Nokia has been trimming down its expenses and some of the cuts have been pretty close to the bone.
The latest to go is Sotiris Makrygiannis, head of the Meego Project team inside Nokia.
The team was responsible for the OS running on the Nokia N9, the predecessor to the Nokia Lumia 900.
With them goes one of Nokiaâ€™s Plan Bs, leaving them pretty much with Windows Phone and S40 to bet their future on.
While the decision to cut R&D teams may appear to be borne out of desperation, Nokia always intended to outsource their software R&D to Microsoft, thereby realizing billions in savings. Presumably even in February 2011 the team should have seen the writing on the wall.
The move interestingly also leaves Nokia without any open source operating systems, an interesting reversal for the company who first open sources Symbian and then bet on the Linux-based MeeGo before turning to Windows Phone.
While all these moves will be saving Nokia money, ultimately the wisdom of the acts will depend on the performance of Windows Phone handsets â€“ an OS which is now almost inextricable linked to Nokia.
While angry investors and many Symbian fanboys have blamed Nokiaâ€™s recent woes on switching to Windows Phone, looking at their market share over the long term shows that the rot had set in a long time ago, and that Windows Phone does have the potential for righting the ship.
The graph above is Statcounter data from Finland over the last 2 years, from May 2010 till May 2012. The Cyan line is combined Symbian, Meego, Meamo5 and Windows Phone data, which until week 43 2010 only consists of Symbian devices (red).
What should be obvious and very striking is that even in Finland Symbian had been losing market share dramatically, at a very steady rate. Actual drops in sales were likely masked by a growing market, but started well before Stephen Elop had arrived at Nokia. Also of note is that the post-Microsoft announcement period (the shaded area) did not increase the rate of fall in Symbian market share (red line), until Nokia actually released Lumia handsets in the rest of Europe (week 46 2011). The Osborne effect was a myth. Symbianâ€™s trajectory however seems to have been drawn with a straight ruler, heading steadily down for a very long time. In 12 months time it is scheduled to hit 0.
Nokia added Meamo5 to the mix in week 43 2010, and after a brief period of enthusiasm sales seems to have rapidly faltered. This was likely one of the things which pushed Stephen Elop to look outside of the company for a solution.
Of note is that Android (green) was rapidly eating Nokiaâ€™s lunch, while the iPhone maintained a steady 30-something market share. Androidâ€™s meteoric rise was only tempered by the iPhone 4S in Q4 2011, which boosted the iPhone to 35-40% range.
Ultimately however it was the introduction of Nokia Lumia handsets (light purple) in February 2012 which halted Nokiaâ€™s steadily dropping combined market share (cyan). It also halted the ascendency of both the iPhone and Android inn the Finnish market. Yes, Symbian was still losing share apace, but Windows Phone was growing faster.
In short, the stats clearly show Meego and Meamo 5 was not going to save Nokia, whereas Windows Phone has so far proven to be effective at halting the Android and iPhone onslaught. Of course this is just Finland, but I am pretty sure Stephen Elop goes to bed at night wishing this success would also spread to the rest of the world.
The graph to the right, of the UK market over the same period, shows once again that Nokiaâ€™s Lumia range is only helping the company, not making things worse, and that things had been pretty bad for a long time, well before Windows Phone came along.
The stats can not answer whether switching to Android would have worked better for Nokia, but it certainly shows those who suggested Nokia continue going down the Meego route was as surely wishing Nokia dead as those who wanted them to continue relying on Symbian.
We posted a few days ago about Nokia design chief Marko Ahtisaariâ€™s statements to a Finnish newspaper, Kauppalehti, that Nokia is working on a new device with revolutionary features.
At the time his statements seemed rather enigmatic, but Nokia has told unwiredview.com that they were in line with what he has been talking about at Le Web 14 months ago, even before Nokia announced his Windows Phone strategy.
His statement now about the user not needing to bend down and poke the screen is now a lot more clear. He explains that users tend to be deeply engaged and preoccupied with their phones to the exclusion of those around them, saying:
If you look at people using touchscreen devices today, theyâ€™ve got their heads down. The devices are immersive and require full attention. Youâ€™ll see couples in coffee shops whoâ€™ve been together 10-15 years both sat with their heads down, operating their devices.
We need to give people their head up again. The ability to keep social interaction with the people that theyâ€™re physically with. That means a better ability to use the devices single-handed and them requiring less of our attention for peripheral interactions. Notifications, for example, could be much improved so they require much less from us.
At the time the videos were recorded Marco was talking about Meego, although his distain for Android and admiration for Windows Phone already showed through, which should probably have helped betting men predict which way Nokia would swing when they finally decided not to go it alone.
