18 Apr

Android and Microsoft (2015)

(Image Source: Mario Tomás Serrafero)

I find this interesting: the recent move by MSFT to get into and “steal” the Android space.

Today, thanks to new leadership at MSFT (Nadella), it seems the company is entering a new phase — with new vision and no-or less ego than before.

And with this, MSFT is directly taking advantage of open source software to go after the Android market.

By leveraging the Android open source baseline from Google and investing around $70M in Cyanogen, it is going after the Android-based hardware (think Emerging/Global markets) independently of or not having to worry much about the underlying hardware/devices, while at the same time not depending or having to use Google Services and instead MSFT has the opportunity to introduce their own services and apps on Android-based hardware. A game changing strategy.

Very interesting indeed…

Thanks to Google for the Android Open Source Project which makes all of this possible. Google knew the risks and benefits, so did Sun Microsystems when it open sourced most of Java, and of course, let’s not forget the Linux core OS which triggered the OSS revolution and ecosystem. Open Source Software (OSS) is a beautiful thing…

Side note: It was around 2011 when MSFT made the initial deal with Nokia and many, including I, found it strange that Nokia would go the MSFT route — true signs of trouble within Nokia back then. Many of us asked ourselves why not go the Android way instead. But I believe ego and lack of vision (Elop/Ballmer) played a large role in the decision. MSFT ended-up acquiring Nokia as expected. Today, their combined market reach is tiny as expected, as compared to Apple and Google.


02 Jun

On Microsoft and Nokia (June 2011)

Here revisiting the Microsoft and Nokia relationship, are we witnessing the death of Nokia? Or it’s rebirth?

Nokia is big and powerful, with lots of money, so perhaps the relationship becomes a merger, like a “Microsoft Nokia”-branded company. That would be a huge move for both companies.

Something deep(er) will happen between both companies and soon.

This all looks to me like ‘staged or planned’ (by Nokia board of course); from the Microsoft executive coming onboard as Nokia CEO, to today — all in preparation for an acquisition or merger.

My thoughts and hope are that if Nokia insists on an extremely close relationship with Microsoft, beyond what they already have in place, it should be a merger vs. an acquisition; otherwise they will be totally giving in to Microsoft. You know, there is nothing wrong with pride and passion and keeping Nokia and its name and machine in full force.

Earlier in the year I wrote a couple of pieces on Nokia and MSFT that have proven relatively accurate:

You can also read my friend Tomi Ahonen’s analysis and opinions on this topic on his blog topic. Remember, he is Finnish, so this topic in particular is close to his heart.


11 Feb

Reaction to Nokia 2011 Strategy Announcement (and Microsoft relationship)

While a radical change in strategy was expected, it is not aggressive enough.

On my previous post here titled Mobility 2011: Nokia, I shared some thoughts on what Nokia should be doing; some implemented on this new strategy (such as transitioning out of Symbian), but more is needed. And while the new relationship with Microsoft is a start, doing this alone, and the way it was done, which seems one-sided, is the wrong kind of start IMO, and it points to the fact that Nokia is not understanding its real threats. Nokia’s real threats are:

  1. Apple with its iPhone, iPad, and family of products, and,
  2. The manufacturers of Android devices; this is, HTC, Samsung and the the like. Note that I didn’t say Google or Android. Google is the enabler and indirect beneficiary (in big ways).

Relationship with Microsoft will help fence off HTC and similar just on the WP7 front, but that is a tiny front. If Nokia thinks that Microsoft is going to take Nokia to the next level, they are not.

It seems Nokia’s board of directors made some decisions some time ago on Microsoft, then hired Elop from Microsoft as CEO, and then tied (or not) the CEO’s hands. In either case, this shows that Nokia needs to be completely revamped from the top, management and the board of directors. They need a management that understands the true challenges ahead.

Disappointing. Perhaps this is only the beginning of a series of changes that will expand across Mobile platforms, including the complete strategy for high-end smartphones I prev mentioned that puts emphasis on the app layer and services, in addition to spreading their HW design across mobile OSes; that is the differentiation Nokia must execute.

For low-end phone, S40 is fine. MeeGo should not be dropped as it gives Nokia an opportunity to innovate and differentiate on the mobile OS area; and it should be kept as an “R&D” effort; which means, continue investing on it while waiting what happens next.

But going half-ass with today’s strategy and announcement is as bad as not announcing anything at all.

Nokia must focus on a strong future proof strategy, for the next 10 years or more. For this they must execute much more that what it was announced.

I will give them credit that will Nokia will transition Symbian out, over time…

(From Forbes.com)

Elop: “Windows Phone is our primary smartphone platform. What are the implications to Symbian? We have over 200 million Symbian users out there today. As we transition to Windows Phone, we’ll ship another 150 million.” “But,” he adds, “it’s a transition program.” It’s a “Transition from Symbian to Windows Phone.”

What I really hope is the above leaves the door open for a Nokia Qt-based app strategy that brings returns to Ovi and its services vs. purely focusing on WP7 and its dev tools and apps.

