Nokia Recruits Japanese Mobile Developers
We spent an afternoon at the Symbian Workshop in Tokyo recently and chatted with Nokia’s Gerard Bruen, Director of Series 60 and Alliance Partners. Tune in for a surprisingly candid discussion about what the big push was for this event.. “the Japanese market is sophisticated, the developers have a good understanding, there is a good eco-system already built around financially stable developers and content owners and we should utilize that.. Nokia has the reach to go global, and to take them global”. A must see interview for wireless developers everywhere who are planning their mobile business strategy.
When J-Phone/Vodafone rolled out their 3G network in Dec. 2002 [WWJ video here] the Nokia 6650 dual-mode WCDMA-GSM handset was introduced to the Japanese market. It was more than a subtle signal from the worlds largest cell phone maker that times were changing in the global wireless space, and their Symbian Workshop held in Tokyo recently went another step to re-enforce that momentum.
The familiar keywords were all there; eco-system, open-source, a global market place, growing the pie, with the tools, sales channel and support in place. It all sounded very much like the Sun Microsystems Java strategy, to build a grass roots network of developers with a wide range of applications into one strong unified brand.
The Series 60 Platform brings open standards and multi-vendor support to the smartphone market. Built on Symbian OS, the Series 60 Platform provides a rich, common set of Java APIs, full C++ programmability, browsing, and the multimedia messaging environment that developers need to build everything from rich games to secure enterprise applications. Nokia projects that more than 10 million Series 60 devices will be in use globally by the end of 2003.
For more information about the Series 60 Platform visit: www.forum.nokia.com/series60
It’s clear that established Japanese based developers are looking for ways to export their products into other markets and indeed they have plenty to offer. The opportunity to port content into an open-source platform that could be sold in Europe and the U.S regardless of the carrier must be an attractive opportunity for them. With 60% of the handset makers by market share now licensed for Symbian (incld. NEC) and the ability to create applications that can be sold back into the network there was definite interest for details at this event.
Revenue share might be a major stumbling point at the 50-50 split when the Japan based companies have always enjoyed an 80 or 90% return on transactions. It will be interesting to see if they consider the compared increase in volume sales and ‘business development’ as a worthwhile trade-off. Will the ‘increased marketing’ offered instead of cold hard cash be acceptable to them.. perhaps, if they have no alternative to negotiate and indeed are only re-packaging a product that has already sold well for them in the existing market.
In the longer term it would be worthwhile for both sides to build the brand, and direct their new revenue streams into R&D for products that can be introduced to the growing marketplace in 12-24 months. Nokia in Japan and Japanese players moving over-seas, it will be interesting to see how this whole project develops over the next couple of years… and we will be watching.