Nokia's Smartphone Strategy in the right direction? – Intellectual exchange between Robert Scoble and Tomi Ahonen

| December 14, 2010 | 26 Replies

If you’re not familiar with the name Tomi Ahonen then you should be. Calling Tomi simply one of the best mobile industry analysts would not do him justice and is one of the rare few to see the light at the frequently mentioned “doomed” Nokia tunnel.

In this still major transition stage at Espoo, it is difficult to see for anyone with out heaps of patience for Nokia to see where they’re going. For a company so passionate in connecting people, they are possibly the worst at communicating their strengths and strategies with the public. The latter I can only fathom is Nokia’s over secrecy.

Today, Tomi Ahonen wrote an epic piece of what could deservedly be several chapters in one of his books, which I had planned on summarising. Basically, Tomi reckons Nokia has the best strategy migrating dumbphones to smartphones and why they need to stick with Symbian and MeeGo. He goes on to dispel the misconceptions about Nokia, and the portrayal of this “dying and loosing” behemoth that’s outperforming its adjacent competitors COMBINED.

Everyone loves to see the top guy knocked off their perch. It’s always awesome to read the next “Nokia is doomed article, Nokia should go Android…blah blah blah”. Any time there’s negative news on Nokia it’s a celebration. Some even going as far as to skew poll results (i.e. Android “overtaking” Symbian in Asia where CHINA and INDIA and several other countries are not included. I don’t even want to begin pointing out where that’s just wrong).

Anyway, you can read this for yourself – bear in mind it is quite long and there’s a little more to this story than this first link.

Robert Scoble, Scobleizer (he doesn’t really need an introduction) wrote a response (cheers Nikolaj)

Basically, Robert sees Nokia as a headless chicken. His perception on Nokia’s strategy is:

1. Attack Apple. Er, attack America. Make it a “Europe vs. America” thing.
2. Talk about all the cool things they are gonna do for us.
3. Don’t show off anything new.
4. Arrogantly insist they are OK and will dominate in smartphones.
5. Insist that Meego will save the world.
6. Say that there’s a “Cupertino distortion field” happening. Funny line. But isn’t good strategy.

Robert says he did not see any apps targeting Nokia platform at LeWeb, therefore Nokia is doomed. If you don’t have apps, you’re doomed.  Ovi Store apps are growing in numbers and quality. 3M to 3.5M in 3 weeks in daily download. It would be FOOLISH to ignore such an enormous hungry crowd of mobile app users. We (Nokia users) have money we’d like to dish out too if your app is good enough. But that’s the key – can people develop on the Nokia platform? Symbian? Hmm. What about Qt? More on this at the end.

On the “cupertino distortion field” that’s in Reference to Marko Ahtisaari  who, to be fair, didn’t really explain the context of why he said such a thing (see this post). We know it’s happening. I made a tongue-in-cheek post a while back on what Nokia could learn from Job’s Apple Keynotes.

Essentially, perception about your product is almost equal to the reality/actual merit of your product. Nokia’s had every opportunity to crush every emerging new competitor if only the world was aware at the time how good Nokia’s products were. Now it gets harder as the competition gets even stronger but there is still plenty of time in this one facet that is mind share. It’s not so much a need to be boastful, arrogant to the extent of blatantly lying, but to be confident, direct and clear about your strengths as a company.

And before I reach the proportions of Tomi’s own post (as much as I’d love to, I haven’t ranted in a looong while) here is Tomi’s response to Robert Scoble:

I won’t discuss what Tomi’s written, though I will quote a couple of the comments that’ll give some perspective on App Development and Qt on Nokia’s side:

Not enough credit is given to Qt, which has been spoiling developers for more than a decade.

With Qt Quick available (and I’ll admit it’s not quite, although almost, there yet on Symbian) there is no such thing anymore as a “Symbian device” for developers; it’s a Qt device. I may not know much about strategy analysis, but I do know development, and things do not get much better than what Nokia is working round the clock on right now (yes, you can follow the public bug tracker, task lists and repositories yourself).

If the horrible Symbian C++ got as much traction as it did, just wait what a proper API, one that’s actually a pleasure to use, is going to provide. Did you catch the recent release of the Push Notification (Qt) API, free to use for all? Combined with operator billing and a 1€ barrier of entry for the Ovi Store.

I’ll even throw in a bonus: within a year you can write Android apps in Qt, including the Qt mobility API. Unofficially of course.

Give it 6 months for Qt Quick and tools to be polished for Symbian, for Symbian to implement some of the S^4 improvements (font server), and Ovi Store to be set up to allow 4.7 based apps, and there is the most attractive mobile development platform, right there

– Don

Looking good for Nokia? But that is if Apps really is the differentiator and the king maker. Tomi Disagrees:

– I appreciate the comments, thanks. But I have to be ‘against’ it – to remain consistent to my view haha. I do not think apps, nor developers, decide who wins in smartphones. QT will help Nokia do better – to some degree – but it will not decide the battle either. It only helps get some developers to do Nokia platform (Symbian/MeeGo/Ovi) better/easier than in the past. But if I argue apps are not the key to win – as I am certian they aren’t – then even if QT is the best solution, they won’t help Nokia too much. It really is other things, especially carrier relations, which decide.

It’s late and I have missed out too many points so I suggest (if you have time) to read over the exchange between Tomi and Robert (comments too at Tomi’s blog).

As with anything like this, all we can really do is wait. Just rewatched the new Star Trek Movie – is it sad that of all the things I could do with time travel – seeing what happens with MeeGo should not have been the first thought. Well that Nokia phone at the start of the Movie did kind of seed the Nokia thought.


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Hey, thanks for reading my post. My name is Jay and I'm a medical student at the University of Manchester. When I can, I blog here at and tweet now and again @jaymontano. We also have a twitter and facebook accounts @mynokiablog and Check out the tips, guides and rules for commenting >>click<< Contact us at tips(@) or email me directly on jay[at]