Nokia's Symbian was expanded through the Ovi store to provide full carrier app store support, with carrier-billing, the preferred billing and payment option by all app developers. Ovi had become the app store with by far the biggest carrier-billing reach, passing over 100 carriers/mobile operators who supported Ovi carrier billing.
Nokia's intended MeeGo ecosystem had Ovi carrier support built in. The selected Microsoft WP7 ecosystem had no carrier billing support, but it gained that through the Nokia partnership, thus all the work Nokia had done to build the widest reaching carrier ecosystem was now gifted to Microsoft.
Now, while Apple can claim that they're the biggest store in terms of number of apps, statement that the company paid 2.5 billion USD (to date!) to App Store publishers is a pathetically small amount when compared to app, ringtone, wallpaper and news pushing carrier-billed business. For instance ringtone business is generating around 3.5 billion dollars annualy, while wallpaper business brings 1.2 billion dollars in EMEA markets alone.Advertising
Nokia set up its mobile advertising arm in 2008 and has expanded that considerably now through Navteq.The intended MeeGo OS would benefit from all Nokia advertising developments including Navteq.
The selected Microsoft WP7 OS did not have any meaningful advertising platform, an area where Microsoft was seen to severely lag Google, Apple and Nokia. Now Microsoft gains the Nokia ad platform compatibility in upcoming WP7 versions.Carrier insights
The Symbian ecosystem has had from day 1, the full support of NTT DoCoMo as one of the founding members, the Japanese mobile operator/carrier giant, who started the whole mobile industry and invented the mobile internet and launched 3G, near field, Wi-Fi mobile phones etc.
The intended MeeGo ecosystem had from the beginning the support of China Mobile
, the world's largest mobile operator, alone twice as big as all USA carriers/operators added together. The selected Microsoft WP7 ecosystem is not supported by any carrier/operator. Thus you should not be surprised to see Intel putting Sean Maloney, one of key people in the whole company (rumored to be CEO after Paul Otellini retires) - to lead the China division. The company also deployed Nick Knupffer to Hong Kong. Nick is one of Intel's most skilled public relations experts and he'll lead the APAC team. Intel also poached Jon Carvill from GlobalFoundries
, all in a bid to gain traction in the all-important China market with their MeeGo platform.End users
And then on end users. The Symbian platforms has passed 400 million units sold (vs. about 200 million iOS and 100 million Android and 20 million all flavors of Microsoft phones). The Symbian system on Nokia Ovi Store has over 200 million active handsets (vs. about 100 million iPhone and under 70 million Android and under 10 million Microsoft of all flavors). And Symbian Ovi store active user base has grown past 60 million.
Nokia's intended MeeGo system had not launched by February 11, so it had no active users and no devices of any kind in the wild. However, the MeeGo OS would benefit from compatibility with Ovi, so for any developers counting the accessible market for MeeGo, they could in many cases count the full population of Ovi users.
But Microsoft's WP7, one year from launch, has not passed 10 million total devices sold. It does not have 10 million active users. And none of the past Microsoft or Nokia/Ovi users would be compatible with the current WP7 version. This is turning back on an ecosystem that bought over three billion Nokia phones, as the company shipped its billionth phone in 2005, and sold another two billion over the past six years.Language Support
Nokia's older Symbian and the Ovi store had developers in most countries and especially the Ovi store was supporting the most languages of any app store. The new intended MeeGo OS with Ovi would have the same international language support as Symbian and Ovi.
The selected Microsoft WP7 OS has the least international language support, is essentially only a Western Hemisphere based ecosystem with English, French, Italian, German and Spanish languages supported. The company also took the same approach with Xbox 360 console - six years after launch, the console is only available in 36 countries.Money - M-Banking, M-Tail, M-Money - in 2009
And on Symbian and Ovi, Nokia launched Nokia Money in 2009
. While not specific to Symbian or Ovi, the two were compatible with Nokia Money. Bear in mind that Nokia Money was launched at the request of carriers and banks in mobile-developed markets. Nokia furthermore committed in 2010, before Stephen Elop was hired, that all Nokia smartphones (i.e. on Symbian) from 2011 would have 'near field' technology
which is vital for mobile wallet applications, as developed first by Symbian partner NTT DoCoMo in Japan.
