Monday, 8 September 2014

3 Things I Learnt From #24HoursNoSocialMedia

It started out innocently enough. From a tweet posted by Terri Nakamura, I learnt about @jakek's experiment on going a year without 'smartphone distraction'. I tweeted about how tough it'd be to go without. I am constantly online, reading and sharing info on mobile technology. It was difficult to imagine not having access to 'infinity apps' like Twitter and Facebook. It went like this...

At 0000 hr on Monday, 8th Sept 2014; I started my 24 hours experiment. Some rules for the experiment: I can use voice calls, SMS and IM apps on my phone. Do not use 'infinity' apps. Email and web use would be restricted strictly to work-related purposes and on desktop only. No social media app use at all. Not even looking at notifications which I left active on purpose.

0000 - 0459 hr: Sleeping. Didn't touch my phone.   

0500 hr: Phone alarm goes off. I nearly messed it up, as the first thing I normally do is check the Twitter/Facebook notifications that came through in the night from my Asia contacts. It took a conscious effort to not click on the notifications. I pressed 'Clear All' on the notifications bar. This feels strange. 

0515 - 0630 hr: Getting ready for the day, this is where I normally go to my Feedly page with a coffee and go through interesting news in the tech world. As I read, I share and post on Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn/G+/AppNet via the Buffer app. Reading quickly, I'd normally post a dozen articles before getting ready for work. Again, I almost slip up and nearly clicked 'Share Now' 2 or 3 times. My thumb was antsy. I got info that I can't share? I saved the articles instead for later. 

0730 - 0800 hr: Commute to work. I'm lucky enough to have a personal driver in Ghana. My daily ritual while in the car is to browse Twitter for breaking news, retweeting 2-3 articles in 30 minutes. Today, I looked out the window and enjoyed the music on the car stereo instead. I texted my friends in Singapore. My Galaxy S5 was feeling a little underutilized.

0800 - 1300 hr: In the office. My computer boots up with Chrome as my company uses Google Enterprise for work. I had to close the open tabs for Twitter and Facebook (more notifications, what's going on in the world?). My phone hooks up to the company WiFi, and triggers it on silent mode from the IFTTT app. Blinking social media notifications beckon at me. I look away resolutely. I complete a customer proposal, respond to several business enquiries by phone and email, schedule meetings for the rest of the week. My hands were flying over the computer keyboard. Didn't have time to look at my phone. 

1300 - 1330 hr: Lunchtime, I get a packed lunch from home. This is usually the time I sit in the office canteen, with sandwich in hand and smartphone in the other to check what's happening with my Facebook crowd. Today, I plug in my headphones and listen to my music. I concentrate on my sandwich. It is a good sandwich. Nice sandwich. I text my wife to tell her. I wonder what's happening to my friends who were relocating, they were posting FB updates on their move. I search out articles on big data and analytics to pass the time. 

1400 - 1409 hr: A customer was supposed to meet us at the office. He's running late. As I sat waiting in the empty meeting room, I unlock my phone and click on the Twitter ap.... damn, I caught myself in time. Phew! I stick my phone in my pocket. 

1410 - 1515 hr: Customer arrives, we have our meeting with one of my colleagues. Maybe because I was paying a lot more attention to everyone. I noticed my customer's eyes glancing at his iPhone pretty often. Using the clock on my computer, I timed him. On average, my customer glances at his phone once every 50 seconds or a minute. Our meeting lasted an hour and a bit, so my customer probably looked at his idle phone close to a dozen times. I wonder if my customer has ADHD. I mentally correct myself because I do that too. I unlocked my phone to see more notifications. Facebook just doesn't quit. I clicked 'Clear All'.     

1515 - 1830 hr: As the day progressed, I kept at my work. It was a productive afternoon as I cleared up my 'To-Do' list. Mondays are normally the busiest as we create closing reports for the previous work week. I normally take Tweet breaks. Not today. Without the distractions, I was done with the reports by about 1700 hr. A new record. From the corner of my eye, i could see my phone's notification LED winking merrily at me. I click 'Clear All' again. 

