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The story of Nokia MeeGo (TaskuMuro)
Posted Oct 12, 2012 21:43 UTC (Fri) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239)
Posted Oct 12, 2012 22:27 UTC (Fri) by k3ninho (subscriber, #50375)
Posted Oct 12, 2012 22:40 UTC (Fri) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239)
Sure, over time Nokia could have pushed Android down into their lower end devices and differentiated themselves there, but the Chinese vendors are already busily doing that and again Nokia would have arrived years after everyone else. They didn't have years. Distasteful as it may be, going Windows was a rational choice for Nokia.
Posted Oct 12, 2012 23:11 UTC (Fri) by pboddie (subscriber, #50784)
The principal argument for rejecting the Android brand, as opposed to the technological platform, is that it gave Nokia the ability to deliver their own services instead of things like Google Maps. However, that doesn't need a tie-up with Microsoft, and a generic non-Google Android-based platform could have delivered much of the same services. Even a warmed-over Ovi Store would have been starting at the same level - close to zero - as Microsoft's offering, so it wouldn't have been like Nokia would have been throwing away that advantage.
Posted Oct 12, 2012 23:20 UTC (Fri) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239)
Posted Oct 13, 2012 0:46 UTC (Sat) by chithanh (guest, #52801)
If Nokia wanted to bring an Android device to market, they could have certainly done so. Even if that meant to run Android on a phone which was in the pipeline for a different OS. And they would have sold enough of it to keep the company afloat.
Posted Oct 13, 2012 1:07 UTC (Sat) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239)
There's simply no way Nokia could have shipped an Android device as compelling as the Lumia in 10 months. Tying themselves to Windows gives them a chance of market dominance rather than guaranteeing gradual irrelevance.
Posted Oct 13, 2012 9:43 UTC (Sat) by man_ls (subscriber, #15091)
The phone market isn't interested in unskinned Android.
Posted Oct 13, 2012 10:09 UTC (Sat) by marcH (subscriber, #57642)
> > The phone market isn't interested in unskinned Android.
> The hype around the Google tablet says otherwise.
Sellers and buyers typically have opposite goals: screwing the other side.
Posted Oct 13, 2012 15:45 UTC (Sat) by rahulsundaram (subscriber, #21946)
Posted Oct 13, 2012 21:51 UTC (Sat) by marcH (subscriber, #57642)
Posted Oct 13, 2012 21:55 UTC (Sat) by man_ls (subscriber, #15091)
Posted Oct 13, 2012 22:19 UTC (Sat) by marcH (subscriber, #57642)
Posted Oct 13, 2012 22:23 UTC (Sat) by man_ls (subscriber, #15091)
Posted Oct 19, 2012 15:34 UTC (Fri) by Jannes (subscriber, #80396)
(sorry for the spam, I really giggled)
Posted Oct 14, 2012 2:26 UTC (Sun) by rahulsundaram (subscriber, #21946)
Posted Oct 13, 2012 14:39 UTC (Sat) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239)
Posted Oct 13, 2012 15:19 UTC (Sat) by man_ls (subscriber, #15091)
(2) I don't know, I bought my Nexus S from Vodafone Spain (which also offers the Galaxy Nexus). Typically buyers will prefer to buy Google phones unlocked and without a contract (i.e. straight from Google).
Since you don't provide any data to support your statement, just a couple of riddles, let me bring up a scientific sample of the first three pages for "Samsung Galaxy S3 review" that come up on Google.
The Samsung Galaxy S III is still one of the top phones on the Android Market right now. Some software issues aside the phone still out performs so many other devices. The hardware side alone is mesmerizing enough and some of the other features just need a bit fine tuning and you have yourself a very worthy phone for a while.
Posted Oct 15, 2012 10:27 UTC (Mon) by dgm (subscriber, #49227)
Here, here! I am!
Now, before you claim I'm not "the phone market"... well, I'm fully aware of that... Can you please send greetings from dgm next time you speak to them? Thanks!
Posted Oct 15, 2012 16:24 UTC (Mon) by bronson (subscriber, #4806)
Whether it's Google or the Market that spoke, skinning is becoming just theming now, not saddling the poor handset with crazy amounts of unstable bloatware. Thank GOODNESS.
