Nokia: WebOS lessons to guide Windows Phone execution

Learning from HP's "failed" WebOS gamble, Finnish phonemaker will focus on addressable market and monetization means for developers when it launches Windows Phone-powered handsets, Nokia execs note.

SINGAPORE--Finnish phonemaker Nokia plans to avoid the fate of Hewlett-Packard's (HP) "failed" WebOS gamble by learning from its competitor's missteps in its execution of Windows Phone-based Nokia phones, company executives said Wednesday.

Gary Chan, head of ecosystem and developer experience at Nokia Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei, said the decision by HP to discontinue its WebOS-based hardware business is testament to how fast the mobile industry is moving. According to him, there is now a "war of the ecosystems".

Outlining the reasons why he felt WebOS failed, the Nokia executive told ZDNet Asia that the platform did not have a big enough addressable market as well as provide the means for developers to monetize their products during an interview at the sidelines of the company's N9 smartphone launch event on Wednesday .

He then stressed that Nokia is making efforts to learn HP's lessons and make sure that its plans for Windows Phone-based phones are executed well. Nokia and Microsoft announced their partnership to have Windows Phone as Nokia's primary OS in February.

Asked whether the demise of WebOS would strengthen the case for developers and consumers to view the Nokia-Microsoft offering more positively, Vlasta Berka, general manager for Nokia Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei noted that the crux is not whether there is "one, two or 20 platforms in the market". From a consumer point of view, a greater number of ecosystems would mean more choice, which is always a good thing, he pointed out to ZDNet Asia.

He also expressed his "satisfaction" at how the partnership with Redmond is coming along and that "they are ahead of schedule" for their development roadmap.

That said, developers might face a more challenging time deciding which platform to focus their projects on as more ecosystems enter the market, he admitted. Platform attractiveness is especially pertinent to the Finnish phonemaker as it currently manages three mobile platforms--SymbianMeeGo and Windows Phone.

In line with the company's official stance, Berka would not commit on future MeeGo-based products. He said: "We will leave future devices for future announcements but the N9 will be the only MeeGo phone produced by Nokia this year."

Blurry developer roadmap
As for whether its existing developer base will be able to port their apps over to Microsoft's Windows Phone platform, Chan said it is a "complex issue" and both companies are still talking to developers to find the "best way" to bring their apps to market.

He noted that Microsoft already has a "very popular" application tool chain and a well-established development framework such as Visual Studio, and Nokia is mindful that whatever solution it proposes should not "fragment" the platform.

That said, he also harped on the strength of Qt's cross-platform development platform, which is the code base for popular desktop apps such as Google Earth and Skype, and both companies are exploring ways to harness the strengths of both platforms.

Nokia's senior vice president of developer and marketplace, Marco Argenti, earlier this year revealed plans to create a porting tool to publish Qt-based apps on Windows Phone. In a June interview, he said: "We thought about the pros and cons between Qt and Windows, and decided that going with Windows, which has great development tools such as Visual Studio and .XNA, was the best way to go."


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