13 Sep

Betting on Nokia (2013)

(Image source: http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk)

Have you given up on Nokia?

From my perspective, due to its recent (couple of years old) debacles and endeavors with MSFT, I had stayed away from Nokia.

I never believed on how their MSFT strategy was approached.

Nokia should have totally maximized their Smartphone hardware design expertise, and should have offered that to the world — running Android, Windows and their own Advanced OS. If they have done that, by just supporting the Android OS, they would have owned the other side of the marketshare (not already owned by Apple).

But instead they handed this unique opportunity, and without contest, to Samsung. Today Nokia has lost such hardware design expertise to Microsoft.

And while the world was changing, Nokia management was too comfortable. Call it arrogance or not, they assumed their leadership and marketshare would last, versus seeing it erode at such a fast rate.

Nokia failed to adopt-standardize on “touch interactions” fast enough — even though they had the technology, OS based on Symbian and R&D brain-power. Then they pulled out from Japan, then pulled out from the USA, gave up on MeeGo Phone, and sold bulk of its Qt business to Digia. Its audience, platforms, content and ecosystem was all too much, too complex, affecting company focus.

And all the above happened during the time when the Smartphone itself, the mobile ecosystem and the mobile-lifestyle in general were being redefined, by Software, by advanced interactions and beautiful interfaces, rich content, faster networks, and awesome user experiences, all which when put together led to the awesome transformation of the Mobile space as we see know it today. This is a period of 3-5 years, really the culmination of 15 years of evolution that started with pagers, feature phones, Smartphones, and now Advanced Smartphones.

Those were the early days of Mobile, which also were the days of Research in Motion (now BlackBerry) and Nokia. Because BlackBerry and Nokia where both early pioneers, is the reason why their IP portfolios today are worth billions of dollars; Nokia’s alone is worth more than $6 billion dollars. Blackberry’s IP portfolio must be very valuable as well.

There were other factors that contributed to Nokia’s demise on Mobile.

Nokia was too dependent on the Network Operators/carriers. This is to the point of sacrificing/delaying the introductions of advanced (more costly) devices into the consumer market.

Control then moved away from the network operator and into the Ecosystem — led by Apple and Google.

Back then, Nokia saw BlackBerry as a threat. They saw Apple as a thread as well, but Nokia didn’t see Android as much of a threat.

And the final straw was Nokia giving-up what is the MOST important aspect of Smartphones — the Software. And because Nokia’s software strategy was MSFT alone, it was game was over.

But past is past. Nokia has finally cut clean from MSFT, and got rid of legacy stuff. Yes, it lost lots of good people, but life goes on. The market benefits from this via new startups formed by ex-Nokians.

Nokia can now start from scratch. In many ways, it is a blessing.

So am I betting on Nokia?

Yes, I am.

Nokia is a company with lots of passion and pride. It has the smarts/people. It currently has the technologies and products that can be monetized (network, maps, etc). It owns tons of mobile and wireless intellectual property that is worth billions of dollars. And now that MSFT is buying Nokia’s device business, and is cutting clean from MSFT, Nokia is in the position to reinvent and simplify itself.

I even see how Nokia would re-enter the mobile space. If you think about it, mobile is still young; what I mean is that while the “mobile use case” has been proven, the technologies are still evolving. Yet to be invented are new approaches and use-cases related to the Mobile Lifestyle.

So I bought NOK stock and it has been going up.

(Disclaimer: I am not giving you financial advice here, just a personal perspective).


25 Apr

Mobile Monday Austin | Nokia USA Tour visits Austin – Apr 30, 2012

Mobile Monday Austin

Please join us April 30 for our next event when Nokia visits Austin for its “Nokia Lumia USA Tour”

WHEN: April 30, 6-9pm
WHERE: Buffalo Billiards, 201 E. 6th St.
WHO: Mobile Monday Austin & Nokia

Please RSVP at Eventbrite: http://momoaustinapr2012.eventbrite.com/

If you have a Windows Phone application, Nokia Developer wants to see your app – visit http://www.mobilemondayaustin.com for more information.

Drinks and appetizers will be served. Nokia is giving away 2 Nokia Lumia 800’s, plus other! For more information, visit the Mobile Monday Austin website.

Also see our new Facebook Page!

See you there…


04 Jun

On “Japan as the (mobile) leader, USA as the laggard, Nokia in between” and developers, developers, developers, developers

As discussions and opinions continue at Forxum Oxford on the topic of mobile leadership and Nokia and so forth, the following statement was made by Tomi Ahonen, for which I responded as follows.

