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September 30, 2008

Changes in management, business and competitive field

ESPOO, Finland – Some news yesterday was added to my long list of ‘interesting’ news from the past week. While I won’t categorize all the stories I am about to discuss as ‘bad’, it certainly is the kind of news that makes you pause and look up from your navel.

We have a smart guy stepping down and out, a whole line of business we are spinning off, and there’s a new kid on the block making the neighborhood more interesting for all.

Is that enough to make make you reach for the pause button?

CTO stepping down

One of the big surprise items from yesterday was not the spinning-off of chunks of our enterprise software and hardware groups, but that Bob Iannucci, CTO of Nokia, is stepping down.

All of us here at Nokia Conversations are sad to see him go. I’ve known Bob for while and watched him use his deep experience in corporate research to bring Nokia Research Center (NRC) to the next level. During his tenure, the NRC formed lablets with leading universities, he spear-headed the concept of open innovation at Nokia, he set up a business development team and made strategic acquisitions, and he ran the visionary Agenda series. What was once a moribund but solid research institution can now rightfully claim its place among the world’s great tech research labs.

Best wishes to you, Bob.

No more messing behind the firewall

Nokia also announced yesterday that it would be getting out of the corporate mobility and solutions business. Many are following this closely (as are folks inside the company, who will be affected).

Is this good or bad? I’m not so sure. Nokia will still work with partners, as it always has, to bring solutions, especially business solutions, to our devices. Indeed, the recent success with the E71 and Mail for Exchange suggest that good things will still be coming. I think this just spells the end of the line for Nokia trying to go at it on their own.

I, Android.

Ok. I just haven’t had a chance to discuss the launch of the Google G1. Partly because we usually don’t comment on the competition and partly because there is a ton of stuff already written on the device that say more than I can ever say.

What I do want to point out is that the tech and design choices point clearly to where Google want to take this device. For example, the man behind Android is Andy Rubin, who was a co-founder of Danger, makers of the HipTop, an early device with its soul in the Cloud. Of course, the G1 will be no different. It’s about the services, not the hardware.

Nonetheless, attention should be paid to the hardware, since folks are going to expect a smartphone to do a few things in a standard way, such as have a 3.5mm jack that can work with normal headphones and maybe the ability to create videos. But, that sort of makes it clear that creation and consumption of media is not really what the G1 is about.

So, at that level, is it fair to compare our devices with the G1? Our smartphones have media creation and consumption as a key feature, so that’s why we’ve always focused on the camera, video, and such (I even wrote about how video came to our smartphones). Neither the G1 or iPhone are interested in photography or videography (3 and 2 megapixel cameras with no video capability). We are.

So, beware of the comparisons. There’s room enough for all of us to cater to different wants in the marketplace. Let’s not all lump everyone into the same category.

Don’t be passive

And speaking of different wants in the marketplace, T3 challenges you to tell them what a phone should have. I wonder what will come out of that.

Image from Jobot Da Robot.