It is one thing to jump off a burning platform and quite another to burn the entire place down on your way out. I am not sure what to make of Nokia’s announcement to re-brand its Ovi suite of Internet services as Nokia services. Let’s not forget that these services were just called Nokia services (Nokia Music Store, for instance) and were brought under the Ovi umbrella less than four years ago. This was about the same time when Apple launched the first iPhone, which caught Nokia and just about everyone else off guard. While others (like Samsung and HTC) embraced Android to keep going, Nokia was disillusioned that its wings-of-wax equivalent Symbian platform was more than good enough. Hit the break below to fast forward four years and see how Nokia has faltered in almost every initiative it has undertaken. Also Read - Former Nokia boss Stephen Elop among 4 senior executives leaving Microsoft in a major organizational shakeup
Symbian: This was the same platform that Nokia claimed would be good enough for it to counter both Apple and Google. Its inability to scale up the platform to be more Internet friendly, the failure to recognize how popular touchscreens would become and the lack of a successor platform, eventually lead Stephen Elop to write that burning platform memo. Nokia has finally realized Symbian’s days are over. Also Read - Here's Stephen Elop's memo to Nokia employees on new device strategy under Microsoft
Maemo/MeeGo: Nokia actually had a pretty decent Tablet OS much before the iPad and its imitators were launched. Just that Nokia had no clue of what it should do with it. A partnership with Intel, a change of name and a year later, MeeGo has been relegated to being the equivalent of a research project. Also Read - Stephen Elop's golden parachute increases by 25% to $33 million
N-Gage: We cannot blame Nokia for trying to come out with a gaming phone, it was a hardware vendor after all. However, we cannot fathom how the company could falter when it announced N-Gage, the gaming platform? The game store had some pretty good titles and it was compatible with many popular N-Series smartphones. But it just bombed. Nokia eventually shut down the service all together in 2009. Meanwhile, the iPhone and iPod touch became the most popular portable gaming consoles in the world.
Ovi Store: Multiple sources in Nokia based out of Finland have told me on different occasions how Nokia was working on an app store much before Apple even announced the first iPhone (the App Store was launched a year later in 2008). However, the project was scrapped. Fast forward to 2009, when Nokia launched its app store to a disastrous first day – the store crashed, went offline and apps went missing. It eventually picked up, but Nokia had already lost the battle by then.
Ovi Mail: This is one service that I hate and just cannot use. I have experienced scenarios where the phone refused to let me compose a message, won’t fetch mails and just slow down my phone to a crawl. There is no way a service as buggy as Ovi Mail could have passed any level of quality control procedures.
Ovi Music Unlimited: Okay, I am a big fan of this service that gives users of certain phones an annual pass of sorts to download as many songs as they like. Nokia had an impressive library (I have never failed to find a song) but there was a caveat – the songs were DRM protected. This meant you could not play these songs on other devices. The service is now available in six countries only. By the way, this service was originally called Comes With Music, changed to Ovi Music and now could be changed to Nokia Music. How screwed up is that?
Ovi Maps: Nokia acquired Navteq, changed the name to Ovi Maps and slapped a subscription model to the service. On the other hand, Google provided Maps as a free service and later brought free turn-by-turn navigation to the iPhone and Android smartphones in the US and Europe. There was only one thing left to do for Nokia – it made the service free.
I am not sure what Nokia has left to offer. Most of its flagship products in the past two years have faced delays. It has faltered on the hardware front (faulty ear piece in the 5800 XM) and misjudged what consumers want (why would a consumer want an auto-focus camera in a business phone like the E7?). And the little I rant about how usable Symbian is, the better.
I won’t be surprised, if the next press release from Nokia reads something like this:
Nokia and Microsoft announce plans for a broader strategic partnership. Microsoft to acquire Nokia’s mobile device unit as a part of the agreement.