1830 - 1905 hr: End of the day. I jumped into the car and as my driver pulls away, I texted my wife to let her know I was headed back. This is also the time I catch up with the Twitter news from the North American time zone. I don't do that. Nosily, I looked in on the other drivers in the peak hour chaos. In the 35-minute ride and playing backseat cop, I catch seven different drivers either calling, texting or peering into their phones in traffic. Not cool. 

1905 - 1930 hr: Dinner is being prepared. As I sit on our patio with the dogs, I am tempted to check my phone. Maybe I can look at something else? I checked the onboard pedometer instead, it recorded about 3000 steps today from walking around the office. I poured myself a nice whiskey. I shared a bit with my bulldog. She seems to like it. Social media seemed a distant memory.

1930 - 2230 hr: My wife and I chatted over dinner. I tell her about my 24-hour-no-social-media experiment. She asked why I was doing it. I reply no reason but why are we on social media? We've not had TV for the past 2 years because we thought regular TV programming was pathetic. I put up a movie on screen and we watch that. It's a romantic comedy and my wife's a huge fan. She's on Facebook and Pinterest as well. I glance over at her phone, catching glimpses of her busy reposting articles, googling the cute lead actor in the movie. I actually enjoy the movie.

2300 - 0032 hr: The movie ends and my wife heads upstairs to sleep, I powered up the Playstation. I had to seek out ZombieKilla99 on 'Battlefield 3'. It was his night to get fragged. He annihilates me instead over four merciless deathmatch rounds. Grumbling, I go up to bed. As I plugged in my phone to charge overnight, I saw the notifications LED blinking merrily. I'm too tired. No social media for me tonight. I sleep very soundly.

So what did I learn?

  1. I can do without social media distractions for 24 hours. I didn't get a pathological urge to check what's happening every 50 seconds. As long as I as I kept myself busy and engaged. I jotted the notes for this story as it happened throughout the day. I normally reserve my blogging for the weekends. I'd say I'd distracted myself in other ways? 
  2. It wasn't easy. Breaking bad online behavior that's so entrenched, I nearly slipped a couple of times and succumbed to checking my social media feeds. I had to consciously restrain myself from doing so multiple times within 24 hours. In fact, it felt like the default unconscious action, for when I had some 'down' time. 
  3. It wasn't difficult either. I'm not a social media manager and my livelihood doesn't depend on me being connected all the time, that's why it wasn't as tough as I thought. No, there's no drama, no lasting psychological effects. I was still connected albeit without a continuous, neverending stream of digital chatter. I can control what I see. That was a gratifying discovery.   
Once I gone past the first few hours, it was quite easy not be distracted by social media. I opened my eyes to really observe and experience everything around me. So, thanks to Terri for the article, it was a refreshing 24 hour break. I might go for a week the next time. 

To others like me, please go ahead and try out a #24HoursNoSocialMedia experiment. Let me know how your day goes when you emerge on the other side. :)


Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Five Reasons Why This Galaxy Gear 2 Is Going To Be Put Down

The Gear 2 psychoanalyzes itself.
Disclosure: I was a former employee in charge of the Samsung Apps Store. And in an earlier post, I did write about how enthused I am by the advent of wearables. I guess I Gear-ed myself for a Galaxy of hurt.

53 days, 8 hours and counting. This is the current lifespan for the Samsung Gear 2 that sits on my wrist. I remembered my initial excitement. As head of product marketing, I had access to some of the latest mobile technology available in the market. Given an opportunity to test-drive wearable technology, I chose a smartwatch over Glass (which I could get shipped over by a developer friend in the US). 

At that point, Samsung was marketing its Galaxy S5 heavily. In the bundle that was purchased, surprise, surprise; a Samsung Gear 2 was also offered at a heavily discounted rate. I'm Asian and thrifty. I took the leap. 

And that was where I got stuck in low Gear.

Ive Got Design
In the glitzy world of advertising, everything is edited to perfection. Maybe I was out of consumer marketing for too long, I took one glance at how Samsung marketed the Galaxy Gear 2. Sleek, brushed satin finish steel on the bezel, pictured next to the Galaxy S5 flagship. It didn't take much. 

