Posts tagged Nokia

SearchCap: Google UX Ranking, Google Bill Reminders & Nokia Here Maps

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web. From Search Engine Land: Nokia’s Here Maps Come To Android Phones (Sort Of) Nokia’s Here Maps, which power maps on Windows Phones, has released a beta version for Samsung Galaxy Android…

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12,500 In Nokia Division Laid Off By Microsoft

The job cuts are deep at Microsoft and Nokia got slashed the deepest.

Microsoft today announced that it will lay off 18,000 people (of about 127,000) over the next year with most of those cuts coming in the next six months. Of those cuts, Nokia will lose 12,500 employees that had come when Microsoft bought the cellphone manufacturer in a $7.17 billion acquisition that became official in April of this year.

“12,500 professional and factory positions will be eliminated through synergies and strategic alignment of the Nokia Devices and Services,” Microsoft said in a press release.

Microsoft did not go into specifics of which particular programs and departments are being cut in the Nokia division or in the remaining 5,500 positions that will be eliminated.

“[W]e are working to integrate the Nokia Devices and Services teams into Microsoft. We will realize the synergies to which we committed when we announced the acquisition last September. The first-party phone portfolio will align to Microsoft’s strategic direction. To win in the higher price tiers, we will focus on breakthrough innovation that expresses and enlivens Microsoft’s digital work and digital life experiences,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in an email to employees published by the company.

The cuts at Microsoft are larger than most analysts predicted. The projection was that Microsoft would cut about 10% of the workforce with most of those cuts coming on the Nokia side and global marketing positions. The 18,000 positions that Microsoft cut about to almost 15% of its total workforce.

Lead image: Former Nokia CEO and current Microsoft executive Stephen Elop at Mobile World Congress 2014 by Dan Rowinski for ReadWrite.

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Nokia X Gets Axed By Microsoft

Adding insult to injury, Microsoft will kill some of the Nokia X Android smartphones that Nokia released earlier this year.

“We plan to shift select Nokia X product designs to become Lumia products running Windows. This builds on our success in the affordable smartphone space and aligns with our focus on Windows Universal Apps,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in an email explaining the 18,000 job cuts coming to Microsoft, including 12,500 from the Nokia division.

See also: Why Microsoft Won’t Immediately Kill The Nokia X Smartphone

Microsoft was never really happy that Nokia built and Android smartphone right before the acquisition of the smartphone manufacturer became official earlier this year. Reports said that Microsoft thought the Nokia Android phone was “embarrassing.”

One source was overheard at a Nokia dinner at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in February saying, “Microsoft is a Windows company.” Nokia twisted the fork on Microsoft a little bit with the Nokia X announcement, even if Microsoft claims to have known the plan all along. That’s why the Nokia X ran Android in the background but utilized Microsoft’s cloud and core services, instead of Google’s.

At least that was the theory.

In conversations with both Microsoft and Nokia executives at various industry events this year, each and every one said that there were no plans to kill the Nokia X series of Android devices.

“Essentially the story is that Microsoft wants to connect the next billion people to the cloud,” said Jussi Nevanlinna, Nokia’s VP of product marketing for smartphones at Nokia before the acquisition, to ReadWrite in an interview in February. “What we bring is very wide reach. We have access to these consumers … We are a volume platform to connect the next billion people to Microsoft’s cloud and services.”

When asked about what Microsoft thinks of the Nokia X smartphone during Mobile World Congress earlier this year, VP of Windows Phone at Microsoft Joe Belfiore hedged his bets.

“We have a terrific engineering relationship with Nokia. What they do as an independent company is what they do. They will do some things we are excited about and some things that we are not excited about,” said Belfiore.

As recently as Microsoft’s Build developer conference in April this year, Nokia VP of marketing for smart devices Hans Henrik Lund unequivocally said that the Nokia X would continue into a second generation.

“Oh absolutely. Of course they will. Because again, it makes sense. Because we can get consumers onto Microsoft services as opposed than potentially going to Google services,” Lund said in an interview with ReadWrite.

New Nokia X devices are unlikely at this point at Microsoft focuses on its Lumia portfolio. In an email announcing the layoffs to the Nokia team, former Nokia CEO and current VP of devices at Microsoft outlined the strategy for device manufacturing going forward.

