Tomi Ahonen has written an interesting post over at his blog – it is very long but relevant for anyone who is truly interested in smartphones, so much that it prompted me, after a looong break from posting (and after having moved to and back from abroad in the meantime), to start posting again and write about my own view of Elop’s decision to go with WP7.
Overall I agree with Tomi, though think that maybe he underestimates the perception of who are the market leaders. Also, one thing is units sold (where Nokia is still the undisputed champion), but another matter is the profit made regardless of the number units sold which (where Apple reigns), and I don’t think he gave that distinction any attention; at the end of the day, it is the profit that matters.
But one of my main issues with with Elop’s decision to go 100% with WP7, which he based on the term ‘ecosystem’ which he constantly keeps throwing around, is that I believe the idea of an ‘ecosystem’, and which obviously stems from Apple’s attempt to create one (i.e. “the walled garden“) is vastly overrated. It’s a buzzword, a fad, that will disappear.
Let me explain. On your PC you don’t have an ‘ecosystem’ nor does anyone think in those terms. What you do have is a platform (=OS) and all you want is simply the tools (=apps) that will allow you to do what you want/need, whether it be the browser or dedicated programs.
Why do people think that it is a good idea to treat smartphones any differently, and even more so when smartphones are becoming more like PCs? Why would I want to be tied to any ‘ecosystem’ to have access to and download my tools (=apps), or upload files, or participate in a social network?
What Apple got right, besides from the UI/usability, was the appstore, i.e. a simple way of finding and downloading the tools/apps that you want or need. But that is it. (Note that an appstore is not the same as an ‘ecosystem’).
Now some people make the case that people want to have a seamless experience on their phone, and that inevitably requires an ‘ecosystem’. But that is not true nor the solution, or at least not the ideal solution. What they *should* be focusing on instead is to create a solid API so that the app developers can provide that experience (if the platform creators haven’t already, that is).
Nokia had the clout to bring that open platform, with superior hardware, to the masses (probably in the shape of MeeGo) but, as Tomi notes, they failed miserably with the execution. But that doesn’t mean the idea was wrong.
So even though Elop is absolutely right about that drastic changes are needed in Nokia (especially note the last paragraph in the link), the solution is not to copy the other players, but rather to drastically change the organization in order to quickly get Nokia to execute on that broader, greater vision that goes beyond ‘ecosystems’ (think what Google did on the PC). Now that doesn’t happen overnight obviously and in the meantime they would have needed to do a lot of firefighting which could very well have included adopting WP7 or Android in some way, but certainly not to the extent and fashion that Elop executed it; e.g. imagine Nokia doing their very best to create the best speced Android phone on the market (aka. a Samsung G2 but with a better camera, perhaps a keyboard, etc.); Samsung will be selling millions of their high-end G2, with high profit margins, so why wouldn’t Nokia do equally well or better while they get their act together?