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Nokia failing due to anti-software culture, iPhone ignorance

updated 02:55 pm EDT, Wed September 15, 2010

Nokia culture seen bad, knowingly ignoring iPhone

Nokia's continuing decline in share is the result of a fundamental misunderstanding of software and the iPhone in particular, multiple current and former workers explained today. The company is entirely built around its hardware teams and gives them final say, even when it interferes with the actual experience of the software. Each phone design is isolated into a group and sets its own deadline rather than making sure the software is in sync.

"It was not uncommon for [software teams] to give [hardware teams] code that ran perfectly by their own test, only to have them do things like reduce the available memory for the software to 25% the specified allocation, and then point the finger back at software when things failed in the field," one engineer told Gruber.

The same engineer also explained that Nokia simply did not understand Apple's iPhone and, at the time the iPhone 3GS was launching, was attempting to justify its existing strategy rather than adapt. Its "competitive analysis" was a small PowerPoint presentation validating Nokia's own point of view and imagined the worst outcomes. Nokia believed that "developer annoyance" with the App Store process would lead the iPhone to fail entirely, it read.

Apple has routinely said it focuses on software first and regularly times its iPhone releases based on when it can deliver major iOS updates. As the developer of the OS, it also has direct control over how the hardware and software interact.

It's not clear the company has reversed its stance. While Symbian has finally added features like multi-touch to its platform, the Nokia World expo that just wrapped up today counted primarily on hardware introductions like the C6, C7 and E7 with software as a secondary feature. Its Ovi Store only just this week gained support for features that have been present through the iPhone's App Store and elsewhere, such as in-app purchases, trial versions and free app signing.

In the long term, Nokia may reverse some of its attitude as MeeGo is partly developed in-house with help from Intel. The firm customizes Symbian for its hardware but, for the large part, has had little direct control over how the OS would ship.

By Electronista Staff


  1. jarod

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Apr 2005


    Shut it down!

    And give the money back to the shareholders. They'd get a more guaranteed return investing in Apple.

  1. SockRolid

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Jan 2010


    Same problem as Sony

    Sony's great strength was hardware, and in audio and video gear that's enough. But Sony is clueless when it comes to software. Their PCs run windows. Their PDAs and smartphones ran Windows CE in its variously re-branded glory. Enough said.

    Nokia is in the same situation now. They had some great phones in the '90s, and they still do. At the low end. But their efforts in smartphone OSes can, at best, only barely keep them alive in the smartphone market. They won't be totally shut out but they'll be close to it.

    It took Apple 9 years of iTunes, iTunes Store, and iTunes App Store development to get to where they are now with iPhone / iPod touch / iPad. And that's exactly how far behind Nokia really is.

  1. aardman

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Nov 2009


    If that's the way Nokia thinks . . .

    then their goose is cooked. Once hardware reaches a certain level of complexity the rest of the company has to get out of the way and let the software people do whatever is needed to harness the device's capabilities in a way that is simple and appealing for the target consumer. The tail is wagging the dog over at Espoo.

  1. coffeetime

    Senior User

    Joined: Nov 2006


    Old timer

    Well, Nokia started off as a hardware based phone and that's where their structure system is coming from. Just as Microsoft is a software based company and their hardware experience is way behind Apple. Android is in a very lucky position. MS and Nokia (perhaps Yahoo also?) wish they were making Android.

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