Nokia kills Symbian, Gives Windows Phone A Fresh Lease Of Life

Symbian, the world leader in terms of OS, has just lost it. Oh yes. It is still supported, but well, it is as good as dead. The graph below explains exactly just that.

Defying all logic, beating the odds, Stephen Elop, the CEO of Nokia and ex-employee of Microsoft has done what seemed to be illogical. Beating their own words and doing a U-turn on their commitment towards the Symbian ecosystem, Nokia will now adopt Windows Phone 7 as the ‘primary OS’, relegating Symbian’s role to that of a ‘harvester’ of additional value. And just in case you think why I’m reporting it so late is due to a reason that I, as a die-hard Symbian lover, didn’t want my thoughts to be ‘personal’. If you’d like to know what they are, you may want to lookup on Twitter @jainrounak.

Meego, the love child of Nokia’s Maemo and Intel’s Moblin, will now be more of a ‘learning experience’ rather than being the OS of choice. Also, QT will ‘NOT’ be used to develop apps for WP7, effectively wasting all the effort that the devs had put in to learn it. The developers will now have to use the free tools provided by Microsoft.

That’s not it – Ovi Store, the world’s second best performing App Store, will now be merged with the Marketplace. The Ovi Maps service, however, will remain as it is.

QT will however remain as the development platform for Symbian and Meego.

Here’s the full PR Text. Digest it if possible.

Nokia and Microsoft announce plans for a broad strategic partnership to build a new global ecosystem
February 11, 2011
Companies plan to combine assets and develop innovative mobile products on an unprecedented scale

Nokia Corporation
Stock exchange release
February 11, 2011 at 9.30 (CET +1)

London, Feb. 11, 2011 – Nokia and Microsoft today announced plans to form a broad strategic partnership that would use their complementary strengths and expertise to create a new global mobile ecosystem.

Nokia and Microsoft intend to jointly create market-leading mobile products and services designed to offer consumers, operators and developers unrivalled choice and opportunity.  As each company would focus on its core competencies, the partnership would create the opportunity for rapid time to market execution.  Additionally, Nokia and Microsoft plan to work together to integrate key assets and create completely new service offerings, while extending established products and services to new markets.

Under the proposed partnership:

– Nokia would adopt Windows Phone as its principal Smartphone strategy, innovating on top of the platform in areas such as imaging, where Nokia is a market leader.

– Nokia would help drive the future of Windows Phone.  Nokia would contribute its expertise on hardware design, language support, and help bring Windows Phone to a larger range of price points, market segments and geographies.

– Nokia and Microsoft would closely collaborate on joint marketing initiatives and a shared development roadmap to align on the future evolution of mobile products.

– Bing would power Nokia’s search services across Nokia devices and services, giving customers access to Bing’s next generation search capabilities.  Microsoft adCenter would provide search advertising services on Nokia’s line of devices and services.

– Nokia Maps would be a core part of Microsoft’s mapping services.   For example, Maps would be integrated with Microsoft’s Bing search engine and adCenter advertising platform to form a unique local search and advertising experience

– Nokia’s extensive operator billing agreements would make it easier for consumers to purchase Nokia Windows Phone services in countries where credit-card use is low.

– Microsoft development tools would be used to create applications to run on Nokia Windows Phones, allowing developers to easily leverage the ecosystem’s global reach.

– Nokia’s content and application store would be integrated with Microsoft Marketplace for a more compelling consumer experience.

“Today, developers, operators and consumers want  compelling mobile products, which include not only the device, but the software, services, applications and customer support that make a great  experience,” Stephen Elop, Nokia President and CEO, said at a joint news conference in London. “Nokia and Microsoft will combine our strengths to deliver an ecosystem with unrivalled global reach and scale. It’s now a three-horse race.”

“I am excited about this partnership with Nokia,” said Steven A. Ballmer, Microsoft CEO. “Ecosystems thrive when fueled by speed, innovation and scale. The partnership announced today provides incredible scale, vast expertise in hardware and software innovation and a proven ability to execute.”

The major elements, according to another PR report are –

– Plans for a broad strategic partnership with Microsoft to build a new global mobile ecosystem; Windows Phone would serve as Nokia’s primary Smartphone platform.
– A renewed approach to capture volume and value growth to connect “the next billion” to the Internet in developing growth markets
– Focused investments in next-generation disruptive technologies
– A new leadership team and organizational structure with a clear focus on speed, results and accountability

Nokia, however, still intends to come out with a Meego device later this year.

