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Former SVP says Nokia CEO Stephen Elop has ""; argues Android isn't open or functional

Once the world's top maker of both smartphones, these days Finland-based phonemaker Nokia Oyj. (HEX:NOK1V) can only wait and hope for a turnaround.  The company was facing sliding sales and criticism that its smartphone operating system, Symbian, couldn't keep up with the young guns of the mobile world -- Google Inc.'s (GOOG) Android and Apple, Inc.'s (AAPL) iOS. In response, Nokia's board made a bold gamble importing former Microsoft Corp. (MSFTexecutive Stephen Elop as its CEO and allowing him to forge a pact with Microsoft to adopt Windows Phone.  

I. Ex-Nokia Exec "Hates on" Android, Showers Defunct Symbian OS With Praise

While there are some promising signs in terms of hardware and sales of late, the financials to date have been pretty ugly and have called Nokia's decision to ditch Symbian -- or at least how it's executed that plan -- into question.

In a ranting interview with Crave Media, a clearly outraged Lee Williams -- former Nokia SVP of the early Series 60 smartphones (2006-2009) and later Executive Director of the Symbian Foundation (2009-2010) -- vented his frustrations at his former employer's decision to scrap Symbian, which he sees as a big mistake.  He also used the interview as a platform to express some unusual views, attacking the operating system world's top players as incompetent in various ways and arguing that Nokia's Symbian is the ultimate operating system."

Mr. Williams, who now is a partner a SourceBits, a San Francisco mobile consulting firm, comments, "I did not see a good reason to change course [from Symbian] so frantically...I don't think Nokia was going in the wrong direction with some of the things it was doing -- it was simply executing poorly before Elop got there and they weren't giving it enough time.  Symbian was Nokia's cash-cow -- Elop sacrificed it."

Lee Williams

Lee Williams, former Symbian chief, claims Nokia is making a mistake.  He argues that  Microsoft's Windows Phone and Google's Android are losers, and that Symbian is a winner.
[Image Source: World of Phones]

The former Symbian chief argues Nokia would have been better served pledging to primarily support Symbian, but perhaps dabbling in Windows Phone.

He would approve of Nokia going to Microsoft's competitor Google even less, though.  He had harsh words for the world's most used smartphone operating system, which he accuses of not being open and lacking functionality to -- you guessed it -- Symbian.  

He jabs, "Android is a less capable offering than a few options that still exist within Nokia.  It's certainly not what I would refer to as an open system. More than that, I think that Nokia has little opportunity to differentiate here in the near term…"

He bemoans, "Symbian is shipping on around 20 million new units a quarter as of today. When I was at the company it was responsible for seven of 10 of Nokia's highest gross margin products. Think of those volumes. There were dozens of products that shipped in the tens of millions."

II. Microsoft, Nokia CEO Elop, and Nokia Board Chairman Also Get Attacked

The bitter former executive throws dirt on Microsoft's upcoming Windows Phone 8.  After arguing that the new OS won't be a market changer, he attacks Microsoft's general track record, commenting, "[E]verything 'Windows 8' has a big question mark on it right now, and it should be this way.  Microsoft is notoriously late on delivery..."

He accuses Nokia CEO Stephen Elop of ruining the company.  He comments, "As an arm chair quarterback, it is clear to me that [Nokia CEO Stephen] Elop is struggling. The results speak for themselves.  Elop hasn't delivered a roadmap. He's been there for two to three years and there's really no roadmap," says Williams. "There's no overarching vision for this company. That to me is akin to stepping completely out of the leadership role and running behind the bus now."

Symbian Belle
Mr. Williams predicts that Nokia will eventually come back to
Symbian after realizing that it's the best. [Image Source: GizMag]

The issue provokes Mr. Williams so much that he vents about the strategy, stating, "Elop is operating like a CFO [chief financial officer] -- CFOs are very practical, always looking at costs, always internally focused... I don't think he's really projecting anything forward or sitting around with his team imaging what the future looks like. I think it's 's**t (sic) how do I get rid of a third of this overhead in R&D?"

And he's not above crowing about the recent Nokia credit downgrade to junk status, commenting, "Those credit ratings are a huge deal for them.  If they can't borrow and move money -- wow! There's very little for them to do. Because they're the world's largest distributed manufacturer highly dependent on that movement and those credit ratings, and cash and bank."

III. Former Symbian Chief Predicts Nokia Will Come Crawling Back

The controversial analyst predicts that in six months to a year Mr. Elop will be booted and Nokia will undergo a "course correction" "back in the direction of [Symbian]."

While most of Mr. William's vehemence seems to be directed at Nokia it's impressive that he managed to claim that the world's top smartphone OS maker (Google) wasn't putting out a competent product and that the world's top personal computer OS maker (Microsoft) can't make a deadline.

