With the platform burning, Nokia also talked to RIM before jumping into Redmond's arms

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The battle of mobile ecosystems is now a three horse race: Apple’s iOS, Google’s Android, and Microsoft’s Windows Phone. Or so says Nokia CEO Stephen Elop now that the Finnish handset maker has jumped off of a burning platform into Redmond’s arms.

Conspicuous by their absence – in Elop’s analysis – was RIM’s BlackBerry or indeed the dark horse in the room, HP’s webOS. They are both, of course, vertical platforms (as is iOS) so you’d be forgiven for thinking that licensing either was never a consideration. However, TechCrunch Europe has learned that Nokia did indeed explore a partnership with RIM, which would have seen Nokia smartphones running BlackBerry OS.

According to our well-placed sources, discussions between the two companies took place as Nokia in parallel explored the Google and Microsoft options. How far those discussions went isn’t entirely clear, although our source says that RIM wasn’t interested, but either way the fact that they took place at all is intriguing in itself. Not least because Elop has since attempted to airbrush out RIM’s place in the competitive landscape.

We’ve also learned that as Nokia explored adopting Android with Google it was the “commodization risk“, as Elop has since described it, that turned out to be the deal-breaker. Specifically, Nokia wanted to replace Google Maps with its own Ovi offering, along with changes to Android’s handling of email, contacts, calendar, app-store and over-the-air software management in an effort to stop value moving entirely to Google – to which the search giant said no. Unless, that is, Nokia wanted to fork Android completely and therefore “stay behind the curve.”

That was never seen as a viable option, says our source, whereas the Microsoft tie-in will see Nokia having direct input into Windows Phone’s future development roadmap and its Ovi Maps and broader location layer being integrated into the platform. It’s also worth remembering that Microsoft Bing already gets its maps from Nokia’s Navteq.

That said, just as going with Google or indeed RIM would have signaled, by adopting Windows Phone, Elop has decided that Nokia should no longer be in the software game or certainly at the OS-level. Once that decision was made, says our source, it was just a matter of picking which platform to go with.

Of course, the knock on effect will be a massive reduction in software engineering and R&D head count as the company attempts to reduce spending on Symbian and MeeGo to near zero for 2012. Our source also says that Nokia’s Windows Phone software integration will be done in the U.S., which would appear to be in-line with earlier reports of a bigger Silicon Valley presence.

  • http://twitter.com/whizkidd Rahul Srinivas

    Nokia wanted to replace Google Maps? Were they even serious!

    • http://www.liberal-international.org PoliticalGeek

      ? Nokia solution for maps is better than Google one (Nokia owns Navteq).

    • Affar

      They have invested 7+ Billion dollars to gets its hands on Navteq. So yes they are serious.

      • http://nextparadigms.com Lucian Armasu

        It was a stupid move in the first place, to spend that much money on maps. Putting that much money in Maemo/Meego and finish it in 2009 would’ve been a much smarter investment.

    • http://twitter.com/hurhurhurhurhuh I was prostitutioned

      it’s like google maps, but no internet connection needed.

      I have been in places with 200k people crammed into a spot maybe a mile or so wide. no internet connection is possible(everyone saturates one tower). I also have found myself in where i’m the only person around for miles. rural, remote places with crappy reception. In both of these situations, google maps is useless.

      I take it you’re not one of those ‘off the beaten path’ kind of guys.

  • http://twitter.com/whizkidd Rahul Srinivas

    Nokia wanted to replace Google Maps? Were they even serious!

  • http://twitter.com/whizkidd Rahul Srinivas

    Nokia wanted to replace Google Maps? Were they even serious!

