“Steve Jobs is explaining one major reason for the iPhone ’ s success —Apple ’ s ability to integrate hardware and software engineering: “ We realized that almost all — maybe all — of future consumer electronics, the primary technology was going to be software. And we were pretty good at software.. . . None of the handset manufacturers really are strong in software. ” 4
That is a modern polymath at work — integrating multiple modern disciplines. An AND versus an OR mind – set.”
So, with that backdrop I am a bit puzzled with the Nokia-Microsoft announcement today. I thought Steve Elop had been brought in to beef up Nokia’s internal software capabilities and compete better with Apple’s intensity and product elegance. Let’s be honest – Apple would never have delivered the spate of products last decade if it had been shackled by dependence on a third party for the guts of its products. Don’t get me wrong – our household is not filled with Apple fanboys. We have Android and Blackberry phones, and PCs and Kindles and the occasional iPod and iPad, and in the past have had several Nokia phones and GPS devices.
Maybe Steve has decided it is too late for Nokia to try it by itself. From a consumer standpoint it is good to have what Nokia calls “the third ecosystem”. But with HP/Palm also in mix, and other device makers salivating at the exploding smartphone and tablet markets, it is not likely to stay at just 3 ecosystems. And it would be foolish to rule out a Japanese threat (Japan has spectacularly missed out on the smart device market to date) or a price competitive Chinese one.
One area Nokia could really differentiate is in relationship with carriers. In the US, Apple is hobbled by 3G carriers and Android with the unimaginative 2 year contracts telcos are so addicted to. Could Nokia work a 4G, SLA based deal with a carrier which guarantees network deployment at its pace, not another decade long rollout most carriers will likely deliver on their own? On a global basis, Nokia has a huge base of carrier relationships. Could it craft a creative roaming plan to sell to global executives? Could it break the unfriendly contracting model carriers have in so many markets?
While he will get complimented and crucified for the Microsoft decision, longer term how he leverages Nokia’s global assets and relationships will be interesting to watch.