Why I am writing about this? Because it is important to understand some of the reasons why some are leaders or are perceived as leaders, or are laggards or are in between….

Tomi Ahonen said:

… that its Japan which is the leader, USA is the laggard – still today – and that Nokia is in between, and in many cases Nokia has led, but Apple does not…”

For which my response was:

Amazing how perception can change everything and even bring a whole global company to the brink of death…

While Japan has indeed been a mobile tech leader, they have remained, in my opinion, very localized geographically. As a consequence, Japan’s global impact has been minute when compared to what Apple, Google and Nokia have all accomplished.

I really don’t get how Apple cannot be seen as a leader in mobile. Apple has definitely led, by taking all the pieces (yes, they learned from others) and creating a new, unique mobile design package like NO other before it. Apple raised the bar for mobile OSes. Gave new meaning to (mobile) web. It gave new meaning to mobile apps. It removed the operator controlled deck. It gave new meaning to developers and ecosystems. It created a new economy for mobile and developers like no other before it. Apple not only brought to market a mobile HW-and-SW package like no other before it, but also changed the playground and the playing rules; the operator is no longer at the center, the ecosystem is. Software (and developers) drive this new mobile economy. And Apple (even if by accident) was the one who figured it out first. If you ask me, Apple was the liberator for mobile developers and the ecosystem. The beneficiaries? The regular user/subscriber.

And there is no turning back. Google, Nokia, Samsung, Palm/HP, Dell, others all understand that it is about the software and the developer ecosystem. Even Ballmer got this right when going Developers, developers, developers, developers crazy:

(for a second I thought he was going into cardiac arrest)

But I digress…

I continued:

Apple introduced its iPhone around 2007. Android ~2008. That is 2-3 years ago! And yet today Nokia has not been able to produce a true match.

The Nokia machine has all the needed parts, but its leadership failed. Today Nokia is struggling for its survival. But Nokia is not dead and will (should) not die; a major reality check this whole experience has been.

Mobile is still a young industry, and anything can happen.


Don’t miss the track by Smixx titled Developers (feat. Steve Ballmer):

Smixx – Developers (feat. Steve Ballmer) by Smixx


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.



09 Feb

Mobility in 2011: Nokia

(This is part of a series of blog posts on Mobility in 2011)

Related to this see: Reaction to Nokia 2011 Strategy Announcement (and Microsoft relationship)

Nokia is in the midst of a major strategy shift; they have to. Nokia has an operational issue to address. The truth is that Nokia is losing traction while other platforms are gaining traction. They must address that trend. Yes, Nokia is still number one, but Nokia must put in place the framework if they want to maintain leadership over the next decade. 2011 will be a critical year for Nokia (and mobile in general) and operationally, Nokia must (should) do the following:

  • Invest on innovation and go-to-market strategies. By this I am referring to focusing on MeeGo and Ovi and cloud-services (Maps, etc). It is about focusing on great HW designs. And super important, it is about focusing on Qt and Qt-based apps across mobile platforms/OSes, a strategy that in turn will have returns on Ovi and their services and related ecosystem.
  • Cut costs. Here I am referring to “ditching” Symbian OS especially on their smartphones, starting with making such decision in 2011; this will take time to execute. Back in Feb 2009 I wrote a blog On Nokia’s App Store Strategy, where my main point was that Nokia had too many platforms and content portals and related strategies to deal with; very hard to focus and compete this way. Since then, Nokia killed N-Gage, but they should do more. They must kill their “cash cow” Symbian and related OPEX so they can invest/focus on few new strategies that give them traction, and as important, let developers focus on a given app strategy that helps them go to market more quickly.
  • Balance ego with business realities. This is hard. This goes back to balancing the above with respect to investing on innovation and go-to-market vs. cutting costs. Killing the cash cow is a very hard decision to make by current management, which is why bringing someone from the outside (Stephen Elop) at this stage makes perfect sense. Even if Symbian stays for now, the shift must be on the app framework (Qt) which, if they go across mobile OSes increases their reach, including Ovi’s reach.

The combination of HW and new SW and go-to market strategies, Nokia should be able address the current trends, restoring faith on the company, and helping fence off HTC and Samsung and the like.