I am not Jony Ive so I was easily sold on the Galaxy Gear 2 (and its discounted price) design. I think the lead designer in Korea was told - design something that causes zero emotional reaction. The designer succeeded. When I removed the new Gear 2 from its very beige packaging box; I nearly asphyxiated from holding my breath. As I rotated it under a bright lamp, the ascetic lines of the Gear gave me chills down my spine and not in a good way. Wow, it isn't.  

Buyer's remorse weighing heavily on me, I started digging more into the smartwatch space afterwards. What I found astounded me; the conceptual designs, Moto 360, Pebble, and a whole plethora of choices waiting in the wings. Most of them looked fantastic and came in a huge array of personalization choices. What's worse, the innocuous-looking Galaxy Gear 2 was sported on the wrists of so many. Yes, the exact same color choice (black wristband and silver) was also the de facto choice for every infrequent geek wanting a smartwatch. Other fancy colored variants for the Gear are hard to find in Accra. (No, Ghana is not high on Moto or Pebble's priority list so you can't get one here.) 

Not only did the big-bad-black-boring-bland block bug me, it appeared everywhere I looked. My frivolous side kicked in. I wasn't the only one. Do not tell me that I can customize the home screen on the Gear 2. I know how to do that. But the Gear screen stays adamantly off when idle, so the external design of the smartwatch is critical. Samsung, if you loved it, you woulda put da bling on it.       

Wall-hugging Life Form
Gripes about the proprietary and very unnecessary charger cradle aside, the battery life of the Gear 2 is crazily unpredictable. To put it simply, the life of the Gear 2 was as unpredictable as trying to get lucky by going out on a date with your psycho ex - it might take longer, it might take a short while but at the end of the day, you never know what you're going to get.

With notifications for various apps (some IM, calendar alerts, social media, email, etc) switched on, I can rarely get more than 14 hours of operating life from the Gear 2. I unplug it at 6 am every morning. The big bad block will gleefully beep that it is in need of juice (varies between 4-20% reserve) by about 10 pm every night. On the Gear site, it proudly states 2-3 days life on typical usage. Well, I think I'm a typical user and I've not seen anything better than 14 hours at a push. I do not want to be bothered with a wearable that needs to be charged every night. I already need to charge my Galaxy S5, why do I need to waste another socket point to charge the Gear every night? Oh, for the love of wireless charging...

Hey, here's an idea, why doesn't Samsung make a charger that can charge TWO devices at once? Proprietary charger cradle, my S5. The Gear is so high-maintenance, if I ignored it for a full day, it would probably sulk and die of natural causes.      

Manager, Schmanager
Most peripherals would need drivers and software to carry out its functions. I didn't expect any different for the Gear. On first setup with Gear Manager, Samsung's answer to smartwatch 'management', it was clear why Samsung should not venture into the app space. As if to match the Gear in its bleh-ness, the Gear Manager app looks like the below.

Pic was taken after I disconnected the Gear 2.

Basic app design principles, Suwon. On a big smartphone screen, I do NOT want to scroll down a list a la Web 1.0. I want well-designed icons cleverly located together in one (quite) huge screen for me to click on. And no, unlike all its other TouchWiz apps, Gear Manager does not allow you to select another view. If new app designers can utilize the real estate on-screen to the max, there shouldn't be a reason why Samsung couldn't do the same. The carnage carries on if you select 'Notifications' where the mind-boggling long list of all my apps is shown. Can anyone say, Navigation Drawers? You scrolllllllllllllll to check the apps you need. What happened to 'Air view' the feature that you have natively in the Galaxy S5?

Please refresh yourself here with a lesson from Android.

Apps, What Apps?
It might surprise some that you can download apps for your Gear. It's surprising because it's hidden under the "Samsung Gear Apps" option, which is also hidden below the fold of the screen earlier. When you do decide to venture deeper into the labyrinth, it's quickly evident that a similar lack of finesse went into the Samsung Gear apps store. 

