July 10, 2010

MobileTechRoundup 215

Category: Podcast — admin @ 2:50 pm

CLICK HERE to download the file and listen directly.
MoTR 215 is 50 minutes long and is a 45.7 MB file in MP3 format.

HOSTS: James Kendrick (Houston), Matthew Miller (Seattle) and Kevin C. Tofel (Philadelphia)


Hands-on thoughts of the Motorola Droid X.
Should Nokia forget MeeGo and embrace Android?
Borders launches ebook store, Sony drops prices big time, Amazon announces DX Graphite
First front facing QWERTY Android device coming as T-Mobile Motorola Charm.
Fring video calling now supported on iPhone 4 – works over 3G and across platforms.

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  1. I just listened to this episode yesterday and have been thinking quite a bit about the question should Nokia go to Android.

    I agreed with most of what you were saying and I think you are right that Nokia as an excellent hardware company could make an awesome Android handset, however When you think about what is motivating Nokia to go their own way I think they may be right to bet the farm on their own OSs.

    The main motivating factor is the lower and lower potential margins available from selling hardware. Regardless of which OS Nokia sells the trend across the industry is for hardware life cycles to be very short and for differentiation between devices to be extremely limited. Although Nokia would I’m sure be able to equal HTC, Motorola and Samsung in the hardware department it would just be another Android vendor in an already crowded space.

    It is with this background that Nokia has looked at Apple’s iTunes stores (Apps, Music, TV and Books) and Google’s ever expanding services (Maps, Mail, Search, Ads etc etc ) and realized that this is where it can differentiate itself and potentially make a recurring revenue as well.

    At this point I’m sure lots of people would say that Nokia could follow a service strategy and still use Android but really looking at how much Google allows you to change means that you’d either have to fork the Android project and then be continually out of step with Google’s releases or restrict the changes that you make to a UI layer similar to TouchWiz or Sense UI.

    For Nokia as the biggest mobile phone company with 125,000 employees and a financial pot in the billions of Euros it is in a unique position. Unlike the competitors you mentioned on the show (Motorola for example) Nokia has both the money and the skill set needed to gamble on a service strategy centred around building their own platform.

    Of course with Nokia what may seem straight forward quickly becomes complicated and to the casual observer it may look like Nokia is floundering with no direction at all but I think here again a closer look shows a company that is both adapting to the changes in the industry while at the same time perusing a clear aim.

    One of the more confusing things recently is the move from Maemo to Meego but I think here is a good example of Nokia both perusing there original goal while at the same time adapting to the changing mobile industry by forging partnerships.

    What I think Nokia is doing is trying to create an OS which is free and completely open (something many have argued Android is not) to create an incentive for other manufactures to come on board. To this end joining forces with Intel is a mark of genius as it brings with it all the contacts to other manufactures that only a provider of chipsets and CPUs on the scale of Intel could deliver.

    Many people have commented on Meego as if it is a completely new OS which is not quite the case since it’s more a joining of two projects which already shared much in common and which together are greater than the sum of their parts. From a mobile phone stand point much of the work will come from the Maemo 6 OS so it is hardly the case that Nokia has thrown away what has learned from Maemo 5 and started again this includes much of the UI.

    Time will tell if the gamble pays off but I for one don’t think that the mobile industry is so mature that a new entrant is out of the question. I’ve already seen the various rumblings of discontent with the Android ecosystem and mainly because of the control that Google is exercising over it. For many of the manufactures I think Meego will be the only other credible alternative. How much of the current negativity towards this project would evaporate if a few big name companies produced a product with Meego?

    Comment by phonefacts — July 13, 2010 @ 10:20 am

  2. Excellent points! One thought though — Nokia could actually increase its service revenue stream through Android. For starters, apps for such services could be pre-installed on Nokia handsets and be linked to a Google email account for pre-configuration. And such apps could be offered to non-Nokia devices as well through the Android Market. While the service argument is sound as it relates to revenues, there are some “outside of the box” options.

    And you raise another good observation that MeeGo itself isn’t exactly new. I don’t think any of us on the show feel that it is, as we know where it came from. However, Maemo before and MeeGo going forward have yet to mature into a viable, mass market operating system and (more importantly) haven’t attracted a critical mass of deveopers just yet. That can change (I hope so!) but has much to do with the platform’s potential success.

    Again, great points – thx for sharing!

    Comment by Kevin C. Tofel — July 13, 2010 @ 10:33 am

  3. Thank you for the lengthy and thoughtful comments on our latest podcast. I agree that the profit margin on handsets is extremely low right now, but red flags go up for me when you mention Nokia and services. Nokia has spent a lot of money over the past couple of years buying companies who offer services with the hope that they would roll the services into Ovi. IMHO, Nokia’s services strategy to date has been quite a mess and the only really successful service is their Ovi Maps that they now give away for free.

    I truly thought Nokia would differentiate itself with outstanding services to go with their smartphones, but they seem to test out and then kill services so often that even I cannot keep track of what is available and in what region it may be available. I think they have the ability to offer some excellent services and an operating system that can attract millions, but they need to define and stick with a strategy and stop moving around so much.

    Comment by Matthew Miller — July 13, 2010 @ 11:43 am

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