|The Power of 3: Microsoft's Key Strategic Development Partners (Nokia and Qualcomm) ...|
... for ARM architected systems development.
1+1+1 does not always = 3. Properly focused on crunch time collaborative strategic software development in Tiger Team fashion between 3 dedicated and talented individuals or 3 dedicated and highly motivated companies the 'Power of 3' (i.e. 3³ = 9) from a productivity perspective is in play. More (individuals or companies) than that becomes unwieldy.
There are two 2011 WinPhone development related articles clipped below that I found above average interesting when I originally read them. Quotes in the prior post were lifted from the 1st.
>> Reindeer Antlers and Reykjavik: How Microsoft and Nokia Are Getting Down to Business Together
All Things D
The Wall Street Journal
July 11, 2011
Like many marriages, the partnership between Nokia and Microsoft began with a lot of celebrating and travel and presents. And reindeer antlers.
As both companies’ chief executives announced their partnership in London in February, the Windows Phone team gathered at Daman’s, a watering hole near Microsoft’s Redmond headquarters. Having sealed the most important mobile deal in the company’s history, the workers toasted each other with a custom concoction they dubbed the Noble Finn: A combination of Finlandia vodka, Chartreuse, sparkling soda, sugar and lemon juice, stirred with a reindeer antler.
The next month, Windows Phone engineering head Terry Myerson and a group of his co-workers traveled to Finland to get to know some of their Nokia compatriots better. The teams went snowshoeing, then hit a dry sauna to warm up.
“We ran out of the sauna on fire and rolled around in the snow to survive,” Myerson said. “It was indescribably hot.”
The next day, with the courtship phase over, it was down to business, as Myerson and his team toured Nokia’s factory in Salo, Finland.
So far, executives on both sides of the partnership insist the marriage is a happy one.
“We’ve spent the last couple months working really closely together to get first products really materializing,” Nokia’s Jo Harlow, who is in charge of Smart Devices at the phone giant, said in an interview. “We all feel confident about where we are.”
Although the deal was announced in February, the paperwork wasn’t signed until April.
Well before all the i’s were dotted and t’s crossed, though, the engineering teams had already been hard at work, the companies said. Nokia had prototype hardware designs running prerelease versions of the next Windows Phone software.
Nokia CEO Stephen Elop has been boasting for a while that he is carrying something along those lines, and a recently leaked video shows him with an early version of the hardware.
Harlow declined to comment on that leak, but says she is increasingly confident in the first product that will arrive this year, and that the company may yet have multiple devices for sale before the end of the year. The first Nokia phones are expected to arrive this fall alongside Mango, the first major update to Windows Phone 7.
“I’m committed to one model this year,” Harlow said. “More would be great.”
For next year, though, Harlow said there will be a steady stream of releases — something that Microsoft badly needs as it tries to keep up with rivals, particularly Android devices, which are released on a constant basis.
If Microsoft was close to the latest hardware when it released the first Windows Phones last fall, it is fair to say that its models now look dated when stacked up against the latest Android models, some of which boast 3-D screens, dual-core processors, high-definition video recording and other features.
“I’m hoping that won’t be an issue next year,” Myerson said.
Harlow said her goal is that Nokia will have more frequent hardware updates, keeping the company, and by extension Windows Phone, front of mind with phone shoppers.
As the two companies settle into working with one another, they are using a variety of methods to manage their long-distance relationship.
Although most physical travel involves workers from one company visiting the other, the two companies have also found an in-between location to meet — Reykjavik, Iceland.
Why? Because it’s roughly in between Finland and the U.S., and there are direct flights from both Helsinki and Seattle. On occasion, executives have often met at Iceland’s government-owned Culture House, a spot just a couple blocks from the Höfði, the spot where Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev held a now-famous summit in 1986.
While the Americans and Soviets often struggled to find peace after a long Cold War, Harlow and Myerson say they share a good deal of common ground.
Nokia and Microsoft find themselves in a similarly tough position in the mobile space. Both companies have fallen behind Android and Apple’s iPhone in the smartphone race and have bet their future on each other as the way to recover.
There are other ties binding Myerson and Harlow: Both graduated from North Carolina’s Duke University; Myerson got his engineering degree in 1991, and Harlow, who graduated in 1984, was captain of the women’s basketball during her time in Durham. To honor the shared heritage, workers at Nokia presented both executives with custom Nokia E7 phones emblazoned with the logo of Duke’s mascot, the Blue Devil (pictured left).
While Harlow said she expects to rack up plenty of frequent-flier miles as a result of the deal, the intercontinental travel has been reduced thanks to a video conferencing technology known as Halo.
