After Peter, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop took the stage and gave an interesting talk about the future of both Nokia and to discuss their relationship with Qualcomm. Stephen began by acknowledging that just a short time ago, it would have been extremely odd for the Nokia and Qualcomm CEOs to take the stage together - alluding directly to a time when Nokia and Qualcomm were in a heated patent scuffle. With that settled and a commitment to Windows Phone 7 on the horizon, the two have begun a close relationship.

One of the most interesting things out of Stephen's keynote is his perspective on the present state of the mobile industry, and the fundamental shift that has taken place. The competition has changed from a battle between devices that lived in isolation, to a battle between disparate ecosystems. Stephen called out the ecosystem battle between iOS and Android specifically. Stephen claims that Apple's closed ecosystem created vacuum that gave rise to Android.

The boxes in the illustration are metaphors for how open each platform is, though he took a not so subtle jab at Google by noting that the flaps on Android's box remain there, and remain open, but the question is for how long. 

Nokia assessed its current state of affairs in both Symbian and MeeGo. It decided that the Symbian codebase had grown too "fragile and crufty" and posed a significant engineering challenge to fix. According to Stephen, patches and updates to the platform to add features necessary to make it competitive again were taking longer and longer to stabilize, and as a result the decision was made to abandon the platform. The story of Nokia's abandonment of Symbian isn't really one we need to go over, but it's clear that the reasons were both timeline, and the engineering challenge posed by the existing codebase.

The next assessment was MeeGo, which it jointly had worked on with Intel. A similar assessment took place, and Nokia decided that with MeeGo it could not quickly enough create a portfolio of devices and price points fast enough. MeeGo, which forked from Maemo and combined with Intel's Moblin, had a focus on the high end, and enough of a rapid portability to the mass market devices that Nokia sells in volume around the world. 

The next critical assessment was Android. Nokia has reiterated a number of times that it felt entering the Android fray was akin to "giving in" and would not offer enough opportunity for differentiation. In addition, Stephen noted that while other companies have focused on multiple smartphone platforms at the same time, for most, Android has become the most dominant. The example Stephen gave is that manufacturers have kept Android hardware competitive constantly with the latest SoCs and cellular basebands, while leaving WP7 a less competitive arena. Moreover, the Android ecosystem is established just as much as Apple's, and jumping into a crowded environment could make it hard for Nokia to distinguish itself.

The obvious next step was to assess Microsoft, in which Nokia found similar scale, and complimentary strengths and weaknesses. Nokia needed software to fix all of its problems, and Microsoft needed class leading hardware to back it. Stephen feels that the two of them together have the opportunity to make a brand new ecosystem focused around Windows Phone 7, and going forward the Windows 8 multiplatform (PC, tablet, smartphone) combination. In addition, they found that Microsoft was willing to let Nokia differentiate and improve WP7 however necessary. It will be interesting to see just how much liberty Microsoft truly affords Nokia. 

Stephen then outlined five major principles it needs to nail to build a brand new ecosystem. 

The first is that the product must delight consumers. This is something we've identified a number of times in our WP7 device reviews, that Nokia's hardware quality paired with WP7's software experience could make a compelling package. Stephen used the example of the Nokia N8's class leading camera optics, and again compared with the fact that most phone vendors are putting the most engineering talent behind Android phones rather than WP7 devices. 

Nokia will focus on and deliver the absolute best WP7 handsets since it will be its only focus, and as a result it feels it can easily differentiate itself from other hardware makers also creating WP7 devices. 

Next up is that it must complete the WP7 ecosystem and compete as one against iOS and Android, rather than as a battle of handset versus handset. The goal is to work together with both Microsoft and carriers to flesh out all the required pieces for delivering a complete experience.

One of the most notable things about this slide is that Qualcomm is called out specifically under chipset support, which possibly puts to rest the rumor that Nokia will be using ST-E SoCs in its WP7 devices. Yesterday Qualcomm chose its words carefully and claimed it was "currently" the exclusive WP7 SoC vendor.

The third principle is to appeal to the operators. In the US and Europe, a very small number of operators have overwhelming control of the mobile landscape, however in Russia, India, and China operators have less of a role, though one that's growing

To succeed and see widespread adoption, Nokia must be the most appealing platform from an operator perspective, by offering things like customization, monetization streams through carrier billing, and sound network management. 

The fourth is to broaden and expand the ecosystem after fleshing out all the services that need to be in place from step 2. This is about the future, and having a platform that is ready to embrace the future of the mobile revolution. Stephen talked specifically about how the tablet market is in flux, and that Nokia will not enter the tablet market until it can offer something completely different and unique from what's available in iOS and Android.

Most notably, he referred to recent announcements about Windows 8 running on both tablets and the desktop as being a way for Nokia to enter the tablet space. A Windows 8 Nokia tablet certainly sounds interesting. 