On the one hand Nokia is indeed in a lot of trouble and one has to wonder if there isn't some truth in parts of Mr. Williams' frustrated diatribe.  But at the same time some of his statements make him appear a bit out of touch with the reality that Microsoft and Google are the top dogs in the operating systems industry (along with Apple).  It seems pretty unlikely that Nokia will turn back to the Symbian "burning platform" -- but that won't stop Symbian's ex-director from wishing Nokia would.

Source: Crave Media

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This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

Android isn't open...
By tayb on 4/26/2012 1:24:07 PM , Rating: 3
Having customizable widgets does not make an OS "open." Just go buy an Android phone and try to delete stock applications that you don't want.

The rest of his rant just sounds like a butthurt ex-partner that didn't like the direction of the company. I think most people would agree that Symbian didn't have a long term future but I think that embracing Android AND Windows Phone would have been a much better option for Nokia. Windows Phone just doesn't have the greatest stigma surrounding it.

RE: Android isn't open...
By Bubbacub on 4/26/2012 2:07:18 PM , Rating: 1
"Just go buy an Android phone and try to delete stock applications that you don't want"

simples - root and cyanogenmod.

RE: Android isn't open...
By tayb on 4/26/2012 2:15:18 PM , Rating: 3
If I have to root my phone and install a mod to delete applications I don't want it is no more open than iOS.

RE: Android isn't open...
By sprockkets on 4/26/12, Rating: -1
RE: Android isn't open...
By tayb on 4/26/2012 2:49:50 PM , Rating: 2
Hiding an app is not removing an app...

And for the vast majority of Android owners, including me and my Droid X, there is no upgrade path to ICS... so 2011 is still here...

RE: Android isn't open...
By sigmatau on 4/26/2012 3:55:08 PM , Rating: 2
LOL! I have a GS2 and 6 months after the release of ICS, my flagship phone still has no update, and no indication of a timeframe for the update has been given by Samsung or AT&T.

But hey, maybe I'll get it for the next holiday season!

RE: Android isn't open...
By jnemesh on 4/26/2012 4:17:00 PM , Rating: 1
The ICS update for the GSII is rolling out now for European phones. The US phones will get it as soon as the carriers sign off on it. It IS coming...unlike WP8 for WP7 phones that WERE JUST PURCHASED!

RE: Android isn't open...
By jvillaro on 4/26/2012 4:40:29 PM , Rating: 2
unlike WP8 for WP7 phones that WERE JUST PURCHASED!

Actually you don't know sh!t about that, there's no official news about that matter

RE: Android isn't open...
By sprockkets on 4/28/2012 2:23:13 PM , Rating: 2
Well, Microsoft has been asked, and asked, and asked, and WILL not say if it will happen or not. They should know already.

Conspiracy theorist point to that as being "no" since they don't want to hurt current wp7 sales.

So what if you can't upgrade, the WP7 phones out there work great as they are. My friend doesn't even care he has 2.3.x on his HTC sensation even after showing him how much better ICS is. He didn't care that the UI was much more fluid either.

RE: Android isn't open...
By sigmatau on 4/26/2012 3:55:33 PM , Rating: 2
LOL! I have a GS2 and 6 months after the release of ICS, my flagship phone still has no update, and no indication of a timeframe for the update has been given by Samsung or AT&T.

But hey, maybe I'll get it for the next holiday season!

RE: Android isn't open...
By sprockkets on 4/26/12, Rating: -1
RE: Android isn't open...
By sigmatau on 4/27/2012 12:06:14 AM , Rating: 2
You can't deactivate some of the apps. The stupid city id one comes to mind. It keeps trying to get me to sign up or try their stupid, stupid service. Like I really need to pay more for my smartphone. Facebook app is a little annoying too as it keeps asking to be updated.

RE: Android isn't open...
By sprockkets on 4/27/2012 10:31:45 PM , Rating: 1
Which phone is that?

RE: Android isn't open...
By sprockkets on 5/2/12, Rating: 0
RE: Android isn't open...
By sprockkets on 5/4/2012 6:38:00 PM , Rating: 2
Post up or shut up.

RE: Android isn't open...
By a5cent on 4/28/2012 1:42:07 PM , Rating: 3
@sprockkets: you would have lost that bet.

You can't uninstall apps that are stored in ROM (the best you can do is hide them). For all Google cares, anyone can do almost anything they want with Android (although they are also becoming more restrictive). As a result, OEM's and carriers embed all their bloatware in your devices ROM where you can never legally get rid of it. If the developer intended for it to run, even when the icon in the app-laucher is hidden, it will.

In contrast, MS doesn't allow modifications to WP7's ROM file. OEM's and carriers are forced to install their apps to flash RAM, just as any end-user would. As a result, such apps are easily uninstalled, which removes it completely from the device.