Posted Oct 18, 2012 8:34 UTC (Thu) by ncm (subscriber, #165)
To get J. to make shoes that fit and last, it's not enough that you want to buy them. J. has to be convinced that shoe stores will believe you want to buy them, and would want to sell them to you more than they want to try to sell you something else instead, and more than somebody else wants them to try to sell you something else instead. It's a miracle when we find someone selling what we actually want. It's always much easier all around to come to believe that we want whatever they have to sell.
A similar argument applies in politics, where you're just a voter, not a constituency.
Posted Oct 18, 2012 14:04 UTC (Thu) by raven667 (subscriber, #5198)
Posted Oct 18, 2012 14:17 UTC (Thu) by dgm (subscriber, #49227)
Exactly what I said, no need to be sorry. May point was that he's not either and, as a result, assertions like "the market doesn't want..." are a bit frivolous (hence the tone of my reply).
Posted Oct 13, 2012 1:07 UTC (Sat) by bronson (subscriber, #4806)
It would at least give them another option if Microsoft announces that they're entering the handset business themselves.
Posted Oct 13, 2012 1:27 UTC (Sat) by Cyberax (✭ supporter ✭, #52523)
It would have taken much less time to polish their Meego offering.
Posted Oct 13, 2012 1:32 UTC (Sat) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239)
Posted Oct 13, 2012 1:36 UTC (Sat) by Cyberax (✭ supporter ✭, #52523)
Hell, a lot of people in Russia were still buying Symbian-based smartphones when Android had already been available.
Posted Oct 13, 2012 1:43 UTC (Sat) by daniels (subscriber, #16193)
Doubt it. It took two years to go from the N810 to the N900 and two years to go from the N900 to the N9, if you go on release dates alone. But if you take into account the fact that the N900 and N9 were developed in parallel, you start to see that making any Maemo/MeeGo phone took an unacceptably long time. And even then, the results - while impressive by the standards of open source phones - often faltered by comparison to the rest of the market.
Plus you have to take into account the stated intention of the N9 platform having no future (MeeGo-Harmattan vs. MeeGo), so by sticking with MeeGo, they'd retain zero same-platform advantage, and would probably have run out of cash by the time they'd managed to get sales off the ground.
I'm pretty sure that they'd have a much lower marketshare today if they'd stuck with MeeGo, than jumping to Windows Phone.
Posted Oct 13, 2012 1:51 UTC (Sat) by dlang (✭ supporter ✭, #313)
Nokia's foot-gun didn't need Linux for ammunition, they are shooting themselves quite nicely with Windows.
If they had actually stuck with any one platform instead of changing platforms for every major phone release cycle they would probably be far better of than they are now.
It's possible that Windows will save them, but it's also a new, unknown phone platform with no apps. In addition they can't change it as they are completely at the mercy of Microsoft. Microsoft does not have a good track record of supporting their partners over a long timeframe.
Posted Oct 13, 2012 1:58 UTC (Sat) by daniels (subscriber, #16193)
Yes, which was a shocking shocking error, proving that not only have they learned nothing whatsoever from S60 and ITOS/Maemo/MeeGo-Harmattan, they've also learned nothing whatsoever from Android.
> It's possible that Windows will save them, but it's also a new, unknown phone platform with no apps. In addition they can't change it as they are completely at the mercy of Microsoft. Microsoft does not have a good track record of supporting their partners over a long timeframe.
Windows Phone has 110k apps, some of which are shockingly high quality. (Many of which are totally pointless.) It's certainly got a much wider breadth of apps than MeeGo ever had or was ever destined to have, and the average quality is much much higher.
(Full disclosure: I own a Lumia 800, bought because I thought - and still think - the UI's fantastic and it's a pleasure to use. I'm also selling it, because they've killed the platform by not having upgrades.)
Posted Oct 16, 2012 5:21 UTC (Tue) by ras (subscriber, #33059)
Much of that list arises because Windows Phone 7 is based on CE. Windows Phone 8 is based on a decent OS and you would expect that list to disappear with time, but right now Windows Phone 8 is so new there are no apps that take advantage of it. My guess is it will be at least 2013 before we see the product Nokia needed when they abandoned their Unix efforts.