We will be particularly focused on making the market for Windows Phone. In the near term, we plan to drive Windows Phone volume by targeting the more affordable smartphone segments, which are the fastest growing segments of the market, with Lumia. In addition to the portfolio already planned, we plan to deliver additional lower-cost Lumia devices by shifting select future Nokia X designs and products to Windows Phone devices. We expect to make this shift immediately while continuing to sell and support existing Nokia X products. 

Currently, three sizes of Nokia X Android smartphones running Windows cloud services are on the market around the world.

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Amazon Fire Phone: Bing For Search, Nokia For Maps

The emerging consensus from the early “hands on” or “first look” reviews is that the Amazon Fire Phone has some novel and interesting features but that it doesn’t measure up, overall, to the iPhone or “true Android” devices. I’ve argued that Amazon…

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Microsoft Begins Life As A Smartphone Manufacturer As Nokia Deal Is Finalized

Nokia CEO Stephen Elop

Nokia CEO Stephen Elop

Microsoft and Nokia will consummate their marriage by the end of this week. On Monday, Microsoft said its $7.2 billion acquisition of Nokia’s devices and services division, which was announced in September, will be finalized by Friday.

In the deal, Microsoft will subsume nearly 32,000 Nokia employees including CEO Stephen Elop, who will become the head of devices at Microsoft reporting to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. 

Reports surfaced over the weekend that Microsoft would rename Nokia as “Microsoft Mobile.” Microsoft has not confirmed the name change at this time. Under the original agreement of the acquisition, Microsoft is allowed to use the “Nokia” and “Lumia” smartphone brand names for several years after the acquisition is finalized.

Microsoft announced a couple of tweaks to the original agreement on Monday, noting that it will bring on a 21-person team in China in addition to working on new mobile devices; part of the original agreement said Microsoft would take control of a manufacturing facility in Korea, but that is no longer the case. Microsoft will, however, take control of the domain and its social media sites for up to one year.

Nokia will continue to exist as a company outside of Microsoft. Nokia retains its patents portfolio, brand name and the Nokia HERE maps team that employs about 6,000 people globally. 

Microsoft, on the other hand, will now embark into previously uncharted territory as an original device manufacturer that designs and builds its own hardware. With Nokia in tow, the pressure is on Microsoft to grow its own market share and the general viability of its mobile platform, Windows Phone. Earlier this month, Microsoft released the developer preview of the latest version of Windows Phone, Windows Phone 8.1, which introduces a new voice-activated personal assistant called Cortana plus a handful of other new features and improvements.

Lead image (Stephen Elop at Mobile World Congress 2014) by Dan Rowinski for ReadWrite

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Nokia Unveils Three New Lumia Smartphones At Microsoft Build 2014

Nokia announced thre new Lumia devices at Microsoft Build 2014 today: The Lumia 930, Lumia 630 and Lumia 635.

The Nokia Lumia 930 is very similar to the Lumia Icon device, which launched in February exclusively on Verizon. The 930 will come in a variety of colors with a 5-inch, full HD display. It will have wireless charging, a 20-megapixel PureView camera with Carl Zeiss optics and a 2.2 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor—top-of-the-line hardware in comparison to other top end smartphones on the market right now.

The 930 will introduce a new feature for Nokia smartphones called “Living Images” that shows a snippet of video within a photo. Combined with the Nokia Story Teller app, users can create interesting slideshows that include both moving images and still photos.

The Lumia 630 is an update to the popular Lumia 520, one of the best selling cheap smartphones in many international markets. The 630 is a dual SIM device that can handle multiple SIM cards for international users who need to change carriers as they cross borders or for users who need both a personal and business phone number on the same device. The 630 is a 3G-only phone, while the 635 supports faster LTE wireless-data networks.

The 630 and 635 both feature a 1.2 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 600 processor, run Windows Phone 8.1 and will launch in Asia and India in May, and in the U.S. in July. Both the single and dual-SIM devices will be available for less than $200 without a two-year contract.

Nokia announced that Windows Phone 8 will be updated to Window Phone 8.1 in an over-the-air update coming this summer.