To address the team, it's a pretty good cross-section of apps. There are Gear-specific apps, no doubt collected from the big bounty Tizen app challenge. Personally, these challenges are great for bulking up the number of apps, not the quality. What this store had in terms of breadth of apps, it made up for with lack of depth. The Gear store looks the same as the current Galaxy Store for the regular smartphone apps. Wait, it IS the same store. When I click on one I'd like to download, I'm greeted by empty screens so there is no way to check if you like an app before downloading. Presumably this is a legacy from the old Galaxy store which required specifically-sized images. Or did someone forget to upload them?

I have the Endomondo Sports Tracker app that I love for my cycling and walking activities. I paid for the Doubletwist music player and synchronization app. No prizes for guessing if either were available for Samsung Gear. No prize at all.

(s)UX So Bad
User Experience (UX) is a constellation of various factors: visual design, hardware build quality, flow, ease of use, mechanics, etc; that all contribute to the positive emotions of the user towards the product. Beside learning a new form of navigation (swipe down to 'close' screens) versus the 'Back' button of my essentially Android phone; the Gear 2 has served no further function that being a secondary notifications display when my phone's in my pocket or jacket.

With the lack of Gear-phone integration, I still pitifully have to reach for my Galaxy S5, unlock it and view it in the full app. The end game is that I have now switched off all notifications on the Gear. It serves as a watch (that I need to wake up by flicking my wrist several times, sometimes resembling a Parkinson's sufferer). Retard, accelerometer. Its other semi-useful purpose is to act as my pedometer which syncs to S-Health. (S Health, there wasn't another name to choose?) It's Health for, can finish the rest.

A US survey stated more than 1/3 of wearable device owners stop using them in six months. I've given the Gear 2 close to two whole grim months of daily use. I don't think I can wait any longer...for the apps to come...for the battery life to be fixed in a firmware upgrade. At the end of this week and a full 60-days later, this Galaxy Gear 2 will be put down.

Somehow, I don't think I'd miss it too much.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Taught A Lesson on Humility on LinkedIn...And I Deserved It.

I've never been a fantastic writer. I dabble infrequently. I write to entertain my friends and I. I've been known to laugh often at absurd and inappropriate things. 

On the evening of 4th June 2014, I posted an article titled "15 Surefire Signs That You're A Geek" on my personal blog, my social media accounts and LinkedIn. The article was intended as a humorous caricature on myself and the developers that I collaborate with. Day in and day out, I can't help but observe certain traits of the professionals with whom I come into contact. In the article, I am hideously guilty of all the points mentioned. I did not research the definition of the words, 'geek, nerds, techie' thoroughly. I knew only what I knew from the mobile telecommunications industry I worked in. Late in the evening, as I cobbled together the hodgepodge list; little did I realize what kind of ramifications it'd have.

I pride myself for being an eloquent and precise communicator. On this occasion, I was tragically wrong on both counts. 

The article was never suited for a LinkedIn audience, which was interested more in professional topics. The article was too unsubstantial and more suited for a BuzzFeed or blogger environment. Beyond the unsuitability, what was intended as a cheeky treatise went viral too quickly. 

In an hour after it was posted, there were over 7,000 views as the article somehow got selected for the Pulse 'Editor's Picks' section. I did not request for the highlight. I do not even know how an article is chosen. As of this writing on 5th June 2015, 1930h GMT, there are slightly over 55,000 views. I have never gotten more than 1,000 views before on any article. I was elated. That must have meant people liked what I was writing about!

Comments flew in rapidly. I loved especially the ones where members identified with the list and contributed more points of their own. While I enjoyed my newly-minted and spurious 'fame' on LinkedIn, I noticed more and more criticisms being posted. As I slowly read through the comments logged by other LinkedIn users, more than 40% of the feedback was strong criticism against the article. I was horrified. That was no other word for it. 

Some left the equivalent of muted 'groans'. The gentler critics said I completely misrepresented what constitutes a proper geek or nerd, a few termed me a 'wannabe geek' who was totally clueless. Some critics labelled me a 'offensive, cyber bully' guilty of perpetuating unfair stereotypes and I was being insulting. Some called the article a 'total waste of time, dumb rubbish or utter nonsense' (ouch!) Another LinkedIn member advised me not to comment on geeks as I only had a degree in communication studies. One particularly vocal member carried on his critique the next day, opined as to why I wasn't censured and fired already. 

