gambling and it might end badly..

    I love what they’ve done with the Qt-framework though. Before they bought Trolltech Qt was pretty great but now it’s just plain awesome :)

  14. I don’t think Nokia is necessarily doomed but 2011 certainly will be a make or break year for Nokia’s high end smartphones. If their strategy with MeeGo, Symbian and Qt fails they will have to join the OEM’s and start dishing out Android and WP7 phones. If it succeeds, well then their in the same league with Apple, Google and Microsoft. They are pretty much gambling and it might end badly..

    I love what they’ve done with the Qt-framework though. Before they bought Trolltech Qt was pretty great but now it’s just plain awesome :)

  15. Thing is, Nokia could leave America, the smart phone market and stay focused on basic & feature phones, and still they would be the number 1 phone manufacturer in the world.

    The mistake Nokia have been making is trying to compete in the smart phone market. Their prime expertise is and always has been in the low to mid market, especially in emerging markets. And there are still millions of people who just buy a phone just to make calls.

    Actually, Nokia’s competition is more likely to come from China and they only need to sell phones to every individual in China to be the top manufacturer (and a lot of them are knock-offs of branded phones sold in the west).

  16. Thing is, Nokia could leave America, the smart phone market and stay focused on basic & feature phones, and still they would be the number 1 phone manufacturer in the world.

    The mistake Nokia have been making is trying to compete in the smart phone market. Their prime expertise is and always has been in the low to mid market, especially in emerging markets. And there are still millions of people who just buy a phone just to make calls.

    Actually, Nokia’s competition is more likely to come from China and they only need to sell phones to every individual in China to be the top manufacturer (and a lot of them are knock-offs of branded phones sold in the west).

  17. Sorry, Robert, can’t agree with you here.
    Your view is heavily skewed toward apps, while for many people out-of-the-box functionality is more important. And tbh, many of the claimed-to-be-awesome apps are just boring and surprisingly simple. Gizmodo’s apps of the week are mostly boring and not very useful.
    Nokia is OK, and the direction is right. S^3 is a huge step forward, and very usable. I really was looking forward to WP7, but decided to give it some time to mature, and bought N8.
    Here’s how I chose it:
    1) WP7 – really cool, and very good for me as a Zune Pass subscriber and Zune HD user. Cons: no multitask, no cyrillic input (i’m russian), no awesome devices (8Gb memory is a joke)
    2) iPhone – freaking expensive (750 euro off contract), boring (nothing really new for 4 years), no “glance-and-go” (launch Mail just to view recent mail senders? stupid), iTunes required
    3) Android – nice phones are too expensive, and not perfect (Galaxy S with half-broken GPS – please), too power-hungry.
    4) N8 – great hardware with awesome camera, free offline satnav (with Lonely Planet), quick ui (faster than Android), multitasking, homescreen widgets, FM transmitter for in-car audio, and it plays all my Zune Pass music! Plus it’s cheap. And Ovi Store isn’t awful anymore, it’s actually quite nice to browse.
    Of course, it doesn’t beat competitors in every way (but it clearly does so in some ways), but it’s a very good all-arounder. And people choose Nokia – just check out this chart, Nokia’s share is growing here, and that’s even before N8: http://hi-tech.mail.ru/static/img/news/5376/5f4075125ad16f5305cfc156b473fec0_real.JPG.
    In fact, after a few months I can name just a few annoying things N8 has – 3-click language switch, no portrait qwerty, slow built-in browser, apps lack polish. The first 3 are already in the works and will be fixed in 1-3 months. The latter is more difficult, but will be fixed as QT gains momentum.

    1. s3 is regular symbian with a very few tweaks. notice that nokia plans to update this system 5 times in the next 18 months. that’s how “behind” it is compared to android and ios.

      1. That like like saying iOS 4.2 is just regular iOS 1 with a few tweaks. Note Apple plans to update the system a number of times in the next 18 months, that’s how “behind” it is compared to android and symbian

  18. With basic studies in social psychology I was wondering did Scobleizer ever thought that maybe the people who pitched to him tried to please him?

    I don’t know much about pitches but I have understood that the idea is to get someone excited about some new product. Someone showing apps to Scobleizer on Nokia would make just a fool out of himself. Right?

    Another observation. After little reading of Scobleizer, I would not call him very global guy. From that perspective it can be difficult to understand global business — like the mobile industry. I have been in Paris, too.

    By Tim Johnson ( pasted from Tomis Ahonen´s blog.

  19. I bought my nokia n8 for the tank-like hardware and the camera, not for launching apps. I bought it because i want it, not because everyone is using it.

  20. It’s not all about Apps Robert. I could stop there, but I will say having recently bought an iPhone 4 to expand my mobile device experience, and as a Nokia enthusiast i took some flaming in doing so, but how would I learn more, and experience iOS if i didn’t?