Marcoâ€™s recent statements that he was working on a new phone which will not need the user to look down would either suggest further he is continuing his work on Meego and is planning to release a new device running the OS with further UI tweaks, or that he is planning to bring the features he speaks about in the video above regarding Meego, including better one handed usage, a button-less device and better, less intrusive notifications to Windows Phone (8 probably).
We assume Nokia remains committed to Windows Phone, and of course Nokia has repeatedly said they would bring some of their Meego innovations to Windows Phone, so I suspect this is what we will be seeing in about 6 months.
Do our readers agree? Let us know below.
See part 2, which includes the Q&A section, after the break. Continue reading
Amongst Meego fans and Stephen Elop haters in Finland there is still the delusional idea Nokia should have persisted with Meego rather than go with Windows Phone 7.
The rapid adoption by the Finnish public of the Windows Phone 7 Nokia Lumia 800 would therefore come as a shock to them. Since the launch of the handset its percentage of the browser market share has rapidly sped past the Meego-powered Nokia N9, released in September 2011, a full 4 months before the Lumia 800.
At 2.45% of browser share, Finland likely has the highest concentration of Windows Phones. With Nokia loyalty still very high there, we may still see the OS reach 5-10% market share in the next few months.
Now if only the graph of the rest of the world looked like thisâ€¦
We are about 100% certain that Nokia will announce the Nokia 800/ Nokia Searay at Nokia World on the 26th next week, but if you want a sneak peak at the hardware we will be getting, this Engadget video review of the Nokia N9 is pretty close to what we can expect.
Love at first sight — this is possibly the most beautiful phone ever made. It’s not our first hardware love affair (we’re looking at you, iPhone 4S), nor likely our last, but the N9 is in a class of its own in terms of design. You’ve never seen anything like it, and if you think it’s attractive in pictures, wait until you see it in person — it’s completely and utterly irresistible. It manages to be elegant by virtue of its minimalism yet remains unmistakably Nokia. The impeccable proportions belie the handset’s 12.1mm (0.48-inch) thickness thanks to tapered ends reminiscent of its more ornate predecessor, the N8.
While Engadget predictably prefers Meego running on the hardware, I think I know what our readers prefer, although I would love that clock being brought over to WP7 also.
Thanks Milad for the tip.
Long before Nokiaâ€™s hookup with Microsoft, it appears the Nokia Sea Ray was already in the works, just not as we know it.
Chris Ziegler from Thisismynext claims sources in the know, that say Nokia had a deal with Verizon, the CDMA carrier, to create a Meego phone for the network with the same codename.
Of course that deal is now history, and the device has been resurrected running a new, better OS, but it is still interesting that Nokia had a relationship with Verizon, and TIMN speculates that this may mean the Nokia Sea Ray may eventually show up on Verizon after all.
Read more at TIMN here.
Having seen Windows Phone 7 soundly defeat Symbian Belle, many old-time Nokia fans would say the real competitor to WP7 was never Symbian but Meego.
Now we have a 20 min review of the Nokia N9, likely the last Meego handset, against an HTC Radar again. Unfortunately it is all in Russian, and I have no idea what the reviewers opinion is, but what I feel is clear from the video is that Windows Phone 7 provides a clearer, more consistent experience, and once again shows Nokia made the right choice by choosing Windows Phone 7.
According to Digitimes Intel is finally seeing the light, and is backing off MeeGo development to create hardware instead for Android and Windows Phone 7.
MeeGo was a joint venture between Intel and Nokia which resulted in a few small tablets and the Nokia N9, but has been abandoned by Nokia in favour of Windows Phone 7, with no other OEM stepping in to rescue the OS.
While Intel has responded to the claim by saying the company will remain committed to open source and the MeeGo OS, DIgitimes insists Intel will deliver hardware products for Windows Phone 7 and Android in 2012.
The failure of the venture is likely a salient lesson in a hardware company designing an OS, an experiment which really only paid off so far for Apple.
Read more at Digitimes here.
Responding to a plea from a Meamo.talk member to provide the Meego-powered Nokia N9 as a subsidized phone in UK, Stephen Elop revealed that right now, carriers were asking for Windows Phone 7 handsets over Nokiaâ€™s other offerings.
I canâ€™t comment on what specific operators may or may not do in each country â€“ many of those decisions are happening right now for the latter part of the year. In all cases, the operators will make decisions about which products will be made available, with which rate plans, etc. Each operator in each country only has so many â€œslotsâ€, and they divide those up between ourselves and our competitors, and within Nokia they can mix between N9, Windows Phone, Symbian, etc. Right now, many of the larger operators are showing a strong preference towards WPâ€¦
Nokia has recently announced that is was shuttering its Symbian business in USA, a move that will likely spread to more countries where Symbian has an increasingly marginal presence.
