Developers tell me I'm nuts and say Nokia, RIM, Microsoft are still screwed

Man, my email has been flowing ever since yesterday morning with lots of responses to my “Nokia Fans: you’re nuts!” post.

Most say that the newly-joined Microsoft/Nokia still has no shot getting them to write apps and that RIM is even worse off.

I tried to ignore them, but then Nick Long appeared in my life yesterday afternoon.

Who is he?

Senior technical lead at Dreamworks Animation. You might know them, they do a lot of the special effects in movies. But that’s not why he was at my house yesterday. He was there to show me a mobile app that he and partner Paul Robinett will ship sometime this summer. I was impressed with their mobile app, but they asked me to keep it quiet until they shipped.

That said, I saw my chance. Here was a real live developer who is building a mobile app so I invited them down to the Half Moon Bay Ritz Carlton bar for a few drinks and some conversation. I want you to listen to the conversation that happened down at the bar. Developers hold all the cards in this game. Remember my point yesterday: EVERYTHING in the smartphone race is about apps. EVERYTHING.

So, if guys like Nick won’t develop for your platform you are dead.

Listen to what Nick says:

“What are you going to develop for?”

“It’s pretty simple…Android and iPhone.”

“What do you think of the announcements today?”

“Nokia is screwed.”

But then we go into more detail about just how screwed. It’s an entertaining conversation and a rare look into how developers think.

They also explained how the non-Apple or Google companies could woo him.

The short answer is: they are screwed.

One other insight from this conversation? They feel that Instagr.am will be one of the last apps that will ship on only iOS. That’s an interesting insight too.

Comments

  1. For .NET developers (and there are a couple of them in the world) the WP7 platform is very easy to pick up and run with. Microsoft needs to work on the SDK a bit more, but there’s a good potential for them to tap into a serious creative force out there.

  2. For .NET developers (and there are a couple of them in the world) the WP7 platform is very easy to pick up and run with. Microsoft needs to work on the SDK a bit more, but there’s a good potential for them to tap into a serious creative force out there.

    1. Plus the development tools are all FREE for windows phone seven. The fact that they made a separate version of blend for WP7 is saying something. I don’t believe that anyone can say that there’s an expense included in developing for WP7 right now in that sense.

  3. There are a lot of legacy developers out there for Windows technologies who will be enticed by WP7, plus with the XNA framework Xbox Live subscribers will be enticed to the platform for gaming.

    It will be a different market to the iPhone and Android, but it’s going to be best to embrace the difference than have one company developing 3/4/5 versions of the same app (or we might see a new business scene spring up around application porting).

  4. There are a lot of legacy developers out there for Windows technologies who will be enticed by WP7, plus with the XNA framework Xbox Live subscribers will be enticed to the platform for gaming.

    It will be a different market to the iPhone and Android, but it’s going to be best to embrace the difference than have one company developing 3/4/5 versions of the same app (or we might see a new business scene spring up around application porting).

  5. Michael Arrington said something about you on a podcast which i remember (not the exact words) that you pick up a fight and then backtrack quickly. Your posts about Quora and now NokSoft show this. You say something and then change your thoughts the next day. Sleep over the blog post before hitting the publish button

  6. Michael Arrington said something about you on a podcast which i remember (not the exact words) that you pick up a fight and then backtrack quickly. Your posts about Quora and now NokSoft show this. You say something and then change your thoughts the next day. Sleep over the blog post before hitting the publish button

  7. If you are one of 100’000 other developers it is tough to get attention. If you are the first developer to bring an app to a new platform like WP7 you will be embraced and promoted. Nokia and RIM still have more market share than anybody else and users of these platforms are crying for more apps. What would you do as a developer? Follow the herd and get trampled or chase huge new market share?

    Love this – great attention grabbing topic and posts :)

    1. Ahh, ye olde “big fish in small pond” argument. This argument isn’t working with most of the serious developers I talk with who are developing really bleeding edge apps. If you really have a great app you should ship it where the customers are, they tell me.

      And if you do have a really great app it isn’t that tough to get attention. If you have yet another “me too” app, then yeah, you are probably right, but those kinds of apps aren’t the ones that will get the world to move forward.

      One thing, though. Your tactic will make you an authority on WP7 and when the other companies want to port you’ll be able to build a business for porting apps over.

  8. One problem is, that you cannot develop for Windows Phone 7 on Mac OS X.

    Might sound silly, but honestly, many developers I talk to, don’t want to go through the burden of setting up a virtual machine or running Windows on Parallels, just to start diving into WP7 development.

    The good thing with Android is, you can start to explore it on any platform.

      1. You have got to be kidding me..how many developers do you know Robert ? < 1 % of the total app developers in the world I presume..and yet you think most of them use Macs

        1. He did say “most of the devs I know”. Sure he does’t know them all, but I’m betting he knows more developers than you. FWIW, I’m a developer, I use a Mac, and so do all of the other mobile developers that I know.

          1. Sorry but you are giving me the US only perspective, there are significant amount of developers outside of USA and again, most of the people in USA are underestimating the no. of C# and silverlight devs. around the globe.

        2. I’ve interviewed and talked with thousands of developers and talked in front of many thousands at many many conferences around the world. Most of the leading edge developers today have Macs. Just go to your average everyday developer conference or influencer conference and see for yourself.

          1. funny thing is… “most” developers i know, have mac’s but run linux in a vmware session and develop on that :)
            having said that… “most” would not go through the bother of buying windows, installing it in vmware and then developing on it… ! mac and linux are interlinked by way of *nix… microsoft/windows, well, the dog has had it’s day!

      2. This is actually why your posts are “slightly” slanted and get accused of being a fanboy. “Most of the devs YOU KNOW use Macs.” Try reaching out to devs other than your circle of fanboys. If you are basing your comments on “your world” it doesn’t make it true in the real world.

        1. AmFuzzy: how do you know what the real world uses? Do you travel 100,000 miles a year? DO you interview hundreds of startups every year, including some old companies like IBM, Salesforce, Microsoft, Xerox, and others? I didn’t realize you did all that to figure out what the “real world” uses!