It actually is a very exciting time for Nokia, and its positioning for the next decade. If Nokia plays it right, they will not let Operators dictate its own future; a strategy that let Apple and Google not only grow in mobile at an incredible pace in a very short amount of time, but also become leaders on mobile innovation.


Nokia sells bulk of Qt business to Digia; this is a very strange news, Nokia selling bulk of Qt. I don’t know what to think about this… total commitment to Windows?

Related to this see:

18 Nov

Michael Mace on Is Symbian dead? And if so, who killed it?

Michael Mace wrote an *excellent* piece titled Is Symbian dead? And if so, who killed it?. A must read for anyone in mobile.

[Update Nov 26, 2010] Symbian Foundation web sites to shut down.

His writeup has great background info that brings lots of memories; EPOC and Psion (circa 2000), the Symbian conferences in the Valley, UIQ, CodeWarrior and so on. Good time$.

Michael also covers the Symbian governance and how it was/is as the *center of the problem*.

(I want to add that the very same problem with governance is *also* what have killed J2ME/JavaME; the same. This is a broken system that pushes away the developer community (because they get tired of the same old thing and no change and no real ability to help change), it is a broken system proven to kill technology and related business opportunities and the ecosystem around it.)

At a recent MobileMonday Austin we had Nokia as a guest where they presented their their impressive numbers, their very nice new N8 handset and emphasis on the Ovi store (as they should), and Symbian^3.

From that presentation, and later from their website (see Symbian^3 Developer Overview) , I immediately recognized the importance of their new strategy that focuses on Qt and the implicit strategy of “moving away” from Symbian OS as a developer platform. Note that Qt will become the primary application framework starting with Symbian^4 and Symbian^3 is a migration path to this.

So Nokia, the largest consumer of the Symbian OS, has decided to focus on an abstraction layer, the app framework itself (Qt) that will allow developers run their apps (once ported!) on whatever Nokia platform (infrastructure that is) underneath — Symbian OS, Meego, etc. This definitely is a good strategy as it brings consistency to developers. It also signals a larger intention where the Symbian operating system itself, as a developer platform, is moving into irrelevancy.


20 Oct

MobileMonday Austin (Nov 2010) | Nielsen on Mobile Applications and Connected Devices

I posted at the MobileMonday Austin website information about the next event…

Please note that seating is limited; please register and reserve your seating and enter the raffle to win a new Nokia N8. For registration and more information, please visit the MobileMonday Austin website at http://www.mobilemondayaustin.com/.

The event is sponsored by Nokia and the 2010 Calling All Innovators North America developer contest, presented by Nokia and AT&T.

Topic: Mobile Applications and Connected Devices — New Nielsen Company research on the changing media consumption landscape

When: November 1, 2010 | 5:30pm – 8:00pm

Where: Cool River (4001 W Parmer Ln, Austin, TX 78727-4105)

Come listen to the Nielsen Company present new research on Smartphones, Tablets and the new Application economy. Information in this session will address:

  • Growth of Smartphones, leading platforms and a look forward
  • Behaviors and preferences of mobile app users
  • Which apps are people using and why?
  • How much are downloaders’ willing to pay?
  • Overall look at tablets, e-readers, media players and netbooks – how are users consuming media on these devices?
  • How do tablet users respond to advertising versus smartphone owners?
  • What do media companies need to consider when launching tablet and smartphone content?
19 Aug

Follow up discussion on Apple and NFC; Oh and Nokia

Back at Forum Oxford a lot of interesting debates occur. The topic on Apple and NFC is no exception. Being a European forum is no surprise how many Nokia fans get all ticked off about Apple, because things like NFC has been championed by Nokia (with no real success). One of the forum members is a well respected (no BS) Mobilist that I follow. His name is Dean Bubley. I thought about posting here one of our exchanges at the forum:

Dean>> “I think this is one of those rare occasions where Nokia gets it right (i.e. dropping NFC) and Apple gets it wrong (embracing NFC).”

CEO>> Nokia continues pushing for NFC. Last July they re-iterated their commitment.

Dean>> “Nokia did a bunch of trials, which despite the PR hyperbole were absolutely not “successful”. There is no clear consumer need, no business model, and a myriad of technical and user interaction problems.”

CEO>> Consumer feedback from trials (at least in the USA) have been positive. (note to self: try to find the results for the trials)

Dean>> “Quite rightly, Nokia realised that adding NFC to phones wouldn’t make them any extra money, any time soon (or indeed, probably ever).”