  • http://topsy.com/eu.techcrunch.com/2011/02/15/with-the-platform-burning-nokia-also-talked-to-rim-before-jumping-into-redmonds-arms/?utm_source=pingback&utm_campaign=L2 Tweets that mention With the platform burning, Nokia also talked to RIM before jumping into Redmond’s arms -- Topsy.com

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by TechCrunch, Mike Butcher, TechCrunch Europe, Aulia Masna, Karim Gargum and others. Karim Gargum said: RT @TCEurope With the platform burning, Nokia also talked to RIM before jumping into Redmond’s arms http://bit.ly/gyvBax […]

  • http://mindmirror007.blogspot.com/p/home.html Sathya

    Is it just me or anyone else notice that we are forgetting the fact that Android is an open source project in the following phrase?

    We’ve also learned that as Nokia explored adopting Android with Google it was the “commodization risk“, as Elop has since described it, that turned out to be the deal-breaker. Specifically, Nokia wanted to replace Google Maps with its own Ovi offering, along with changes to Android’s handling of email, contacts, calendar, app-store and over-the-air software management in an effort to stop value moving entirely to Google – to which the search giant said no. Unless, that is, Nokia wanted to fork Android completely and therefore “stay behind the curve.”

    This argument just doesn’t makes sense at all for Nokia. Take the OS, do whatever the heck you want with it, Google won’t bother you unless you want to use their Market and other services offering! If Nokia really didn’t wanted to use the services they could have created their own, anyway it seems that was the direction they were going! Like I mentioned before this whole “contacting other OS makers” is just a reason to make behind the scene deals with MSFT less obvious. I honestly am not completely aware of what would have been the consequences if Nokia just hired a MSFT exec and went with WP7 platform adoption without having to try talking to anyone else but certainly the rationale above makes no sense at all …

    • Mat

      I think the ‘stay behind the curve’ line applied to AOSP being behind. Generally Google works with partners on pre-release versions (2.4 currently) before the code is merged into AOSP.

      If Nokia opted for AOSP they would never have the leading edge software releases and would be relagated to the same access as CyanogenMod. Nothing against the CM team; they do amazing things but they don’t have access to the pre-release sources. So once code does hit AOSP they have to play catch up to sync up their tools.

      • http://mindmirror007.blogspot.com/p/home.html Sathya

        I agree with you but I like what @dubya911 mentioned below. It is not like by going all WP7 Nokia is getting any better deal. In this case MSFT seems to make more out of Nokia partnership than Nokia making more out of MSFT! Also, in its current state WP7 lacks in many aspects than the freely available AOSP 2.3 code, let alone the upcoming versions of the Android. But by adopting Android Nokia could have benefited in two ways:

        1. Not having to share profit
        2. Not having to fire as many developers they have to now that they decided to go with WP7

        Either way its a long road to recovery for Nokia but the latter would have helped them better in the long term, but again its me thinking no Nokia board or Elop! :D

      • Mat

        I don’t disagree one bit that current WP7 is behind the stock AOSP. But I can see from a corporate standpoint that Microsoft might have been the better partner.

        Nokia as a company won’t care how copy and paste and multitasking works on a platform, these are features and are flexible. They look at what the partners can offer them in addition to the features their platform presents. Currently there are several patent lawsuits pending over Android’s code base and personally I think they are BS. But Nokia is going to look at this as a threat to the platform as a whole since they would be subject to those. Microsoft may be offering Nokia protection by licensing their patent portfolio (we don’t know this for sure, but Microsoft isn’t suing HTC which makes both WP7 and Android phones yet). Google’s patent portfolio isn’t nearly as strong as Microsoft (and I assume Nokia has a strong portfolio already giving their history in mobile).

        If Nokia were to embrace Android then it would already entrenched competitors in the platform from Moto, HTC, LG, Dell and Samsung. The WP platform is still very new and doesn’t have the entrenchment factor. A new competitor would have an easier time walking into this and make a competitive offering. I personally would have ventured into both platforms to hedge my bet. If one took off over the other then I would trim the other sector; but I can understand there were significant financial incentives from Microsoft to Nokia to choose them as their primary. I’d also suspect that those incentives wouldn’t be offers if it wasn’t exclusive.