  9. It’s tough to bootstrap an ecosystem, It’s a chicken and egg problem. You attract developers and apps by showing economical viability but if you don’t have cool and new apps people don’t buy into that platform.

  10. Yeah, MS is just as scewed as Google was 4 months after Android’s launch. Or in fact, a lot less. Has more apps, better ecosystem (including the all-important developer support), better UX, better reception from press than the 4 months old Android had. In some aspects it is better than current Android – like gaming, music (only in a few countries, though).

    Obviously, a lot of developers will wait until WP7 gathers more momentum, and enough devices are sold to make it worth their while. Like the guys you talked to. But this doesn’t mean MS or even RIM is screwed, it just means that it is still in its infancy.

    I agree with your previous post, Robert. Nokia can give the boost MS needs, especially when it comes to international markets. Saying that a new platform is screwed, when the entire smartphone industry is just starting up, with a giant growth potential ahead – well, it is just shortsighted.

    1. I hope you are right, because I’d like to see a strong third competitor. I think that’s really great for users/customers/developers/ecosystems, etc.

      But it isn’t just “starting up.” It started up three years ago when the iPhone came on scene. Now it’s a train moving at 80 mph and you can’t change the dynamics that easily.

      This is why you can’t judge a platform released today against one released two or three years ago: in a marathon you can’t catch up if you gave your opponent a 10-mile lead. Just is impossible, even if you are slightly faster runner than the lead runner (and Microsoft has NOT proven to be a slightly faster runner than the lead runners, in this case Google and Apple).

      That said, you can never say Microsoft is really screwed, because it can keep spending billions after billions after billions. You did hear Nick say at one point that he can be convinced to develop for MSFT because of its money, right? That’s hardly screwed, but I’ve talked with lots of other developers who told Microsoft’s employees to shove their payoffs. Angry Birds’ developer told me some stories about how hard it is to deal with Microsoft. Seems not everyone over there has gotten the app religion yet. Maybe Ballmer needs to jump on the table and say “developers, developers, developers” a few more times again.

      But I do agree with you that Nokia and Microsoft together make a stronger offering than alone, for all the reasons I laid out yesterday (hardware design, supply chain, distribution, et al) but they still need to execute. Plus, it looks like it’ll be 2012 before we really see a new series of phones from the Nokia/Microsoft partnership. Damn, that’s a LONG time in this industry!

      It’s going to be a fun year to watch, that’s for sure!

      1. I know the situation is different now than 2 years ago. Microsoft is not entering (reentering) the same market the iPhone or Android did. Still, 2-3 years from now these differences will probably disappear, while more and more people will have smartphones instead of feature phones. And if anybody has the cash to keep running after the train for years, it is Microsoft. (not that the train is a good metaphor, imho).

        My opinion (and hope) is that Windows Phone will be a distant, but distinct #3 in the smartphone market by the end of this year. MS has a lot of things to fix, and updates so far have not been coming out as they should have. But the game is far from being over… and yeah, let’s get the popcorn out, and see what this year brings. If only I wasn’t such a big fan of the underdog… :P

    2. Android filled an important need of manufacturers – to have an OS that competes with iPhone. From that point of view, WP7 is just another OS that tries to fill the same need. Most manufacturers and users won’t bother switching now that their needs are fulfilled.

      1. Why? Because everyone has an Android phone? Because every manufacturer is content with just Android? Knowing that most users don’t even have a smartphone/aren’t limited to just one platform and can switch anytime their contract is over, I’m surprised that you’d write that.

        1. Doesn’t matter if they’re happy with Andriod anymore, the MS/Nokia partnership means other manufacturers won’t invest in WP7 phones. It actually makes them more reliant on Andriod.

          1. how so? the other manufacturers are relying on a mature ecosystem. Nokia is reliant on a ecosystem yet to gain traction. If anything it’s a win for Google.

          2. And this platform will gain traction with Nokia. It’s not like Android suddenly became top modular OS without any push either. Nokia is WP7’s push. They sell 25-30 Symbian devices per quarter. Assuming they replace a large number of their Symbian phones with WP7, I’m sure they’ll be selling about 10-15 million per quarter. Its a win for Nokia because, just like Symbian, they’ll overshadow all other manufacturers to the extent that they may stop selling WP7 devices, and WP7 becomes known as the Nokia OS – just like Symbian.

            This is a loss for Google. They lost a chance to inflate Android’s numbers through the biggest smartphone maker in the world. Instead, that smartphone maker is going to help a competing OS (which Andy Rubin termed unnecessary) grow tremendously.

  11. Robert, I think it’s a matter of perspective.

    If the majority of the developers you know around you as you stated, develop on Mac, then there’s a big hurdle to jump into the .NET app development.

    If I look around in my network, most development is done in .NET/Windows and there’s a struggle to jump into iPhone/iPad development, even though it’s C++, you still need a Mac and their SDK.

    Secondly, it’s nice to hear someone famous from a Hollywood studio talking about how he doesn’t see the possibilities on this new platform, but have you recently checked the app stores for the various platforms and did an analysis on the developers behind the most succesful apps ?

    There’s no denying that Apple’s done an amazing job, that they’ve changed the landscape and that atm their the number one platform of choice.

    But Microsoft and Nokia are still to brands we shouldn’t under estimate. Nokia still has a tremendous reputation for building quality hardware and as of yet, Microsoft still dominates the world with Windows OS and the .NET framework (desktop & web development combined).

    With the shift of desktop to mobile devices & cloud services there’s a gigantic pool of developers who’re trained and experienced in .NET development, nobody’s (businesses) going to throw away all this knowledge and experience and start from scratch developing apps (not just fun stuff, but real business apps) on an entire new framework just because it’s *hot*.

    At the moment, Apple’s still mostly consumer focused and it won’t be easy for them to entire the business market. And already we’re seeing signs of Apple’s empire crumbling fastly with the rise of the Android platform and business holding out on developing specifically for iOs in favor of WebApps (Think 37Signals – Basecamp). Apple’s control hunger is already under the EU’s microscope and with Steve Jobs (hopefully) temporarily absense thinks aren’t looking all that bright and shiny.

