Nokia Boss Declares War on Android

CEO Stephen Elop calls for handset makers and developers to join forces against a common enemy in Android

Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms

June 2, 2011

3 Min Read
Nokia Boss Declares War on Android

SAN DIEGO -- Uplinq -- Despite what's been a trying year for Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK), its new CEO remains optimistic about the future. Stephen Elop took the stage here Thursday to pitch Nokia's new Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)-focused ecosystem and ask others to join its fight to take down the Android empire. (See Euronews: Nokia Dismisses Sale Rumor, Nokia Lowers Outlook, Shares Slump , Windows Phone & World Domination and Why Windows Phone Will Beat 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

About the Author(s)

Sarah Thomas

Director, Women in Comms

Sarah Thomas's love affair with communications began in 2003 when she bought her first cellphone, a pink RAZR, which she duly "bedazzled" with the help of superglue and her dad.

She joined the editorial staff at Light Reading in 2010 and has been covering mobile technologies ever since. Sarah got her start covering telecom in 2007 at Telephony, later Connected Planet, may it rest in peace. Her non-telecom work experience includes a brief foray into public relations at Fleishman-Hillard (her cussin' upset the clients) and a hodge-podge of internships, including spells at Ingram's (Kansas City's business magazine), American Spa magazine (where she was Chief Hot-Tub Correspondent), and the tweens' quiz bible, QuizFest, in NYC.

As Editorial Operations Director, a role she took on in January 2015, Sarah is responsible for the day-to-day management of the non-news content elements on Light Reading.

Sarah received her Bachelor's in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She lives in Chicago with her 3DTV, her iPad and a drawer full of smartphone cords.

Away from the world of telecom journalism, Sarah likes to dabble in monster truck racing, becoming part of Team Bigfoot in 2009.

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