It isn't. Call me naive or in denial, but I’m not prepared to accept a “new normal,” where there exist only two big design sockets–Samsung’s and Apple’s–for the smartphone market.
It’s just too painful to watch these two handset giants–through their dominance in the only market with meaningful growth for semiconductors–shut out practically every chip company who designs modems and apps processors, except for Qualcomm and Samsung.
I suspect I’m not alone in this feeling.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not here calling for a Nokia bailout. Nokia’s where it is today through Nokia’s own doing.
Looking back, Nokia’s management screwed up royally on three fronts: 1) clinging to Symbian for too long; 2) losing the battle in China; and 3) not choosing Android as an operating system for the company's smartphones.
Many pundits pin Nokia’s failure on the company having been too slow to accept the emergence of smartphones. They believe Nokia’s lack of presence in smartphones has triggered its downfall.
Nokia’s grip on the feature phone market had begun sliding way before smartphones became mainstream. While spending a lot of engineering resources perfecting a variety of feature phones for the global market, Nokia unfortunately missed the cues for two key opportunities.
One was the advent of the dual SIM mobile phone, designed to hold two SIM cards. It took Nokia almost a decade before fully embracing this trend. Dual-SIM operation essentially enables mobile phone users to use two services without carrying two phones. Using multiple SIM cards allows a user to take advantage of different pricing plans for calls and text messages to certain destinations, as well as mobile data usage.
Nokia’s close relationship with mobile carriers, however, blurred Nokia’s vision. It stayed off the dual SIM bandwagon out of misplaced loyalty to large operators, who preferred customers to use one network exclusively.
“Symbian in China” was another missed opportunity for Nokia. Before Android took the world by storm, there was reportedly a groundswell of demand for Symbian-based phones among handset vendors in China. But the decision by Symbian (and by Nokia) to make Symbian an open source operating system was too little, too late.
By the time Chinese OEMs could have embraced Symbian, there wasn’t enough engineering talent left at Symbian to make serious inroads into the China’s smartphone ecosystem. Meanwhile, what’s left of Symbian was later acquired by Accenture.
Then, Nokia made the unpopular decision of going with Microsoft for its smartphone strategy.
Nokia’s sin, however, wasn’t in partnering with Microsoft. Rather, it was its stubbornness in not acknowledging the rising tide of Android.
Although industry observers understood Microsoft’s powerful influence on Nokia (Stephen Elop who replaced Nokia’s previous CEO, Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, in 2010 came from Microsoft), they could not comprehend how Nokia could possibly ignore Android. It seemed almost a willful act by Nokia’s management to miss Android’s unmistakable momentum so completely.
One engineering executive working for a leading mobile chip company said, "I just don’t understand why Nokia couldn’t develop Android phones--even in parallel with Microsoft’s Windows phones."
You made the conclusion too soon. A few years ago, Nokia spent 7B to acquire one of the two major map companies in the last 20 years. Nokia has been researching on mobile communications since 1980s, far earlier than Apple and Samsung. On the other hand, Microsoft and Palm (no longer exist, in practice) were the pioneers on smartphones. In theory, Microsoft and Nokia have more contribution than anyone except Motorola in the market. Of course, in practice, Microsoft and Nokia need to sync up really well to bring out the research done in the past 30 or so years. Therefore, Nokia didn't sell its soul to Microsoft. Technically, Nokia and Microsoft should join their souls together!
Please think carefully. In Android camp, HTC, Samsung, Motorola, Sony were IN from the very beginning. With practically very small market share in smartphones, Nokia probably won't get any preferential treatment from Google. So, would you suggest Nokia to be a 2nd or 3rd class citizen in the Android camp, or become the #1 partner in the WP camp? Nokia should perhaps consider Android as the 2nd smartphone OS. However, we should all admire the determination which Nokia showed by going all in with WP. It is too early to judge Nokia for the smartphone OS decision!
If they had adopted Android in the beginning when many others had, they would have had *much* more leverage in negotiating with Microsoft. I think the MS deal did make sense, but they should have waved their plan B (Android) in Balmer's face during negotiations.
I fully agree. Compatibility between my phone, tablet and laptop is a big advantage, at least in my opinion. We have Android phones and tablets in our family and W 7 laptops. I will switch to W 8 phones and tablets as soon as the initial bugs are fixed in W 8.
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.