    So to sum it up:
    Apple’s had a great ride so far, they set the standard high but now it’s time to see if they have what it takes and really take it to the next level. Microsoft’s come very late to the party but with their fresh approach, built on proven technology (lot’s of .NET experience in the world) and Nokia’s quality hardware they’ll soon become a major threat.

    And for anyone not remembering history, just take a look at what Internet Explorer ment for Mosaic and Netscape. (Yes it’s a quirky browser, but they do vastly dominate today’s market).

    1. One problem with your analysis: all developers are NOT the same. I used to work for Visual Basic Programmer’s Journal so got to know the folks who use .NET up close and personally. They are NOT the kinds of people who will build bleeding edge mobile apps like Word Lens, Instagram, Flipboard, Siri, 360, Angry Birds, et al.

      Sorry, just aren’t. They are mostly corporate developers who build workgroup apps. The Windows ecosystem has been very stagnant for a long time (when was the last time you loaded a really new mind-blowing app on a Windows PC, or even on a Macintosh — it’s been a long time for me and I’m in the industry).

      Yes, you shouldn’t underestimate big brands, but the Computer History Museum is full of big brands that went away because they didn’t stay innovative. Nokia is in serious trouble and has been for some time. Microsoft didn’t save them today. Both Microsoft and Nokia are STILL in a deep hole (OK, they moved up the hole together yesterday, but they are still in a hole). Why? Just read my latest post where a developer tells you why they aren’t building on Microsoft or Nokia.

      1. No you’re totally right, most developers aren’t bleeding edge. We tend to be more analytical/technical instead of artistically creative.

        What I was just saying is that with the shift from Desktop to Mobile devices/Cloud services and Microsoft finally stepping in with a promising alternative (meaning a platform they’re familiar with) this might just tip the balance.

        So far neither Android or Apple is offering a mature business orientated eco-system and I think that’s their challenge. If they can manage that, I’ll probably will have to go out and buy a Mac…

        1. Speaking of buying a Mac, that’s a major barrier to entry for iOS developement. I was just talking to a friend of mine who had an easy time developing an app for Android, for which application to be a developer (and the $25 fee), uploading and approval took the afternoon. For iOS it’s $99, he started 2 weeks ago, it still hasn’t been approved and had to spend $700 buying an iMac to handle the development. Most people still don’t have Macs.

          If you’re planning on developing for Windows phone, you likely already have a Windows PC, and if you have a Mac, you can still run Windows, so the barrier to entry is much lower, particularly if you’re just going to develop something that might not sell all that well or is niche. To recoup the investment, you need to sell significantly more on iOS, whereas with Android and Windows Phone the investment cost is pretty much just time.

          1. Heh, most of the serious app developers I meet around the world have the opposite problems. They have Macs and not PCs. But, yeah, that is a problem and one that Microsoft should use to its advantage.

          2. Any Mac that you have that can develop for iOS is capable of running Windows and Linux. The barrier for entry for small operations is much higher for iOS development than for Android, webOS or Windows Phone development.

            If you could develop for iOS on a PPC Mac it would be a bit of a different situation. Last I checked you also didn’t need to actually have a WP7 device or an Android device to develop for either platform, as an emulator would work just fine. For iOS you need to have the device plugged in to handle compiling.

            Apple’s interested in putting whatever restriction on you to make you buy as much of their hardware as possible. If you’ve already made it as a dev, or already have a Mac and an iOS device, then it’s not a big deal, but for aspiring devs even just the difference between $25 for Android and $99 for iOS is pretty massive – I’m not sure what XNA costs to get into, but IIRC Microsoft gives students free dev access, which is another nice boost for them. Incidentally, all my friends at University who are in CS fields are all going to work for either Microsoft or Google. Not a single one for Apple, so there’s still a significant developer market there for WP7.

            None of these advantages are any advantages that WP7 has over Android, but they are advantages over iOS, and things could conceivably go that developers are primarily interested in developing for Android, and whether they choose WP7 or iOS as their second platform could depend on what they already have access to and what they’re used to.

  12. One problem with that. At the World Economic Forum I saw a TON of iPads. So the CEOs at the world’s biggest companies are betting actively against .NET. That’s gotta freak Microsoft out big time.

    1. I could have never thought of it. Apple is in a unique position because it is attacking enterprise by making people use it in their daily life and making them cry out for their enterprise experience to be like that.

      by the way, get rid of windows and go to xbox makes too much sense for Microsoft. You worked for Microsoft. You know better than that!

      1. Yeah, I know. I’m still an idealist, though, and wish Microsoft would think different than think “what can we leverage off of our existing assets?” Grrr, it pisses me off. :-)

        1. To a degree, but as long as MS extend existing assets to others, I wouldn’t get as frustrated — For instance, Xbox Live integration is sweet, but why isn’t this in an API for everyone to use anywhere?

          What this armchair CEO would like to see is extension of their Microsoft-Everywhere strategy inward, so that others could put Xbox everywhere, or Office everywhere, etc.

          Oddly being such a large company, areas with more competition have done this: Bing (maps in particular), but only because they’re not #1 and because #1 had insane APIs out there. Windows Live Messaging (or whatever it is called today) is open, but who leads IM?

          “We have all these assets, and a great development platform, but make people do that on our assets” is just not as leveraging as it used to be.

      2. How long has that been the case? Apple’s been in that position for quite a while. This is a comment you’ll see almost daily, but they lose users slower than a melting glacier. It won’t hurt Microsoft’s viability for a long time. They’ve been in a long coast for a very long time.

    2. Hence the announcement about Win 8 on arm. However… this is where MS is dropping the ball. They need a tablet version of WP7 in beta testing yesterday. If they did that, and the apps worked across both platforms and dropped any pretense of being Windows other than by brand, iPad wouldn’t matter, and since Android is just getting into the tablet market, they could be the leader in a heck of a hurry.

  13. Scoble, I really don’t feel Microsoft is in it with both feet. The way they cancelled kin in one scoop makes me feel like Microsoft is whimsical and cannot decide what to do with mobile.

    1. I wouldn’t hold Kin against Microsoft. But that was a horrid move on their part. Shows they didn’t really understand that the only thing that matters is apps. Luckily they came to their senses pretty quickly and killed that project. I’m sure that was painful.

