Archive for the ‘Microsoft’ Category

Nokia – A Burning Platform

Posted: February 17, 2011 in Linux, Microsoft, Nokia

I think, by now, everyone who is familiar with the mobile market had read the famous The Burning Platform article by Nokia CEO. It is rare, for a company CEO to give a blunt comments about their core product and compare it as a “burning platform”. This definitely a mark of a major change of attitude on how Nokia is going to continue their business. So, I guess Nokia’s plan of entering an alliance with Microsoft should not deem as total surprise. As a person who been in the IT business and someone who keenly follow mobile world news, I felt I want to comment something about this. Though I would be one of millions of comments out there and my opinion would unlikely to cause any impact, but I still want to express my view on this. To me, this is a historical event in the mobile world. So here goes…

From The Burning Platform:

The battle of devices (smartphone and mobile 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, catalyse or join an ecosystem.

— Stephen Elop, CEO, Nokia

(Emphasis mine.)

I think the new CEO has a good grasp of the current state of mobile world. We are no longer converging into a single dominate platform. When Symbian was supported by major mobile phone makers, there was a belief that the convergence of mobile platform would be based on it. However this did not happen, instead mobile world is now in a stage of multiple platforms. At this time, major platforms are Android, Blackberry and iPhone. It is very clear, Nokia has to make choice and it choose to enter an alliance with Microsoft to develop WP7 phones.

This is simply amazing and if we put ourselves a few years back, looking at this event, no one would have imagine this could happen. I personally think, history will view this as one of those moment where a once seemingly mighty and invincible company, had decided to desperately alliance itself with an external party to find a new future. However, what is truly amazing, after details of alliance is known, Nokia, the once held largest market share of smart phone in world had decided to drop their own mobile platform and embrace Microsoft WP7 completely.


I always believe, for a company to grow, it should continue the proven strategies, learned the mistakes from itself and others, and finally the willingness to copy or emulate others successful strategies.

Symbian mobile smart phone ‘ecosystem’ is indeed declining in its market share, but it is still has a large market share. Looking at their latest flagship Nokia N8, I find Symbian UI has improved quite a lot, once we compare it with older version of Symbian UI. If they continue this direction, I believe they should be able to find new success and rejuvenate the platform. Nokia made great phones, in fact, I even wrote a little entry in my blog detailing why I had chosen Nokia E71 instead of iPhone. Even to this day, the basic requirement for me to buy a phone have not changed, and I still don’t own an iPhone.

My point is, there were successes in Symbian phones. Nokia should find out why it was successful, and at the same time, learned from the mistakes they made. N8 is direction I really likes. It is, in my opinion, unfortunately, Nokia decided to throw all these away. What about MeeGo? Well, to me it is not a proven platform as Symbian. I was looking forward to try out MeeGo phones, once it ready, but I guess this won’t be happening now.

Mobile phones has evolved from a pure communicating device on the move, to a social network device hub. It is true, we are in a multiple platforms or ecosystems, but if we view from a higher level, all these ecosystems are mainly develop around a social network device hub. This mean, instead of just making phone calls and texting short messages, we are using it more for social networking among friends and strangers. We are now using our phones to share info, pictures, videos and files. We use it to surf net, gossips among friends, give comments on current affairs and play network games. A friend once told me, it is more trendy to add a friend inside Facebook than to ask for contact number. Nokia made phones with a lot of features, but those features did not enhance the social hubbing experience, if we compare with its competitors. A few years of lagging behind competitors caused Nokia to lose a whole generation of users.

Mobile phones are getting more powerful and have more resources. There maybe a future where our phone would replace our desktop and laptop, and starts new generation PC experience. This won’t happen solely on a single ecosystem or platform. It will be a world of multiple platforms and power by unify backend services. Hence, depending entirely on a single platform, may not be a good strategy for the future.

If we look at other phone makers, what they have shown us, it is possible to support multiple platforms and continue with their own in house platform. For example, Samsung has phones power by Android and WP7, it also has its own phone power by Samsung Wave, Bada OS platform. Samsung are not just surviving from it, they are profiting from such strategy.

Nokia is the only major phone makers that (besides Apple and RIM) choose to stay their own, and I believe, this is a mistake. Their market share is shrinking, so they should not continue to behave like a monolithic company. They should branch out and expand to other platforms. The objective is not to be dominating, but to ride the wave and brings in the necessary profits, and increase its visibility among mobile phone users. This will help them to gain more time to build up and improve Symbian or complete MeeGo. Otherwise, If one of the platforms they enter prove to be a real success, they would be in a position to let go old or legacy Symbian systems, follow by an orderly migration to that platform.

The last thing they should be doing now, is to shrink their market share more by announcing the abandonment of their current platform. Who in their right mind would want to buy a Nokia’s Symbian phone, if they know, they are buying a “transition” phone? I can’t imagine how the existing Symbian developers would be feeling right now and would they be willing to jump into WP7 development? This move would simply give its competitors more opportunities to capture or win over existing or potential Nokia users, as it would take times for Nokia to start selling phones base on WP7.

Nokia should have kept its exiting core product and continue to improve it, while at the same time join in the development of both WP7 and Android. Nokia was in a crossroad. They could have chosen a strategy that has lower risk and safer bet, instead, they have chosen a path that be more turbulent and higher risk. It is unbelievable that a company is willing to dump their existing and working product, and start from scratch. They had chosen to abandon previously acquired and core expertise, and embrace into something that is alien to the organisation. Such move is risky, if the migration or the transition fails there would be no fall back to their old (and working) product to survive. Such move would also alienate all existing alliances that it made all these years. It is again unbelievable, a product based company would want to entirely relies their core product to an external party. This would make this company entirely at the mercy of that external party. If the business relationship turn soar, it would have direct impact of its core business.

Common sense tell us, don’t place all your eggs into one basket. A successful strategy always has a plan B. There is no plan B here. This is not a good sign.

End note: I am now using Android phones – To cut the story short, my last Symbian phone was Nokia N97, and it was very disappointing to me. A friend introduce me to Android, and after playing a few Android phones, I ordered Nexus One and not long later, I bought Samsung Galaxy S. To be honest, it is quite fun to play Android phones. I may write an article about my Android experience.


With all the Window Vista problem that I have been reading, I start to have a very bad feeling about supporting Window Vista in the office. My bad feeling was confirmed after I had already one experience with it, and it is really bad. I could summaries the experience was just slow, slow and slow – it makes a Core2 Duo CPU runs likes a i486 (at least that is how I felt). Though, a friend did come by and help me disabled a number of unnecessary components and applications, it seems to run better and more responsive after that. But, the thought of doing all these steps every time we get a new system is making me puke.

The worst part is the printer driver, I just can’t get it working with the office HP printer – even installed the latest driver from HP, it just won’t work.

That is it, I am sick of all these problems. As the tech guy that does support in the office, I dreaded the idea of supporting anymore Vista…

I did think about convincing my sales and marketing co-workers to try out Linux, but after some thoughts, I think that may not be suitable. I can always sense a strong resistant from some user to switch to Linux, even when I casually made some hinting of such possibility.

Out of the blue, I thought, it would be much easier for me to convince them to try out MacBook than to try out Linux. The MacBook price is in a reasonable range, and it does has a good reputation of user friendliness; Sure enough, they willing to give it a try, easily convinced. Now, one of my co-worker is happily playing with it. The best of part it, he is able to download and install the HP printer, and successfully get the office printer working, all by himself.

Honestly, MacBook does look great, maybe I will get one and try it out for myself…