        When building an entire platform you need the engineering experience to build, support, and maintain that platform. And you need to figure out where to source this experience. I have no doubt there are plenty of great minds at Nokia that could figure out either WP7 or Android, but you are going to need help from the upstream either way. And you need to either partner with Google or Microsoft to get their direct engineering help. Microsoft very well might have pledged a lot more engineering support (since they have huge staffs already) than Google did (or could have).

        Alright this is long winded enough :)

      • Kinkfisher

        If they used the stock AOSP (or a forked) codebase, Nokia would have been constantly behind the curve with respect to *other* handset makers, who pay Google to have access to the latest pre-release code, along with the ability to use Google properties on their handsets.

        Hence, to stay competitive, Nokia would have to pay for the same privileges, effectively sharing profits with Google, while only getting the same control over the platform as other Android licensees. With WP7, as MSFT’s most valuable mobile partner, they get preferential treatment when it comes to future development of the platform.

        Furthermore, the current advantages of Android (and iOS) over WP7 will be greatly reduced when MS pushes out their first update, promised to be in early March.

        Also, Nokia would need to fire developers because they are dropping Symbian, which is probably their only choice, given the problems Symbian has. Adopting Android over WP7 would not have changed that.

      • Anonymous

        Sounds to me they could be getting a better deal with Microsoft.

        Google doesn’t really need Nokia. Android is already on track to be the dominant mobile platform. Google search is already a virtual monopoly. In the grand scheme of things Nokia is just another OEM for Google.

        On the other hand, Microsoft obviously needed Nokia. So there’s a lot more leverage for Nokia. And it seems Microsoft is more willing to work with Nokia.

    • Anonymous

      The best part is that even if everything, and I mean EVERYTHING goes perfectly for Nokia they will just have achieved what they could have done straight off with Andriod. The end game for their partnership with WP7 if everything goes perfectly is that WP7 is the dominant OS. At which point Nokia will be paying a royalty fee to MS and presumably offsetting it with some royalties from Ovi services. They still end up being an OEM, just an OEM that may have gotten some value out of the horrible waste of money that is Navteq.

    • Anonymous

      So they would have had an Android phone without the Android market? Thats an automatic fail right there.

      • http://mindmirror007.blogspot.com/p/home.html Sathya

        You are probably right! But there will be an explosion of independent Android Market in coming months, example Amazon Market. What really bothers me about the whole thing is, it seems they want to show they are being honest and yet the whole thing, starting from hiring a MSFT exec (not an ex-MSFT) to adopting WP7, looks like a big scam that went behind curtains for a while now!

    • http://twitter.com/sohear Steve O'Hear
      • http://mindmirror007.blogspot.com/p/home.html Sathya

        I agree with Mat, but I just responded with more input.

      • http://mindmirror007.blogspot.com/p/home.html Sathya

        I agree with Mat, but I just responded with more input.

  • Anonymous

    So in other words, the only thing Nokia could come up with to save it’s a$$, was talking to the other losers.

    BURN!

    • MS-Nokia DOA

      “Elop has decided that Nokia should no longer be in the software game or certainly at the OS-level”

      That’s really the main statement isn’t it? That Elop just killed one of Microsoft’s biggest competitors in the OS arena over the last 15 years. Gates tried and couldn’t do it, but Ballmer got it done.

      I think the “looking” at all these other operating systems is just so Elop could say they looked. I’m sure the deal with MS was done the day Elop was made CEO of Nokia.

      • Jimbo

        I agree that the MS deal was likely decided many months ago, but not because I think Elop is a ‘trojan horse’ or anything like that.

        It’s as simple as: the Chairman, Olilla, and the Board had probably already decided on direction and that’s what Elop was hired to execute on.

        If you remember, around the time that Kallusvuo was on his way out, there were rumors of strategic merger/buyout meetings with the same players: Microsoft, Google, even Cisco.

        I suspect that Meego was never really an option for Nokia executives; they only used the cover of Meego, to buy themselves time.