And if you ask me, this looks like the beginnings of a relationship that may end up in Microsoft absorbing Nokia.

From the perspective of the layoffs related to the Symbian OS and other, a sad reality. Nokia’s loss is going to be someone else gain. A lot of unique expertise that will end up benefiting others, including new startups.



01 Jul

So what is or should be Microsoft’s strategy for mobile?

So it has begun, Microsoft announced that slowing (killing) the KIN product:

“We have made the decision to focus exclusively on Windows Phone 7 and we will not ship KIN in Europe this fall as planned. Additionally, we are integrating our KIN team with the Windows Phone 7 team, incorporating valuable ideas and technologies from KIN into future Windows Phone releases. We will continue to work with Verizon in the U.S. to sell current KIN phones.”

This whole KIN thing feels to me as a “pet project” from some Microsoft high-executive who saw “social apps on the web” as the killer app and couldn’t decide how to deliver it and took forever and now realizes it is not going to work (due to timing or other). The hardest thing when creating a product is to know when to kill it. But because Microsoft waited to make this decision 1) Microsoft looks silly, 2) looks as a product failure, 3) costs millions of dollars in development and marketing and the cost of inventory for the devices that will not sell. A costly operation. The good thing about this is less distractions for the company allowing them to focus on the next generation core OS Windows Phone 7. But as a technology/product person I do see unseen benefits to this failed product: 1) product/roadmap unification, and 2) the exercise of transferring R&D/IP to the Product group. Both are important and that can be very hard to accomplish.

That said, while there still space/opportunity for the Windows mobile OS, Microsoft won’t be the leader of the space; playing catch-up is not leading.

So what is or should be Microsoft’s strategy for mobile?

For a while it has been very clear to me that Microsoft has been ignoring what probably is their most important strategy when it comes to mobile…

Obviously they are committed to the (Windows Phone 7) mobile OS, which is fine, but what about apps?

Microsoft has failed to leverage their own strength and expertise with apps. By now they could have been the leader on a number of mobile app categories, for example, productivity apps such as mobile versions of Word, PowerPoint, access to Exchange, and gaming, across *all* mobile platforms, with versions of the apps that makes the best out of the specific mobile platforms. But to accomplish this they must breakaway from the “Windows only” mentality for mobile…

I’m not sure why such a “simple” decision to rule their own app space has taken so long; no decision is a decision. If can’t decide how to make this happen just go acquire DataViz; I’m sure it is not the first time Microsoft has approached them, except this time DataBiz is going to cost more…

Microsoft, don’t ignore the apps space, your own app space…

…and from the developers perspective, don’t forget that to succeed make sure your Windows mobile environment does provide good developer support, ecosystem, app store and developer incentives.


09 Jan

Microsoft Joins the Physical World Connections and Interactions Space with Microsoft Tag

Microsoft has joined the physical world connection/interactions space with its release of their High Capacity Color Barcode (HCCB) called Microsoft Tag, a new 2D Barcode technology developed by Microsoft research that competes with QR Code, Datamatrix and other 2D barcode technologies.

Comparing Microsoft Tag to QR Code:

Microsoft Tag uses colors and triangles vs. black and white and squares, and it support Tags that contain URLs, Free Text, vCard, and Dialer type. A time-to-live or time-frame can be associated with it the tag, which is useful for marketing campaigns.

I’m a big fan of the new kinds of interactions that are possible via visual and radio tags; related to this see my presentations (SlideShare), and related pages on my blog: Physical Interactions and Touch/NFC.

The Microsoft Tag Video (YouTube):

Creating and Managing Tags

Microsoft tag is an end-to-end solution: the Tags, the software on the handset, and the software on the web that allows you to create and manage and print your own tags; see below.

Creating a Tag (Click to enlarge):

Managing Tags (Click to enlarge):

This is the Tag I created of type URL to my blog:

Downloading Microsoft Tag

You can download the Microsoft Tag reader client directly to your phone: Android and PalmOS (coming soon), BlackBerry, Symbian S60, Windows Mobile, Sony Ericsson and other J2ME devices, by pointing your phone to gettag.mobi website.

Is there a need for a new Visual Tag?

Tags such as QR Codes are high capacity tags already:

(from Wikipedia)

  • Numeric only Max. 7,089 characters
  • Alphanumeric Max. 4,296 characters
  • Binary (8 bits) Max. 2,953 bytes
  • Kanji/Kana Max. 1,817 characters

But as @torgo Tweeted back:

“…But do we really need a new 2d barcode? What exactly is the problem with QR?”

And @adamcohenrose wrote:

“I thought QR codes had no licensing problems?”

I don’t buy “capacity” as the reason Microsoft introduced its own tag, but perhaps is because “they just can”, or maybe related to licensing; while QR Codes are considered open, QR Codes are patented, but the patent is not being enforced (at this moment). Another reason is that the color-based, triangle tags provide for better “fiducials”, allowing for faster alignment and scanning thus better experience; this I need to test to determine.