Chancen über Chancen, Fehler über Fehler

Die mobile Denkfabrik  –  1 Kommentare

Ich bekam eben von Matt Brenner, einem amerikanischen Entwickler, eine interessante Mail zum Nokia-Microsoft-Deal, die ich mit seiner Erlaubnis den Lesern dieses Blogs nicht vorenthalten möchte.

The Nokia story is, to me, a very interesting one and, I think, it may eventually emerge to be a Machiavellian one in which Microsoft placed a sleeper agent at Nokia with plans to acquire the company.

Nokia, like every other cell phone maker, was stunned by the iPhone and the ecosystem Apple created to support and grow it. Apple left absolutely everyone in the dust by creating a phone that user's could actually use to effectively access the web. They disrupted every aspect of the mobile phone and surrounding spaces. Before the iPhone, web-browsers on phones were so unpleasant to use that, well, nobody used them. Apple created a user interface that was brilliant and revolutionary. The iPhone also distinguished itself by maintaining a permanent connection to the Internet. The iPhone's data-hunger put huge pressure on service providers but also created a new reality (and mind-set) about just how smart a smart phone can be.

Well, Nokia was in the same boat as everyone else: no smartphone was in the same league as the iPhone. The fundamental difference between Nokia and every other manufacturer was how they responded to the iPhone. Today, there are only two cell phone companies which do not offer a single Android phone: Apple, because Android is their arch rival, and Nokia, for no comprehensible reason. I have spoken with folks at Nokia and asked them why they offer no Android phone and they offer only absurd responses.

The idea that Nokia didn't understand the importance of software (as stated in the New Yorker article) seems at odds with facts. The first widely used operating system designed for smartphones was Symbian. Nokia used this OS for all of their smartphones and actually bought the company. The great mystery is why Nokia, and only Nokia, responded to the iPhone by ignoring Android rather than embracing it. A number of companies tested the Android waters by producing a mix of Android and non-Android phones. Samsung has offered the widest choice of operating systems and gradually focused on Android. Only Nokia never released any Android phone. Instead, they partnered with Micorosoft to use their mobile operating system (Windows Phone, WP). This, in spite of the fact that Microsoft had three prior failed marriages with cell phone companies and WP has insignificant market share for their OS (3.7% as of 2nd quarter of 2013) even after years of effort. They chose a recipe for disaster, followed it carefully, and achieved exactly that result.

Microsoft, after coming quite late to the Internet game in an earlier era, came just as late to the mobile game. As they saw tablet sales surpass desktop sales and mobile phone sales surpass everything else combined, they realized that the future is mobile. The problem for them is the problem all monopolists face: they don't know how to innovate. They bring nothing to the table. Outside of the monopoly market which they dominate and control they are impotent. No company has more resources to devote to mobile than Microsoft and, still, they are an insignificant player because it is among the most competitive and innovative sectors and monopolists never know how to innovate. Also, monopolist, with their typically deep pockets, are better able to enter markets with small players who they push around, but the dominant players in mobile are giants. Innovation is poison to monopolists because innovation is all about change, and monopoly depends on (an monopolists cling to) the status quo.

Microsoft knows that it must transition to mobile or they face a long, slow, decline into oblivion. By purchasing Nokia for $7.2 billion they get a very valuable set of patents which they will, no doubt, try to use to slow or redirect innovation through law suits. Their acquisition also includes a lot of technical skill in the manufacture of mobile phones. However, I do not believe owning Nokia will, in any practical sense, be different from being their only OS partner. Microsoft can't push around Apple or Samsung as they are both giants in their own right. Apple and Samsung are also among the most innovative companies in the world and innovation is a cultural trait not a business skill. Today, one day after their acquisition of Nokia, Microsoft is exactly the same company it was yesterday. Nokia has been dashed on the rocks and will never be the same, but no microscope or scientific test can detect any change at Microsoft. They are the same myopic, anti-competitive, innovationless, law-breaking, arm-twisting collection of assholes they were yesterday.