Every negative comment hurt. It rocked me to the core. I never thought for a moment that I'd be so far off the mark. And worse, it highlighted how precious little I knew about the solid, hardworking men and women who worked in various fields. I had completely left out entire industries (academic, medical, chemical, agriculture, entertainment, etc.) because they weren't familiar to me. I had not realized my 30 plus minutes of written mischief has brought on the ire of so many. It was one thing to be criticized by my own supervisor when my work was sub-par. When the weight of the technically-minded LinkedIn community was lambasting me for an ill-placed article in a professional environment, it was something else altogether. I'm used to delivering at 100% all the time, but when 40% of feedback was negative. It meant I failed and miserably. It just means I was doing it all wrong. It was an incredibly humbling experience.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines it as: 


noun\hyü-ˈmi-lə-tē, yü-\

I have a simple tattoo in Latin on the inside of my forearm. It reads "Veritas vos liberabit", which translates as "the truth shall set you free." I got it years ago as a personal motto to be unfailingly truthful in all my dealings. I confess, I enjoyed the fact that so many people did read and share the article on LinkedIn and via Twitter. It was exhilarating to get such great virality with content that I created. In retrospect, I fully admit the article was not appropriate for LinkedIn members, who should be entitled to opinions of a higher calibre. I sincerely thank those members that liked it and took the time to encourage me. 

I'm not a big fan of self-censorship but to accord the respect to the members who found it inappropriate; the article will be taken down from LinkedIn immediately. I'll leave the comments as a stern reminder to myself.

I am not better than other people. I acted like a wannabe. It was a lesson in humility on LinkedIn and I deserved it.  


Thursday, 24 July 2014

Introspection and 13 lessons from Africa (so far):

1) Now I know how precious clean water is...when we went without. 

2) Now I know patience is a virtue...and also a common female name.
3) Now I know true friends are hard to find...and harder to hold on to.
4) Now I know internet is a human right...because it's the world to me.
5) Now I know health is important...because, well, malaria.
6) Now I know pets don't just change your life...they improve it.
7) Now I know why politicians's a boot sector corrupt error.
8) Now I know I can't change the world...but I can change me.
9) Now I know what real beauty is...when I've seen what it isn't.
10) Now I know true grit is possible... as I do the impossible.
11) Now I know I am capable of more...and only I can hold me back.
12) Now I know I don't miss Singapore... Singapore's been missing me.

13) Now I know a strong partner in life is crucial...and she keeps me fighting, scrapping, pushing and achieving for more.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

"I Want To Know What Marketing (Love) Is" by Foreigner

By poeloq (IMG_5486) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
One of the most formative experiences in a professional marketer’s career must be an assignment overseas. I was fortunate. In my career, I was transferred to various countries (China, South Africa) to take up different marketing roles of various complexities. It grew me tremendously as a marketer from the sheer volume of new personal and professional experiences I encountered. I’m not going to discuss the oft-painful logistics of relocating countries. There are moving companies for that. Being entirely out of my comfort zone comes naturally with the territory (pun intended).
What was more relevant was how I adapted as a marketer in a foreign country to perform well in my role. It was evident to me that in order to perform at maximum capability, it was critical to learn all that I could about the country I was posted to, in the shortest time possible.
Here is a collection of tips that could help marketers do well for an overseas posting. It’s best to be upfront; it might not work for everyone. Living and working overseas is an adventure. But master this well and you might just fall in love with marketing in a foreign land.