    I have to say that although the iPhone’s iOS is fluid, and has endless amount of apps available for it, the iPhone itself is way behind Nokia’s reach in mass users, and device functionality. There are so many things the iPhone does not do over the basic of Nokia handsets it’s uncanny, but yes, the iPhone looks great, but fragile. I do like the iPhone form factor, but I know if I were to drop it from just 2 feet onto a concrete floor it would smash/shatter its glass.

    Back in 2007 the N95-1 had a 5MP Camera, but not just a 5MP Camera, a Carl Zeiss Camera, which produced amazing video for its time, and connecting the N95-1 up to your TV with the connectivity cable supplied, you could easily share photos, and videos with friends and family. Remember, this was almost 4 years ago.

    The N8 to me is similar to what the N900 was, its a testbed device, giving people a glimpse into what Nokia has up their sleeve in the way of device functionality, not just applications.

    Free Worldwide Navigation with Voice Guidance
    Amazing Camera Optics
    HDMI functionality
    Xenon flash
    Multiple Homescreens
    Expandable memory functionality
    USB OTG

    The list goes on, and its these functionality factors you are completely overlooking Robert, its not all about app’s.!

    1. Such an elegantly put and appropriate balance to this article. Its so US centric and high end focused. Mercedes can’t rule the world, and Micky, you’re so right. OOTB will be a big issue in the markets where people have to think cost, i.e. MOST OF THE WORLD>

  21. 1) Nokia development tools are now different than 6 months ago, the Nokia Qt is possibly the best tool to write apps in any platform. And you get more devices (used every day) covered with Qt than with any other tool.

    2) This shows in the Nokia Ovi Store growth numbers as well. They reached 1 million in late April and 3,5 million in early December. In last 4 months average growth has been >20% in a month over the previous one. Currently the growth is 25% MoM. That makes 15 times as many users in 12 months than currently. With that growth Ovi Store can have more daily downloads than Apple appstore next year (with current growth in less than 5 months actually).

    3) Nokia smartphone growth was 60% YoY in 3rd quarter, and that was with completely old lineup. Now that they have refreshed the lineup, and will soon refresh the UI of Symbian and itroduce MeeGo, you are saying that they are in trouble? Funny. It seems you have no idea what you are writing.

    Perhaps we just need to get back to this subject in early February. And then do that again once a month the following 5 months with all the US operator deals and MeeGo devices introduced and market share rapidly growing.

  22. Sorry Robert, but you think too high of yourself. You are one of the reasons I stopped listing to Twit podcasts. Your thoughts are still American centric, and your thoughts are blind. The iPhone and Android haven’t brought very little new to the table.

  23. “Apple introduces features as if they were “amazing”, “completely new”, etc. while in fact these features were invented a long time ago.”

    What world do you live in?

    Automobiles were invented over 100 years ago. Still when Ferrari introduces a new model, a new engine or a new transmission it generates excitement. They know how to make the engine sound orgasmic. They are proud of it. Teenagers the world over have their posters on the wall. People flock by the millions to watch them race or at out shows.

    Every well done new car generates similar (if a bit more tame) levels of excitement.

    Who cares when things were invented.

    It only counts if you integrate them well enough into the user experience, make the feature feel special, make the user feel special using the feature.

    You really don’t get Apple’s success, do you?

    Who care if Nokia had 1,000,000,000 smartphones on the market before the iPhone. They frustrated and bored their users. The iPhone made users and developers feel special about what they were using and creating.

    Get out of your geek cage more often. Try to pitch your ideas to a teenage girl. If she doesn’t get it – give up.

  24. Wow! Sorry to jump into this debate so late in the game! Here are my two cents. Nokia knows (even if they won’t admit to it that Symbian is dead. It’s been dead ever since that great day the Steve Jobs announced the iPhone. Since then Google has jumped into the game. Here is the thing I find interesting with Google. They DON’T make their own Hardware. Now this is where it gets interesting Nokia has been playing with the idea of putting out an Android phone, as has been reported numerous times. Samsung has in their many may small letters of the terms that come with the Nexus S that even if Google release updates to their software they will look into upgrading the Nexus S. Not at all what we were used to from the Nexus One. It kind of sounds like Motorola’s announcement about upgrading the Milestone to Froyo (maybe, if, we will see and think about it, and then decide if we should do it in about 3 years.)
    In come Nokia.
    A brand that has been great for ever with their hardware but crappy in the latest race with the software. I think, and I do not have any insider info, that Nokia is working very hard to convince Google that they want to manufacture the next Google Phone, and they will not make it with junkie hardware (like it seems people are saying about the S). Imagine a Google phone with the build of a Nokia E71- one of the best and sturdiest business phone ever produced.
    That is Nokia’s savior, and in my opinion the best prediction for the smart phone market in the next year or so.