Top image: Stephen Elop at Build 2014 by Owen Thomas for ReadWrite

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Yahoo Rolling Out Indoor Maps (via Nokia)

Yahoo has started to integrate indoor maps into its newly upgraded mapping product. Even though Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer didn’t want to go head to head with Google in “local” (read: maps), Yahoo has been improving its mapping and local search user experiences of late. The inclusion…

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Why Microsoft Won’t Immediately Kill The Nokia X Android Smartphone

The Nokia X Android-based smartphone has been official for less than a week and already the talk of the industry is that Microsoft will kill the phone as soon as the acquisition of Nokia is final. 

“Let me put it this way,” one Microsoft employee said to me at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week. “Microsoft is a company built historically on Windows.”

Historically, that is true. But the “new” Microsoft may be a bit of a different kind of company. It truly wants to be a devices and services company. For Microsoft, the Nokia X is all about services and emerging markets. If Nokia can get millions of people using Outlook, Skype and OneDrive with the Nokia X, Microsoft will be more or less content to leave it be. For now.

The Nokia X has been in production for about 18 months. Microsoft has known about it for long enough to firmly suggest to Nokia to not ship the smartphone if Microsoft wanted to. But Microsoft did not kill the Nokia X and let it hit the market. Part of this is because of legal reasons (after all, these are still two separate companies), part of it is because Microsoft realizes that the Nokia X could be good for the Microsoft services brand if the phone sells as well as Nokia’s executives seem to think it will.

When asked if Microsoft would consider killing the Nokia X after launch, several Nokia employees basically scoffed at the notion. The general consensus is that killing the Nokia X would seem callow and vindictive of Microsoft and that it would not serve Redmond’s purposes. 

That doesn’t mean that there is a long road map for the Nokia X. The next iterations of the devices are in planning stages. Nokia won’t build top-end devices using Android, but it will likely expand the mid-tier aggressively in short term. If one were to bet, the Nokia X series may go through two or three iterations before Microsoft quietly lets it die. 

The X Doesn’t Jive With The New Windows, But It Doesn’t Need To

The “X” in Nokia X stands for crossover. A cross between Nokia hardware and design, the Android Open Source Project and Microsoft’s services.

Nokia CEO Stephen Elop

Nokia CEO Stephen Elop

Microsoft as a company has more or less completely rebuilt itself over the last couple of years. It made some hard decisions (twice killing its existing mobile platform in Windows Mobile CE and Windows 7) and brought the entire Windows ecosystem under one common core. The next goal for Microsoft is to spread Windows 8 through the world, lowering the barrier of entry for manufacturers and developers to build on the platform and deploy hardware and applications.

In the mobile arena, Microsoft wants to start pushing Windows Phone down market. The forthcoming update to both Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 that was announced at the beginning of Mobile World Congress (literally, the first event scheduled in Barcelona) was a statement from Microsoft that it will aggressively push Windows Phone to “growth” markets around the world.

From a technical perspective, what that amounts to is the idea that Windows Phone can now be built on commodity hardware. Part of the reason that Android has eaten the world is that it is built on cheap commodity hardware. It should be noted that Google has already made this move with Android. Older versions of Android (up to 2.3 Gingerbread) could run on inexpensive hardware and the most recent version (Android 4.4 KitKat) was designed to ensure that the most newest features and design of Android can run on lower-end specifications. For Microsoft, it is taken a lot longer to get to the same point as Google has with Android, but it has finally created a system for Windows Phone that will allow it to spread through the world.

When it comes to the Nokia X, the fact that it is built on Android doesn’t mesh into this, “Windows eats the world” strategy. But that doesn’t mean that Microsoft doesn’t want or need the Nokia X. What should be remembered is that Microsoft didn’t just buy the ability to make Lumia devices from Nokia, it bought the entire catalogue. That includes the S series feature phones, the Asha phones and the Lumia Windows Phones. These phones are pushing users to Microsoft experiences like Bing search and Skype. 

From Nokia’s perspective, the Nokia X should be viewed in the same way as the S series and Asha and not as an existential threat to Windows Phone. The Nokia X may not jive with Microsoft’s Windows strategy, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t fit well within Microsoft’s goal to push its services across the world. With that in mind, Microsoft has no intention to kill the Nokia X.