“You Are Not Local”

Obvious point, you say? As a seasoned transplant, I often observe this with new marketing professionals brought in the organization. Perhaps it’s in the marketer’s DNA, but they like to ‘be the voice of the consumer’ in an environment they have no clue about. They gleefully jump into arguments about consumer targets, media channel choices, budgetary allocations and strategy decisions.
There is no beginner’s luck in marketing; you need to get it right the first time. You are not local. Sit back for a bit. Collaborate with your local colleagues to gain insights on the business conditions and consumers you’d be engaging with. Ask for feedback diligently on decisions made. Rely on your digital, PR, retail, media, research and advertising agencies (if you have them) to school you in the intricacies of your chosen market. Set aside full-day immersion sessions where you can learn uninterruptedly from each. Do this at least twice in your first month with each of them.
If you’re new to a country, allow yourself no less than 3 months (100 days is a good gauge) to familiarize yourself with the local marketing environment (consumers, media, agencies, booking availability, digital penetration, etc). Employers expect expat marketers to be able to ‘hit the ground running’ immediately. The reality is, more often than not, these new marketers just hit the wall, figuratively.

“You Must Go Local”

Diversity is the spice of marketing life. Most of the outstanding marketers I know are inevitably surrounded with great people and influences. As a foreign marketer, there is no better way to learn than by making local friends. Be of open mind and a strong stomach. Eat where they eat. Party where they party. Shop where they shop. Spend time hanging out in the major shopping malls if you’re in FMCG. Observe the retail behavior from the behind and in front of a counter. If you are in charge of multiple countries in a region, visit those key markets and spend a minimum of three full weekends (not weekdays!) in each to absorb the local practices. There’s a tendency to seek out your fellow countrymen/women when new to a country. Resist that urge. It normally ends up like an ‘Expats Anonymous’ session anyway.
DO learn to speak the primary language. That’s why they call it marketingcommunication. Take classes if necessary. Practise everyday on your local colleagues until you notice them bleeding from the ears. Peruse local publications, websites and outdoor media copiously. Even if you don’t grasp the language; in reviewing the visual imagery and juxtaposition, you’ll learn something. Nothing is more crucial than being able to construct a marketing message and making sure it works. If you’re not at native fluency, being able to hold a coherent informal conversation will still put you miles ahead. Have a sense of humor if you make mistakes. I still get amused smiles from the locals when I speak French (horrendously) in Francophone Africa. They do appreciate the effort, n’est-ce pas?
“You Are So Local”
In my previous roles, I created the opportunities to do micro-experiments to gauge how relevant and impactful my marketing messaging was. If you’re lucky enough to be in an organization that encourages innovation trials, exploit that. Try your own hand at creating a marketing message and get it tested qualitatively. Digital marketing is well suited for quantitative testing. Nothing gives a better impression than digital, I always say.
So you've done all of the above and more, and you wonder if you’ve learnt anything in this period. It doesn’t count if your local colleagues or marketing partners say, ‘You’re so local.’ It doesn’t count if your team garners awards locally. It doesn’t count if you chalk up positive sales growth from your marketing activities. What does count, is the marketing cycle never ends. In a foreign country, there will always be something new to learn everyday.
And that is actually, what I love about marketing as a foreigner.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

15 Surefire Signs That You're A Geek

In the proliferation of 'top' lists that seem to be invading Facebook, Twitter; here's another one to determine just how much of a geek you are. There are some dead giveaways on how to identify a geek. It'll be so useful in the Zombie Apocalypse when the geeks will inherit everything.

 Don't hate me for it. Just sit back. Scroll down...and revel in the Geekdom.

(Readers' note: 1-4 signs, you merely like technology. 5-8 signs, you probably work in a tech-related environment. More than 9 signs, you're a full-blown, card-carrying tech geek.)

#15 - You've read every available biography of Steve Jobs and Linus Torvalds. Twice.
#14 - You haven't paid for a single music album since 2005.
#13 - Your desk monitor is set up in portrait orientation.
#12 - You don't just leech. You seed.
#11 - Mention "open source" and your Pavlovian response is to say "the best".
#10 - You can recite more than twenty different software or OS release dates. But you can't remember your mother's birthday.
#9 - Glasses aren't a fashion accessory. They help you code in dim lighting conditions.
#8 - Everyone wants your advice on which phone, laptop, home theatre, TV, tablet, (insert electronic device) to buy next. And where to buy it cheap.
#7 - Your work attire consists of sneakers, jeans and a t-shirt. And you secretly feel that's too formal.
#6 -  You use terms like 'XML, Python, Hadoop, Linux, JSON, cache, msconfig, APIs, SDKs, GitHub, Apache, HTML, staging, production, servers.' Daily. Without blinking.
#5 -  Internet connectivity is a human right. You do not patronise a restaurant or cafe that doesn't have a WiFi hotspot.
#4 - You have sent your CV to Microsoft, Google, Intel, Oracle or VMware at least once in the past year.
#3 - Talking to your friends, you are constantly the one that says,"There's an app for that."
#2 - No more phone calls for you. That's too 2013. They can reach you via messenger, email or video calls.   

