Nokia’s risk with Microsoft and the “Mobile computer” loophole

You heard by now that Nokia chose to use Windows Phone 7 as main smartphone OS.

I certainly won’t buy any WP phone ever. I’d rather buy some Android phone as long as it doesn’t depend on Windows (like Samsung’s AFAIK do).

As you may recall, Palm went a similar route before: PalmSource developed PalmOS 6 based on many technologies from BeOS. They had a superior OS but Palm never used it in any devices. Instead they sticked with PalmOS 5: Outdated technology but binary compatible to existing applications.
As PalmOS 5 was gradually replaced with Symbian as dominant OS, Palm partnered with Microsoft and shipped Windows Mobile on its devices. In the short term it helped Palm gain back some market share. In the meantime PalmSource was bought by ACCESS and Palm worked on webOS.
webOS seems to be a very nice OS but clinging to PalmOS 5 first and later partnering with Microsoft distracted Palm. The result: webOS came too late. Palm was bought by HP.

Change some nouns above and you’ll pretty much get Nokia’s recent history.

However, Nokia at least was wise enough to have two loopholes: The first is that Qt stays for lower end phones which means Nokia won’t stop developing it. The second is – and that one seems underrepresented in the news coverage – Nokia still plans to develop MeeGo “computers”.
You may not know it but by Nokia’s official terminology the Maemo-based N900 is not a smartphone. It’s not a phone at all. It’s a “mobile computer” that happens to be usable as phone.

If Nokia continues those “mobile computers”, the situation is not so grim. However if Nokia really bets on MS – and history showed us that doing that is a safe bet for doom – I’ll say Lenovo will buy them.

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12 thoughts on “Nokia’s risk with Microsoft and the “Mobile computer” loophole”

  1. I hope someone comes with a real solution for linux on smartphone,
    Android is too far away from linux, and I never liked google with it’s web app approach
    I’m not sure about WebOs but it doesn’t seem open enough
    Meego seems to still being in development, they’ve just lost nokia, that doesn’t mean another company will come up with some hardware for meego.
    If everything ends up fine we’ll have nokia developing qt for it’s mid-low segment and intel contributing to qt because of it’s meego use, so qt and meego won’t die, so kde/kde mobile won’t either.
    But it seems that nokia will be firing some employees that work on qt/meego, this is worrying maybe novell/redhat/intel/someone should hire them to keep qt alive.
    If all fails, the community might not be enough to keep qt fast and reliable, I really hope we can.

    1. If I’m not mistaken, except GUI and drivers, webOS is completely open (JS libraries, SDL, WebKit,…) and those parts wouldn’t be open in a Nokia MeeGo device either.
      However webOS’ development is done completely behind closed doors and can only be influenced indirectly be contributing to the upstream projects.

      Qt won’t die. It can’t because even if no one else cared, KDE would fork it.

      1. Yes that’s true but they all seem to be pointing to cloud and I really don’t like cloud, it’s even worse than closed software, I prefer a closed platform running local software than an open one running web software, android and WebOs are too cloudy for me, meego was perfect, it was pointing at making local apps, good apps with qt.
        Now the only option for me would be an android/webos configured to not use the cloud. Privacy is not something google is very good at, so my coins go to hp, if they get qt support.

  2. Trouble is, before they were all about merging their platforms into Qt, so we all knew (I see the irony in my choice of word there) that Qt would get a lot of support and development having that much money behind it. Now they are suddenly talking about how they want to differentiate themselves on a completely different platform than all other platforms, which is a big change of strategy. They needed another OS while MeeGo matures for sure, but WP7 being so different I am not sure if they will ever put enough manpower behind MeeGo to get it to where I hoped it might be someday…

  3. “But it seems that nokia will be firing some employees that work on qt/meego, this is worrying maybe novell/redhat/intel/someone should hire them to keep qt alive.” <– this isn't true, I don't think.

    The blog is right-on. Basically I guess Meego is now demoted back to being Maemo 1-5 in the eyes of Nokia… the little OS that chugs along and is mostly a (relatively inexpensive) cash sink. This is seriously disappointing of course. Things might get more interesting depending on what happens to Meego in the non-Nokia space. Nokia is hedging their bets on MS to be sure and probably plan on using Meego to give them leverage over Microsoft (eg, give us a cut in the app store profits or we Meego). And since Nokia needs a tablet solution and its not clear if Microsoft has one.

    1. > And since Nokia needs a tablet solution and its not clear if Microsoft has one.

      @Ian: Elop specifically mentioned in the financial Q&A session that future version of WP might support tablets and that they will be evaluating WP7 for that.

  4. Just for the record: using unofficial custom roms like “Darky” you don’t need windows for samsung android phones like Galaxy S.

  5. Those who control the platform/OS win the end. In the PC it was like that; Microsoft controled the OS, they won. Everyone was relegated to produce hardware and do what Microsoft them to do. No other amounted to anything else.

    The mobile world is replicating the PC world. Those who control the platform win. There’re now only 3 (three) credible players: Microsoft; Google; Apple.

    Microsoft controls OS/platform; hardware; content (through Nokia).

    Google controls OS/platform/web; content (YouTube; Google Books; Google Music (TBA))

    Apple controls OS/platform; hardware; content (iTunes)

    No other player has this. Only hardware. Or is not credible enough and don’t have content: HP (webOS); Samsung (Bada).

  6. Nokia.

    They’ll use WP7 for all of their smartphones.
    Symbian will be use on their cheap phones; this is a short term measure. Symbian will be shot dead.
    MeeGO will be use as a test tube for some time. They announced a product for the end of the year. Not credible. MeeGo will be shot dead.
    Qt will continued to be used on Symbian and MeeGo but as those platforms have no future Qt will be shot dead.

    Nokia if they survive will be only as the Dell of the Mobile world. They will do what Microsoft tells them to do. Nokia will be bought by Microsoft (probably) or by another player. They’re no longer credible.

    If Nokia had been able to fullfil their strategy of creating a platform with and Qt, then and KDE would have had a considerable market share. As it’s now Qt and KDE will continue to be a niche PC platform.

    Open source/free software/Qt/KDE all lost today. Not only in usage, R&D, but also in credibility.

    1. Is it really important whether KDE has high market share? I only care about that its software works and it does.

  7. @Ian: Elop specifically mentioned in the financial Q&A session that future version of WP might support tablets and that they will be evaluating WP7 for that.

  8. The only solution is if Qt is used by a smartphone maker from the developing world (Brazil, Asia, …). In those countries they are not narrow-minded, short-term profit chasing, MS-dependent, back-looking idiots.

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