Oddly, you are right in a way. In effect Nokia has all but stopped selling smart phones for 2 years (so far) as they make the switch to Microsoft, and one reason is Microsoft didn't have a competitive product to sell and they still don't.
And yes, Nokia was hopelessly late with their first release of their Unix phones. But the phone they did release was miles ahead of Windows Phone 7 feature wise, and as the story pointed out, it was amazing how fast the Linux team moved once the politics was cleaned up.
It's impossible to say what would of happened if they had of continued with their in-house software instead of Microsoft, but it is hard to see how it could have been in a worse position than the find themselves in now. And if they had of pulled it off, they would have found themselves in a much better position. They would have been in control of their own destiny, making money from selling apps from their own app store, for a start.
Posted Oct 12, 2012 23:21 UTC (Fri) by raven667 (subscriber, #5198)
Posted Oct 13, 2012 8:05 UTC (Sat) by niner (subscriber, #26151)
How exactly is the situation now better than with what they already had?
Posted Oct 13, 2012 16:04 UTC (Sat) by raven667 (subscriber, #5198)
As far as choosing another os like android or webOS, I'm not sure webOS was available at the time but it could have been another good choice. The Android market is pretty cutthroat and they didn't want to be in such direct competition, there isn't much brand loyalty or profit margins in the android market, they also probably wouldn't be able to finagle special treatment from google as they did from MS because MS is more desperate for a hardware partner.
Posted Oct 13, 2012 16:11 UTC (Sat) by boudewijn (subscriber, #14185)
I remember the sudden burst of anger in Ruoholahti when the N8 was released with Symbian on it. Nokia people I talked too were genuinely surprised it wasn't a Maemo device.
Posted Oct 13, 2012 13:33 UTC (Sat) by pboddie (subscriber, #50784)
And already, the "first among peers" status has been shown to be a joke. Other vendors scooped Nokia when releasing Windows handsets and the apparently large cash transfer to Nokia from Microsoft was really money earmarked for promoting the Microsoft product. Given that Microsoft's strategy is, as always, to buy large amounts of favourable publicity and that the company has no strategic alternative, that's not much of a gift to their partners.
Posted Oct 13, 2012 16:09 UTC (Sat) by raven667 (subscriber, #5198)
The whole strategy depends on how desperate MS is to stay relevant and how much Nokia can get out of their "special relationship".
Posted Oct 13, 2012 0:44 UTC (Sat) by man_ls (subscriber, #15091)
The differentiation between UI on Android phones is a pretty strong indication that competing on hardware isn't enough - vendors need to compete on the software as well.
My wild guess would be that the main differenciating factors are: hardware, openness and updates, probably in this order. Samsung excels at the three of them, and is at the top; HTC failed on the last two and fell a long way. As a free software enthusiast it is nice seeing that people value openness.
Distasteful as it may be, going Windows was a rational choice for Nokia.
Posted Oct 13, 2012 1:11 UTC (Sat) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239)
The rational choice would have been to fire everybody involved in Symbian in 2006, but come 2011 that horse had already set fire to the stable and fled to the Caymans. Nokia's in-house Linux expertise was fragmented over multiple teams working independently of each other, or subcontracted out to vendors with contracts specifying that they'd be working on Meego and not some other Linux platform. Telling them to start working on Android instead wouldn't have magically made an Android device appear in a reasonable timeframe.
Posted Oct 13, 2012 9:36 UTC (Sat) by man_ls (subscriber, #15091)
Both choices seem more rational than committing seppuku with a loser platform (except perhaps if you are a former Microsoft executive and/or a submarine envoy). Throwing out all the in-house expertise built over the years, when you are the market leader in a category is somehow rational? Perhaps you have some knowledge you want to share that says otherwise.
