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Schmidt Says Nokia Made Wrong Decision

David Gilbert


Google Failed to Persuade Nokia on Android

Google’s Eric Schmidt took what could be his final opportunity to give a keynote address at Mobile World Congress to talk about Nokia choosing unwisely, a Utopian smartphone/tablet future and the next version of Android beginning with an I.

Schmidt will step down as CEO in April as part of a reshuffle announced last month, and took the opportunity at MWC to outline how he sees the future of technology. Maybe because this was his final curtain call as CEO of one of the world’s largest companies, but his address had a rather whimsical air to it. He spoke about smartphones being able to “do things that we haven't even begun to think of" and that "pretty soon, in a year or two, with the phones many of you have already and the tablets, you will never forget anything. Starting soon it will be possible to remember the hotels you went to, the pictures you took, the friends you met, because computer memories last forever." All very interesting but lacking any sort of concrete news we would like to hear from Google.

Schmidt did however go on to speak about the major news of the past week, ie Nokia getting into bed with Microsoft, and outlined how Google had attempted to sway the Finnish company to join its ecosystem rather than the Windows Phone 7 world. "We would like them to adopt Android in the future," Schmidt said. "We're sorry that they made a different choice. We certainly tried {to persuade them}." When asked about another rumour doing the rounds that Google was about to buy Twitter, Schmidt ducked and dived by saying: “"We love Twitter and I love to tweet,"

Schmidt did however give us some information regarding the Android OS and where it is going in the future. With Honeycomb still to be officially released on a tablet, Android is currently in a state of flux with a smartphone and a tablet version currently co-existing. This is all about to change however. "As we know, Gingerbread is for mobiles, and Honeycomb, which we previewed today, is for tablets. So the next version will begin with an I and be named after a dessert, and it will combine the capabilities of the two. We're working on the basis of a current 6 month cycle roughly for each new release." Ice-cream anyone?

Other than that Schmidt showed off a video editing app for Honeycomb which will allow people to edit video on the move and upload it straight to YouTube. Speaking of the video sharing site, Schmidt revealed that it had doubled its revenue in 2010 and that 35 hours of video are uploaded to it every minute. He also revealed that smartphone sales had overtaken PC sales last week and that Chrome has 120 million active users.


February 16, 2011, 2:50 pm

Nokia are looking to get out of jail and profit margins hard to protect in the commoditised world of Android.

Nokia clearly see Windows Phone 7 as a less cut-throat (and certainly less crowded) marketplace.

But will it stay that way?

Maybe Nokia will branch out again if they make a success of their new Microsoft partnership - the Mobile OS landscape could look very different in a year or two. Even 12 months is a long time in this fast moving industry - and who knows whether WebOS and QNX are going to make any real impact given their late entry into the increasingly important tablet space.


February 16, 2011, 2:58 pm

Well there's a shocker, one of the key players in Android thinks Nokia shouldn't have gone with a competitor...

To be honest, after thinking about this over the weekend, I don't blame Nokia in the least. It's going to get increasingly difficult for big name brands to make a profit off Android as what was high end filters down and the ZTE's of the world start bringing out 'low end' phones that are more than enough for the majority of users. There simply doesn't seem to be any opportunity for manufacturers to tap into any additional revenue streams with Android and retain the 'with google' branding (Nokia couldn't have replaced Google Maps with Ovi f'instance) and there's the additional costs involved in preparing updates for devices themselves rather than a generic update from the Google mothership. This gets even worse when you consider that the manufacturers main customer is the carrier, not the end user, and the carrier will be constantly demanding lower and lower unit prices.

WP7 might die a death (especially if MS don't step up the update cycle) but at least Nokia have a chance to do something new and interesting. Heck they may even be able to be the only big name on WP7 if they've really got rights to do whatever they like where everyone else has to play nice with the default look and feel.


February 16, 2011, 3:13 pm

Stephen Elop&#8217s decision to jump on the WP7 train has been met with a lot of anger from Nokia investors and the hardcore Nokia fanbase. I get why they did it and it would seem they have made the decision to improve their market share in the USA, which has been poor to date.It will be interesting to see how long Elop lasts, especially if this gamble doesn't pay off.


February 16, 2011, 4:00 pm

@BOFH. Spot on. Nokia have NO chance to compete on a commoditised product like Android with ZTE, Huawei, HTC and a swarm of other competitors. WP7 was the only option for Nokia given their poor stratgey on handset software in recent years.

