Monday, March 7, 2011

Collection of reads on the Microkia alliance: summing up, material for opinions

This piece will serve as a sum-up of the events around the Nokia-Microsoft alliance, but more than that these articles are the basis for my opinion that is still slowly forming about all this. I also hope to address a few misunderstandings that might get popular on the web about things relating to this alliance.

UPDATE 9th of March 2011: Added link to Symbian's new UI. Forgot to include this!

Nobody can claim to have not been surprised come February 11th 2011 and Nokia's CEO Stephen Elop's announcement that Nokia would form a "strategic alliance" with Microsoft. Conversation has been heated on the internet, with people arguing the pros and cons of this marriage.

I really love sitting down and getting to the bottom of things I care about, so here's some of the articles I've read about the Microkia alliance. Initially I planned to draw some kind of conclusion of all this, but this proved impossible. New articles pop up daily, so I can only show you which articles gave me the most information I felt I could use. I hope you enjoy this collection.

The basics of the matter

To start you off, here's a videoclip of the bossman himself, mr. Stephen Elop in Engadget's well-rounded interview: were naturally there on Feb 11th, and they summed up what was said in the press event:

Articles focusing on the business side of things, impact on industry:

Being a Finn, I'm quite concerned for everyone in the threat of losing their jobs. A few finnish blogs have been written in finnish talking about it, the one below is a good read in English:

Tomi Ahonen (@tomiahonen), the king of mobile analysts and his first reaction:

Tomi went on to twist and turn the possible outcomes of this alliance, but failed to find out how there could be a bright future ahead for Nokia:

In short, Tomi feels that the once great Nokia will be reduced to a hardware vendor, as they no longer have the luxury of having their own software to run on their devices. Tomi fears that Nokia will become a Dell, just another company putting Windows in a box and shipping it to the world. Tomi feels the greatest shame of all will be that Nokia is sacrificing all the good that Nokia is, for something it thinks everyone wants it to be. Tomi sees no future in this.

A great moment in all this came as Tomi posted something to help his friends in the industry find another job, reassuring them and giving tips:

Also worth checking out are the comments to the above post:

"Come together, get investors and buy AAVA mobile. Bring new Qt-based MeeGo and Symbian AAVA phones to the world. MeeGo and Symbian are both open source. Elop can't remove that license even if he wanted to. Kill the mother company. It's not just the hardware, it's the software stupid!!! If anyone starts this, you have a guaranteed €50.000 investment from me. There are many people like me who would help you guys start the next Nokia.
All the best for the future."

I guess people with some forte read Tomi's blog (even though they're not too clear on the status of Symbian ;) ). Later on, Aava announced that they are not interested in becoming the next Nokia. So sadly, this is only fantasy.

The internet went rampant with claims that Steve Ballmer had put a trojan horse into Nokia. Intuitively, it did make sense as Elop had just come from Microsoft, and sha-zam, come the first big announcement it would be about creating a strategy together with Microsoft. Fishy!

The Wall Street Journal has caught on to the real story, though:

Articles thinking about Nokia's plans going forward:

For very many people, the Microkia alliance is the exact fix for Nokia's wavering situation.WP7 looks good, is something completely new and between the lines people want to be relieved that another company besides Nokia will actually be in charge of Nokia software.

The article below supports the alliance:

Here's a passionate post from about why WP7 is the best thing for Nokia right now:

A fascinating incident was the coming forward of '9 young investors' looking to sell a "PlanB" to the Nokia board of executives:

What followed after Plan B was PlanC, PlanD ... and eventually the entire alphabet of plans for Nokia:

Articles mostly about the survival of MeeGo, Symbian and/or Qt:

For me, the bigges thing about the Microkia alliance was Nokia reducing MeeGo down to a developmental platform (again). Maemo-MeeGo was supposed to be "step 6 of 6" towards a commercial product, but this turn of events put MeeGo back to square 1. Other concerns of mine were the resources and effort put into Qt, now seemingly being thrown away. What's the truth behind the future of the software side of things?

Nokia CTO Rich Green got up on stage to talk about the future of all the mentioned software:

Here's a look at what we know about the new Symbian UI. If Symbian's dead, then when's the funeral?

Another twist in the software plot was news that Microsoft had banned all open source software at their Windows Marketplace. Linux veterans were grabbing their waraxes from the closet again, as Microsoft and open source have a somewhat heated history. Here's Simon to give us a more devoted look at the entire story behind this incident:

Qt and MeeGo have for long felt like proof-of-concept software, and now with the Microkia announcement, people feel that they will finally be laid to rest. At least in the mobile world. Here's an article from talking about Qt and developers:

With Finnish company Digia picking up Qt, the fate of Qt doesn't seem so dark after all:

Further reading, some videos and podcasts for easier information consumption

Its hard to reach any conclusions about all this, as new news articles pop up almost daily. Mobile World Congress was a great MeeGo event, with the unveiling of the MeeGo tablet UI:

So it seems MeeGo will be able to survive even with Nokia not being part of the effort. However, will "MeeGo handset" be critically affected by this remains to be seen.

It turns out, that Qt isn't dying either, as it has already found a new owner. Symbian definitely has a timeline though, as expressed by Rafe from the AllAboutSymbian podcast from Feb 12th 2011. Symbian still might interest a lot of people for a couple of years, with the UI upgrade coming out and all that.

What is still in the balance, then? Well to me its definitely Windows Phone 7, and how it will deliver. There's news of trouble on the software front for Windows Phone 7, as the "Mango" update (also referred to as "WinPhone 7.5") struggles to make it out before 2011. Bare in mind, Elop wants to publish a Windows Nokia phone during 2011 (see video interview in the beginning of this article). Has Nokia, the company deemed incompetent of producing software in time teamed up with another company suffering of the same flaw?

And finally

I hope the reads collected to this blogpost have been useful, and I want to leave you with one more that seems to have a more "universal" feel to it.

The next blogpost supports WP7, but it also discusses UI paradigms to such a level, that I think it might be current even a year or two years from now:

Please leave me a comment if you have additional "good reads" on the subject!

- Chris


  1. Hi Chris,

    That's a good collection of interesting articles. Yet, it seems that most articles see Nokia as the sufferer that is controlled by big bad Microsoft. Whereas in reality it really isn't the case. Nokia went with MS because they had more power over them than Google.

  2. Thanks for your comment!

    Indeed, I think you can still read my bias between the lines, but I think that's simply the emotion on which most of those articles were written.

    I intend to get back to the matter in a while, maybe after the release of "N950" or latest after the first WP7 device. I think the world will be quite different by then. :)