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Chris Weber isn't afraid to talk a bit of smack about Android and Apple who he calls "outdated". Despite not selling a single WP7 handset he claims to be "way ahead" of them.  (Source: Nokia)

Nokia is making the difficult transition from selling full price unlocked phones to selling carrier-subsidized (discounted) locked models. That's the primary reason why Nokia's full-scale WP7 launch has been delayed until 2012.  (Source: HAND Cell Phone)
Nokia struggles to differentiate itself from other WP7 manufacturers, but hopes for strong 2012

"We're way ahead of them [Apple and Google]," said Nokia Oyj. (HEL:NOK1V) President and head of North American operations Chris Weber in an interview with VentureBeat.  He's referring to his company's planned cloud offerings with new corporate BFF, Microsoft Corp. (MSFT).

I. Full American Launch Pushed to 2012 as Nokia Works to Build Carrier Relationships

If you listen to Mr. Weber talk, you start to notice similarities with Microsoft's CEO Steve Ballmer.  Like Mr. Ballmer, Mr. Weber is blunt and bullish.  And from his rhetoric you might not realize that his company's platform of choice -- Windows Phone 7 -- is in distant fourth place behind Google Inc. (GOOG), Apple, Inc. (AAPL), and Research In Motion Ltd. (TSE:RIM).

Nokia recently pledged to go "all in" with Microsoft's Windows Phone 7, stating that all handsets sold in America would carry the new operating system.

But for all the bravado, Mr. Weber's talk reveals troubling as well as promising signs.  It's hard to fault him for his enthusiasm, but his revelation that his company's Windows Phone 7 lineup won't hit most of America until 2012.  He says that while shipments "in volume" remain a year away, the platform will launch "somewhere" in the U.S. this year, leaving open the possibility of a launch in one market, or a handful of markets.

The message seems ominous -- no back-to-school WP7 sales for Nokia; no holiday WP7 sales for Nokia; virtually no 2011 WP7 sales for Nokia.  So why the potentially disastrous delay?

Mr. Weber is fresh blood at Nokia.  Like new CEO Stephen Elop, he comes from an executive history at Microsoft, where he served as head of enterprise sales.  And like Mr. Elop, some critics might call him a "trojan horse".  And he's been busy.

Of the 14 executives reporting directly to him, Mr. Weber reports replacing approximately "10 to 11" of them.  That's a roughly 80 percent turnover rate.

But Mr. Weber insists the change has been for the best.  One major shift he's working to accomplish is to switch Nokia from the mindset of selling stand-alone unlocked devices to selling carrier-subsidized phones -- something most of his competitors have long done.

Nokia's unusual sales model has been part of what has turned off U.S. buyers in the past, so it seems pretty logical to change it.  But it's also part of what is delaying Nokia's Windows Phone 7 launch till next year.  Relationships with carriers don't sprout up overnight.

II. Nokia Loves Microsoft, But Does Microsoft Love Nokia?

Speaking of relationships, Nokia's loyalty and close partnership with Microsoft is appearing increasingly curious, in that it's mostly a one-way street.  Microsoft is showing little interest in giving Nokia "exclusive perks", which one might expect.

It's unclear exactly how Nokia is going to differentiate itself from competitive Windows Phone 7.1 "Mango" designs from other partners like Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (SEO:005930), HTC Corp. (SEO:066570), and LG Electronics (SEO:066570).  Nokia claims it will do so via battery life and imaging quality (which may include superior photo-shooting tech or perhaps some high-res display magic).

That's plausible, but it doesn't give Nokia much of an edge.  Most of Mr. Weber's enthusiasm covers base elements of Mango, not his company's phones.  For example he blasts Android and Apple's iOS, saying that they are "outdated" in basing their phone on the app grid, rather than interactive widgets like Microsoft's phone.

Microsoft does have perhaps the most innovative interface on the market.  And Mango will bring improved call quality and host of other fascinating features.  Mr. Weber demoed one during his interview -- touch free voice commands.  When the phone receives some sort of input, the user can interact with it (say respond to a text message), all without ever touching the phone.  This is similar to Android's voice-to-text features, but takes things even a step farther by removing the touch requirement from the equation.

Mr. Weber also plugged Microsoft's SkyDrive, which offers WP7 users 25 GB of cloud storage space.  He also cited the WP7 version of Microsoft Office 365 -- as another strong potential selling point of Mango.

Ultimately what's good for the goose may be good for the gander.  If Microsoft can finally break through in sales, Nokia may be dragged along, even if it's not necessarily outselling its WP7 peers.  HTC demonstrated this approach with Android, using it to rise from relative obscurity to a spot as one of the world's top phone makers.

So for all the smack talk and for all troublesome delays, Nokia does prepare to have some good stuff in store and be making some necessary changes.  With any luck 2012 could prove a much better year for the company than its abysmal 2011.