Nokia's MeeGo was set to be all NFC enabled, by Nokia plans prior to Stephen Elop. Instead, Elop selected Microsoft WP7 which does not have NFC handsets nor NFC support currently. Elop even cancelled many early Nokia NFC smartphones.What Elop Has Done
He talked the talk. He did not walk the walk. Stephen Elop inherited what was by all accounts the world's most open and most wide-reaching ecosystem. He said an ecosystem must be more than devices. He said it needs apps, developers, maps, money, advertising, etc.
If your argument is that the ecosystem is the decisive factor for winning in mobile in this decade, as Stephen Elop seems to suggest, and many in the mobile industry believe; then look at what he did.
I am not talking which OS has the best user interface or which OS is the easiest to use, or which OS is the cheapest to make or which OS has the most handsets. If we consider only the ecosystem, then consider the following:
- Symbian has more apps than WP7.
- Symbian has more developers than WP7.
- Symbian has more users than WP7.
- Symbian was open source which WP7 was not.
- Symbian had carrier billing support that WP7 didn't.
- Symbian had an actual carrier onboard to support its evolution that WP7 didn't.
- Symbian was co-developed not developed by a monopoly like WP7.
- Symbian offered a migration path which WP7 didn't.
- Symbian even had somewhat a level of compatibility with Android (via Qt) which WP7 didn't.
- Symbian with Ovi had the biggest language footprint and biggest Ovi maps support.
That, what was arguably Nokia's first attempt at an ecosystem, call it Nokia's prototype, was then evolved into MeeGo, where the development was with Intel, world's largest semiconductor company, using an open source platform built on Linux (something Microsoft didn't have) and where every benefit included the above, or added even more ecosystem thinking that Microsoft didn't have, including obviously most of all, a friendly migration path from Symbian, and Linux software module compatibility with Android (again, something WP7 does not have nor will it have in the future).
If Stephen Elop says it's a war of ecosystems, he owned the world's best ecosystem now. I am not saying that Symbian was the easiest to develop to (Android and iPhone are far easier) but as a whole, open source, carrier billing, languages etc, Symbian was the best ecosystem. The company only needed to cut down the balooning costs and become more decisive, not spit in face to an installed user base of almost half a billion people.
Stephen Elop tossed that aside. Did he select MeeGo, which is everything Symbian was, except far easier for developers, and even more open and even more standardized with the industry? In fact, MeeGo is by far the most open platform of any smartphone OS and ecosystems counting all the new ones today.
No. Stephen Elop selected the most restrictive, most limited, least successful, most anti-developer, most anti-carrier ecosystem out there. In Microsoft WP7, when considered as an ecosystem, Nokia was going backwards, and all benefits of the Microsoft-Nokia partnership would indeed help build a better ecosystem but not for Nokia.
All gains would go to Microsoft, using Nokia's assets and years of work, to fast-track the Microsoft OS and ecosystem to be more viable. This was not a decision made in the best interests of Nokia. Not if ecosystem is the decision criterion. The beneficiary of Elop's decision, if thinking ecosystems was all Microsoft. That is why we have to consider Stephen Elop the Microsoft Muppet. He is being controlled by his former boss Steve Ballmer, the Microsoft Muppet Master.
If you think ecosystems, Nokia has thrown away the strongest current platform, and instead of replacing it with an even better one, Nokia has instead selected the weakest ecosystem out there. As American saying goes, can they polish a turd
and create a winner? I think this is key evidence of Stephen Elop's incompetence as a Nokia CEO and is another reason why he needs to be fired now, while it is still possible to reverse that decision, and save what is left of Nokia's decade-long work into building an open source based true multiparty ecosystem.
There is more to this saga. The time for Nokia is running out. I will return with the real crisis of the moment in the next edition of this study into the biggest management failure of the mobile telecoms industry, as we count down to the firing of Stephen Elop, CEO of Nokia. Or - the disappearance of a brand.
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