Hi TP friends!
Welcome to TechPinas Founder Notes (TPFN) # 1a: Alliances!
Me at Nokia Connection 2010 held in Singapore
For this issue, I'll share with you some important information that we got on the recently announced Nokia-Microsoft strategic alliance. I'll also post Nokia's answers to some of the hottest questions by our readers regarding this landmark partnership.
This video, featuring the CEO's of both companies, pretty much sums up what this alliance is all about --
Basically, this new tech partnership between the biggest phone maker in the world and the biggest software developer in the planet entails that Nokia would adopt Microsoft's Windows Phone OS as its principal smartphone platform, innovating on top of it in areas such as imaging, where Nokia excels.
Since Philippines is practically a Nokia nation and this shift in Nokia's strategy will definitely affect the mobile experience of Pinoy smartphone users, I deemed it fitting to ask TP friends if they have inquiries as regards the Nokia-Microsoft partnership.
Here are some of their questions;
"What will happen to [Nokia's Symbian] phones like Nokia N8? Will their os be replaced with windows?"
- Noel Ison
"Will Nokia-Micsosoft release budget phones? Or feature phones[...]?"
- Joseph Darwin Co
"When will they start manufacturing [Nokia Windows Phones]?"
- Nemory Martinez
"[What will be] the price range and the target consumer of [Nokia Windows Phones]?"
- Oreo Pontejos
"What will happen to the Ovi Store and the apps for Symbian?"
- Stephen Gimotea Jardeleza
"What will happen with the Ovi services on phones like E5, E72, N8, C3, X2-01, etc., would they still be working when you fuse them with Microsoft Ecosystem?"
- Cesar Delgado
"[Will Nokia still] release new Symbian phones?"
- Dan Jayson Ronquillo
"[Is Nokia planning to 'remake'] their flagship phones [like Nokia N8] to a Windows Phone?"
- Nero-kun Alexandersson
"What will happen to MeeGo platform?"
- Jebz Natz
"When will Nokia introduce [the first Nokia Windows Phone] to the world?"
- Albert Wesker
"[How much will Nokia Windows Phones cost? What are the specs?]"
- Jade de Leon and Rye Rillo
I also have these questions on my mind but the biggest one for me would have to be, "Why Windows Phone and Microsoft? What not Android and Google?"
Of course, I can always speculate on the answers to our questions but wouldn't it be better if we can hear the real answers straight from Nokia?
True to Nokia's corporate slogan - "Connecting People", last week, Mr. Nicolas Foo - Head of Forum Nokia's Technical Services and Consultancy Team in Asia Pacific - flew in to Manila from Singapore to answer questions by Philippine media regarding the Nokia-Microsoft Alliance.
Here are the questions TechPinas asked and the corresponding answers (I believe they also answer most of the questions posted by our friends.);
1. Why did Nokia choose Windows Phone 7 over Android?
Nokia explored a number of options for building a new ecosystem. It became clear that we could not catalyze an ecosystem around our own assets. The Android ecosystem has many positive qualities but we believe our ability to differentiate and maintain margins within that ecosystem would have been limited. We believe a partnership with Microsoft had the best potential for sustainable differentiation, a central role in a new ecosystem and the opportunity to create the third ecosystem providing more choice for operators and consumers. Together, Nokia and Microsoft plan to bring a combined services portfolio covering location, search, entertainment, social, advertising and commerce, with a fantastic opportunity to create new experiences through the integration and combination of core services assets.
2. What will happen to Symbian?
As Nokia’s principal smartphone strategy would be Windows Phone, Symbian will become a franchise platform. Meaning we will continue to leverage the value of Symbian as we build our Windows Phone Business. At some unspecified point in time Windows Phone will displace Symbian inside Nokia but we have 200 million existing Symbian users and target sales of approximately 150 million more. We do not know exactly when the last Symbian device will ship or be sold but we will continue to modernize the Symbian experience with a selective programme of enhancements and we will launch more devices on the Symbian platform.
Look at the market today, there are phone users out there who still use the first versions of Symbian, even if we’ve stopped producing those phones a long time ago. We foresee that the same will happen here. We will not abruptly stop updating the current Symbian software or supporting the current Symbian devices and they will continue to be in use and in the market for a long time. Symbian is not dead and will not die just like that.
3. What will happen to Ovi Store, Ovi Services and Symbian Apps? Will there be Ovi Services for WP7?
Details are still being finalized and we will share more specifics at the appropriate time. However, with 4M downloads a day and 250K users signing up daily to Ovi, Nokia’s content and application store is extremely important to the company and its current and future Symbian customers. We will continue to support it in order to provide consumers with the best experience possible. That said, Ovi Store will continue to be offered to Symbian and Series 40 phone owners.
4. What will happen to MeeGo?
We will transition the MeeGo open source project to focus on exploration of future platform disruptions and next generation devices, platforms and user experiences. We expect to deliver a MeeGo-related device later this year but that device is best defined as an ‘opportunity to learn'
5. Does Nokia intend to upgrade the OS of their current handsets to WP7 (for example, Nokia N8 to WP7 from Symbian^3)?
There are no plans for this right now but we will continue to modernize the Symbian experience with a selective programme of enhancements and we will launch more devices on the Symbian platform.
6. Does Nokia intend to sell midrange phones with WP7?
Part of the specific relationship between Nokia and Microsoft is for us to contribute the expertise, the planning, the design and everything else so that the Windows Phone product is not only a premium product. In the same way that Symbian has pushed way down the price continuum, you’ll see us do that very aggressively with Windows Phone as well. So very clearly, part of our desire is to cover a wide array of prices and that’s very deliberately our plan to do so with Microsoft. Whether the phones will reach the midrange price point, we’ll have to wait and see.
So there you go. Symbian and MeeGo will still be around. Likewise, Symbian Apps and Ovi will still be available. As for price and specs of Nokia WP7 handsets, those will be announced in due time. Meanwhile, rest assured that Nokia is working closely with Microsoft to bring the Windows Phone experience to various price categories.
While critics and geeks were slamming Symbian left and right, consumers by the millions continue to buy Nokia phones running on the platform -- especially in emerging markets. Amazingly, despite not-so-favorable reviews of its operating system, Nokia remains to be the leading phone manufacturer in the world today.
This fact and my experience as a Nokia user considered, I believe Nokia has led and continues to lead the market not so much because of the platform on which its handsets run but largely because of the legendary quality and features-set that its phones are known to have. For example, Nokia N8 clad in aluminum has a 12 Megapixel camera as powerful as that of a point and shoot digicam. Nokia N900, on other hand, offers web browsing experience comparable to what you can get from a Tablet PC. Ask any Nokia fan why he or she loves Nokia and I bet you'll get either hardware, multimedia features or mere affinity to the brand.
But times have changed in large markets like the US and Europe and changes in consumer behavior are also starting to be seen in emerging markets like the Philippines. While quality of construction and features are still important, ecosystems and software features like applications are now becoming a bigger consideration in smartphone purchases. Smoothness of web-browsing experience and mobile services are likewise emerging as key reasons for choosing one handset over another.
These are the areas that Nokia hopes to improve on with this alliance with Microsoft. Hopefully, Microsoft's Windows Phone operating system would be that piece that would make Nokia a more well-rounded handset manufacturer in the long run -- releasing well-constructed smartphones with strong multimedia features and mobile platform that can rival Apple's iOS and Google's Android.
I'm not a doom gloom kinda guy and I'm really hoping that this partnership will work out well not just for the two companies but for all consumers who've grown to love Nokia through the years, like myself.