  14. I think most people who follow blogs like this are overestimating what Nokia means in the rest of the world. It’s still a trusted name to many and if they endorse Microsoft, then it’ll go a long way. Combine that with Nokia’s ability to push products through their channels and you’ll see people jumping through hoops to get apps to the market.

    I think most of this is an extreme U.S. bias. This is probably caused by Nokia’s lack of presence in the U.S. and some simmering resentment toward Microsoft. But let’s face it, MSFT can build a developer base and will do everything in it’s power to make this work. They now have a distributor for their product and now have marching orders to make it happen. And let’s not forget, daily downloads on Nokia’s “burning platform” are STILL growing! Are you telling me that Nokia can make Symbian grow, but has no way to coerce developers onto a Microsoft based platform?!?

    Give me a break…any developer willing to ignore a global market share leader that can push their products globally in a far more efficient manner than pretty much any other mobile manufacturer outside of Samsung is a fool! I know people hate this “partnership”, but they’ll find a way to make it work.

    Being a Microsoft “hater” and calling Nokia “irrelevant” is almost an anachronism nowadays. Get over your past and look for the opportunities here. Developers that don’t will see others take their place.

    1. I think people who claim “US bias” are idiots. I was just in Germany. All I saw were iPhones and Android phones. I was just in Switzerland at the World Economic Forum. Same. I was just speaking at LIFT. I asked everyone if they owned an iPhone. 60% of the hands went up (and this was a local audience). I’ve noticed the same in China (less iPhones, more Androids). Same in Tel Aviv. Same in France at a very international conference. And on and on.

      What you don’t realize is THE USA IS NOW DRIVING MOBILE WORLD WIDE. And you guys need to get over that.

      Repeat after me. “The only thing that matters now is apps.”

      Got it? Repeat until you do.

      1. repeat after me… “the only thing that matters on the web is SaaS offerings”… oh wait, what do you mean there is a million document management tools out there… and no-one knows one from the other… the only thing that matters it not “just” apps, but “good apps”… they will float to the top… and they do matter! as for a US bias… of course you have one… maybe not from the developers perspective of development, but a developers perspective of “whom” they are developing for… come to India and see the developers here too mostly have android phone (as you can get them for as low as the equivalent of $100 outright, iPhone is still unaffordable for most – developers included!) – but they develop for the masses – not just for themselves… and that in india at least, includes Nokia… having said that, when smartphones from nokia come around and are more expensive than android ones from another manafacturer, nokia is going to die a quicker death than expected… a mobile population of 750mil is too large to ignore… and they did just that!

      2. Good article Robert, and I have really enjoyed the banter between everyone.

        I am not an app developer, nor really ever become one, so my hat is off to those who are.

        Interesting observation….. I just attended Mining Indaba in Cape Town, South Africa, arguably the largest mining conference anywhere in the world. More than 6,000 delegates attended the 4 day event.

        Now it needs to be noted here upfront, I am biased towards BlackBerry and RIM, and I don’t shy away from that, but…… I could literally count the number of iPhones I saw on one hand, and no hands were needed for Android. There were, as expected a smattering of Nokia devices.

        What was the predominant smartphone….. BlackBerry, and not just the older models, but the Bold 9700/9780 and Torch 9800 were well represented.

        This was not a developer conference, nor a tech conference, but a real world mining conference, and the participants were globally represented.

        The growth rate of the BlackBerry device in Africa is huge, simply because the cheapest method for people to message each other is by BBM. And the cheap access to the internet via BIS (R59 pm or roughly $8.50USD) will enable more people to use apps on their devices. And it was the young generation who found out about the BlackBerry BBM etc first, which has led to older generations adopting the BlackBerry, hence the massive growth.

        And this was shown previously in India and Indonesia.

        While yes, iOS and Android are romping home with the number and proliferation of apps, I haven’t really been left wanting too badly with apps for my BlackBerry device (I am sure there are some out there, but overall I am happy).

        To write off RIM I feel would be unwise. Neither iPhone, Android nor WP7 (nor their cupboard full of apps) provide compelling enough reasons for me to switch from BlackBerry, and as time evolves, and RIM continue their purchasing of companies, and continuing to improve the BlackBerry OS (OS 6.1 coming and eventually QNX) the reasons are diminishing. And the ever strengthening rumours Android applications running on BlackBerry devices (PlayBook first, but when QNX comes to the BlackBerry….?) …….

        But Robert, great thought provoking article. Keep doing what you do, and keep stirring the pot.

        Thomas

  15. I think MS still has a very good shot in the mobile space. I have used their mobile OS from CE up till now. I am not saying they have done the best job by far with mobile (I have both WP7 and iPhone) or many of their products. I have seen a lot of device maufacturers lose market share or fail trying to create thier own OS when their was one available (windows mobile): PALM, Motorola & Nokia. Even the iPhone really only took off with the ActiveSynch add-on from MS even with its great user interface.

    I have largely been anti-Apple, but I have not been able to resist the ease of use and synergy of the iPhone, iTunes and Apple TV even though Media Center is the main content source for our house, Zune up till recently didn’t interface with Windows Mobile and still doesn’t quite have the content selection of iTunes.

    I think the saving grace for MS is Apple, HP, etc not being able to run MS Office has held off some of users. If iPad ran MS Office, I would have bought one by now. The only reason a Travel with a laptop is to run Office.

    I think by far the biggest issue for MS is really leveraging their existing product ecosystem to maximize value for the user. Then they can make real progress in mulitple spaces. Many key solutions do not interface with one another like Media Center and Zune, Media Center and Windows Mobile, etc. I mean for a company trying to ‘own the living room’ try and find a media center remote and sensor on the shelf, he new Cable Card tuners are great but average customers don’t really know they exist and don’t even get me started on home automation! Xbox is making more strides in synergy than any other group at MS so they better hope Apple doesn’t jump into gaming!

    I still think MS is a great company with good products, but missing opportunties inside itself to enhance the customer experience which is the market failure for them more than anything.