Read more at WPSauce here.
There is a crowd which is not particularly happy about Nokia adopting Windows Phone 7 in favour of growing Meego instead.
Apparently Stephen Elop responds to emails to his company address ( [email protected] ) much like that other Steve, and to to the MyNokia blogâ€™s question â€œWhy kill off MeeGo when it has the potential to be better then WP and iOS? Is it due to past loyalties?â€ he responded:
In our strategic assessment, we determined that the MeeGo effort could not quickly enough deliver us a range of solutions across price points, radio technologies, etc. for us to effectively compete, so we had to make an alternative decision.
While this in the end does not tell us much about Meego and its potential, it does tell us about Nokia plans to release Windows Phones over a range of price points, including presumable the low end, and also with different radios, hopefully not just 4G but also CDMA for half of the American market.
Read more at the MyNokia Blog here.
Thanks AKA MStar for the tip.
PhoneReport reports that the Meego-powered Nokia N9 may not be dead after all, but may just be getting a brain transplant.
According to a inside tipster the device crashed all the time running Meego, but when Windows phone 7 was tried on it ran like a dream.
It was apparently this demonstration which impressed Nokia enough to dump the Linux-based OS for Windows phone 7.
Despite Windows phone 7 running well on the handset, in the end devices from Nokia running the OS may have to wait for a completely new handset, which would take some months unfortunately.
Both Nokia and Microsoft are however committed to taking on Android, and their collaboration is now only waiting its official announcement soon.
Pressure for Nokia/Windows phone 7 grows as analyst calls Meego â€œthe biggest joke in the tech industry right nowâ€
Rumours of a Nokia/ Microsoft Windows phone 7 tie-up continues, despite many journalists trying to casts it as a move to Android instead.
An open letter by analyst Adnaan Ahmad, head of technology equity research at the London branch of Germanyâ€™s Berenberg Bank, makes it clear he believes the best move for Nokia would be Windows Phone 7.
1. Android a no-go for now. This may have been a good idea one to two years ago, but it is not today. You will never be able to catch up with Samsung, which should rule the Android show midterm given its economies of scale, product breadth (TVs, PCs, phones and tablets), as well as its captive component base. And that market is going to get even more crowded with China Inc (ZTE, Huawei et al) joining Sony Ericsson, HTC, Motorola and PC vendors. And more significantly, how is anyone going to differentiate on Android long-term?
2. Announce an EXCLUSIVE deal with your ex-colleague, Steve: you get access to their WP7 intellectual property (IPR) scot-free and access to the US market where your share has dived to the low single-digit level, and in so doing cut your bloated handset business R&D budget by at least â‚¬1 billion, or 30%, which should add 300bps to your operating margin. Get rid of your own proprietary high-end solution (MEEGO) â€“ itâ€™s the biggest joke in the tech industry right now and will put you even further behind Apple and Google. Focus your high-end portfolio around WP7, and over time you can take the cost down (thatâ€™s Steveâ€™s job and cost base) to get this into the mid-range market. Push your Symbian solutions into the low-to-mid-range smartphone market as quickly as possible to defend market share versus Androidâ€™s upcoming lowered cost ecosystem.
While Adnaanâ€™s open letter is just to nudge the company, Wedge Partners analyst Brian Blair in a research note suggests the move is already underway, and that his his checks suggest Nokia will adopt Windows 7, and could merge some features of its own Meego software into platform.
â€œUntil recently, we believe there were a handful of Meego-based handsets slated for release in the back half of 2011, though we believe the potential release schedules for these phones have been halted indefinitely, a sign that Nokia is about to dramatically change its direction,â€ he writes.
Read more at Forbes here.
Mobile Service Platform Airship, who sells Push Notification and in-App purchase services for mobile developers have published the result of their survey of 318 mobile developers, and revealed some interesting statistics.
Of course iPhone and Android led developer interest by far, with more than 90% of developers either developing or planning to developer iPhone apps, and with Android growing from 43% to 73% next year.
What was however very interesting was that iPhone was losing developer interest, with 10% less developers planning to create iPhone apps in 2011. Even more relevant however is that more than 300% more developers were planning to take up Windows Phone 7 development next year, more than Blackberry, and that this growth (ignoring Meego, who are starting from near zero) is the largest of the mobile OSâ€™s.
Of the other competitors for developer interest, Symbian, webOS and even PalmOS are all far behind, hopefully making it clear the new OS is in a different league.
Hopefully we will see Windows Phone 7 market share follow the same trajectory as developer mindshare in 2011.
See the survey at UrbanAirship.com here.