The fifth and final principle is the developer community. I'm not sure why it's last on that list, or whether that means anything, but having developer support is fundamental to a successful platform. Microsoft gets this and has shown it in WP7 by releasing more APIs in Mango, but Nokia wants even more. To succeed, Nokia needs to make WP7 the most compelling environment for application development. Analytics tools, developer tools, no fee developer registration, a single developer portal, and such are all part of the plan. 

Nokia believes it can disrupt the mobile ecosystem, but to truly do so it must meet all these principles and jointly make WP7 the most attractive platform for customers, developers, and operators. Nokia has its work cut out for it, but it definitely seems like Stephen is ready to hit the ground running. 

Stay tuned for more from Uplinq. 

Keynote 1: HTC CEO Peter Chou
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  • Ikefu - Thursday, June 2, 2011 - link

    I have to say I'm becoming more and more intrigued by WP7. I like their development package (now merged with XNA) and have been toying with doing some app development for personal use.

    But, when do we see the first Nokia WP7 hardware? Do we have any tentative dates yet?
  • TIGGAH - Thursday, June 2, 2011 - link

    I read early 2012 but there are lots of different time lines going around. There are plenty of great wp7 phones out right now though. I have the Focus and it has the highest customer satisfaction rate of any phone on the market right now. It's an awesome phone.
  • bk212 - Thursday, June 2, 2011 - link

    Elop has said multiple times that they are confident first WP7 devices in 2011 Q4. He carries a prototype WP7 with him.
  • boe - Friday, June 3, 2011 - link

    Actually you got one of the few decent ones. Most have a small screen or small battery or are bulky.

    I'll be happy when I can get something with a big screen, large capacity battery (e.g. 1600 mah or larger) in a SLIM design. Frankly I'd love something with the screen, battery, and depth specs of a high end Android phone - wouldn't mind the ability to turn on 4G for when I tether either. They didn't need to release WP7 on crap hardware the first time around. They could have just said you can turn on 4G when mango is released.
  • Xenon14 - Thursday, June 2, 2011 - link

    Nokia has a nice Power Point presentation, but it's missing one slide. The one that explains why me, or anyone else, is going to buy phones running their software vs Android or iOS.
  • bk212 - Thursday, June 2, 2011 - link

    Office, One Note, Office 365 and Skydrive, Outlook with Lync and Skype
  • Daniel Egger - Thursday, June 2, 2011 - link

    Who cares? They're trying to sell advanced *connected* *mobile devices*.

    You want to edit a Word or a Powerpoint document on that? That didn't roll too well back in the Palm days but now it's even more irrelevant.

    With their cloud services Microsoft will have to be very careful to provide other OS support because otherwise they will take a huge hit themselves; they're simply not in a position to demand OSes in this particular case and sensitive markets will not pay for expensive upgrades if they have to take the risk and pay the price to switch many other systems at the same time. At the moment Outlook for example works just fine with iOS. If they wanted to loose a lot of their well paid for Skype customer base as quickly as possible they'd better drop other OS support right away. ;)

    WP7 just has no real relevance in this world yet and they'll have to work very hard to achieve some -- if it will be possible at all...
  • bk212 - Friday, June 3, 2011 - link

    Nice Office apps and integration with Sharepoint is a bad thing??
    Not sure why people take these things so personally. Light editing of Office documents on your phone is a handy feature. You can't be at a computer 24/7.
    Windows Phone is a good platform. Don't understand the hostility here. Read the user reviews on Amazon, Sprint or Verizon.
  • jjj - Thursday, June 2, 2011 - link

    I deepliy dislike Elop and if M$ does end up buing Nokia we know what his job was as CEO.
    The guy decided to go for the riskiest option,new OS without market share that lacks many things made by a very slow giant (that's also afraid to innovate) and then commited suicide by actually announcing it before having devices ready.Now Nokia is falling a lot faster than it would have if the deal was not made public and if WP fails they got no back up plan since they will lack the resources to restart developing Symbuian and MeeGo.
    It would be very hard to do things worse than he did.

    @prev comments :the first WP device(s) should show up in Q4 check Nokia's latest press releases (the one about cutting outlook published a few days ago).

    @ Brian Klug "which possibly puts to rest the rumor that Nokia will be using ST-E SoCs in its WP7 devices " I'm not gona go looking for links to provide proof but they should be using ST-E in a second wave of devices in Q1-Q2 next year,while the first devices should be on Qualcomm.
  • Brian Klug - Thursday, June 2, 2011 - link

    "I'm not gona go looking for links to provide proof but they should be using ST-E in a second wave of devices in Q1-Q2 next year,while the first devices should be on Qualcomm."

    That's actually an interesting idea, and perhaps after Mango the WP7 team will afford Nokia some liberty to move onto a different SoC vendor, I'd definitely buy a rumor that they'll start with Snapdragon and move to ST-E later over them launching with ST-E. Very interesting.


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