@Lantic. Software is not the reason for Nokia's lack of US success which has been the case for many years. It is their unwillingness to play ball with the operators who have all the power in the UK. Samsung have played this game to their supreme advantage.


February 16, 2011, 4:03 pm

@Lantic It's definitely a bet-the-farm-all-or-nothing move, because if the gamble doesn't pay off it will be interesting to see how long Nokia lasts! I lost interest in their handsets a long time ago after some terrible experiences. Windows Mobile does nothing for me either, so I'm going to take a lot of convincing as to why I should put, in effect, double faith in them.


February 16, 2011, 4:07 pm

Elop'll last as long as it takes for MS to bleed Nokia of all relevant IP. I read that Elop is the 7th largest MS shareholder - conflict of interest? I think so. Nokia should have gone with WebOs or just carried on bleeding out until they had MeeGo up to scratch - or better still, opened up to all OS's! Hopefully this alliance of necessity, for Nokia, will be a short lived affair.

Greg Shewan

February 16, 2011, 4:41 pm

I think it was still a poor decision by Nokia, I don't see tremendous growth from WP7 now or even in 2 years time. If Nokia had adopted Android an left it unskinned they would have been the tech worlds darlings! I would have bought one solely on the premise that I would be able to update quickly and have great hardware.

I think this is the root Nokia should have taken, almost like Motorola did in the beginning (but have subsequently ruined with Blur)... I don't think manufacturers realise this but we would like a choice of the skinned or stock launcher, and I would choose stock any day!


February 16, 2011, 7:18 pm

@lifethroughalens - I'd love to see WebOS on Nokia hardware... does anyone know if HP are planning to license the OS or 'do an Apple' and retain it solely for their own devices?


February 16, 2011, 8:12 pm

Amusing we all talk about Nokia when it should be about Android. I'll do both. Good to see that Google are going to merge all the goodies in Honeycomb into Ice Cream for mobiles. But the amount of time it'll take them, then the amount of time it'll take the manufacturers to implement, then the amount of time it'll take the carriers to send out the updates. Well it'll be mid 2012 at best before we see Ice Cream. Things like that make Android frustrating and I guess one reason Nokia went WP7. Though like @Greg and many others have said, a stock Android on Nokia hardware with updates as quick as the Google branded phones (though note the Nexus One still doesn't have Gingerbread) would make them more appealing than the other Android manufacturers.

Whether Nokia should have gone WP7 or Android vs sticking with Symbian/Meego i'll leave aside, but I think not choosing Android shows a lack of faith. Did they not think their hardware superior enough to compete and rise above the likes of Motorola, Samsung, Sony, etc? I think a lot of people have fond memories of Nokia and given the option would choose them. I see them on a par or indeed slightly above Sony Ericsson and with their trio of new Android phones they are looking pretty, I don't see why Nokia couldn't have done the same.

I am looking forward to their WP7 phones, but I still think their was room for them to have gone WP7, Android and even Meego all at the same time. Looks like Schmidt still thinks there's time for them to join Android as well, perhaps Sergy have can persuade them where he failed.

Greg Shewan

February 17, 2011, 2:45 am

@HK- I think Nokia definitely have short changed themselves... sure WP7 is a risk, but come to think of it how many Nokia phones (spec wise) compete at the top tier of the smartphone spectrum? Not one is rocking a top end processor or GPU combo... nevertheless they do make good hardware and example is the E72 now that was a great phone. Sturdy and classy springs to mind. The C7 also is well made and even their mid and low end dumbphones sport elegant designs with good materials.

In summary a great hardware company paired with a development free software solution (if they did adopt a clean android approach) would cut costs (staff, equipment, time etc.) and allow them to concentrate on creating the nest possible physical product.

If they wanted to differentiate I think Meego, which is also Linux based, would partner well with Android. One platform which is universal, a 'every-mans' smartphone and a higher end platform to allow a more diverse portfolio of devices.

MS is going to milk Nokia for all they can, what exactly do Nokia get out of the deal at the end of the day?!


February 17, 2011, 2:52 pm

Nokia was always going to adopt WP7, Elop was just going through the motions with there negotiations with Google.

Android is free, and you can have your own Application Store there was nothing to negotiate.

I hope Microsoft/Nokia makes WP7 a success as to stop Android/IOs getting to powerfull.

It is possible/beneficial for multiple ecosytems to thrive in the handheld/Smartphone space.

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