Posted Oct 13, 2012 10:13 UTC (Sat) by daniels (subscriber, #16193)
Posted Oct 13, 2012 10:29 UTC (Sat) by man_ls (subscriber, #15091)
Posted Oct 13, 2012 10:35 UTC (Sat) by daniels (subscriber, #16193)
Posted Oct 13, 2012 10:15 UTC (Sat) by marcH (subscriber, #57642)
Had Nokia any Android expertise? Sorry if this hurts LWN feelings but Linux is only a very small part of it.
Posted Oct 13, 2012 18:28 UTC (Sat) by pboddie (subscriber, #50784)
Changing the strategy over and over again - something that a complete platform change would obviously be a part of - is the story throughout that article at one organisational level or another, but skittish management and the desire for sudden and instant success appears to be a wider symptom of modern business.
Posted Oct 13, 2012 19:14 UTC (Sat) by man_ls (subscriber, #15091)
I cannot begin to think how Nokia could not align Symbian behind Maëmo/Meego/Harmattan/whatever, and help them get up to speed with the times: GHz processors, high definition screens, etcetera (I don't have a lot of imagination left anyway). The end of the article must be quoted to find out how this came to be, but it may be disappointing: it paints a very common story.
The organization, however, was led from an ivory tower. Towards the end the individual developers had no say in, or even worse no knowledge about, the decisions and changes that took place in the background. Many Nokia employees we interviewed were, at the time, focused on their specific task, and not aware of the bigger picture of MeeGo development. The technology was developed in various teams, which did not communicate with each other. No one made sure that the pieces of the puzzle fit together.
Posted Oct 13, 2012 22:15 UTC (Sat) by marcH (subscriber, #57642)
None of the people I know who had a Symbian phone put it in the smartphone category.
Why does everyone think the iPhone was the very first smartphone? Because only the user interface matters and makes the phone look "smart" or not.
If Symbian had been good enough to create an actual "smartphone" product (in the usual, "user-interface" meaning of the term), then Nokia would not have spent years trying to a create a (couple of) brand new alternative(s). And they would probably not be where they are today.
Posted Oct 25, 2012 14:35 UTC (Thu) by Tet (subscriber, #5433)
You know the term "smartphone" predates the iphone by a decade, right? And that Nokia used it for years to refer to their Symbian phones? What's a smartphone? A rough definition might be one that can download and run apps, and has internet connectivity. Hmmm... just like the Symbian based Nokia phones I used to have. Funny that...
Posted Oct 25, 2012 21:22 UTC (Thu) by marcH (subscriber, #57642)
Posted Oct 14, 2012 12:29 UTC (Sun) by pboddie (subscriber, #50784)
What we see in this story is probably commonplace in businesses where one product line, responsible for a lot of earlier revenue, is rapidly going out of date but where those in charge of that product line dominate the resources and refuse to relinquish them, insisting that they are "part of the solution". I imagine it was similar with Solaris within Sun Microsystems when customers told the company that they had to modernise their OS distribution and/or provide GNU/Linux in the product line-up: things like OpenSolaris, Sun's Linux distributions, and various modern tools all probably faced internal opposition from the factions insisting that the golden age would return and on their particular schedule, too.
Symbian, competitive in the form of its predecessors in an age when they offered features lacking from certain desktop operating systems, was getting a renaissance from the availability of Qt across all Nokia's platforms, but that was merely a measure to dull the pain of working with it in an age when there are fewer limitations on what you can deploy on a mobile device. Sadly, that helped prolong the mindset that Symbian might be the only answer to the company's problems and thus prolonged the turf wars that undermined the introduction of a viable successor.
Nokia's main problem appears to have been incompetence in management, thus squandering many of the advantages of being a large organisation with access to substantial resources.
Posted Oct 14, 2012 23:06 UTC (Sun) by khim (subscriber, #9252)
What we see in this story is probably commonplace in businesses where one product line, responsible for a lot of earlier revenue, is rapidly going out of date but where those in charge of that product line dominate the resources and refuse to relinquish them, insisting that they are "part of the solution".
Yup. Typical reaction to Distuptive technology. Textbook example, in fact. The Innovator's Dilemma and The Innovator's Solution explain how to solve it: you create separate, semi-autonomous division - prefarably not all that close to the HQ of the old company, then give it some legal support (plus small initial startup capital). This is how PC was born (do you know why it was named IBM model number 5150? that's because it was supposed "successor" of IBM 5100 which was designed in a traditional way and, of course, totally bombed in market).
