Looks like Elop is betting the ranch on… something.
He says Nokia has to join a successful ecosystem or build one. I have no confidence that Nokia can rally an ecosystem around Nokia products and standards, like Symbian. Here’s what I wrote in October 2009:
Stowe Boyd, Nokia Is Lost
I recall when I last spent serious time with the Nokia folks was in Barcelona, at the World Mobile Congress in early 2008. [Disclosure: As part of the Nokia Bloggers program, they subsidized my travel there, along with a handful of others.] There was a press conference with the CEO presenting (his name escapes me), and he was visibly upset by the press questions about the iPhone touch interface and how it was going to revolutionize cell phones.
His response was oddly passive. They had things in the works, he suggested. They had a long range development plan, and touch was only one element of the innovations to come, he said. Blah blah bla, woof woof, he seemed to say.
That was 18 months ago, and the phones coming out these days look like they were designed in the late 90s.
I admit that I miss my 5 megapixel camera in my old Nokia, but I sure don’t miss the horrible software, the weirdo navigation, and trying to figure out where files were stored on the device. I will never go back to that sort of old school, DOS-feel Nokia hell again. And I am sure that is going to be true of nearly everyone who has experienced iPhone.
I am not saying there is no room for experimentation, or alternatives to iPhone. Android, for example, may yield some very fruitful results. But Nokia and Symbian just isn’t innovative. It’s like GM in a world with Mini Cooper, Toyata Prius and Smartcar.
Given his past, Elop is likely to jump to a Microsoft partnership, which is like two drowning people holding on to each other.
There is huge room in the Android space, but Elop seems averse to getting into Googleland:
In about two years, Android created a platform that attracts application developers, service providers and hardware manufacturers. Android came in at the high-end, they are now winning the mid-range, and quickly they are going downstream to phones under €100. Google has become a gravitational force, drawing much of the industry’s innovation to its core.
And that’s where Nokia should be, finding and building in Android niches. I think there is an Android niche to replace Blackberry, for example.
But I bet he’ll aim toward his comfort zone: Microsoft.