Monday, February 14, 2011


Last July, I took great delight in tweaking the noses of both iPhone lovers and Android lovers alike when I pointed out that their preferred beloved model was not the most popular smartphone platform out there. Neither platform enjoyed the 44.3% market share of the leading smartphone platform...Symbian.

But all was not well in the Symbian front. For example, the Symbian Guru moved over to Android.

And now things REALLY aren't well in the Symbian arena, although iPhone and Android people aren't rejoicing just yet. Alan Reiter:

In Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK)’s most gut-wrenching decision since deciding to stop producing paper and rubber boots and switch to telecommunications, the Finnish company today said it was picking Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)’s Windows Phone 7 as its primary OS and, in effect, eventually killing its Symbian and MeeGo operating systems.

But not immediately:

Nokia says Symbian will become a “franchise platform.” In effect, other vendors could use Symbian, and the OS will stick around until Nokia transitions its phones to Windows Phone 7. Perhaps Symbian will remain on the lowest-end phones.

The fact that Nokia dumped Symbian isn't surprising to some folks. What is surprising is that it was dumped for Windows Phone 7. Jake Kuramoto had previously predicted that Nokia would move to Android, and when the Windows deal was announced, Kuramoto noted the following:

By now, you’ve likely heard that Nokia is partnering with Microsoft to release Windows Phone 7 smartphones. Many, many, many people are seeing this as highly negative and disappointing for Nokia, and Nokia’s stock reflects this sentiment.

One of Kuramoto's concerns is that the Windows Phone 7 browser is based on Internet Explorer 7. Heck, that's better than my Motorola Q, which was based on Internet Explorer 4.

But while some people are probably predicting the end of the world for Nokia, my nearly ten years at Motorola suggests otherwise. When I started at Motorola, all that I heard was that Motorola phones were terrible and that Nokia was so much better. Then we came out with the RAZR and all that I heard was that Motorola was wonderful and whatever happened to Nokia? Fast forward a couple of years, and Motorola was on life support. Today all we hear is that Nokia has flubbed it and should go back to the paper mills.

Normally I tend to write about enterprise products in this blog, and cell phones (despite the fact that they are used in enterprises) are really part of the consumer product industry, with very short product cycles, constant turnover, and myriad changes in the market. I'm not going to go out on a limb and predict who the major small platform (phone, pod, whatever) players will be two years from now, but perhaps Nokia will be triumphant again, and people will be laughing at all those geezers with their iPhones and Android devices.
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