  16. I wouldn’t say they are in trouble. They just won’t thrive. They will languish in mediocrity. Will they continue to make money? Yes. Will they still cripple their phones with limited/poorly designed apps? Yes. Will they continually try and reinvent the wheel *cough* Microsoft *cough* coming out with an “all new, good as Apple/Android” platform/ecosystem/phone that doesn’t quite live up to the hype? Probably. Is that a death-knell for either company? Probably not. Neither Microsoft, Nokia, or RIM butter their bread on being cutting edge, but on market share. I’m not sure how they are screwed. They’ll just continue to suck…

  17. Nokia is killing QT, which was meant to be the bridge between Symbian and Meego. In this new situation it would be sensitive to develope QT further and port it to WP7 too. Without porting it, QT is dead and so all the developers who currently are interested in it, move elsewhere. If QT would get with WP7 porting another lease of life, could (and would have motive to do so?) current Symbian developers have an easy way to develope apps to Symbian and still have a second market when the WP7 phones will hit the market.

    With the decision to kill QT, Nokia will kill all developing on Symbian and even the joint effort of WP7 phones will suffer, because there is no developer base to tranfer from Symbian to WP7.

  18. I listened all the way through, Robert :-) Glad you didn’t follow him to the bathroom and keep recording, though. I definitely would have turned it off!

    The argument, though, is superficial: because Android’s open and iOS is cool. If you will allow, I would like to expand on my thinking here.

    There are really only two sides to any market: the premium providers and the low cost providers. Apple, clearly, is the premium provider in every market they walk into. They maximize profit by protecting profit margin at the expense of market share. But in tech, just like in cars, there is always a premium provider. Think Apple as Lexus. On the low end it is all about volume and cost control. Google, by open sourcing, is playing this game perfectly. Think Google as Toyota. The last thing to consider is that there really is no middle ground, or at least if you are in the middle ground you are likely to get squeezed. And that, I’m afraid, is Microsoft, Nokia, RIM and HP. None are considered premium platforms any more and, while Nokia and RIM have traditionally been low cost providers, they are getting squeezed by the army of hardware companies Android has unleashed.

    Unfortunately for those three (now that Nokia will be a WinPhone7 licensee) there are only two ways to compete: either reclaim the premium brand or undercut Google as the low cost provider. Both are unlikely with the current crop of OSes.

    As for developers, let’s face it, we are followers. (And I am one of them.) What we primarily care about is revenue in our pockets and thus the platforms that have the best chance of delivering that. (Secondarily we care about what is in our pockets.) A year ago that was only iOS. Now it is iOS and Android. For WinPhone 7, webOS, and BlackBerry OS/QNX to become relevant, they have to either 1) get developers interested in buying and using their devices as their own or 2) show platform numbers that will attract developers because they think they can make lots of money there.

    For now, only Apple and Google are demonstrating either of these.

      1. Thanks! That means a lot.

        I am struggling a little with the car analogy because there is a Mercedes and a BMW, among other car companies, too. Does that mean there is room for more high-end brands? But car companies are so standard in so many ways that I think the analogy breaks down. I don’t think that happens in tech for the reason you already stated: apps. As developers we just can’t split our attention across more than two platforms. And thus the apps reinforce the two party rule in tech. So, yes, at the end of the day, I think we are both saying it will be a bifurcated smartphone world.

      2. Thanks! That means a lot.

        I am struggling a little with the car analogy because there is a Mercedes and a BMW, among other car companies, too. Does that mean there is room for more high-end brands? But car companies are so standard in so many ways that I think the analogy breaks down. I don’t think that happens in tech for the reason you already stated: apps. As developers we just can’t split our attention across more than two platforms. And thus the apps reinforce the two party rule in tech. So, yes, at the end of the day, I think we are both saying it will be a bifurcated smartphone world.

      3. Thanks! That means a lot.

        I am struggling a little with the car analogy because there is a Mercedes and a BMW, among other car companies, too. Does that mean there is room for more high-end brands? But car companies are so standard in so many ways that I think the analogy breaks down. I don’t think that happens in tech for the reason you already stated: apps. As developers we just can’t split our attention across more than two platforms. And thus the apps reinforce the two party rule in tech. So, yes, at the end of the day, I think we are both saying it will be a bifurcated smartphone world.

      4. Thanks! That means a lot.

        I am struggling a little with the car analogy because there is a Mercedes and a BMW, among other car companies, too. Does that mean there is room for more high-end brands? But car companies are so standard in so many ways that I think the analogy breaks down. I don’t think that happens in tech for the reason you already stated: apps. As developers we just can’t split our attention across more than two platforms. And thus the apps reinforce the two party rule in tech. So, yes, at the end of the day, I think we are both saying it will be a bifurcated smartphone world.

  19. “Android is the future because it is open source”… that statement itself shows a bias.
    These developers are great but lets not put too much emphesis on what a bunch of developers say. At the end of the day if NokMSFT move enough phone all developers will develop.
    NokMSFT will have to move phones one way or another.

    1. Rohit: and that’s the chicken and egg problem.

      Consumers are going into stores asking for phones with apps now. Windows and Nokia doesn’t have them.

      So, the sales won’t be there. Which means the apps won’t be there. Which means the sales won’t be there. Which means the apps won’t be there.

      So, how do you break this cycle? At least Microsoft and Nokia are trying.

      1. Granted, Windows Phone does not have Angry Birds. It does not have Pandora (which is disabled outside the US anyway), but it has Zune Pass. It needs a decent turn-yby-turn navigation solution, which should be solved by integrating OVI maps. But what else is missing? There are already 8000 apps, and the basics are covered. You can already get lost in the apps as a user, just like with the 300,000 or so apps on iOS. It is already a tedious task to find the best Twitter app by trying each, although it’s not impossible like on iPhone.

        You know well, that the productivity of the WP7 developer tools are unmateched. The iOS IMDB app was created in 6 months, while the WP7 app only took 6 weeks with pre-release tools, and developers who were just getting to know the platform. We created a 3D browser app (SurfCube) in 3 man-weeks that even got featured on Engadget. This means that a lot more apps are trivial to do over a weekend or in the evenings than for the iPhone. Sure, the sales numbers are not enough to make as much money as on iOS, but the investment is a lot smaller, too.

