Archive for the ‘Symbian’ Category

My thoughts about Stephen Elop strategy for Nokia

April 18, 2012

Lately, there’s a lot of buzz on the web about Stephen Elop strategy for Nokia. The subject is becoming again popular since Nokia released a profit warning and lowered their estimates. Full Q1 results will be reported by Nokia on April 19.

In my opinion, Elop did some good things but also made some mistakes, so here I’m about to share my thoughts on the subject.

The good:
  • Partnership with Microsoft
Bringing MS apps to Symbian and joining the WP ecosystem was necessary as Nokia was losing the battle fighting alone. I believe MS is important for Nokia strategy especially in the USA where Nokia lost almost all brand awareness.
  •  Outsourcing Symbian to Accenture
Nokia already admitted before that Symbian was a huge pain to maintain and was struggling to evolve and match the competition pace. Nokia also needed to get rid of some people in order to make the company lighter (and eventually more agile), so this move seems to me as absolutely necessary.
Symbian was going nowhere and Accenture is apparently making a good job developing it (Belle FP1 looks good!)…
  • Marketing
The “amazing everyday” viral campaign, “blown away by Lumia” campaign, deadmau5 London Lumia launch event, product placement and publicity on TV and magazines was indeed critically needed!
Everybody is talking about iDevices and Android Galaxies and Nokia has to put itself out there and remember people Nokia still exists and is well alive in order to get some mindshare back!!
  • Avoiding the Android temptation
Android is a mess: there’s a lot of competitors, their differentiation arguably bring any benefit (mostly because of slow customizations and ugly UIs), Nokia would have to fight the competition with price, so margins would be really low to remain competitive and then there is the “famous” fragmentation problem caused by Google ultra fast pace of Android release cycles.
Nokia would have to buy most of the necessary hardware from somebody else (like it’s happening with Compal-made Lumias), would launch devices most likely with old Android versions and obsolete hardware (compared to SoC and display manufacturers like Samsung), the firmware update roadmap would be a mess (look at what’s happening with most Android manufacturers) and if Nokia barely keeps everybody happy with their own OSes things would probably get even worst with Android.
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The bad:
  • Burning platform memo
It was a mistake to ditch Nokia current platforms without having a full range of new WP devices to put short-term on the shelves. People stopped buying Nokia in the following months and as there was no alternative they ran to the competition! Other Windows Phone manufacturer’s sales didn’t even explode by that time, so, all in all, appears to me as a dumb move!
  • Killing Harmattan and the Nokia N9
I’m not completely unbiased as I’m a N9 owner but I still think Elop should have made clear that Harmattan and Qt was going to be kept, to evolve, even if at a slow pace and with a limited number of new devices.
A lot of tech-savvy people and Linux enthusiasts love Maemo (or MeeGo as they called Maemo 6.x)!
Harmattan and the Swipe UI clearly have a lot of potential and an innovative (may I call it even revolutionary?) user experience!
Nokia should kept nurturing and learning from it and build an entirely new ecosystem around it and around Qt (to smoothly convert Symbian devs to Harmattan), expanding the platform to emerging markets and even low end devices.
If Samsung can keep Bada and Tizen around, so should Nokia keep their own OS, at least as a Plan B and to avoid being completely dependent on MS roadmap.
  • Not selling the N950
There’s no physical keyboard Lumia device. E7 is just too old.
This is a no-brainer: N950 would be the perfect replacement for this market segment, helping Harmattan sales and simultaneously offering an obvious upgrade path to those loyal customers that are currently using the N97 / E7.
There’s not much competition on this type of device so it would have been most certainly a success!
  •  Getting rid of several Nokia (ex-Ovi) services
Nokia dropped the online Calendar and Contacts web services and focused on the Nokia Maps service.
Nokia Store, for instance, has carrier billing in several countries and Nokia receives some money for each app that’s sold there.
MS controls the WP Marketplace and all the cloud services for Lumia devices.
If Nokia has kept Harmattan and the Nokia Store (and services) around that would have been a smart move because if in the future Nokia partnership with MS fails, at least they would still have a great OS with Nokia’s own app store where developers, carriers and Nokia itself could make money of and build their own ecosystem around.
WP will always be MS playground and Nokia will have only limited (if any) revenue options with their Marketplace.
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In the end, I think it’s just not very smart to bet the future of a huge company like Nokia in just one single platform. Betting the whole company strategy on a system like Windows Phone (that was and still is pretty small) with weak sales since the beginning just doesn’t make any sense. Not keeping Harmattan around as plan B seems even more risky…
I hope Nokia can recover from the downward path they’re going through and return to a position of market leadership in the future!
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UMTS / 3G standard video calling (or the lack of it!)

December 8, 2011

One of the new features 3G phones introduced was the front facing camera and the ability to make video calls between them.

As far as I know, this feature was initially a flop: video calling was much more expensive than traditional phone calls which led most consumers away.

In the last couple of years, at least in my country, carriers like Vodafone introduced new prepaid plans that not only allowed free voice calls between phones (using the same plan) but also free video calling (again, between phones with the same prepaid tariff).

I noticed that, thanks to these new prepaid plans a lot of consumers rediscovered video calling and, especially if living away from their loved ones, started to use this feature a lot more often.

At the same time, a lot of people started to dump their old 3G dumb and feature phones and joined the smartphone revolution. Unfortunately most have discovered an inconvenient truth: Most smartphones can’t make the standard good old video calls!

– iOS devices are able to make video calls through data networks (FaceTime) but are not able to make standard 3G video calls.

– Android also do not support natively standard video calling, although is able to do so via Google Talk or Skype.

– Windows Phone just recently started having phones with a front facing camera in the market, but, like Android or iOS, do not support UMTS video calling.

I have to recognize that, apparently, the only manufacturer concerned about this and that’s making an effort to make both Android and Windows Phone smartphones compatible with the old video calling standard is Samsung, as you can see in the video below (made by HDblog)

All other phone manufacturers I had the opportunity to try, such as standard Google Nexus phones (including the Samsung ones), HTC, Sony Ericsson and Apple are not able to do it, which is really a shame, since this was a feature available in older mobile OS such as Symbian or Windows Mobile.