“We were planning on going to Finland, but decided to give Halo a try first, and decided we didn’t need to fly over there [as much],” said KC Lemson, who works for Myerson on the Windows Phone camera team.
Myerson echoed the importance of Halo, which he said he hadn’t used before the Nokia deal came together. The customized room lets a team in one place seem like they are separated only by a window from colleagues sitting halfway around the world.
“It’s as if we are sitting in the room with people in Finland or London,” Myerson said. “It’s like something out of ‘Star Trek.’”
Halo is used, on average, five or 10 times per week to bridge the engineering teams from Nokia and Microsoft.
But sometimes that’s not enough, of course. Nokia has transferred a top executive — Waldemar Sakalus — to Seattle to oversee the Microsoft relationship, and is spreading hardware development work across several locations, including San Diego, Calif., and Beijing, as well as two sites in Finland: Salo and Tampere.
Nokia also hired Kevin Shields, a former member of Myerson’s Windows Phone team, to oversee Nokia’s efforts to build on top of Microsoft’s operating system.
For its part, Microsoft said it has shifted its priorities to make sure that Nokia’s needs are being met first. The company has increased its focus on going global more quickly, as Nokia counts on Windows Phone to quickly fill a gap created by the rapid decline in its existing Symbian phone business.
“We had been focused on North America and Western Europe,” Myerson said of the company’s early efforts. That, he said, has now changed.
Although Microsoft is also working with its other partners, Myerson isn’t shy about saying that he is pouring more energy into his partners in Finland. After all, while HTC and Samsung build Windows Phones, they also make phones running Google’s Android software. Nokia, meanwhile, has pledged to make Windows Phone the core of its smartphone strategy.
“We are prioritizing work proportionate to Nokia’s commitment to Windows Phone, which is unlike anything we have had before,” Myerson said. ###
>> Nokia Plans W8 Tablet, Will Be Critical Moment for Microsoft and Qualcomm Too
November 16, 2011
In the week that the microprocessor turns 40, its inventor Intel is besieged by ARM-based rivals in the biggest growth market for the chips, mobile devices. Its highest hopes rest in the mobile processor’s move beyond the cellphone, into larger, more PC-like products which fit more comfortably into Intel’s ecosystem. But it will have a tough battle on its hands. The leader of the mobile ARM pack, Qualcomm, used to say it wanted to stick to what it knew best, smartphones, but it reversed that strategy when it unveiled Snapdragon, targeting it at a huge range of consumer and ‘post-PC’ devices, and when it acquired Atheros, with a beady eye on the home wireless market. Now Qualcomm is eyeing Intel’s traditional place as the primary partner for Windows, using its early moves into next year’s Windows 8 as a springboard into Intel’s heartlands – and this time, it has Nokia on its side too.
Qualcomm is an expert at forging a wide mesh of alliances around its efforts, working with carriers, developers and consumers as well as its direct customers. One of its most important partnerships in recent years has been with Microsoft, in whose unloved Windows Mobile platform the US chipmaker has invested far more time and effort than it would seem to merit (the new iteration, WP7, had only 1.5% share of the smartphone base in the third quarter, according to Gartner). But Qualcomm can afford to play a long game, and it has its own challenges - just as it aims to take on Intel in mobile computers (whatever they may look like in future), so it is being squeezed on one side by low cost challengers for its cellphone crown, such as MediaTek, and on the other by immigrants from the PC market like Nvidia. So usurping Intel’s traditional place at Microsoft’s right hand is a strategic imperative for Qualcomm, and even if that does not bear much fruit in WP7, it is likely to reap rewards in the far more important Windows 8, which spans ARM and x86 architectures, and various device formats.
The possible obstacle in Qualcomm’s path, after years of wooing Microsoft, was the sudden anointing of Nokia as the lead WP7 partner. Despite settling their legal differences in 2008 and even signing a supplier deal in 2009, the two firms had a long history of hostility and Nokia had its own well established alliances in the chip market, with Texas Instruments, ST-Ericsson and more recently Broadcom. In addition, Nokia had got close to Intel, via the aborted MeeGo effort and because it buys chips for low end phones from the firm’s Infineon Wireless unit. This was where Qualcomm’s intensive cultivation of Microsoft really paid off – at the point where Nokia was launching its first WP7 devices, the make-or-break Lumia family, no other silicon vendor had a platform optimized for the new OS and ready for market. Nokia insists it will include STE in its Lumia range as soon as possible, but it knows that Qualcomm brings significant advantages in its deep understanding of the Microsoft platforms, and will be basically unavoidable in WP7 for years to come – a position it looks set to extend into Windows 8.