        I don’t think it’s the lack of apps that holds the sales back. It’s bad marketing, and the fact that when you go to a store, the sales person will suggest Android instead, because it has copy-paste, and doesn’t have viruses like Windows (true story). It’s the bad perception inherited from Windows Mobile. WP is also hurt by being way too US-centric (both for developers and end users), despite having had a European debut launch.

        A lot of these issues will be solved with the Nokia partnership and the coming updates – hopefully by the end of the year. Apps will continue to come at a steady rate. But MS and their mobile operator partners need to change the attitude of the sales people asap. Any idea how that can be done?

        1. Getting store salespeople to change what they are pushing? That’s marketing dollars. When I worked retail there were “spiffs” which meant if you sold one thing you’d get $10 in your pocket, where if you sold another thing you’d get nothing. Microsoft can afford to pay store folks that way.

          But other than that, training, and giving store folks devices so they can see for themselves how good the device is. BUt, yeah, gotta fix copy and paste, among other issues, before you’ll turn store people into true evangelists.

          Even when I was getting spiffs to push one thing, I’d push the best thing for the customer (in my opinion). Pissed my boss off, but I knew that if I didn’t keep the customer happy I wouldn’t have a customer next week anyway.

          1. That’s a very good point — in addition to Microsoft having workshops and roadshows and incentivizing developers, they need to do the same with the mobile sales force.

            When the next version comes out, hopefully It will be ready for real time. With Nokia focused on it instead of LG/etc who fragmented on OS, I hope to see some really beautiful Win Phones – worth pushing!

      2. Games. I got an iPod touch purely for the games, and I really don’t care about the total number of them, just that there’s enough for me to enjoy. Ilomilo is pretty sweet (I’ve played it on 360), and more games are going to come out for WP7. Hell, don’t be surprised to see Halo running on it, and several other popular Xbox properties could end up there as well.

        That’s also what one of the guys you were talking to (I couldn’t attach a name to the sound of their voices) mentioned – drop Windows and go with Xbox. Maybe it’s not that extent, but there are a number of Xbox only IPs that are fairly valuable that Microsoft can bring to bear with WP7 as an entertainment device.

        That might not cover everything, and might not have MS gaining the same kind of exposure that iOS has, as it’s only a single part of it, but that’s enough to get people buying the phones, and once more people are buying them, more devs will take interest, so it’ll snowball.

        The other thing would be photosynth – if they get their ass in gear and have photosynth directly on phones, WP7 phones will be very appealing to photographers, at which point anyone making photography apps will start developing for WP7, meaning more photographers getting WP7 phones. This works particularly well given that Nokias are popular for exactly that.

    2. the people of egypt are hell bent of having a change of regime… but lets not get carried away by what they want! oh wait! they got what they wanted!!!! there’s a thing or two to be said about people with passion… and open source got people with passion buddy! bias or no bias… it’s a force no propitiatory system can stand up to!

  20. When I was at MIX10 I ended up drinking with the Mono team, who Microsoft has been helping to build .NET cross-compilers for both Linux, OSX, and iOS. Now that the iOS EULA’s been amended to allow cross compilation of code from sources like these, writing true cross platform mobile programs hopefully won’t be so bad.

    Plus lots of mobile apps that are written are just giant browser windows interfacing with a javascript-heavy website on the back end. You really only need to know a solid library like XUI and enough native code to open up a browser window if you want to produce quick and easy across all of the major OS (ignoring the time spent on the app store vetting process).

    Hacking a mobile app in WP7’s API if you already know .NET is pretty easy. But even if you’re new to .NET it’s not so bad. Picking up C# – the most touted language of the .NET family arguably – is really easy if you know Java as they’re linguistically VERY similar. They’re so similar that some very basic code written in Java could be compiled into C#. NET.

    Given that Java is the language for Android, moving between Android and WP7 is dramatically easier than moving between Android and iOS.

    Maybe Microsoft’s play here isn’t to beat iOS? Maybe it’s to marginalize their position in the resource market for mobile app developers by making the opportunity cost of being a mobile dev. shop that uses Android/iOS significantly more than that of a WP7/Android place? If so you’d want to flood the consumer sector with your product so that the user base is sufficiently large, which it seems like Microsoft is doing by tapping Nokia.

    What do you think Scoble?

  21. The developers will come eventually, they did for Android did they not? Which had 0% marketshare and zero experience in mobile devices and look where they ended up at. Developers moved to iPhone did they not? The iPhone had 0% marketshare, Apple had zero experience in the mobile handset business and at the time a tiny developer base dedicated to Apple products.

    Developers will come to WP7, if they don’t then their idiots. WP7 has great potential, has great reviews, great attachment rates, great prices, great hardware, great partners and the best version 1 OS I have ever seen.

    An app is successful based on it’s quality, not based on it’s platform. If you make the best flying bird application in the world, no matter what platform you put it on it’s going to be successful, period. If you are a developer and don’t recognize the potential of being on as many platforms as possible then they are foolish.

    Imagine being a resturant who only serves food to the Men that come in, look at all the missed income from excluding all the Women.

    1. version 1 OS? What’s with the “7” then? Oh, right, because “Windows CE/Mobile” fell apart after 6+ versions so they rewrote history by changing the name.

  22. Robert has talking to these guys changed your thinking about MS / Nokia position / chances in any way (even marginally)?

  23. They’re not thinking the whole thing through really – everything they’re saying about Microsoft now is stuff people were saying about Android when it really was only Apple. Something that you’ll see happening is the same thing that happened with Android – there are so many apps on Android and iOS that you get lost, so instead you release for Windows Phone or webOS – both of which have far less content, so there’s much better exposure. You might have a cool app that nobody notices on iOS or Android, but gets quickly picked up on Windows Phone or webOS.

    Another issue is what they mentioned about making an app for iOS but not for Android, and someone else making an app with the same functionality on Android before they do. That same thing happens with Windows Phone and webOS – and it’s what made Gameloft so big. Take something someone else has done – you don’t even need the creativity, design it for a different OS, sell it and people with that OS will buy it, so you get revenue. Get some exposure that way, and then release that same app on larger platforms with more exposure, and people might simply go for it because it’s cross platform and allows them to be less dependent on a single device.

