Elop on Android ecosystem: It’s too “restrictive”, would have made Nokia Maps worthless

By on

Nokia-Event-Elop-Ballmer-10_web

Stephen Elop, Nokia’s Chief Executive, has told several Australian tech journalists that the reason why Nokia did not choose Google’s Android was too “restrictive”. Elop also added that Nokia would be entering the Android market relatively late and feared that one company would dominate the market, making it harder to sell phones.

On Android’s restrictiveness, Elop told journalists – including Fairfax’s Ben Grubb (who published a transcript – so we’re basing this story on this. Thanks, by the way) – that a deal with Google would have meant that the company would have to adopt Google Maps on their phones. For Nokia, that would be disastrous given that they also compete with Google in location-based services as well.

“In the context of Google, of course you are required to adopt the Google Maps capability, which would’ve taken [away] our Navteq assets and said ‘What do we do with these now?’. They would have been less valuable to us at that point. So that’s part of the calculus,” he told the journalists.

“Yes you can call it open source but in practicality you’re getting more and more constrained on what’s possible in that environment,” he later added.

The big move towards Windows Phone, according to Elop, was also to find a primary point of differentiation. The company did look if Android was a possible alternative, but said that everyone else was already heading towards that direction and Nokia would be entering the market late. They also feared that one company would dominate Android, making it harder for them to sell phones.

“We also on the Android side were very worried that because we would be entering Android late, relative to everyone else in the industry, that perhaps one vendor was well on the road to becoming the dominant Android vendor at the expense of everybody else,” Elop said.

“If you look back two years when we made the decision Samsung was big, HTC was pretty big, Motorola was pretty big. And of course what’s happened in the [last] two years, Samsung has captured the lion’s share but the others have been squeezed down to [a] very small market share even though they started with much larger.”

While Windows Phone still lags behind all of its rivals, Nokia’s Lumia line of phones have done pretty well. It has made Nokia, and Windows Phone, the ‘third choice’ from Android and Apple; but with BlackBerry 10 finally coming out, it might face some tough competition for that spot. Elop has acknowledged that Nokia is in direct competition with BlackBerry.

“I wouldn’t want to comment on how it looks or what have you but let me say this, that when a business person or a consumer is purchasing a smartphone today, what they are actually buying is much more than what you see in your hand,” Elop told journalists.

“They’re certainly buying the hardware, they’re buying the operating system, but they’re also buying the full range of applications that may be available for the device. They’re buying all of the cloud-based services that are required to make this a complete experience. So mapping, navigation, music, entertainment, unified communications, office productivity, on and on and on and on. There’s a whole list of 20 substantial things that you look at when you’re buying a device.”

He also said that the small number of applications could pose a problem (he should know, Windows Phone suffers that exact same problem). He is also said that porting an Android app to BlackBerry 10 doesn’t mean that it would be the same app.

“It’s only the apps that work in a certain way will actually port successfully. So in a broad sense it’s a good general approach but [in] practicality it doesn’t take you very far. And the reason is to get the best application experiences, developing a native application that works well within the environment instead of being some sort of partial port is a far better approach and that’s something that we’ve focused on very heavily with this.”

You can read the full transcript here – from SMH.