So as Qualcomm gloated over the “close relationship” and “multiple device plans” it had with its new, if reluctant, best friend, the two firms are already reported to be gearing up to launch one of the first Windows 8 tablets, as early as the second quarter next year. Qualcomm urgently wants to make Nokia dependent upon its Snapdragon processors, and permanently win a major OEM customer from which it has always been excluded, so Enrico Salvatori, president of Qualcomm CDMA Technologies in Europe, was keen to stress in a recent interview that the Lumia collaboration went beyond the usual supplier relationship. Instead, the US firm had significant input into the smartphone design, he said, adding: “We are working on a roadmap [with Nokia] and not a single device, a single launch. It’s an important collaboration for Qualcomm, so we are very excited about working together. It’s been very effective in terms of time to market because we developed the phone together. It’s been a very successful development.”
If Nokia is planning to be first off the blocks with an ARM/W8 tablet, it will certainly need Qualcomm’s help. The San Diego giant was loud in its support of the new OS at its launch and back in March, Rob Chandhok, president of Qualcomm Internet Services, said the firm was preparing tools and software to make Snapdragon attractive to the huge Windows developer community, and not just the programmers focused on smartphones. These efforts will almost certainly feed into Nokia’s tablet plans. Prevented by Microsoft’s bar on large-screen WP7 devices from entering this space in 2011, the Finnish firm will need to make a splash next year. Its French chief, Paul Amsellem, said in a newspaper interview that the company will launch the product by June 2012, though official spokespeople stressed that there had been no formal announcement. Last month, at the Nokia World event where Lumia was unveiled, CEO Stephen Elop (and former Microsoft man) commented: "From an ecosystem perspective, there are benefits and synergies that exist between Windows and Windows Phone. We see that opportunity. We'll certainly consider those opportunities going forward."
An early W8 tablet launch would be a critical moment for both partners and for Microsoft. If successful, it would take Qualcomm into a segment of the tablet market which it could almost certainly have to itself for many months (apart from Intel x86 models), offsetting the mounting pressure it feels in Android tablets from Nvidia and Texas Instruments, in particular. It would give Nokia, for the first time in years, a frontrunner position in a new sector, the Windows/ARM slate, and an operating system which promises to be hugely impactful – a big improvement on ageing Symbian and neglected WP7. Of course, for Microsoft, it would mark a belated move – perhaps disastrously belated – into touch-based tablets, and the hope that the attractions of W8 would succeed in stealing iPad or Kindle Fire upgraders, while appealing to a broader base too.
However, the focus on W8 does leave WP7 rather isolated. With no slates in sight, even the OS’s friends are concerned about its growth potential. AT&T, which promised to be the world’s biggest WP7 carrier at its launch, and is reported to be negotiating with Nokia for the Lumia launch, nevertheless sees “challenges” for the OS, according to Glenn Lurie, head of emerging devices. “I think we’re still going to see a lot of challenges,” Lurie said at a Morgan Stanley conference in Barcelona. “I’m actually a fan of the Windows devices, I’m also very excited about Windows 8 on the tablet devices, but you’re still going to have a lot of people competing for that space.”
Meanwhile, tablets are certainly not the only new target market for Snapdragon. This week, Qualcomm broadened the Snapdragon range and had its eye on Nvidia’s favorite market with the release of GamePack, a set of features and apps for the gaming sector, all optimized for Snapdragon. And by combining the processor and its Atheros products in future, it could look at pushing into smart TVs and other consumer home gear.
The new models in the Snapdragon S4 range (the high end of the family) aim to lower design, engineering and inventory costs for a broad variety of devices including tablets, said Qualcomm, while supporting feature sets for multimedia, connectivity, camera, display, security, power management, browsing and natural user interface design. The products include the new Krait CPU, integrated with various combinations of modems supporting EV-DO, HSPA+, TD-SCDMA, TD-LTE, FD-LTE and Wi-Fi. Devices based on Snapdragon S4 processors are expected to appear in early 2012.
Craig Barratt, previously CEO of Atheros, sees a role for Snapdragon in the home connectivity markets his unit targets, as connected home and media platforms increasingly require intelligence and processing power in the end points as well as wireless links. "We're going to drive technology to more media devices in the home," he said in an interview with CNet. In future, Qualcomm will be able to tailor processors for specific devices in the home, he said, particularly tapping into the expected rise in the processing power of the television. Much of the technology needed to work in a TV is already available in Snapdragon, he said, and as in handsets, connectivity and CPUs will increasingly be integrated together. ###
- Eric -