Nokia Boss Declares War on Android
"Fundamentally, we believe that what has happened in the past couple of years was a shift from a battle of devices to a war of ecosystems," Elop said. "We've competed with Samsung and HTC, but now we're shaking hands while also competing."
Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) is responsible for both creating the ecosystem approach and spawning Android as the anti-Apple. Elop admitted that a big part of the reason Nokia opted not to align itself with Android was that it would feel like giving in. (See RIP Symbian & MeeGo: Nokia Ties Future to WP7.)
The other biggest reason Nokia passed on Android was the need to differentiate. Elop believes it has a better shot at that with Microsoft. The companies now seek to complement each other and form a third ecosystem to take on Android and Apple, he said. To do so, he outlined a five-step plan to recovery:
1. Delight consumers: Elop borrowed a line from Microsoft -- even if it doesn't have Android's scale, the consumers that do own Windows Phones love them. Microsoft hasn't achieved scale yet because the majority of manufacturers today are doing their best work for Android, he said. (See MWC 2011: Nokia Guns for Android .)
2. Complete the ecosystem: Outside of just welding Microsoft's operating system with bits of Nokia's software remains, Elop said the Windows Phone ecosystem will incorporate enterprise and consumer features, unified communications and Skype Ltd. (See Microsoft Tangos With Mango, Nokia Dumps Ovi Brand Name and Microsoft Plans a WP7 Skype Soiree.)
3. Support operators: Glazing over the fact that all the U.S. operators have Android handsets and iPhone envy, Elop said that the Windows Phone ecosystem will be the most operator-friendly of the lot. He said operators don't like Apple's "strong point of view" and have concerns around monetizing Android because its profits are tied to Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) search. Nokia, on the other hand, has 132 operator billing relationships and customizes its apps storefronts for each market and local conditions. (See MWC 2011: Microsoft & Nokia Court Carriers .)
4. Broaden the ecosystem: Nokia wants to include tablets, TVs, gaming platforms and cars in its expanding definition of mobile devices. The company conspicuously lacks a tablet to date, but Elop said that's because it doesn't want to be the 202nd tablet to hit a market in which only one tablet is succeeding. It will launch a tablet when it has one that's fundamentally differentiated.
5. Build the developer community: To attract developers, Nokia and Microsoft are focusing on helping them make money, use operator billing and tap a "fresh collection of APIs," among other things like removing the registration fee for developers. (See OS Watch: Android Lets Developers Go Hungry and Biggest Losers in NokiSoft: Developers.)
"There is absolutely an opportunity for Nokia to disrupt the current trajectory of what's going on in the mobile industry," Elop concluded in his rally cry. "This requires we establish a platform that's attractive to consumers, a target for developers, and it has to be profitable to everyone."
— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile