interview with VentureBeat yesterday, Chris Weber, the president of Nokia and head of its North America operations, gave some insight into Nokia's strategy to regain its dominance in the smartphone market. While withholding specifics about the hardware or the timeframe, Weber discussed Nokia's vision of mobile software, calling the interfaces and app-based models of Android and iOS "outdated."In an interesting
Nokia plans to fight back against the other two dominant platforms with its next generation of smartphones, which will run Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 operating system. The company is phasing out its once-dominant smartphone lines from the U.S. market in preparation. Windows Phone OS is a natural choice for Nokia to distinguish its phones from the leading competitors because its underlying structure is different. Whereas Android and iOS are built around navigating between different applications, Windows Phone 7 arranges everything around your contacts. And there's something to that idea; it is a phone, after all.
Mango, will require even less. It allows certain tasks to be controlled completely by voice, without even having to touch the phone.Windows Phone 7 uses an interaction model it calls "live tiles and hubs," which displays your key contacts and modes of communication as dynamic tiles on the home screen. Messages in those tiles display changes when you or your contacts post updates. When you want to contact someone, rather than deciding first whether to launch the Twitter app, the email app, the SMS app, or the Facebook app, you just tap the person and then decide how to reach them. This approach has much less friction, literally less touching, than the app model does, and the upcoming version of Windows Phone, called
Whether these streamlined interactions make app-based phones "outdated" remains to be seen; certainly, existing Windows Phone 7 devices are not showing much traction. Much of the success depends on the hardware, and Nokia is not the only company planning to build devices to run Mango. HTC, Samsung and LG are, as well, but they all have Android businesses to think about.
Nokia has been in position for a while to make the most out of WP7, and CEO Stephen Elop has laid out a foundation of five principles behind the move. The company has planned its biggest marketing campaign ever behind the new devices, which Weber said would hit the U.S. market "in volume" in 2012.
Will Nokia Get Its Second Wind?
Nokia used to rule the smartphone world, but all of that has changed this year. Nokia reports that it sold 16.7 million smartphones last quarter - nothing to sneeze at - but Apple sold 20 million, eclipsing Nokia for the first time.
In Q2 2008, Nokia's Symbian platform ran on 47% of smartphones. Android came out later that year. Today, Android owns 48% of the market, iOS has 19% and Symbian is in third place, now running on 16% of smartphones. Tellingly, Nokia has revealed that it will no longer sell Symbian devices in North America, a treatment Nokia also gave to its MeeGo phones this year. But this has given Nokia a long runway to prepare its next generation of devices, which will run an operating system that has already been tested in the field. Does this vision sound more like the future than the app-driven models of iOS and Android? Watch the interview and decide: