Nokia CEO Stephen Elop wrote in his 'Burning Platforms' memo
what he felt was wrong with Nokia. This is very reasonable-sounding stuff from Nokia's new CEO, to help explain why Nokia was so much in trouble. Let's be very clear, and first copy his exact words here. This is what Stephen Elop wrote about ecosystems and Nokia:
"The battle of devices has now become a war of ecosystems, where ecosystems include not only the hardware and software of the device, but developers, applications, ecommerce, advertising, search, social applications, location-based services, unified communications and many other things. Our competitors aren’t taking our market share with devices; they are taking our market share with an entire ecosystem. This means we’re going to have to decide how we either build, catalyze or join an ecosystem."
Since that 'Burning Platforms' memo, we have heard on February 11, that Stephen Elop decided to end Nokia's own smartphone platform, Symbian, the heart of Nokia's current ecosystem. He also announced Nokia would not proceed into the previously-announced migration path, to the newest smartphone operating system, MeeGo. Instead, Stephen Elop announced that Nokia would replace Symbian with Microsoft's new Phone 7
(since renamed Windows Phone 7
) operating system for smartphones. We should assume, that he felt WP7 is more suited for the 'war of ecosystems' against Apple's iPhone iOS
ecosystem and that of Google's Android
, HP's webOS
While it all sounds great, a bizarre thing happened between February and today. According to dozens of executives we spoke with, Nokia developers have abandoned Nokia's platforms and even more alarmingly, are not embracing Microsoft's WP7 ecosystem instead. So let's examine the evidence. How do the three systems compare?Open or Closed Ecosystem
Nokia's original Symbian operating system
was an open source
operating system. It was built with the support of essentially every major mobile phone maker (Motorola, Sony, Ericsson, Samsung, Siemens, Panasonic etc).
Nokia's intended replacement operating system, MeeGo
, was also an open source operating system based on Linux, that Nokia jointly developed with Intel.
The selected operating system Microsoft WP7 is a proprietary operating system
, it is very closely managed and controlled by Microsoft and Nokia would have no control in that evolution. To me this does not sound like Nokia changed to a better ecosystem. Maybe it's just me. Maybe it gets better with the developers.Developers
Nokia's old' operating system, Symbian had a vast army of developers, using the system which is notorious for being very clumsy and difficult to develop for. But there was a large army, literally hundreds of thousands of developers worldwide who knew Symbian development (by some accounts, Nokia had 220,000 registered developers Ed.).
The new intended OS, MeeGo, was built on industry-standard tools based on Linux, for which there is ample available programming competence. There are hundreds of thousands, if not more than a million of developers competent in Linux.
The selected Microsoft WP7 OS is not using industry standard tools and is not Linux based. Any developers would need to learn new skills. The total developer community is only measured in the tens of thousands, far less than either for Symbian or MeeGo.Apps
Nokia's Symbian platform has been around for more than a decade and has a vast array of apps and services. Its Ovi store had become the worlds' second most used app store, generating downloads that only Apple's iPhone App Store could exceed.
The intended MeeGo ecosystem would be using Nokia's Ovi store and could access Ovi apps and content, and if designed using Qt the common tool for Symbian and MeeGo, the apps would run on both platforms.
The selected Microsoft WP7 platform has the smallest number of apps and its app store is the least-used app store of the major internationally launched smartphone platforms. Nokia announced the company is going to rename Ovi Store into Nokia Services
. How and if these two stores are going to co-exist... only time will tell.Migration Path
Nokia's Symbian has traditionally had a migration path and Nokia even built a migration from Symbian to MeeGo via its developer tools called Qt. Thus any apps now developed for Symbian would also run on MeeGo. The developers of Symbian were particularly pleased with this extra effort that Nokia had invested in its ecosystem.
Nokia's intended OS, MeeGo would then benefit from the migration of most current Symbian content.
The selected Microsoft WP7 operating system did not have a migration path from Symbian. It did not have a migration path to or from MeeGo. It did not even have a migration path from the previous Microsoft OS, Windows Mobile. The previous Microsoft developers were particularly upset that Microsoft refused to support them in migration.Android Compatibility
The old Nokia operating system, Symbian, did not natively have any compatibility with Google's Android, but through the Nokia developer tools of Qt
, any Qt developer could create apps for both platforms. In this way, recently, Symbian developers through Nokia's Qt, acquired a partial compatibility with Android.
Nokia's intended new OS, MeeGo was built on Linux just like Android, and was an open source OS just like Android; thus most software modules etc would be compatible and in many cases actually interchangeable. In any case, Qt the Nokia development tool allows app development for both platforms, simplifying greatly application development work.
Microsoft's WP7 is not compatible with Android. It's not even compatible with Microsoft's own previous OS, Windows Mobile 6.x. Also, bear in mind the company decided to shift away from Qt and spin it off to Divia
Nokia's Symbian was built to include Nokia Ovi map support, the most used mobile phone mapping solution on the planet, and free to users. Nokia's intended MeeGo operating system had full Ovi map support.
The selected Microsoft WP7 operating system did not have Ovi map support, but it would be added, which would remove a unique Nokia benefit, and a free of charge to Nokia's big rivals who manufacture Windows Phone 7 phones - Samsung, LG, HTC and SonyEricsson.
The only way Ovi Map (Nokia owns NAVTEQ
, world's largest map provider) would remain exclusive if Nokia keeps it inside Ovi Store/Nokia Services and refuse to make it available to other Microsoft App store users.
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