  • KenG

    They should have made a deal with HP for WebOS. It’s as good as any other mobile OS, and HP will need another platform for it if they want it to compete with iOS and Android. Otherwise, they will only be a little more successful than Palm was with it.

  • http://nwerneck.sdf.org dividebyzero

    The cute powerpoint charts show Symbian sales and R&D budget going to zero indeed, but not MeeGo…

  • http://twitter.com/statclicks Jon F

    RIM needs to make a big move or sell. Android? Windows? WebOS? With a market cap of 33B, its not a buy HP could make easily but I suspect HP is sniffing around. MSFT could do it but unlikely now following the Nokia deal. RIM’s best bet right now maybe to do a similar deal with MSFT that Nokia just did or to do something big with Google but it doesn’t seem like Google is looking to play favorites.

    • http://www.google.com/profiles/paul.x.simpson Paul S.

      RIM’s strategy is to build their replacement OS. They’re starting with the BlackBerry Tablet, which runs a brand new OS from a company they purchased last year. Over time, they will extend some of their leading-edge features (BBM, BES support, FIPS rated security and encryption, etc.) to this new OS. Once they’ve finished porting over those key components they will launch it on phones (perhaps as BlackBerry OS 7).

      Unfortunately, the pieces likely won’t fall into place to allow that until sometime next year. What’s key to note however, is that it would take RIM just as long (if not longer) to port these key parts of their success to ANY new platform, whether Android, WebOS, etc.

      In the meantime, RIM continues to do well (especially overseas) however they continue to lose marketshare and perhaps just as importantly mindshare in North America.

  • http://twitter.com/statclicks Jon F

    RIM needs to make a big move or sell. Android? Windows? WebOS? With a market cap of 33B, its not a buy HP could make easily but I suspect HP is sniffing around. MSFT could do it but unlikely now following the Nokia deal. RIM’s best bet right now maybe to do a similar deal with MSFT that Nokia just did or to do something big with Google but it doesn’t seem like Google is looking to play favorites.

  • http://twitter.com/jayminho jayminho

    so..
    symbian is finally dead, right ?

    • http://twitter.com/gelatus Mario García

      I sure hope so. Symbian was ok in it’s day but it just doesn’t cut it anymore. The latest versions of Symbian, where they tried to make it touch friendly were a joke.

      • http://twitter.com/sohear Steve O'Hear

        Have you used Symbian 3 on the N8/C7? It’s actually pretty usable, let down by lack of decent 3rd party apps mostly.

  • http://www.noticias2d.com/2011/02/15/nokia-pudo-hablar-con-rim-antes-del-acuerdo-con-microsoft/ Nokia pudo hablar con RIM antes del acuerdo con Microsoft : Noticias2D

    […] informan desde TechCrunch las negociaciones con Microsoft eran más adaptables y es que Google no decidió en el último […]

  • http://business.financialpost.com/2011/02/15/rim-refused-nokia-software-partnership-report/ RIM refused Nokia software partnership: report | FP Tech Desk | Financial Post

    […] to a report published Tuesday by TechCrunch Europe, Nokia Corp. recently held discussions with Waterloo, Ontario-based Research in Motion Ltd. over […]

  • http://ohsugar.com.au/2011/02/15/with-the-platform-burning-nokia-also-talked-to-rim-before-jumping-into-redmond%e2%80%99s-arms/ Oh, Sugar! » With The Platform Burning, Nokia Also Talked To RIM Before Jumping Into Redmond’s Arms

    […] Read the rest of this entry » […]

  • amolpatil2k

    The one and only one way to control rate of progress is via monopoly. In the field of technology and Internet, the potential rate of progress is theoretically infinite. To control it, a monopoly is badly needed. Apple has been groomed specifically to be that monopoly. Once we accept that, every piece of news would confirm that direction. In the coming years, Convergence will be worth billions if the systems are open but trillions if they are closed. So naturally all efforts are being made to close Convergence progress under a monopoly called Apple. Android will fragment but only after everyone has jumped into that boat. Microsoft has failed in everything it has tried.