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Dear Mr. Weber
By bplewis24 on 8/11/2011 1:29:50 PM , Rating: 3
A few simple points:

1) I find it a bit funny that your company is finding trouble differentiating themselves from other WP7 manufacturers, when you gave "inability to differentiate" from Android manufacturers as the reason you went with WP7 over Android. I mentioned how illogical and inaccurate that was at the time, so I find it comical that it's come back to bite you in the butt.

2) Android is not based on an "outdated app grid." It's based on the customizable home screen (which use--you guessed it--widgets!). The App grid is not the main UI interface. Yes, WP7 Live Tiles are awesome, but remember they are simply based on the widget concept, which Android uses. You may want to know the competition if you plan on defeating it.

3) While you're busy talking, others are busy selling:


RE: Dear Mr. Weber
By NellyFromMA on 8/11/2011 2:44:58 PM , Rating: 2
Just curious.... If the app grid isn't the main interface, what is?

RE: Dear Mr. Weber
By bplewis24 on 8/11/2011 3:06:39 PM , Rating: 2
A home screen which mostly resembles a PC Desktop:

That's mine. It has 2 transparent widgets at the top and middle, and the launcher doc at the bottom (with a transparent background). The notification bar at the top is hidden.

Basically it's a desktop/home screen with wallpaper, a launcher doc, and whatever you choose to put on the home screen (app icons, folders, widgets, shortcuts, etc.).

RE: Dear Mr. Weber
By omnicronx on 8/11/11, Rating: 0
RE: Dear Mr. Weber
By bplewis24 on 8/11/2011 4:48:36 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not exactly sure what you point is here.

This is from the article:

For example he blasts Android and Apple's iOS, saying that they are "outdated" in basing their phone on the app grid, rather than interactive widgets like Microsoft's phone.

The phone is clearly not based on an app grid and in fact widgets are one of the main selling points over iOS. The grid itself only shows up when launched from the launcher doc. Therefore in function is it a secondary aspect of the OS' main UI.

and is really nothing like WP7..

Who said it was anything like WP7?

pretty much all other custom UI's use the app drawer style to see and launch all your apps.

WP7 also has an app grid that you can launch all of your apps from. That is beside the point...the point is what the main UI is based on, according to the context of Mr. Weber's statement. The main home screen is what Android is based on. It's the first thing you see when you start up the phone for the first time. You can choose to make it a grid of icons, widgets, shortcuts or blank.

Heck, even if you look at how most people use the Android homescreen, their main homescreen is usually icons for their most used apps

Maybe you know what the majority of people do, I don't. What I can tell you is that there is a huge amount of people out there that use their homescreen for anything but that. I posted mine for reference, but if you go into any Android forum and check the "post your homescreen" threads you'll see that very few in those types of threads do what you describe. And again, I don't see how it's relevent. How each user customizes his home screen only further illustrates that Android's main OS UI is based on a "customizable home screen" like I first stated.

To be more accurate, the home screen also consists of the launcher and notification bar.

AND FYI.. I'm an avid Android user, but I will not shy away from saying that AOSP Android's interface is starting to look quite dated..

That's your preference and opinion and you're definitely entitled to it. For me, the fact that it's customizable makes it anything but dated, because it can be changed to anything I want it to be at any moment (including a WP7 live tile grid).


RE: Dear Mr. Weber
By omnicronx on 8/11/2011 5:45:47 PM , Rating: 3
You are clearly a power user. I could do a whole bunch of stuff on my Windows Mobile device via customizations that you still can't do on other platforms, yet all that is irrelevent when it comes to the mass market. i.e To the average user, the interface was clunky, the OS slow, and the experience was terrrible. My device was fast, had a custom UI and I could do pretty much anything I wanted. Does this change the fact that the experience was not up to par for the average user? No..

Clearly not the same with Android, but customizability is not some magical pill that makes an OS good.
The phone is clearly not based on an app grid and in fact widgets are one of the main selling points over iOS. The grid itself only shows up when launched from the launcher doc. Therefore in function is it a secondary aspect of the OS' main UI.
I'm talking about the main home screen page(i.e the one that it goes to when you press your home button). I use widgets, and most do, but many are not on the main page itself. ALOT of Android users use this as a set of quicklaunch icons for their most used programs. Not to mention widgets can't span multiple pages, and just end up more or less being part of the app grid, albeit larger.
(HTC's Sense is also a perfect example, as the mainpage is usually the clock/weather and favorite app icons. This is stock behavior)

Its a hybrid mix between widget and app drawer styled guis, but clearly has the same heavy app grid influence found in most other mobile OS's.

"A lot of people pay zero for the cellphone ... That's what it's worth." -- Apple Chief Operating Officer Timothy Cook

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