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Want The Android-Based Nokia X Smartphone? You’re Out Of Luck In The U.S.

Nokia’s long-rumored Android smartphone is shipping across the globe next week. Well, with one minor exception: North America.

That’s right. Eager users in the U.S. and Canada will be missing out on Nokia’s budget-friendly smartphone.

Nokia plans to ship the Nokia X everywhere else—from emerging markets such as China, Indonesia, Thailand, Central America, India, and the Middle East to developed and developing nations across Europe. Priced at just €89 ($122 at time of writing) with no subsidy, the Nokia X aims to be a dominant player in the affordable smartphone game.

In emerging markets, Nokia is pitting the Nokia X against the likes of Motorola’s Moto G and devices running Mozilla’s Firefox OS. The competition to slice out market share in countries across the world is getting intense. Smartphone markets in the industrialized world are starting to mature, creating a scramble among rival ecosystems to get customers in populous but less wealthy nations signed onto their services.

Mozilla wants to get people on the Web using the Mozilla browser. Google wants people on its services and cloud like Gmail and the Google Play app store. Microsoft—through Nokia—wants people to use its services like Outlook, OneDrive and Skype.

Nokia To Focus On Lumia In The U.S And Canada

In the U.S., almost everyone is familiar with Microsoft Word and Office products as well as Outlook and Skype. Microsoft doesn’t need Nokia to ship an affordable Android smartphone in the U.S. or Canada to get consumers to use its products.

Hence, the company’s aim in the U.S. is for Nokia to ship mid-to-high end Lumia devices based on its Windows Phone OS in order to battle toe-to-toe with Apple’s iPhone and top Android phones from Samsung and HTC. At this point, Nokia is basically ceding the low-end smartphone economy in the U.S. and Canada to other companies.

This is par for the course for Nokia, which hasn’t ever really introduced its low-end smartphones—such as the Nokia Asha and its Symbian “smart” devices—to U.S. consumers. In many ways, the Android-based Nokia X running Android is Nokia’s replacement for Symbian, just with a better and more efficient operating system and hundreds of thousands of more pertinent apps.

That doesn’t mean U.S. consumers are going to like it. The Moto G has a certain fan base among customers in the U.S. because it is precisely what it says: a cheap but full-featured smartphone available for less than $200 without a contract. The Nokia X could battle with the Moto G and comparable devices in the U.S. and do fairly well.

Top image: Compass by Walt Stoneburner, Flickr

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Why The Nokia X Makes Sense For Both Nokia And Microsoft

In may seem silly to say, but in the ongoing tragicomedy that is Nokia’s wedding to Microsoft, Nokia’s Android strategy could make a whole lot of sense. For both Nokia and Microsoft.

Jussi Nevanlinna, the VP of product marketing for mobile phones at Nokia, says that the goal of both Nokia and Microsoft is to get the next billion people onto the cloud. Not just on the Web or using smartphones in general … but on the Internet, using Microsoft’s cloud. 

If nothing else, that is what the Nokia X Android smartphone is really about. This could be one of the ways that Microsoft attempts to turn itself into a true “devices and services” company. For Microsoft, the Nokia X is all about the services. For Nokia, the devices and the potential of broad reach with a cheap Android phone is the main appeal.

“Essentially the story is that Microsoft wants to connect the next billion people to the cloud,” Nevanlinna said in an interview with ReadWrite. “What we bring is very wide reach. We have access to these consumers.… We are a volume platform to connect the next billion people to Microsoft’s cloud and services.”

Nokia’s Diverse Portfolio

Despite shedding market share to the likes of Samsung and Chinese white label manufacturers, Nokia is still a valued brand in emerging markets. Nokia has four different layers of data-connected cellphones from the most basic like the new Nokia 220 (that has nominal data and connects to Twitter and Facebook) to the Asha series with the new Nokia 230, up the ladder to the Nokia X, the budget friendly Lumia 520 and the flagship Lumia devices like the Icon, 1020 and 1520. It’s a full-featured product lineup intended to compete across the globe in the smartphone age.

