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Nokia dismisses Google Android threat at its peril

Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, "Olli-mandias" and CEO of Nokia, sneeringly dismisses Google's Android effort with a figurative wave of the hand.

`My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings: Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!'

Ozymandias. Picture from Juan Cole of Informed Comment
Sometimes, you have to laugh.(Picture from Juan Cole, who was writing about someone else at the time.)

Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, "Olli-mandias" and CEO of Nokia, sneeringly dismisses Google's Android effort with a figurative wave of the hand.

They have developers? We have developers. Apple's iPhone, on the other hand -- now that's a competitor.

Objectively, right now, he's absolutely right. Apple is a serious short-term threat to Nokia's dominance of the handset marketplace. Motorola fades, but another giant rises from the West.

On the other hand, he's dead wrong. Olli-mandias is like Bill Gates, a decade ago, peering down from his lofty perch at the tiny Linux community. Yet who's laughing now?

And remember that Android is not starting from a base of a few long-haired hippie freak hackers and idealists, working in their parents' basements.

The Open Handset Alliance is not "just" a community. It is, in fact, a community of interests, led by Google, and including within it not only Nokia's low-cost competitors in China, but chip companies and network operators as well.

All this has to be organized, as Eclipse is organized, with reference platforms that can be extended into cool products. It will take time.

Given the fact that handsets evolve in Internet time, often four generations of product coming out each year, it will take many seasons for this to get rolling.

It's also true, as Olli-mandias alleges, that Nokia has a wealth of intellectual property at its disposal, that it has blown by many of the challenges the Open Handset folks are just now starting to look at.

But does it? If Samsung, LG, Motorola and China's LTE truly pool their best efforts here, is Nokia really generations ahead?

Time will tell. This is a new model for development, at least in the mobile space. It may become a Tower of Babel.

But that's what Microsoft thought of Linux, back in the day. And 20 years before that it's what IBM thought of Microsoft.