“The third ecosystem”
Seriously? When Nokia and Microsoft decided to get “wedded” on February 11th, they chose to call their alliance a “third ecosystem“. How on earth do you plan to convince anyone with that tagline? How do you expect investors to believe, users to stay loyal, developers to get excited, employees to not feel the apocalypse, by proclaiming you’re the THIRD? Why am I supposed to buy your promises when you’re telling me there are two others who came here and established themselves before you? What makes you special?
Photo courtesy of Dreamstime
“The third ecosystem”
Honestly, that’s the dumbest thing I have ever heard. And I’ve heard dumb things in my life, like “app” being a short for “Apple”.
Until one second before the alliance went live, I was ready to puke in my mouth if the rumors turned out to be true. But when I read the Nokia Conversations post, something felt different. I love Nokia, I love Symbian, and I did not see the horrible #elopocalypse. In my eyes, it was … interesting. And I felt guilty. Why was I not outraged like everyone else? I knew there was something more but I couldn’t put my finger on it. I convinced myself that maybe, if the plan was to give themselves a breath of air to calmly work on Meego in the basement, then it explains why I am not appalled by the move.
It took 34 hours for me to realize it. It isn’t Meego. It was there in front of my eyes, but they did not say it like they should have said it. Same idea, different words. It makes all the difference in the world.
Convergence without compromise
This is HUGE.
Go back and read that line again. Over and over again. Until you can picture it in front of your eyes. Until it’s so real you can grasp it with your fingers. Until the beauty of it is so blinding to you, you wanna run in the street and scream Eureka!
Back in 2007, I had a Nokia 3250 XpressMusic (S60 3rd Edition) and a Qtek 9100 (Windows Mobile 5), and I wished to combine those two in one device because they each had a certain strength. The “convergence” concept was trending and I believed we were getting there with the almighty Nokia N95 8GB. Yet, as we advanced, convergence started slipping away. Suddenly, you had to choose, either an awesome camera or a great productivity tool. Yes, you could do everything with every device, but not with the same convenience. As convergence moved forward, it became specialized, and hence true convergence was dead. 3 months ago, I wrote “The Divergence of Converged Devices” and if there ever was an apocalypse, that was it.
Right now, I have an iPod Touch 4 for the music and the gaming experience. I have an HTC Desire Z for the ability to do everything I usually do on a Computer on it, with multitasking, wonderful email experience, notifications for my RSS, Twitter, Facebook, Disqus, IM… I have a Nokia N8 for the incredible optics in the camera and video, as well as the super accurate and free Ovi Maps in Lebanon. I could do everything on one ecosystem, but it isn’t as convenient as on the others, there are compromises. For a “no compromise” experience, I got 3 devices. Total cost? At least 1300$.
Now think of Nokia and Windows Phone, like the press release explained the alliance.
Stellar camera and video recording? Check.
Incredible reception and radios? Check.
Top notch hardware and build quality? Check.
Maps and Navigation everywhere in the world? Check.
Beautiful Email experience? Check.
High quality games? Friggin’ X-Box! Check.
Music? Check (as loyal Zune users would tell you).
Corporate facilities? Check.
Developer support? Gaining traction, check.
Devices all across the price bracket, for every budget? Check.
Support in every country with every operator, and even in countries with unlocked devices? Check.
The press release stopped there. I can’t believe it stopped there. I can’t believe they let everyone roll their eyes and look at it thinking “well… we have any of this everywhere else”. Except we don’t have EVERYTHING anywhere else. We have some things with Android, some things with Apple, some things with Samsung, some things with HTC… This deal? It has everything.
It has true mobile convergence like I dreamt of it 4 years ago, not like I think of it today while picking a device that’s stellar at something but mediocre at something else.
That is how you convince me, the person who decided to carry three devices together to get a full mobile experience. That is how you convince the person who bought an iPhone 4 but thinks the reception is horrid and there is no differentiation between him and the tens of millions of others who bought the same phone. That is how you convince the guy who went with an HTC running Android but knows he’s compromising on the camera and the music experience. That is how you convince the loyal Symbian user who stood by your side in thick and thin but believe you need more developers on board to enhance the experience. That is how you convince the share holders who were ready to sell everything and run away because you weren’t delivering a wholesome experience. That is how you convince the employees who see the whole world crumbling on their shoulders because all their years of dedication are irrelevant and now feel like they no longer are a part of something great.
You tell us that in a few months, when we dip down in our wallets to buy a Nokia Windows Phone, we will be getting a perfect mobile experience with no compromise on any aspect.
Instead, you defined yourself as “The Third Ecosystem”
“A serious alternative to the existing choices”
“More compelling choices in the mobile space”
“Significant benefits for consumers, developers, mobile operators and businesses”
Really?! You had at least several weeks to think of a tagline, of a great way to sell this deal to everyone, and you came up with “third”, “serious alternative”, “significant benefits” and “more compelling”, instead of “no compromise” or “perfect”? You let us walk out wondering what was so special about being “third”. Your marketing/branding team is beyond salvaging. Seriously. Fire them, not the R&D guys.
“A global ecosystem that creates opportunities beyond anything that currently exists.”
In all official material and talks, this is the ONLY line where both companies hint that they are aware that the greatness they’re building is ahead of anything the competition can offer.
To all the doubters and whiners, I say this:
It might not be Open Source like Symbian, but what does the end user benefit from Open Source when sending an email or checking his Twitter stream? I see no difference between checking my Facebook page on the “open” Android today and the “closed” Symbian 2 years ago.
It might not be a home-baked Finnish platform over which Nokia has full control, but why does it matter to me if Dropbox and IMDB don’t want to make an application for it so I can enjoy their services while on the road? HTC has no home-baked platform yet they made a living and a name, year after year, out of customizing experiences, and when you pick an HTC device and unlock it, you know it’s an HTC device.
And I am not blind. There are a lot of “If”s in that deal, the biggest of which is whether they will be able to deliver on their promise, and a lot of victims: fired employees, loyal developers with hours of C++ and Qt training, “betrayed” fans who just plunked hundred of dollars for an N8 or C7, bloggers who defended Symbian and Nokia with their teeth to the legions of North American pessimists, the ten or more years of work behind Symbian, the possibility of becoming just another manufacturer like Motorola and LG… Yes, there are victims, the most important one being the image of Nokia as we know it, I am not denying that.
But the prospect for the end user is wonderful. “I am an optimist” said Elop during the announcement. I believe that, Stephen, I friggin’ believe that, and I may sound like a desperately gullible optimist to some but I don’t want to think of this as Microsoft taking over, I want to think of this as you, Stephen, picking up Nokia’s best and reaching for greatness, because I see what your words didn’t explain to me.
“There are other mobile ecosystems. We will disrupt them.
There will be challenges. We will overcome them.
Success requires speed. We will be swift.
Together, we see the opportunity, and we have the will, the resources and the drive to succeed.”
“We see the opportunity”? I’ll keep repeating it until you, the reader, the fan, the doubter, can grasp what that “opportunity” is.
Convergence without compromise
P.S: Nokia, this is not the first time you fail at selling your “vision” to people. I refer you to Had Apple Announced The Nokia N8, where I pinpoint everything that went wrong in the N8 announcement. If you keep marketing things the same way, I have a feeling it also won’t be the last time either. You have my phone number, if you want an independent point of view at some point, give me a call. I promise I’ll be bluntly honest with you.