The word on the Nokia X before its official released was that it would replace the Asha series in Nokia’s global portfolio. That will not be the case, as Nokia will slot it in between Asha and lower-end Lumia smartphones on its price scale. Yes, Nokia has an Android smartphone, but it wants to remind you that it is beneath even the lowliest Windows Phone it serves.

Chicken & Egg: Network Effects

The problem for Nokia and its market woes has been Windows Phone. By its very nature, Windows Phone suffers from the chicken-and-egg problem of network effects. Developers don’t want to build apps for Windows Phone because it doesn’t have a critical mass of market share and consumers don’t want to buy Windows Phones because of the lack of breadth in the app catalogue.

Android and Apple’s iOS have both critical mind and market share, and so neither faces this customer inertia that Nokia and Microsoft are so badly stuck on.

To eliminate the network effects on the app development side, Nokia has opened up its Android phone to every Android app market on the planet. Yandex, local Chinese app stores (the most common way users download apps in China), GetJar and the likes give Nokia instant access to all the top Android apps. No porting necessary for most developers, unless they want tighter integration with in-app payments and notifications on the device.

Microsoft’s Take

Nevanlinna would not say how long the Nokia X has been in production, but did say that Microsoft has full transparency to Nokia’s product roadmap as part of the acquisition process. So, one way or another, Microsoft is fine with Nokia releasing an Android smartphone. Well, to a certain extent.

When asked about the prospect of a Nokia Android smartphone at a press event in Barcelona at Mobile World Congress on Sunday, Microsoft’s VP of operating systems Joe Belfiore and corporate VP of OEM relationships Nick Parker shared an awkward pause, as if to say, “how exactly are we supposed to answer this question?”

Ultimately, platitudes won out.

“We have a terrific engineering relationship with Nokia. What they do as an independent company is what they do. They will do some things we are excited about and some things that we are not excited about,” said Belfiore.

Business Insider reports that one Microsoft source said that Nokia’s decision to go with Android is, “embarrassing.” 

Microsoft likes to think of itself these days as a budding “devices and services” company. For the Nokia X, it is the services that are the most important to Redmond.

The nominal idea for Nokia and Microsoft is to make the Nokia X the “onboarding” process to higher end Windows Phones. Nokia’s user interface for the X mirrors the hubs-and-tiles look of Windows Phone. It has two homescreens, one for apps and another for notifications and activity called “Fast Lane.” It is meant to mimic Windows Phone so that when people theoretically upgrade from the Nokia X, they upgrade to a quality Lumia device.

At this point users will theoretically be hooked onto Nokia and Microsoft’s services like Skype, OneDrive, HERE Maps and Nokia MixRadio. The idea then is to upgrade them to Lumia devices with the full scope of Windows Phones capabilities and hardware.

Will It Work?

Microsoft has given its blessing to the Nokia X. Nokia thinks that it can penetrate emerging markets with the mix of Android commodity hardware and software while tying all the pertinent bits to Microsoft’s cloud.

This may not be a winning proposition in the Microsoft offices going forward. At Mobile World Congress, Microsoft announced that it is making “Windows Phone open for business.” An update to the Windows Phone platform will allow smartphone manufacturers to use basically any hardware they want to build a phone on top of the Windows Phone operating system.

The idea is that a manufacturer could theoretically use the same hardware they use on a low-to-mid range Android phone and instead use Windows Phone on top. The notion is to create diversity in the Windows Phone ecosystem by allowing manufacturers to build cheap Windows Phones that can ship to any portion of the globe.

In the meantime, we have the Nokia X. Its non-Nokia Android equivalent is, more or less, Motorola’s Moto G, an Android phone that has some of the best specs and user features of any device less than $200 without a contract. Before Microsoft’s announced update, Windows Phones 8 could not really use that same low-end hardware that the Moto G and its Android kindred use. With Microsoft’s move to embrace more manufacturers and focus on the lower end of the market, it remains to be seen if the Nokia X is really necessary.

That doesn’t mean that the Nokia X is destined to become vaporware. It is real and it will ship next week. But will we see a Nokia X2? How far are Nokia and Microsoft willing to go down the rabbit hole with Android when Microsoft is putting so much effort into spreading Windows Phone to any interested manufacturers? That remains to be seen.

For now, Microsoft is content in getting users on to its services business via any means possible—even if Android is involved.

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