  • http://facebool-login.com/facebool-login-help/with-the-platform-burning-nokia-also-talked-to-rim-before-jumping-into-techcrunch/ With the platform burning, Nokia also talked to RIM before jumping into … – TechCrunch | Facebool-Login

    […] post: With the platform burning, Nokia also talked to RIM before jumping into … – TechCrunch Categories: Google News Tags: before-jumping – impress – partnering – platform – reporter – […]

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Horst-Meier/1212544247 Horst Meier

    Goodbye Nokia

  • Anonymous

    Which only “leaves” out HP and WebOS. Personally, i think it would be a better move for both HP and Nokia. WP7 has lots of caveats that symbian users are already accustomed to. How will Nokia convince Symbian users to go forward(?) to a system with only some of the features?

  • http://www.blackberrycool.com/2011/02/15/nokia-considered-using-blackberry-os-before-jumping-to-microsoft/ Nokia Considered Using BlackBerry OS Before Jumping to Microsoft | BlackBerry Cool

    […] PMin News. Comments: View Comments tweetmeme_style='compact'; View CommentsAccording to TC Europe, Nokia had explored the idea of incorporating the BlackBerry OS into Nokia smartphones. According […]

  • http://www.loopinsight.com/2011/02/15/report-nokia-talked-to-rim-google-before-microsoft/ Report: Nokia talked to RIM, Google before Microsoft

    […] operating if things had been different. It’s not clear how far along the talks went, but according to TechCrunch, RIM wasn’t interested.Nokia’s talks with Google broke down when Nokia wanted to […]

  • Anonymous

    Very interesting article, I was upset with Nokia not going with Android. I imagined them adopting Android and porting their own services like Ovi Maps to it, but since Google said no exactly to that, I can understand their decision to go with WP7, there was simply no other choice.

  • http://www.rimarkable.com/nokia-wanted-to-partner-with-rim-before-it-partnered-with-microsoft Nokia Wanted To Partner With RIM Before It Partnered With Microsoft

    […] Microsoft wasn’t the first or only mobile OS manufacturer that Nokia was interested in.  TechCrunch Europe is reporting that Nokia explored a relationship with RIM where Nokia devices would have run the […]

  • Anonymous

    Very interesting, and thanks for the great insight!

    That finally makes sense in terms of “commoditization”. It seemed odd how Android would allow them less flexibility than MS, but it kind of makes sense now.

    I think replacing Google Maps with Ovi would not have been a deal breaker – you know, they could have pre-loaded Ovi, put it on a homescreen and left Google Maps hanging around. The bigger deal would have been contacts, email and calendar – since there is very deep integration with those Google services in Android phones, and those services and apps cannot simply be changed. Marketplace also needs to be there, but a secondary marketplace would have been ok (same as maps).

    And as pointed out in the comments by others, they need to keep certain core Google apps and services to be a “certified” Android phone OEM, and to get access to pre-release source code. Chinese manufacturers can afford to not be certified, Nokia cannot.

    What I am surprised at is that MS allowed them that level of customization, when they have always been adamant so far about how all WP7 phones have to work the same way (and really, they all look the same to me).

  • http://marketpilgrim.com/2011/02/16/2162011-blogs-update/ 2/16/2011 Blogs Update « MarketPilgrim

    […] With the platform burning, Nokia also talked to RIM before jumping … […]

  • http://101bestblackberryapps.com/blog/blackberry/nokia-considered-using-blackberry-os-before-jumping-to-microsoft/ Nokia Considered Using BlackBerry OS Before Jumping to Microsoft | 101 Best BlackBerry Apps

    […] According to TC Europe, Nokia had explored the idea of incorporating the BlackBerry OS into Nokia smartphones. According to TC’s sources, Nokia explored all three potential operating systems (Android, Windows and BlackBerry) in tandem. According to sources, RIM was apparently uninterested in the partnership and Nokia chose to go with Microsoft in the end. Microsoft is also apparently paying big bucks for Nokia to use their OS. […]

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