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技术 - 移动技术

史蒂芬•埃洛普的不可能完成的任务

Michal Lev-Ram 2011年06月07日

史蒂芬•埃洛普信心满满,认为自己可以带领诺基亚重获新生。然而,一旦他获得成功,诺基亚将彻底变成另一番面貌。

    诺基亚(Nokia)首席执行官埃洛普重任在肩。这家芬兰手机制造商在上周陷入了困境(周二,该公司发布了盈利预警,导致其股价大跌)。但尽管如此,新CEO近期依然赶赴南加州的诺基亚分部进行了视察,竭力推销他的公司转型计划。

    周四上午在圣地亚哥举行的高通(Qualcomm)Uplinq会议上,埃洛普表示,苹果(Apple)和谷歌(Google)之外,诺基亚与微软(Microsoft)联袂开发的操作系统仍有立足之地,三者将同台竞技。但是鉴于iPhone、Android手机日益流行,埃洛普规划的宏伟蓝图可能会沦为一纸空文。为什么这么说呢?诺基亚与微软合作开发的第一款手机将于今年晚些时候上市,但是,一切为时已晚,留给诺基亚的市场空间已经非常有限。而且,从未来的创新前景来看,不管是微软还是诺基亚,都回天乏术。

    埃洛普在Uplinq大会上对移动开发人员说:“在过去两年里,市场发生了一些显著的变化。市场竞争开始从硬件之争转向系统平台之争。”埃洛普此番言论是对《彭博商业周刊》(Bloomberg Businessweek)一篇评论文章的回应。该杂志在文章中将埃洛普描述为肩负重任的领袖,其任务是重振甚至重建诺基亚。诺基亚目前在芬兰的地位和声望与二十世纪八十年代的通用汽车(General Motors)不分伯仲——这个移动通讯巨擘现在正处于顶峰,也正因如此,它已不可否认地走上了下坡路。

    然而,早在2007年,苹果发布iPhone的时候,系统平台之争便已经开始。作为回应,谷歌推出了Android平台,而当时,诺基亚却把时间浪费在对Meego系统进行修修补补上。现在,Android已经大获成功。但直到今年2月份,诺基亚才痛下决心,放弃其与芯片制造商英特尔(Intel)合作开发的Meego手机平台,转而把宝押到了微软的Windows Phone系统上。至于双方合作的成果如何,只有等到今年年底的时候才能见分晓了。

    与此同时,数十万的开发人员已经加入了Android阵营(只要去跟那些迫切希望招聘Android程序员的创业公司聊聊,你就明白其中的原因了)。埃洛普自己也承认,他们最大的竞争对手是谷歌,而不是宏达电(HTC)、三星(Samsung)等其他手机制造商。当然,在选择与微软/Windows Phone合作之前,埃洛普也曾考虑过与谷歌合作。但是,埃洛普周四表示,诺基亚最终得出的结论是,采用Android平台,“将无法有效地保证诺基亚产品的独特性”。

    那么,Windows Phone系统能够为诺基亚提供它所需要的独特性,从而遏制谷歌和苹果的发展势头吗?这一点很值得怀疑,尽管答案要等到2013年才能揭晓。到时候,市场上会出现更多NokSoft手机产品。但预计Android平台届时将会变得更加普及,诺基亚面临的竞争压力也会更大。

    即便是微软即将发布的Windows Phone 8移动手机操作系统也无法解决诺基亚的问题。上周三,微软提前展示了一款改进的操作系统,新系统控制界面的设计以触摸屏为核心,可以兼容任何设备。或许,诺基亚可以借此推出一些创新型平板电脑。但这并不能解决它们面临的最大问题:起步太晚。

    埃洛普已经接过了重担,但是,我们还看不出他将如何完成这个不可能完成的任务。

    Nokia chief executive officer Stephen Elop is a man on a mission. Despite the Finnish phonemaker's rough week (it issued a profit warning on Tuesday, which sent shares tumbling), the newish CEO recently made the rounds at a couple of confabs in Southern California to pitch his turnaround plan for the company.

    Speaking at Qualcomm's (QCOM) Uplinq conference in San Diego Thursday morning, Elop said there is room for a third ecosystem -- Nokia's (NOK) collaboration with Microsoft (MSFT) -- to compete with Apple (AAPL) and Google (GOOG). But the CEO's lofty plans to come up with a viable alternative to increasingly popular iPhones and Android devices may turn out to be just lofty plans. Why? With the first NokSoft device expected late this year, the company's current trajectory is already too little, too late. And no amount of future innovation on Microsoft or Nokia's part can turn back time.

    "What has happened over the last couple of years is there has been a shift from a battle of devices to a war of ecosystems," Elop told an audience of mobile developers at the Uplinq conference. In that he's echoing a sentiment that comes across in a long Bloomberg Businessweek profile that paints Elop as a leader tasked with rallying yet rebuilding Finland's equivalent, in status and prominence, of 1980's era General Motors -- a monolith at the height of its powers, and thus in an undeniable decline.

    Well, that ecosystem war started way back in 2007, when Apple launched the iPhone. While Google responded with the now-wildly successful Android, Nokia wasted time tinkering with Meego, a mobile platform it collaborated on with chipmaker Intel (INTC). It took until February of this year for the Finnish phonemaker to decide to throw its weight behind Microsoft's Windows Phone. And it will take until end of this year to see what the fruits of that partnership will look like.

    In the meantime, hundreds of thousands of developers have jumped on the Android bandwagon (talk to any startup desperately looking to hire Android programmers and you'll see why). Even Elop admits that Google, not other phonemakers like HTC or Samsung, is his greatest competition. Of course, Nokia considered partnering with Android before it chose the Microsoft/Windows Phone route. But Elop said on Thursday that Nokia's final assessment was that "we would not be able to differentiate enough" on Android's platform.

    So will Windows Phone give Nokia the level of differentiation it needs to really make a dent in Google and Apple's growth? That's doubtful, though we won't know for sure until at least 2013, when more NokSoft devices launch. By that time, Android in particular is expected to be even more ubiquitous, making it even harder for Nokia to compete.

    Even Windows Phone 8, the upcoming version of Microsoft's mobile operating system, can't solve Nokia's problems. On Wednesday Microsoft unveiled a sneak peek at the revamped OS, a new, touch-centric interface that can work on any device and could help Nokia come out with some innovative tablets. But it doesn't solve the bigger problem facing both companies -- being late to the game.

    Elop is a man on a mission alright, but it's hard to see how it's not mission impossible.

 

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