Note that Nokia is an exception to this rule, as MS has granted them the rights to make ROM file modifications. However, to date, Nokia hasn't used it in this way... all of their apps are also just as easily uninstalled.

This is one of many subtle differences that makes WP7 (at least conceptually) a better OS than Android, but a lot of people have trouble grasping them because the benefits can't be expressed by a simple number on a spec-sheet.

RE: Android isn't open...
By sprockkets on 4/28/12, Rating: 0
RE: Android isn't open...
By Myrandex on 4/30/2012 3:12:48 PM , Rating: 2
Removing an application and having it re-appear after an OS reinstall is different than just hiding it. It is like if you remove MSN Messenger from Windows XP, it really is gone, but if you reinstall the OS, it will come back until you uninstall it again.

Applications removed from a Windows Phone are truly removed with no questions asked and with total ease. Also, (positively) manufacturers cannot load interfaces that slow down the system or customize it in a way that make updates difficult, but (negatively) they cannot customize it as much as other operating systems (other than iOS) that could potentially differentiate and add value to the phone from the consumer's perspective.


RE: Android isn't open...
By sprockkets on 5/2/12, Rating: 0
RE: Android isn't open...
By jwcalla on 4/26/2012 4:14:21 PM , Rating: 5
When people say Android is "open" it means that Android is open source. It doesn't mean that device manufacturers are obliged to completely open their products for people to do what they want with them. Your complaint is with the vendors, not Android.

To say that Android is "no more open than iOS" means that iOS is open source. Is iOS source code available out there?

RE: Android isn't open...
By Rukkian on 4/26/2012 4:58:30 PM , Rating: 2
At least if you unlock and root your Android phone, you can still use the official market (as well as several other reputable devices).

Sent from my AOKP Galaxy Nexus!

RE: Android isn't open...
By Iaiken on 4/26/2012 8:53:53 PM , Rating: 2
Buy a Samsung, you don't even have to root them. You can blow away anything you don't want. You don't have to go along with what Motorola or Sony thinks a phone should be, and you certainly shouldn't have to go along with what your carrier thinks should come pre-loaded.

RE: Android isn't open...
By emarston on 4/27/2012 7:12:32 AM , Rating: 5
That's not the OS that's the carriers. Place the blame correctly.

RE: Android isn't open...
By FlyBri on 4/28/2012 4:33:09 PM , Rating: 2
If I have to root my phone and install a mod to delete applications I don't want it is no more open than iOS.

While I agree that not being able uninstall some of those pre-installed apps is not cool, that factor alone is not what really defines an OS as "open".

As such, and no offense, but you have no idea what you're talking about when you said that Android is no more open than iOS. First off, Android is free to implement, and phone manufacturers can install their own "themes", so to speak, on top of Android. Also, in Android, you can select 3rd party apps to open links, share files, etc. Not only that, but you can select a 3rd party app as the default app (ie. selecting a 3rd party browser as the default browser). You can't do that in iOS. Also, even though you can use 3rd party browsers (with limited use), Apple disallowed certain code to be used in the 3rd party browsers in order for them to function smoothly, and has yet to allow it again.

So, you say that Android isn't any more open that iOS? Sorry, think again...

RE: Android isn't open...
By OnyxNite on 4/27/2012 12:28:03 PM , Rating: 3
Android IS open. The source code is posted on the Internet and anyone can download it. The hardware manufacturers get that open code and they tweak it how they want (which can include locking things down) then they sell them to Carriers who can further lock things down so when you buy the phone it may not allow you delete stock apps but that is because of either the manufacturer or the carrier NOT the OS. Android, the OS, is open.

RE: Android isn't open...
By Myrandex on 4/30/2012 3:14:38 PM , Rating: 2
Yea that's why Android 3.0 had it's source code posted for end users...

And fyi there are plenty of components of Android that are locked down and source code is not made public.


RE: Android isn't open...
By Reclaimer77 on 4/27/2012 1:05:41 PM , Rating: 2
Android IS open, the source code is open to anyone. By definition that makes the OS "open".

RE: Android isn't open...
By Myrandex on 4/30/2012 3:17:01 PM , Rating: 2
Really? As in my above comment, not all of the OS is open, and none of 3.0 was released...

RE: Android isn't open...
By hazydave on 4/27/2012 1:19:55 PM , Rating: 2
Just not being able to delete apps you don't want doesn't make an OS not open. There are far, far more important issues than that. For example, the fact that you can download the development tools, write an application, launch it, sell it anyway you like, etc. without spending a dime. Or for that matter, download the OS itself. And as far the "locked in" apps go, you can all but delete them now: you can turn them off and make them invisible in ICS. Really not that big of a deal.

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