Posts Tagged ‘Palm’
For Google, the acquisition of Motorola Mobility provides tremendous assets in both the smartphone and set-top businesses. Plus, it brings a patent portfolio that will help Google defend Android against the many intellectual property threat. The competition authorities are right to approve the transaction; Motorola is too small a player to change the dynamics in the mobile market.
Google’s Motorola acquisition nevertheless changes the mobile landscape markedly. It increases risk for device makers using Android to power their smartphones. Google already has a dominant role in the product roadmap, software development, media ecosystem and strategy for Android. Google could now choose to favour Motorola either overtly or more quietly. Although Google has stated that is not its current intent such decisions could be undone in an instant.
Google is now in the unusual position of being both Android’s greatest supporter and its biggest threat. Prior to this transaction…
Everyone knows the biggest battles in technology are today being fought by a small number of large organizations. We intuitively know who these great powers are: Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and maybe Microsoft. But we’re not so clear on what it is that makes those particular companies the key protagonists rather than other equally large digital companies — Samsung, Sony, Nokia and Yahoo! among them — who appear to be sidelined.
Calling this a battle, or “The Great Tech War of 2012”, misses the point. It’s far too negative a sentiment when these companies’ main focus is on long term strategy. They are aiming to construct a future in which their products and profits will prosper.
These great digital powers are now building Digital Civilizations, rather than a series of mere products, individual platforms or even ecosystems (around a platform). They are pursuing strategies that reach far beyond the confines of existing markets. They are causing widespread market collisions as they push industries to overlap, merge or cease to exist. They are outflanking and disrupting companies that follow less ambitious corporate strategies.
These new Digital Civilizations use identity to tie numerous disparate products, many devices, multiple platforms and product portfolios together into their long term strategy. Each Civilization has hundreds of millions of active users — often with credit cards attached — far more than even the largest telecom operators or media companies. They straddle industries rather than operating within legacy market sectors. They have an organizing ideology underlying their strategy that motivates and attracts talented employees, excites partners, and is the foundation for the marketing that entices users to become their customers.
What defines these Digital Civilizations? What makes them new and different? Many organizations, companies, industry consortiums, and companies have parts of this strategy in place within their current products. But the new Digital Civilizations have all of the following characteristics: Read the rest of this entry »
Next week Apple will announce new iPhones. There will be a backlash. There will be praise. Much of significance will be lost in the noise.
Instead, Apple’s metrics should focus rivals’ attention on the importance of multi-year strategies.
Competitors are forever seeking to emulate Apple. But too many deploy me-too tactics, rather than following a consistent and sustained long term strategy:
- HP fired its CEO under a year after appointment. There’s only time to kill things, not build them, in such a short period.
- Nokia dithered on MeeGo. In 2009, Nokia partnered with Intel on MeeGo, then killed MeeGo just a year later, to focus on Microsoft Windows Phone instead.
- Samsung’s Galaxy S of 2010 resembles the Apple’s old iPhone 3GS of 2009, not the designed-from-scratch iPhone 4 that the S actually competed against at the time the S arrived in the market.
Part of the problem is that Apple keeps its strategy to itself: New products seem to appear out of Apple’s magic hat fully-formed at high profile launch events as if they’ve been born an adult, with no incubation or nurturing period. There are rarely betas or pre-announcements months ahead of availability, unlike the perpetually beta services of others. But we know Apple takes years to create these products. The iPad’s origins pre-date the iPhone and go back to around 2004 — six years before it launched — while serious development began in 2007, again years before competitors had anything publicly available that they could copy.
By mistaking tactics for strategy Apple’s many competitors are doomed to poor results. The time needed to build products as deeply and well designed as Apple’s can’t be completed overnight. Software design takes years to do. The supplier relationships that Apple is securing are long term. The investment that Apple is placing in key component design — moving into chip design with the A4 and A5 — is not something that any company could achieve without clear multi-year strategy.
Despite the Android evangelists and Apple naysayers, Apple’s metrics are nothing short of outstanding:
Apparently the Palm Pre sends information about a users’ location, apps usage, and other diagnostics remotely to Palm every day. As the Palm Pre offers over the air software updates, Palm can alter the behaviour of the phone at any time during a users’ mobile contract.
The Pre isn’t alone in limiting what features a connected device’s owner may control:
- Cable and satellite TV providers routinely upgrade and change the functionality of their customers’ set-top boxes remotely and without asking permission first.
- Phones sold with contracts are routinely locked to that operator which limits the ease with which for people may re-sell phones that they own. (Although the practice of long contracts of this type is limited by law in countries such as Belgium and Denmark).