Nokia was unable to do that. Elop did this part of the strategy right. What it did totally wrong is immediate abandonment of everything else. Instead he should have praised Sybian and gave it money and his total support. Probably positioned WP7 phones as phones for the emergent (for Nokia) markets (like US) and kept hyping Sybian elsewhere.
Nokia's main problem appears to have been incompetence in management, thus squandering many of the advantages of being a large organisation with access to substantial resources.
It's the opposite, in fact. It was too effective in suppressing useless development which had nothing to do with the needs/wants of Nokia customers.
Please read the The Innovator's Dilemma. Please. Successful, properly run companies suffer from disruptive technologies, not the incompetent ones (incompetent ones lose much earlier).
Posted Oct 15, 2012 9:42 UTC (Mon) by pboddie (subscriber, #50784)
I also like the way you redefine management incompetence and failure to execute to be effective management in a politicised culture so that burying projects under layers of time-wasting is actually seen as an effective way of focusing the company on its priorities. (Never mind that such projects, run correctly, should actually have been the top priority for the company.) I'm sure such management practices appealed to various Roman Emperors and to the average despot, but objectively it is an incompetent squandering of an organisation's resources and ability to compete at a level its size would suggest.
What will be of most interest to historians and business theorists is how a previously successful organisation whose recent success was supposedly founded on its management structure entered a period of decline and inaction. And we're talking about a company that was making stuff like cables and rubber products for most of its history, so you can spare us the lecture about disruption.
Posted Oct 13, 2012 0:57 UTC (Sat) by chithanh (guest, #52801)
No. Nokia were advised to go Android very early by a consultant they had hired, `but rejected his suggestion that the company ought to adopt Android, arguing that the company would "lose control of their destiny"'
Posted Oct 13, 2012 18:37 UTC (Sat) by nhippi (subscriber, #34640)
The only differentiation Lumia 800 offered when entering market was the ipod-nano-curvy case. It was simply are more marketed version of Samsung omnia 7 and HTC HD7 (even the HW was identical...). Today, HTC has launched identical WP8 phones to what Nokia plans (except the fancy camera) to release.
Clearly they have to compete with Asian manufacturers within the WP same way they would have done in Android camp.
The only "difference" being in WP camp is that it lets Nokia fight to slice in the WP pie (3% of market), instead of fighting for a slice in the 68% pie over in the android side.
The rational decision would have been going OS agnostic and launching both android and WP devices. If you want to be a HW company, don't try to be strategic in OS field.
Posted Oct 14, 2012 5:47 UTC (Sun) by cmccabe (guest, #60281)
It seems like people have a really deep misunderstanding of what Android is about. Because the code for Android is Apache 2.0, manufacturers using Android have some flexibility when dealing with Google. Google can't just "cut off their air supply" like Microsoft can do with Windows OEMs if they do something Mr. Ballmer doesn't like. Google does have closed-source add-ons like Google Navigation, but those are optional, and some vendors, like Amazon, have chosen to go it alone.
It's fundamentally irrational for Nokia to expect Microsoft to treat it differently than it treats Dell, Hewlett-Packard, and all the other current Windows OEMs. Microsoft is used to giving orders and having them obeyed, not cultivating long-term relationships with an equal partner. It's widely known in the tech community that partnering with Microsoft is a dumb idea. Some of the internal Microsoft memos revealed by the DoJ antitrust case talk about how Microsoft needs to stop "screwing its partners" because otherwise nobody would dare to partner with them in the future.
Nokia could definitely have made a good Android phone with the resources it had available in 2009. They had a great sales channel, a great brand, good hardware guys, and even good (if mismanaged) software teams. They knew how to bring up a board, how to get the marketing machine going, and so forth. The truly smart thing to do would have been to find a way to run Symbian software on Android and offer developers and users a clear migration path. If they wanted to hedge their bets, they could have also spun up a Windows phone project too, but they should have asked Microsoft to foot most of the bills for this development.