    Windows Phone might not be the most attractive as far as distribution goes, but it’s easy to develop for, and easy to use. There are still plenty of people buying phones based on user experience rather than apps (that’s why people bought the iPhone back when S60v3 was where it was at), and Windows Phone will gain traction that way.

    1. That’s one very strong point – someone choosing to get on board the new platform with a hot application could garner some major attention share, while the competition pool is still small.

      (I do not envision myself switching, though)

    2. You can’t seriously compare Microsoft’s failed OS to Android as a newcomer in the mobile market and compete with Apple.

      Microsoft has never been able to produce a stable mobile OS. Their engineers continue to embed the same issues in all of their OS products.

      It requires a change of culture in Microsoft’s Engineering thinking. The need to stay on the High-End Enterprise products and leave the micro-devices to companies that know how to make them, with the exception of Nokia, since they DO not make hardware anymore, They proclaim to be an Internet company. The Chinese have taken the Nokia manufacturing over.

      This was in 2008…

      ——–
      Published May 9, 2008, 12:52 PM

      At Nokia’s annual meeting yesterday, CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo vowed to change the business model of the world’s leading mobile phone maker, to make it, in his words, “more like an Internet company.”

      “Our goal is to act less like a traditional manufacturer, and more like an Internet company,” Kallasvuo told Nokia shareholders yesterday. “Companies such as Apple, Google, and Microsoft are not our traditional competitors, but they are major forces that must be reckoned with. Make no mistake. We are taking on these challenges seriously and aggressively.”
      ——–

  24. Nice Cinch Robert. Sounds like you guys had fun. Enjoyed listening to it.

    Interesting that the Instagram model is going away. The reason I use Instagram is because it’s device-exclusive. Makes me feel special. The fact that you can’t even access it on a computer is what makes it so awesome.

    But that’s just me I guess.

  25. I bought a T-Mobile WIN7 HTC, and during the initial activation process, MS been predictable, I received the infamous BLUE Screen asking me to call Microsoft Support. By this time I only had the phone for les then 45 minutes.

    I have been around since 1976, Year 1 of the MS Revolution, I have seen it all, Bought the 1st IBM PC with MS DOS 1.01 for $3500 dollars, and the list goes on. I can say based on what I have seen and developed since the Dawn of MS and Apple, the only thing that will save Nokia is China using the Symbian technology, for now and eventually the Chinese replacing it down the road with Android.

    Ask HP on the success of the Win. Mobile and their experience in the marketplace, Microsoft and Nokia’s reason to existing in the future of Mobile IP Communications has as much chance as finding water on the Moon.

    Those who believe that they are to smart and to big to fail?

    Do a History review and take a look at ol’ Blue, once up on a time they all wore Black suites and ties now? I’ll let you figure that one out.

  26. A couple of developers sitting at the bar talking aren’t a market crystal ball. I absolutely agree that a developer should put his effort on the biggest market but he should also look forward. Its actually make more sense to jump onto the Phone 7 train just because there are less applications for WP7. The smartphone market is still very small and has a lot a place to grow we should expect it be more than 2 horse race probably 3 (MS) maybe 4 (HP/IOS)

  27. It’s also worth pointing out that Nokia had a(n ailing) developer ecosystem until friday. They also were successfully fixing what ailed it: the latest QT developer kits include all sorts of fancy nice things for building apps on a variety of platforms quickly. They even had, until friday, a way to migrate their developers from the current platform to their next one (again — code to QT and it works everywhere).

    And then there’s Android-lighthouse, building QT for Android.

    But Nokia threw that all away on friday and went with a platform that has no apps and no developer ecosystem to speak of. They are toast.

  28. We all want a third player in the game, but I just can’t get enthusiastic about this unholy alliance. Windows is a closed system, I think the smartphone market will be even more interesting and healthy if the third big player is a open source system by Nokia. To be frank, I wish they fail, if they succeed, there will be pressure on everyone to go all walled-garden.

    As good a deal it is for Microsoft, it also makes them dependent on Nokia. The other manufacturers will stop putting WP7 on their phones. This means they will lose out on some market like Japan where homegrown brands like Sharp and Panasonic are very strong.

  29. This smacks of a guy with an axe to grind — or a budget he’s locked into. I dropped my iPhone for a Windows Phone and haven’t looked back. I’d say I’ve got 70% of the apps I used on the iPhone already — and they’re universally better looking and more fun to use than the iPhone versions. Most of the others are on the way, or I’ve found good alternatives. I get a kick out of the WinPhone interface; it’s more fun and better looking than iOS. Oh, and my Focus has yet to drop a call. Assuming that ANY OS has a permanent lock on users’ imaginations and wallets is a good path to the nearest boneyard. If Long’s not on board for WinPhone, who cares?

  30. Loved the show, and I am in fair agreement with the developers’ point of view. Android & iOS is the way to go, if only for Apple being the pioneer in smartphone and touch computing and that Google’s open-source and open-manufacturing strategy of ‘army of Android’ is highly successful & is likely to be so.

    Actually, developing for Android first is already happening for us at BandTrackr. You can see the reasons why on our interview on Next Montreal:
    http://nextmontreal.com/band-trackr-never-miss-another-concert-again/

    Also, do sign up for our closed beta: http://www.mybandtrackr.com/

    Regards,

    Josh

  31. Hold on a second Scoble. The Nokia deal means that there will suddenly be a massive audience for WP7 apps – an audience that devs want to reach.

    Remember Quantity is a quality all on its own.

    I don’t think WP7 is quite as screwed as you are making out to be.

  32. The key here is simple: Yes, apps matter… but only the top 5% or so of MUST HAVES. The only one really missing at this point is Skype. The rest are there, including Kindle now. As long as you don’t look lame because your platform of choice doesn’t have those core apps, the rest is “ya, well, mine will do this! So there!” Apps matter, but not as much as people would like you to believe.

    And Microsoft’s Dev Tooling and Silverlight in general is VASTLY better than Java on Android and makes a mockery of iOS development in Obective – C (i.e. 1980s technology with a pretty face that Steve Jobs thinks is wonderful). Developers will win this war, but they’ll win it because businesses know .NET and program in it already. Thus the LOB apps that come will come to WP7, not to the other two, and that will drive business adoption.

