Nokia’s future is looking positive today

Back in that rather exciting week in the run up to Nokia’s pretty staggering announcements prior to Mobile World Congress, I remember remarking that the company would need to start making some big decisions. I wrote that I’d like to see big, market-moving statements. Statements that would make people sit up and look — that would demonstrate there’s confident and assertive leadership at the helm.

I certainly got an exciting impression from the way the company’s executives carried themselves during the initial announcements. Whilst that was most certainly an important period, many were right to point out that it’s all about the execution. Indeed, that became my mantra for those who asked my opinion on the Nokia/Microsoft move.

“Brilliant,” I would say, “Just, … well now it’s about making it happen.”

Today saw a rather large step in that direction. Stephen Elop was utterly clear during his MWC ‘town hall’ briefing that Symbian was in the departure lounge waiting to exit. The precise nature of that was left to speculation. Indeed, many were assuming that Nokia would retain close focus on Symbian given it’s still a viable operating system for hundreds of millions of people and that Nokia intends shipping many more Symbian devices before Windows Phone hits the market.

Nokia’s exporting of Symbian to Accenture is — I think — an excellent move. The decision — whether you agreed with it or not — had already been made: Symbian is out, Windows Phone is in. I think perhaps that a Nokia of yesteryear would have retained Symbian within the company, somehow.

But by handing it all — lock, stock and barrel (along with 3,000 employees) to Accenture, the company’s intent is clear. Accenture aren’t in it for the love of the ultra efficient and reliable operating system. Oh no. They’re in it for the money. There’s still a ton of mileage left in Symbian — indeed, with Accenture hunting for the business opportunities, there may well be some exciting news to come in the next few years involving the OS.

Nokia still needs Symbian to be ‘around’, it needs the platform to be managed, curated, developed — it’s still got a ton of Symbian handsets to sell. I’m pleased that the management has exported that day-to-day issue. They can focus on getting stuff done. Specifically, making sure they direct the company’s efforts into delivering brilliant devices (and services) for the Windows Phone platform.

I also like the exporting of the 3,000 key Symbian employees to Accenture. When you think about it, it’s a super idea. Those 3,000 folk are — one imagines — some of the most pro-Symbian people you could hope to meet. Hardly the people you want around when you’re trying to — genuinely — deliver a super new range of devices using something from the beast that is Microsoft. (For the longest time there was definitely no love lost between Nokia and Microsoft).

Nokia needs to exit anyone who’s not on board with their new strategy. The 3,000 Accenture-Symbian employees can now continue to get on with their lives safe in the knowledge that for the foreseeable future, they’ve got a job, a mission, a reason to exist.

Nonsense talk about Nokia ‘giving up its operating system independence’ — all that kind of woeful rubbish that I’ve seen spouted around today with the Symbian/Accenture news — highlights uninformed neolithic opinion. The horse bolted. The world moved on.

“What’s the difference now between Nokia and HTC, ZTE and Huwaei?” That’s one retweeted gem I saw spinning across the twitterverse today.

I rolled my eyes. A lot.

To the uninformed, this is definitely a valid viewpoint. Surely Nokia is just a box-shifter now? Right?

No.

Well…

It depends what we get from Nokia, actually.

If, by the end of the year, Mr Elop and his team have managed to meld Nokia into a fighting-fit lean and crazy-mean unit, the devices that start to fly off the production line are going to be out of this world. Windows Phone is really good. It’s simple, it’s clearly designed, it’s got oodles of Visual Studio developers frothing at the mouth — and it’s managed by Microsoft, a company under substantial pressure to finally get it right in mobile too.

Amazing imaging, totally integrated services (from Exchange, Office365, mapping, Bing) combined with phenomenally reliable, delightful hardware.. yes, it’s going to be a really exciting 2012.

By mid-2012 I full expect to start being wowed by Nokia. I expect Nokia and Microsoft to start surprising, delighting and leading.

Today’s Symbian announcement fits with the picture I’ve got in my mind of a 200,000 employee behemoth beginning to get it’s mojo back. It’s a smart, clear decision. There’s nothing wishy-washy about it. Nothing limpwristed. It looks to me that it’s happening.

Keep it up Nokia. Let’s see what you’ve got for us next.

You can get a look at the top man, Stephen Elop, in action today in this video interview by MTV3.fi. Just look at the confidence radiating from him.

  • Michael S

    Ewan:
    I wish there was a way of confirming this, but I read a report about 3 weeks ago that a Microsoft spokesperson advised that Windows 8 would be a single platform for PCs, tablets, embedded systems and phones. If this is accurate, it means that WindowsPhone is already dead, and that the next version will be a modified PC OS.

    Bloated, PC focused, one size fits all OS. It will never work.

  • http://www.mobileindustryreview.com Ewan

    If that’s anywhere near accurate Michael, then I completely agree.

  • Alex Kerr

    > I wish there was a way of confirming this

    I confirmed it in 2 seconds using Google. http://www.zdnet.com/blog/hardware/intel-to-put-windows-8-on-phones-wait-whaaaaat/10981
    in fact, confirmed by Intel CEO. So that’s him, and your Microsoft spokesperson. Sounds pretty solid to me.

    FTA: “Given the confusing messages that we’re getting from the Windows team, the Windows Phone team and now partners, it’s clear that there’s a lack of a coherent vision for mobile at Microsoft. It seems to me that the Windows and Windows Phone teams each have a conflicting vision for mobile, and this is already starting to cause confusion on the ground, all of which helps Apple and Google increase their already comfortable grip on the market.”

    One could immediately say “well, clearly Nokia were convinced, so it’s all going to be OK”. But no one has yet given any reasonable explanation or argument why Elop is not by accident or design, a trojan for Microsoft, or even more likely, simply turns into an unintentional, but de facto one. i.e. I’m saying Elop’s got an inevitable bias towards MS as he came from there (and perhaps for other reasons), even if it’s not wholly deliberate. And by bias I mean “inability to make a truly objective decision on technology platform and to not be non-objectively influenced by Microsoft platforms”.

    I think I’m right in saying that Microsoft have NEVER got mobile right in any general, meaningful, or technical way. Shoehorning a desktop class OS onto a phone does not lend credence to the notion that they will achieve that. And so Nokia will have tied themselves to a stinking pig of a mobile OS. One that requires expensive hardware, runs hot and where Symbian-class battery life is a fantasy.

    The irony may well end of being that the one things that REALLY ends up selling to the IT press and public how great Symbian is (and was) is Nokia’s future with Windows Phone devices.

    Personally I have yet to see any evidence that my N8 is not the greatest phone and convergence device ever made, and will be for some time. In spite of an annoyingly clunky keyboard implementation (browser is irrelevant as the free Opera Mobile 11 is easily on a par with anything on iPhone or Android). And believe me, I’m looking for that evidence – I’m looking to prove myself wrong. Nothing yet :)

  • http://profiles.google.com/seemodel Model Seeker

    I’m confused..are you saying the excellent points made above by Alex are not accurate? Being a long time user of Microsoft products I have to agree…they are not made for efficiency or ease of use. I just used the new Internet Explorer version 9 and its nowhere near the clean interface that Chrome has.

    I feel Nokia made a big mistake hitching their star to Microsoft. They could have at least been operating system agnostic and made Android smartphones as well. I would definitely buy an Android smartphone from Nokia since I think their hardware is great.

    Outsourcing to Accenture is a terrible idea since that company has a track record of laying off employees acquired and stabilizing what they acquired to maintenance mode. I’ve seen it in action personally at one of the companies I worked for. They will also hire cheaper employees usually in overseas markets.

    Just my 2 cents.

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