CEO>> See my comment above. The problem is the operator was not distributing (ordering) the Nokia NFC handsets. The problem is the operator wants control via the SIM card. But, Nokia will push forward with the non-Single Wire Protocol (SWP) handsets next year. Nokia and the other handset manufacturers realize that forcing NFC-app enablement via the SIM only will just slow things down/won’t work.

Dean>> “In particular, users would have to be insane to trust mobile payments to an operator rather than a 3rd party.”

CEO>> Again, this is why handset manufacturers will be offering non-SWP NFC handsets as well (via microSD NFC?). This will allow for 3rd party applications vs. operator-centered/controlled, where apps are restricted to a few big-name players.

So let’s see how Apple will approach this; very likely by not using the SIM/SWP approach.

And yes, part of NFC solutions are the services on the cloud. This approach would allow and leverage the developer ecosystem to bring useful apps to the consumer.

About ROI, it will be there via the apps similar today, plus perhaps additional transaction-based revenue.

And let’s not equate NFC to payments only; there are other interesting scenarios we will see once this is made available to the developer ecosystem.


17 Aug

Apple and NFC — iPhone will trigger the Mobile RFID/NFC revolution

There is a lot of noise/rumors about Apple and NFC after Apple’s hiring of NFC expert sparks digital wallet rumors.

NFC is one of those technologies that I have written quite a bit about (see my NFC/Touch page) and that I believe will change how people use their handsets. Unfortunately it has taken forever to hit the mass market; blame the operators…

And as I’ve previously written, I’ll say it again in 2010 — Even though Nokia was first in understanding the power of proximity and had introduced some of the first handsets, it is the iPhone what will drive the NFC revolution…

Related to this see:

10 Feb

On Nokia’s App Store Strategy

As you may know, there are rumors of Nokia getting ready to launch their very own app store.

This is an interesting (but necessary) move by Nokia, a company that traditionally has been very careful about not “crossing the line” into their customers (i.e. MNO) territory, as crossing such line creates a love/hate relationship with the customer.

But that is only part of Nokia’s problem. In addition to more aggresively extending their audience (beyond mainly network operators) and how to approach them, Nokia has many platforms and content portals and related strategies to deal with; should those be slimmed-down? Combined?

Nokia Ecosystem

But it is time for Nokia to enter this new competitive world where the weight of the ecosystem is moving beyond the network operators and devices, where (App) Stores are the New Deck, and where the power is shitfing to the consumer (and is powered by the developer community).

And it is about the consumer experience where better ways to find and buy content drives usage and revenue. And it is about the ecosystem. And it is about great integration with the handset (which goes back to the experience) making the discovery and buying of content as easy as making a phone call.

We soon will learn if Nokia will combine or keep separate their existing portals. But to offer the right experience this probably means having separate stores: an App Store, a Music Store, and so on, as the context and the experience for/when discovering/buying music is different from apps, and so on.

A big difference between the Nokia app store and the rest of the app stores is that Nokia’s app store will benefit multiple players beyond the company themself: 1) Nokia of course, 2) the developers of course, 3) the consumers of course, 4) the Symbian Foundation and the Symbian OS, and 5) maybe it event will give Java ME a push forward.


22 Dec

Gartner: Worldwide Smartphone Sales Reached Its Lowest Growth Rate, Nokia #1 Smartphone Company in Q3 2008

According to Gartner, worldwide smartphone sales reached its lowest growth rate with 11.5% increase in 3rd quarter of 2008. It also says that Nokia is the #1 smartphone manufacturer/seller:

Worldwide smartphone sales to end-users totalled 36.5 million units in the third quarter of 2008, an 11.5 per cent increase from the same period in 2007.

Nokia maintained its No. 1 position with 42.4 per cent market share in the third quarter of 2008, but for the first time it recorded a decline in sales of 3 per cent year-on-year (see Table 1). “Nokia is feeling the pressure from increased competition in the consumer smartphone market,” said Ms Cozza.

Table: Worldwide: Preliminary Smartphone Sales to End Users by Vendor, 3Q08 (Thousands of Units)




3Q08 Market Share (%)



3Q07 Market Share (%)

3Q08- 3Q07 Growth (%)







Research In Motion




































I believe Nokia’s lack of touchscreen handset that competed with the iPhone and Android (and others) really harmed them in 2008, and that releasing a touch-based handset in 2009 should be a top priority for Nokia.