Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Nokia afraid of Linux success?

Just to follow up on the last post where I touched on the growing prominence of Linux on the Consumer Computing devices:
The news that Nokia is not going to sell the N9 in the US yet should not be surprising. What surprising is the decision to stop selling phones altogether. The situation is likely this: they don't sell a lot of smartphones (Symbian phones) in the US. The market segment that they are huge in everywhere, the feature phones and basic phones, are not selling in the US and is being eroded by smaller phone makers who sell their phones cheaper. Maybe they are looking at what IBM faced with PC and decided to take that critical step earlier.
IBM sold the original PCs but later were being outsold by other "PC clone" maker. They eventually lost money on the business but kept it around to foster brand recognition. Nothing says your business is successful by having an IBM PC on your desk. Also kept them in visible to the decision makers who would decide on the more profitable sever and services business. Don't get me wrong, those machines were no pushovers. IBM means quality and it shows. These decision makers can't see or touch the servers that they bought but using a quality IBM laptop makes them feel connected somehow.
It seems that Nokia is probably not waiting for that. They are losing money already. But to make their brand disappear feels like they are putting all their eggs in the Windows Phone basket. Microsoft loose nothing either way. Nokia wins and start selling loads of Windows Phones, they make money. Nokia goes bust again for another year despite the Windows phone and MS can pick them up for a song, positioning them squarely against Apple. Why not?
A possible success of the N9 powered by Meego could derail this. They probably had to release the N9 because it was so far down the production pipeline. It's not like it would be a surprise. Their previous Linux-based non-phones were a hit among the tech crowd. N900 showed promise. But if N9 is an improvement on that and the result is a more polished, consumer friendly experience, it would not only be trouble for Andriod and the Iphone but also other Windows Phones.Would they continue making a popular selling phone or would they compete against themselves by having both the N9 and the Windows phone? You have to wonder how much is Nokia listening to MS (remember this is not like MS "helping" Apple)? Samsung does that just fine. They have phones for every segment; Android, BadaOS, basic phones, and they are making money. Even review units of the N9 are not available to the press. Nokia says that they are reviewing market by market. They were surprised that instead of the focus on the hardware platform, which they wanted to highlight with the N9, the entire phone caused a stir. Missing maketplace or not, Flash in a phone solves a lot.
My guess is that it'll be released after the Windows phone to little press or in markets that cannot afford it and be killed off quietly. The march to MSNokia continues...

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