- The iPhone has the ability to report where it is without the current person holding it knowing — that’s what the find my iPhone function on MobileMe offers. Android phones with Google Latitude set up behave in a similar fashion
- Amazon’s Kindle eBook Reader enables Amazon to remotely delete books and other items from the device.
- Modern games consoles, PCs, even Blu Ray players could enable firms similar power over devices that consumers own as all of those devices now routinely have Internet connectivity.
In the analogue world, when someone bought a TV set it was theirs to do with as they wished. People that bought books, videos or records had de facto complete ownership, regardless of the more limited copyright declaration printed on a book’s inside cover or on a record sleeve.
Just as we’ve seen a clash between consumer expectations of digital content ownership — that’s resulted in the end of digital rights management (DRM) for digital music sales — we are about to see a series of clashes around device ownership and privacy. But this will be more complex to resolve as more players are involved, and it will be harder for consumers to see what is really happening under the bonnet.
Orange are promoting social networking and Internet access on pre pay so-called ‘featurephones’ (see photo on the right). Consumers care about what their phones can do not what artificial term the mobile industry chooses. No one can define the term ‘smartphone’ unambigously and no one defines ‘smartphone’ the same as anyone else. It’s meaningless.
On various briefing calls yesterday Nokia defended their (tenuous) position in high end phones by repeatedly claiming to be the leading maker of ‘smartphones’ — but 45% of a non-existent category is a useless metric. Consumers certainly don’t get it: Series 60 (“smart”) and Series 40 (not, ‘featurephone’) look virtually identical on the surface, and neither looks comparable in their online abilities compared with Android, iPhone, Palm, the INQ1 or even Windows Mobile.
Instead, what matters is how good phones are at doing the Internet or for Facebook. Everyone must focus on ‘Internet phones’ in developing mobile strategy or mobile phone marketing.
Orange’s in-store Internet-centric messaging is strong, but they are missing a trick with their online store as there’s no option there to filter phones by features such as ‘Facebook’ or ‘Internet’.
Update Friday, August 14 – See this Forrester report by me for more on “smartphones”: The “Smartphone” Is Dead: Long Live Smart Phones And Smart Gadgets
Nokia is in danger of trying to execute on a strategy that is spread too thin. The story today about Microsoft office arriving on Nokia phones joins yesterday’s piece in the FT Germany that Nokia plans to replace Symbian in its high end phones with Linux-based Maemo. Last month, a story appeared about Nokia offering Android-based phones — swiftly denied — that appeared to miss out on Nokia’s long term Maemo strategy. Beyond phones, Nokia has invested enormous resources into Ovi (maps & nagivation, digital music sales, email, media sharing, and the app store).
I struggle to see what benefit Microsoft Office will deliver on Nokia phones. Word, Excel and the rest are niche applications on mobile phones. Few use them as anything other than a document viewer even on those devices where the implementation is good. A better approach for Nokia would be to improve and enrich their phones’ Exchange support to improve email folder access and group calendaring. Perhaps, Office on Nokia is destined for a different class of device — a netbook — if so, Nokia must take care to avoid irrelevance.
Nokia must quickly revive its execution in core business areas such as high end Internet phones. Those devices may be small beer today, relatively, but they are tomorrow’s mid range phones, and next months’ entry level. If Nokia loses that high end Internet phone battle today it cedes its future.
Maemo should be a critical part of Nokia’s Internet phone strategy. It should be the device and software component of Nokia’s shift to Internet thinking and business models. And, given the pressure from rivals — Google & Android, Apple iPhone, Palm’s Pre, even Windows Mobile — the sooner Nokia brings new mobile phones to market that deliver a step change improvement in people’s experience of Nokia phones, the better.
Forrester clients will know I’ve analysed Maemo’s rise several times over the past couple of years — please get in touch for advice — most noticeably in these two reports:
“The N810’s importance is vastly greater than the niche, savvy, youth audience, to which it will appeal or that small sales of previous tablets indicate. With the Internet tablet range, Nokia is incubating both desktop-quality technologies, and a new business model that is independent of the constraints of the traditional mobile value chain.” Nokia Embraces the Whole Internet with the N810, November 2007.
“The Maemo-based tablets are a strategic play by Nokia. They are one of the most visible MIDs currently available. As Forrester advises, they deliver a strong communication and navigation application focus. With the extension of the platform to include cellular radio standards, future models threaten to replace high-end Internet-centric mobile phones.” Nokia to Evolve the Internet Tablet Range to Include Mobile Telephony, December 2008.