Another excerpt from the latest PR Text –

New leadership team, operational structure
This new strategy is supported by significant changes in Nokia’s leadership, operational structure and approach. Effective today, Nokia has a new leadership team with the commitment, competencies and innovative thinking needed in today’s dynamic environment.

The Nokia Leadership Team, previously the Group Executive Board, will consist of the following members: Stephen Elop, Esko Aho, Juha Akras, Jerri DeVard, Colin Giles, Rich Green, Jo Harlow, Timo Ihamuotila, Mary McDowell, Kai Oistamo, Tero Ojanpera, Louise Pentland and Niklas Savander.

Alberto Torres has stepped down from the management team, effective February 10 to pursue other interests outside the company.

The renewed governance will expedite decision-making and improve time-to-market of products and innovations, placing a heavy focus on results, speed and accountability. The new strategy and operational structure are expected to have significant impact to Nokia operations and personnel.

New company structure
As of April 1, Nokia will have a new company structure, which features two distinct business units:

Smart Devices and Mobile Phones. They will focus on Nokia’s key business areas: high-end smart phones and mass-market mobile phones.  Each unit will have profit-and-loss responsibility and end-to-end accountability for the full consumer experience, including product development, product management and product marketing.

Smart Devices will be responsible for building Nokia’s leadership in smart phones and will be led by Jo Harlow. The following sub-units now in Mobile Solutions will move under Smart Devices:
– Symbian Smart phones
– MeeGo Computers
– Strategic Business Operations

To support the planned new partnership with Microsoft, Smart Devices will be responsible for creating a winning Windows Phone portfolio.

Mobile Phones will drive Nokia’s “web for the next billion” strategy. Mobile Phones will leverage its innovation and strength in growth markets to connect the next billion people and bring them affordable access to the Internet and applications. The Mobile Phones unit will be led by Mary McDowell.

Markets will be responsible for selling products, executing compelling marketing and communications, creating a competitive local ecosystem, sourcing, customer care, manufacturing, IT and logistics across all Nokia products. It will be headed by Niklas Savander.

Services and Developer Experience will be responsible for Nokia’s global services portfolio, developer offering, developer relations and integration of partner service offerings. Tero Ojanpera will lead the Services and Developer Experience unit in an acting capacity.

NAVTEQ, an integral part of Nokia’s location and advertising business, will be headed by Larry Kaplan, and continue as a separate reporting entity.

The CTO Office will be responsible for Nokia’s technology strategy and forward-looking technology activities, including Nokia Research Center. It will be headed by Rich Green.

Design, responsible for Nokia product and user experience design, will be led by Marko Ahtisaari.

The CFO Office, responsible for all financial activity, will be headed by Timo Ihamuotila.

Corporate Development, responsible for driving implementation of Nokia’s ecosystem strategy and strategic partnerships, will be headed by Kai Oistamo.

Corporate Relations & Responsibility, responsible for Nokia’s government and public affairs, sustainable development and social responsibility, will be led by Esko Aho.

Human Resources will be led by Juha Akras.

Legal and Intellectual Property will be led by Louise Pentland.

Nokia Siemens Networks continues in the Nokia Group as a separate reporting entity.

My Opinions –

Symbian was one hell of a performer. For all its flaws, it just worked. Unlike Android, it did multi-tasking, very, very efficiently. And power management was its forte. Look at the E-series, they just work. And they’re perhaps one reason why I fell in love with Symbian. Before you shout, I’ve tried Android enough to form an opinion about it, and compare with it.

Coming to iOS, Symbian was way ahead. It’s just that it lacked the attractiveness, intuitiveness.

I simply fail to understand how a company decides to sell it’s soul to another company. It defies my logic. And if I would have been in place of Elop, I’d have simply asked to programmers and Nokia’s developers to frigging work on the UI. As Elop himself said in the ‘Burning Memo’, there was bright talent inside Nokia. That was a lame, really lame reason that has been given and I do not buy it. Nokia lacked the intent.

On my friend’s blogs, I’ve been reading that it’s not the own management of Nokia that runs it. It’s now Microsoft that does so. While being their personal opinion, I pretty much think on the same lines.

As it has been long said, no rival was powerful enough to kill Symbian, only the management could have done that; and Voila! It just happened!

I still love Symbian. I like Android. iOS, well, I like it as well.

RIP Symbian.

Yesterday’s announcements did hurt. The Symbian part on this blog may no longer be updated. Also, I’m contemplating including WebOS and WP7 in the purview. What do you think? What’s your take on this? Will you still buy a Symbian given that Nokia plans to sell 150 MN more devices? Let me know. You can be emotive as well.