Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 11th Oct 2012 21:41 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless It's a long read - but totally and utterly worth it. After interviewing ten former and current Nokia employees, and combining their insider information with publicly available information, Sampsa Kurri has written a long and detailed article about the history of Maemo and MeeGo within Nokia, and everything that went wrong - which is a lot. It's sad tale, one that reads almost like a manual on how to not run a large company. Still, between the bad decisions and frustrations, there's a red thread of hope that leads to Jolla.
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RE[4]: Remember...
by zima on Tue 16th Oct 2012 23:47 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Remember..."
zima
Member since:
2005-07-06

Well, Apple and Nokia both found themselves in a similar situation : they had an OS that did not perform well enough anymore, and which for some reason they could not fix in a simple fashion. Thus, they started a project to build a successor to their product, and due to the well-documented second system effect that project was stalled.
What I'm impressed with is that Nokia managed to save the original project, while Apple failed so badly at it that they have to completely start from a new base, wasting most of the original effort, as too many software companies do.
Indeed, "yet another UNIX clone" is not quite the problem I have with that, rather I feel that Apple have less merit for what they did. That the Nokia approach to resist the natural urge to rewrite everything from scratch and try to make the project work instead was a more elegant approach. And I can't help but think that they could have saved Symbian too if they put as much effort on it, but that's another story.

Ultimately, maybe it taught them similar thing, they ultimately did something very alike: as it stands now, both Apple and Nokia brought their new OS from outside the entrenched company structures... (hey, many would defend the "trojan Canadian" hypothesis, which says pretty much exactly that, with their life; for Apple & NeXT it was definitely a sort of managerial reverse takeover, killing a lot of existing projects)

Because, really, Nokia didn't manage "to save the original project" ...NVM how Nokia largely threw it away more than once (Maemo -> Meego transition alone was not trivial; and the Hildon UI of Maemo was birthed on Symbian, on S90 - oh yeah, and that's not even getting into numerous abortive Symbian directions; even in S60 alone we have ~2 compatibility breaks)

As to which path had more merit... look, Apple probably could easily try to go further into Copland, for a few short years (the really visible effects of NeXT acquisition needed that much time to show up) ...sinking more into it ...possibly ending kinda like Nokia now? Might be not the best path to follow.

WRT "yet another UNIX clone" - I forgot to point out previously that Nokia actually moved away from non-*nix OS, in more recent times... ;) (earlier: GEOS, Nokia OS S30 & S40, EPOC/Symbian S80, S90, S60; but the fabled Meltemi - so also *nix - was supposed to largely replace those that are still alive)


There possibly was something very broken with Symbian (some time ago I mentioned that you can explore it: http://sourceforge.net/projects/symbiandump http://code.google.com/p/symbian-incubation-projects/ ...unless you don't want to be "contaminated" or smth*) - look how S40 improved recently (curiously, under Elop; the usual suspects tend to overlook it); it's basically surpassing Symbian now.

BTW, open-sourcing of Symbian can be probably seen as one of the greater exercises in cargo cults, the thought process probably being something like "so, Android got successful ...well, hm, it's open source; let's make Symbian OSS, too!" (and so they probably wasted perhaps half a year, perhaps a year for code reviews, setting everything up, and such)

> http://www.mobile-review.com/review/nokia-n9-2-en.shtml
On this front, I am of the more pessimistic opinion that new software releases that have not been tested by a relatively large user base are always bound to have problems. I think that Nokia did the right thing with historical Maemo releases by releasing "experimental" devices for tech-inclined people to beta-test the product with, as the way the ARM ecosystem works sadly prevents companies from releasing beta-quality software without associated hardware for "pure" testing purpose.

How ARM is set up (which perhaps isn't harmful at all... brings more variety, more lively ecosystem; shouldn't you be defending that, in context?! ;) ) concerns mostly the OS kernel, drivers, and such - but the whole mess of Maemo was also/especially at higher levels, of toolkit and user interaction.

Generally, this (and the link - plus note that the webpage is... sceptical about Elop) was about how N9 Meego isn't as polished as many want to believe.

> http://kyon.pl/img/21355,smbc-comics.com,.html ;)
And you know as well as me that like all good humour, this is based on exaggeration. The idea that we need people specialized in selling products is maybe one or two centuries old, and we managed to build perfectly usable products before that. People who did not take the time to care about their users just failed once, and did it right the second time.
Conversely, the modern approach of going for the option that pleases the largest amount of users at the lowest cost has many well-documented problems, including a tendency to build products that all look alike, are not designed to last, are made in a harmful atmosphere where workers have to do more in less time so as to stay "competitive"... It becomes less about building the most awesome stuff, and more about how bad products and work condition can get before people stop buying into them.

Humour is, of course, often based on exaggeration - but with "there is something saddening about the way executives don't understand what their employees are doing these days, and can only think in terms of paying the bills and selling to the largest number" you also exaggerated, and not in a humorous way.

Our entire modern civilisation is, more or less, built on the division of labour concept, of course those at the top won't know most of the stuff their minions are doing, it's impossible and inadvisable - might easily lead to micromanagment, missing the greater picture (also not dismissing pet projects of some small group of engineers). Maybe it's even safe to say that most companies led by ("really") engineers don't go anywhere...


Past wasn't a time particularly known for innovation as rapid as we had recently; lots of "secret knowledge" was long locked inside guilds, it was largely about maintaining the status of their members.

Yeah, and about that "building perfectly usable products" or "try again" - some cathedrals folded more than once, more than twice, before their builders got them right (while collapses of residential buildings were nothing out of the ordinary; try to imagine that for a minute, being quite unable to trust if the room in which you are won't collapse on you during sleep).

Generally, this isn't about small projects, trinkets, craftsmanship - but large undertainkings, strategic efforts which can... sorta kill a company (like Nokia?), if they fail.


*how's your OS going along BTW? (driven purely by ~engineering considerations, I bet ;p )

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