And the most important sign that you're a geek...

#1 - You checked your phone more than 4 times since you started reading this. Admit it.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Nokia/Microsoft Mobile: What's Next?

[Originally published on LinkedIn, 25 April 2014]
The Chinese have a saying, 'under the heavens, there is no banquet that does not end'. On 25th April 2014, a Finnish brand that was in existence since 1871 has sold off the largest components of their multi-billion dollar enterprise. The new corporation will be ignominiously renamed and trading as Microsoft Mobile Oy, even though the Nokia trademark will continue on.
I'm very fond of Nokia, although I fell out of love with them during Elop's clumsy administration. As a 8-year veteran of Nokia during its heyday from 2001-2009, it was easy to be in love with a company that was forward-thinking, adventurous and constantly a leader in mobile technology and hardware. The company afforded me an inside look into how European world-class corporations worked seamlessly to develop winners in the mobile field again and again. Never mind the 'Elop effect', I have a couple of predictions on what might happen from here on out.
1. The Fight for Emerging Markets Rages On
Despite its difficulties with their Indian tax woes, Microsoft Mobile is squarely entrenched in emerging and BRIC markets. With the Asha and Nokia X range of devices; it is now ever more crucial for them to fortify their offerings to beat the Chinese OEMs (Huawei, ZTE, Xiaomi) in this increasingly crowded marketplace. They have the advantage of a solid credible brand on their side. I think this will stop their recent down-sizing in key emerging markets, possibly with an upside of more customized offerings in larger territories.
2. Multiple Personality Disorder
With this change, Microsoft Mobile will be the only other OEM (except Samsung) that deals with multiple mobile OS types. The recent foray into an Android-underpinned Nokia X range signals the openness that Microsoft knows its Windows Phone platform has not been a resounding success. It takes a lot of resources to maintain and support multiple platforms and it can get a bit schizophrenic. It's at best a wait-and-see approach to determine what catches on in the market. I foresee this would mean an eventual demise of the Nokia X/Android range as it cleans house to focus on what will be the best bet for Microsoft.
3. Developers, Developers, Developers...X 14
While Nadella certainly looks comfortable on stage, transiting to a multi-platform play can't be easy. The developer community around Nokia served Symbian, Java, Meego, WP, Android is a lot to take in. In his latest earnings call with analysts, Nadella made many an analyst sigh with relief when he stated his 'mobility first' vision. Developers will not have to down tools as this supports their loyal trek through the various platforms for Microsoft. In fact, I foresee a lot more developer initiatives kicking in to bolster the flagging confidence of the developer community and create an unified app ecosystem. More developers means more apps means more options to monetize their cloud. Nadella won't be sweating this one.
4. Cloudy, With A Chance of Windfall
To reiterate the obvious, the 'mobility first' strategy has to live in the cloud. Connected devices with synchronized storage/editing/collaboration features a la Office 365 is but the first salvo for them. As Google tries to build their Apps for Business in the enterprise environment, Microsoft has neatly captured that nice chunk of corporations that are flirting with the BYOD generation. If you run Windows on your desk or laptop (and 92% of the world still are), companies are likewise incentivized with Microsoft Mobile to give you a cloud-synced device to keep you connected on the road. Now that is enterprising, and the cloud might just provide Microsoft that additional windfall if they collaborate well with mobile network operators and ISPs. I foresee a lot more business development folks calling on those networks.
Today is a pretty big day. The Finns might be starting on their vodka a little earlier, but I smile as I remember this. Even to the end, Nokia lived up to its universal brand promise from so many years ago.
It might be cloud-based and Elop-driven in 2014, yet Nokia still carries on "Connecting People".