A migration path – the crucial key

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Mobile OS Migration Path
Expectedly, Emmanuel Olalere’s recent article, Had Nokia chosen Android, has generated a lot of buzz. Many people are passionate about Nokia’s fortunes, as well as the fantasy of Android on Nokia phones these days. That is no surprise. However, most people miss out on one crucial factor to an old player succeeding in an evolving market.

I have written about this in times past, but it bears repeating anyway. In almost any business undertaking, and especially in technology, a migration path is important if a player wants to keep a huge chunk of its current users. Here are two glaring examples:

Palm ditched PalmOS and built WebOS from the scratch without any backward compatibility. Status of WebOS: comatose.

Microsoft threw Windows Mobile out the window (no pun intended) and replaced it with Windows Phone, a totally different beast with no compatibility with Windows Mobile. Status of Windows Phone: struggling.

It is almost always a mistake to do this. Following a migration path is always the best bet.

Possible Migration paths from Symbian

1. MeeGo
Forget about MeeGo; MeeGo is vapourware. There is not one single device out in the market running MeeGo. The N9 runs Maemo Harmattan simply re-branded as Meego. The MeeGo folks have since signed up on the Tizen project. Can we just forget that this Nokia-Intel baby ended in an abortion and so never existed to the consumer?

2. Maemo
Nokia has produced amazing devices running Maemo over the years.

I used the N900 and the N9 (both of them run Maemo), and they are splendid devices. Maemo has so much in common with Symbian, yet is more modern and refined. Before the N900, there had been a couple of other Maemo-powered devices. It would have been a logical upgrade path. There were (and still are) millions of Nokia faithfuls rooting for Maemo. Migrating up this path would have been easy pie.

3. Nokia Belle
This is 2012 and we see Nokia Belle, a modern iteration of Symbian, running on a handful of devices, including the fantastic 701. Belle’s latest version, feature pack 1, is so good that it is a capable competition to Android.

In my opinion, it is not too late for Nokia to put its weight behind either Maemo or Belle. Both OSes belong to them and they can play with them as they wish.

Alternatively, a dual approach of making devices running both Maemo and Symbian would not be a bad idea.

Rounding up
We will all have different opinions about what Nokia ought to have done and what OS they should have adopted. But one thing is clear to me: not having an upgrade path is the greatest mistake bar the “Burning Platform” speech that the Nokia CEO made.

Ditching Symbian for a platform that is so different and alien to such a huge existing user base is not done. I love the simplicity of the Windows Phone user interface, but the transition is quite jarring for even me. I can imagine how it must be for many less adventurous persons.


  1. Its unfortunate that comments such as mine and that of others will not make Nokia take a different path from the one they are on now but in my opinion, the average consumer wudnt what OS they chose, provided it had a marked improvement from what they were used to + availability of apps.

    I wud have loved to see the green bug on Nokia, a marriage of an progressive mobile os to that of a company known for neat hardware and good battery life.unfortunately, I don’t see that happening anytime soon ? .

    I remember a Nokia rep saying that adopting Andriod would be like one pissing in his pants for temporary warm comfort. I hope he won’t have to swallow his words ten yrs from now.

  2. Nice article. But it appears that you ignore the other open source mobile OSes. Namely Android and Tizen!

    Do you think that they are not a possible migration path for Nokia? Especially Android.

    I have always scoffed at individuals who claim that Nokia could not distinguish itself more with Android as compared with Windows Phone. If anything, me believe that Windows phone is what is actually restricting Nokia from opening Up its wings and flying!

    And I agree, Maemo and Nokia Belle are great alternate migration/retention paths for Nokia especially IF they MUST adopt Windows phone!

  3. (
    Many people arepassionate about Nokia’s fortunes, as well as the fantasy of Android on Nokia phones these days

    Why is it a FANTASY? The OHA thing, or the Nokia obduracy / arrogance?

    Android is selling. Jump to it! Simplistic?. Commonsensica!l.

    Would a Nokia N9_class phone running Android sell.??? Like akara balls!

  4. Certainly Nokia could have continue with Belle, but my thinking is that continuing with Belle in its evolution path that led to its present state would have drawn Apple’s ire, given that Belle is a pure imitation of both Android and iOS and hiding under Microsoft would certainty buy them a measure of immunity as Microsoft and Apple seem not to challenge each other in the court these days.

    I think the whole thing boils down to pride as Eye.Bee.Kay pointed out, but that’s a big mistake in my opinion cause when you find yourself in a burning platform, worrying about your enemies ought not to be your main priority.

  5. Nokia’s move to Windows Phone to me is like owning a palace, but selling it to buy a single room dwelling. I would gladly have rooted for Nokia if it were not for the arrogance of the powers-that-be – there was so much they could have done when they were still at the top. They were the pacesetters others struggled to follow.

    “I think the whole thing boils down to pride as Eye.Bee.Kay pointed out, but that’s a big mistake in my opinion cause when you find yourself in a burning platform, worrying about your enemies ought not to be your main priority.”

    Totally agree.

  6. ahhh! it worries me when Mr mobility is asked a ques, and there is no answer coming from him(assuming he has read the these responses)
    I must say this article could pass for an academic MTech or MBA thesis titled POSSIBLE MIGRATION PATHWAYS MODEL-from a burning platform. Very advanced discourse,non contencious!

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