    Consumer adoption will come from the fact that my mom knows how to use a WP7 device and likes it. It’s that easy. Android, my wife who is techy hated until I manually customized it, and ios is BLAND and BORING at this point so they get bored very quickly.

    WP7 is the sweet spot. And with today’s announcements about multi-tasking and deeper integration with Xbox, watchout. In a year or so, people are going to be eating their words just like they did with Xbox handled PS3 and now WII their ass on a platter.

    1. And BTW, the smartest thing that MS could do is port Silverlight to Android and let the apps run… crippled in minor ways on Android. Then you’d have all of the Android devs switch to Silverlight because they’d get WP7 for free, and MS would win by default.

    2. I totally disagree only the top 5% matter. You sound like one of those guys who recommended getting rid of 30% of Excel’s features. Problem is someone actually used those features.

      I saw this close up at the World Economic Forum. iPad users’ app worked, Android didn’t. This was NOT a top five % app.

      1. Absolutely not what I was saying.

        What I was saying is that everyone has a check list of apps that they need. They will go to the platform that covers the largest part of that list and is also hip and cool. The number of those core apps that they accept not being there will be directly proportionate to how “hip and cool” the platform is (that’s why people moved to the iphone in the first place.)

        The cold hard fact is that about 5% of the apps in the app store on iOS make up about 90+% of the apps actually used. (and especially Android where 90% of the crap in there is just spamy wallpapers and the like)

        Given that fact, and the fact that the other 10% of apps are “discretionary” in nature and not must haves, you have a “ya well, that’s nice yours does that, but mine does this!!!!” fest. (And make no mistake, just like RSS that the tech industry loved(s) and thought was the second coming, and no one else cared about, the vast majority of these stupid social network apps cluttering up the runway are irrelevant. And the ones that turn out not to be, will be on all 3 platforms anyhow.)

        And then you have businesses, which are fleeing BB and who already know .NET and Silverlight. 100% of their business apps are MUST HAVE. No discretion. That means that when a business writes an app for .NET you don’t have a choice but to use a WP7 device. Everything else is secondary. And this is how MS will win. Cover the 5%, get a good chunk of everything else. Make themselves completely unique with their tie ins to Xbox, and then win over businesses and developers in business and make WP7 non-optional for the geeks, the gamers and the business people…. and then let the hackers at it, and win over the hardcore geeks that have time to waste recompiling Kernels and whooo! You win!

        Oh, and MS is going to either buy RIM or do a deal like Nokia with them. Mark my words. RIM is dying hard. The Playbook is about to be still born and they’re going to be looking for a buyer. MS needs and will be that white knight. And overnight they’ll have 60+% of the world smartphone market.

    3. Bland and boring is not an argument.

      The technology (prog. language) being all this is not an important as you might think. It has never been a criteria for a platform to win (see Windows during 80-90). That said, you totally underestimate the quality and the power of Cocoa, it’s not only about Objective-C.

      1. Windows during 80-90 was a non-player! You prove my point I wasn’t until 1990 and Windows 3 came out that anyone used it. (it was 5th in the windowing market on PCs prior to Windows 3) And you know what more interestingly than Windows 3 came out in 1990? Visual Basic.

        Windows won over mac and every other OS and GUI on top of DOS because of Visual Basic.

        This is especially true in the business world where they’re not about screwing around with programming languages and making really “kewl” stuff. They’re about creating stuff that works and gets the job done for their business at the lowest price possible.

        Silverlight is far and away the best way to do that… it also happens to be the very best way to make games, and very “kewl” interfaces too.

        1. I think Windows won because of pricing, that’s all. Exactly the situation Apple is in right now. Very few compagnies can compete on pricing, esp. for the iPad.

          1. Again, look at your history. Windows was actually significantly more expensive than it’s competition at the time. Everyone thinks that Apple was the #1 windowed OS and that it was a battle between Apple and Microsoft back in the day. It was not. There were 5 major players, of which 2 of them sold more than Macs and both of them were KILLING MS… until the advent of Visual Basic. MS bought out Desqview and the rest just died because there were no developers left.

            The OS wars were not OS wars. They were programming language wars. MS won. They continue to win. This is why Java is in decline and .NET is growing like crazy. (and don’t even bother with languages like Ruby etc. in your defense, they’re a tiny fraction of the language war, and they’re NOT GROWING. (MVC.NET now accounts for almost the same percentage of sites as all of Ruby does and it’s not even MS’s main web development platform and has only been out for a little more than a year and a half!)

            MS is doing the same thing on the smartphone front. And if they buy/coopt RIM and port silverlight to Android then this game is done. MS will own the smartphone industry in 5 years.

            And if they port WP7 to tablets and expand the metaphor as is obvious to do, then that game will be won too. There are millions of not billions of .NET apps that with very little porting will “JUST WORK”.

            This isn’t about hard core C developers that think nothing of writing for iOS, or java programmers that don’t mind compiling the SDK and all of the mess that is Android development at the moment (Oracle is pulling a SCO on Java ATM). This is about the guys that are paid to build business solutions. They’re target is efficiency and maintainability in a business environment. This is where time to market and cost to develop matters ALOT. ios and Java can have it’s cost to develop written off over huge markets on consumer apps. The same cannot be said for line of business apps. And that’s where .NET (VB.NET even more than C#) wins. BIG TIME. Which means that LOB will be written in .NET now that it’s an option, and entropy will take over.

          2. That’s not true. Windows was cheaper than its main competition (which WAS Apple) back in the 1990s and as much as I’d like to believe it was Visual Basic that made Windows a major winner (it was a factor, but not a major one, and I say that as one of the first employees of Visual Basic Programmer’s Journal, so had a front row seat on that one).

            By the way, Microsoft is betting BIG TIME on HTML 5 for these enterprise developers in the next version of Windows, NOT .NET. Think about that one for a moment. See ya at Windows 8 launch!

  33. Can people with 6.5 install Winphone7? No.How many apps on their marketplace? Sounds like you’re more of a fanboy, than anything else. And if it’s refined is a question of who you ask. I’m a fan of phones you can make your own. Try rooting/baking roms on your Win7 Phone. I don’t call locking down a phone from its users refined. I call it crippled.