Sthepen Elop, Nokia's CEO presenting his strategy @ Uplinq 2011

Stephen Elop, the CEO of Nokia, started his keynote by reminding the audience (with a lot of humor) that recently, Nokia and Qualcomm were fighting in court. Today, he’s presenting at Qualcomm’s event of the year: the world changes fast. He says that the most important meeting that Nokia and Qualcomm had was right after Nokia announced the Nokia/Microsoft deal and that thanks to Qualcomm, Nokia Windows phones will be delivered on time – this is extremely important for Nokia’s potential renaissance.

With the stage set, Stephen Elop has provided his view on the world: “we went form a battle of devices to a war of platforms”.  “It all started with the iPhone” Stephen Elop says. “Apple has introduced an eco-system like we’ve never seen before”, he adds. But the issue is that Apple is a “closed box”, Nokia says. By being closed, Apple has created… Android, because Apple has created a vacuum that Google stepped into. Nokia asks: Android is open, but how long will it stay that way? He ends his phrase with “We’ll see”. Clearly, Stephen Elop is laying the foundation of his case for using Microsoft’s Windows Phone. Later on, he hinted that Nokia is working on a tablet…


Android is open... but "how long will it stay that way?", Stephen Elop asks

Context: After assessing their options, including Symbian, but the later turned out to be simply too hard to evolve. Meego was also an option, but Nokia ended up realizing that Meego could not help Nokia build the full line-up of devices that they needed, especially in the low-end. The choice came down to Android or Windows Phone 7. Nokia did examine both options very carefully. Android has tremendous advantages, including carrier “love”, but Nokia thought that it was very hard to compete in an Android eco-system as it is extremely crowded. Also “giving in” (Android) was somewhat seen as the easy way.

On the contrary, Stephen Elop says that Microsoft and Nokia had a lot of mutual interests (note: Stepen Elop was also a Microsoft executive previously). That’s how on February 11 2011, Nokia announced that Nokia was going full-steam with Windows Phone. Nokia had entered in the eco-system battle, and leaving the “device battle” (I think that no OEM can really leave that fight though…).

Talking about handsets, Nokia believes that it can deliver world-class devices. Stephen Elop mentions the Nokia N8, a “formidable camera-phone” he says (…). Why is Windows Phone so challenged, you may ask? Nokia thinks that it’s simply because most handset makers are using their best designs with Android. This is actually true. On the contrary, Nokia will use its best design for Windows Phones. Nokia also believes that Windows Phone has an awesome user experience. At Ubergizmo, we agree, although it’s not always a popular opinion to put out there.

Nokia and Microsoft will have a “complete ecosystem” (including Skype) and Stephen Elop says that he wants every Windows Phone OEM to be successful, so that the overall platform success can carry Nokia too. Again, he points out to the fact that Nokia’s priority is to win the platform battle.

Carriers also play a critical role, especially in the USA and Western Europe. In the east (India, Russia…) are very different markets. This is where Nokia is currently more successful. Yet, the operators are taking a stronger role worldwide, and things will probably evolve towards what we see in the western world. Nokia wants to help create a more carrier-friendly environment when compared to Apple and Google.

That means carrier-customized app stores, and carrier app development. To be honest, I’m usually skeptic when I hear about carrier-controlled stores or apps. It is actually very rare that carriers add real value outside of their core competency: the network. From entertainment to app delivery, the pre-Apple+Android world was simply much worse.

More devices: Nokia believes that more devices (projectors, cameras, TVs….) will become part of this eco-system. Thanks to Cloud storage, all user data should be available and used on any devices.

Tablets: At the moment, there are hundreds of tablets, but only one is truly successful, says Stephen Elop. Nokia says that has long as it can differentiate from the rest of the pack, it cannot be successful. He says “watch this space, this is going to get interesting”. He eluded to the Windows 8 demo that was shown for the first time yesterday. “

Developers:  without developers, there’s no success. Nokia is quick to point out that they have a huge developer community but I personally think that the quality of the Microsoft development tools are the single most important edge that Windows Phone has. Nokia says that having a carrier-based billing is much more efficient than system like Apple’s app-store because customers don’t have to provide their credit card number. The market will decide.

To wrap it up, Nokia thinks that it can disrupt the current eco-systems. To be successful, consumers must “desire it”, developers must support it, and “everyone has to make money”.

Transparency: we have been invited by Qualcomm, along with many other established media, to attend their Uplinq event in San Diego. Our trip has been arranged by Qualcomm. More about our travel policy.

Filed in Breaking >Cellphones >Tablets. Read more about Microsoft, Nokia, Qualcomm and Windows Phone.

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