But now? They're just an empty shell of a company. Sales are down across the board, even in the dumbphone business unit, because people have lost confidence in Nokia. Microsoft is probably going to bring out its own Windows phone and begin competing directly against Nokia. One day we'll look back at Nokia much like we look back at Commodore or Tandy. Whatever happened to those guys?
The remaining assets are NAVTEQ and the patent pool. I expect that they will easily find buyers for both of those. Unfortunately, the buyers are likely to be either Apple or Microsoft. Apple could sure use the maps team right about now.
Posted Oct 14, 2012 22:16 UTC (Sun) by man_ls (subscriber, #15091)
Posted Oct 15, 2012 16:21 UTC (Mon) by bronson (subscriber, #4806)
Alas, Meego is dead in the water, with or without Nokia.
Posted Oct 14, 2012 8:50 UTC (Sun) by kragil (subscriber, #34373)
Business question: Do you want 60% of 1% the market or 30% of 70% of the market?
Nokia would be in much better shape if they had just put Android on the highly praise N9 PERIOD *END OF DISCUSSION*
One last hint: Remember Nokias business is selling as many phones as possible. Windows Phone isn't help.
Posted Oct 15, 2012 9:39 UTC (Mon) by fb (subscriber, #53265)
IMHO the differentiation is more due to managers ordering their software teams to differentiate (for no practical reason whatsoever) than anything else.
Every Android phone review I read on the internet seems to revolve on how much the 'differentiation' broke Google's vanilla experience.
I recently discovered that many family members bought some Motorola Android devices which were on sale. The devices were so bad that the that that entire family group now has a deep and real aversion to any and all things Motorola/Android.
Having low-end Android phones that people could trust to recommend and buy would go a long from the current state of affairs.
Posted Oct 13, 2012 0:30 UTC (Sat) by karim (subscriber, #114)
Posted Oct 13, 2012 0:41 UTC (Sat) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239)
Posted Oct 13, 2012 0:48 UTC (Sat) by karim (subscriber, #114)
Posted Oct 13, 2012 0:58 UTC (Sat) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239)
Posted Oct 13, 2012 1:29 UTC (Sat) by Cyberax (✭ supporter ✭, #52523)
Posted Oct 13, 2012 1:39 UTC (Sat) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239)
Posted Oct 13, 2012 2:07 UTC (Sat) by Cyberax (✭ supporter ✭, #52523)
As it is, they now have no such possibility because WP8 phones are even more hardware-hungry than Android phones.
So they've traded control over the platform for PR assistance from Microsoft. So far that hasn't worked at all.
Posted Oct 13, 2012 2:09 UTC (Sat) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239)
Posted Oct 13, 2012 2:17 UTC (Sat) by Cyberax (✭ supporter ✭, #52523)
Posted Oct 13, 2012 2:29 UTC (Sat) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239)
Posted Oct 13, 2012 2:41 UTC (Sat) by Cyberax (✭ supporter ✭, #52523)
And WP7 and WP8 are completely different OSes, WP7 uses a WinCE kernel and WP8 uses a modified WinNT kernel. So they have still spent two years adapting OS just to abandon it later.
Both OSes share some level of API/ABI compatibility because apps for WP7 are written exclusively in .NET (with native API only available to Microsoft and a small clique of partners). But that was also true for the plan to use QT to make development possible for Symbian and Meego. And Meego/Harmattan was planned to be binary backward compatible with later Meego.
So the situation would have been EXACTLY the same.
Posted Oct 13, 2012 22:16 UTC (Sat) by chithanh (guest, #52801)
Expecting decent $40 Android phones in a year is however a little optimistic.
Posted Oct 13, 2012 22:28 UTC (Sat) by Cyberax (✭ supporter ✭, #52523)
And these will be fairly decent phones with a recent enough Android version (not some Android 1.6 crap from Walmart).
Posted Oct 15, 2012 1:28 UTC (Mon) by chithanh (guest, #52801)
What I'd call decent is at least WVGA screen, 512 MB RAM, ability to install CM10 for advanced users - all of which the Blade satisfies but the ultra-cheap Androids don't.
Posted Oct 15, 2012 15:27 UTC (Mon) by BenHutchings (subscriber, #37955)
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