The rumors about Nokia making an Android or even a Windows 7 phone (now that they have an ex-Microsoft CEO) never seem to die because there is always someone fueling the fire. Soon after Ari Jaaksi’s resignation, TechCrunch put out a story about how Eric Schmidt and Stephen Elop were talking about a ‘possible’ Nokia Android device.
“We’ve heard from a good source that Google CEO Eric Schmidt has called Elop to discuss the possibility of Android running on Nokia phones. We actually heard this information about a week ago, but today’s news makes it potentially more interesting. Around the time Jaaksi was resigning, Elop and Schmidt were talking.”
You have to admit, it makes for a very juicy story and an interesting point to mull over. But before you waste time thinking about this, let me put some things in perspective.
Nokia for years has now said that it wants to be a internet/services company and they have spent millions of dollars trying to do just that. They didn’t get off the floor too well, but now their services are beginning to take good shape. If they put Android on a Nokia device (lets call it the N10), where does Ovi go? Lets look at it in the light of their most successful Ovi services, Maps and the Store. Will the N10 suddenly run the Ovi Store instead of the Android Market? Will Google let Nokia replace Google Maps with Ovi Maps? People will say sure, they are free to load their own version on top, Android is ‘open’ you see. But does it make sense for Nokia to try and compete with Google on its own turf? An Android device needs you to sign in with your Google Account to get started. Will Google let Nokia replace that with an Ovi sign-on? Even if they do, it’ll be a huge mistake for Nokia to plan into their hands.
Now lets look at applications. Nokia recently spent over $150 million to acquire a company called Trolltech. Why? Because they were the ones behind Qt, the cross platform development environment. Nokia is telling developers, ‘make your app with Qt, here’s our toolkit and deploy to millions of Symbian, Maemo and MeeGo devices’. They are literally throwing millions at developers. With my own eyes I saw Stephen Elop handover the $1 million prize at Nokia World. Not to mention the $10,000 for this and $10,000 for that kind of awards that handed out in addition. One thousand free N8’s? Who can forget that.
Forum Nokia has been having developer conferences all around the world and they’re targeting America hard. Just yesterday, they gave all attended of the Nokia Developer Day a free N8 as well. You will not see it today, but the developers are really warming up to the idea of Qt and developing for Nokia in general. If Nokia even makes one Android device, all of that is gone. No developer will ever come back. Millions wasted.
Assuming Nokia does make the N10 (our fictitious Android device), what would it be like? Like a Nexus One or a Galaxy S with a better camera? Or perhaps like the new HTC QWERTY Android device with a better camera? Is there anything else they can add to the experience? Lets assume they hire Android engineers and put them to work on a slightly custom Nokia UI for Android. It will take at least 8-10 months before something even remotely usable can come out. Also by then, Nokia would have relegated themselves to being virtually a box manufacturer.
In the time that happens, MeeGo will be ready to take on the world anyway, backed by Qt. Making the apps that devs have already written for the N8 and other Symbian ^3 devices run on MeeGo is not a huge jump at all. They will also have sold a ton of Symbian ^3 devices, with Symbian ^4 on the way. After using the ‘new’ Symbian, the general distaste people have for it these days would have died down as well. 2011 is a perfect time for Nokia to reap results off their long term strategy.
Symbian ^3 for the low-mid end, with devices like the new C6 announced at Nokia World. Symbian ^4 for the mid-high end, debuting with the N8 successor perhaps. MeeGo for the absolute high end with Qt bridging the gap, and seamless Ovi Services keeping people happy.
Why would anyone want them to go Android is beyond me. Aren’t similar device from Motorola, Samsung, HTC enough? Anssi Vanjoki already told the world what he thought of other manufacturers using Android, ‘Like young boys peeing in their pants for warmth’. Sadly, he will soon be gone.