A Conversation with Ari Virtanen, Nokia (Web 2.0 Expo)

8 11 2007

Ari Virtanen has two devices in his pockets these says. One cellphone and one internet tablet. Tim asks if this is a laptop replacement. It’s a totally different computing behaviour than with a laptop.

Now we come to the purchase of NAVTEQ and what Nokia might be in the future. Ari says that devices will be part of Nokia’s future. They will not just go into a different direction. But on top of this Nokia put together a good set of internet services. Services and Devices work together and interact.

How is the relationships to carriers as they usually had the services. Is Nokia at odd with the carriers now that they provide freely available internet services? Ari: The services from the carriers are mostly speech based and this area is more or less over and things are shifting. It is not that black and white anymore.

Tim thinks in the mobile market Europe has the most to get into Web2.0. Tim then gets back to NAVTEQ and wants to hear more about it. Ari: Nokia has a pretty good situation in the devices but not so good in the services. To extend this such deals are needed. It’s about adding a context and content to existing services. Think of photos etc. and mashups.

Tim: Is this a missed opportunity by NAVTEQ because they did not provide user generated content. Will Nokia add this? Ari: Nokia users make up a good chunk of people who create user generated content (think cams). So he sees a lot happening there in the future.

Tim: Why do you wanna own that asset? Ari: NAVTEQ is staying very independent inside NOKIA. By having this asset what NAVTEQ provides, there is a lot of potential for NOKIA to combine this with other information such as location contexts. For Ari this defines Web 3.0. Web 3.0 then adds context.

Tim: Usually you see hacker activities first before it gets more mainstream. Ari: Social Networks are one of the fastest growing trends at the moment. Nokia can add location and being able to stay connected all the time and interact with your community (Tim interrupts here..).

Tim: In the classes of uses there are already lots of players (photos, music. …). Are you e.g. competing with flickr or picasa? Ari: NOKIA will cooperate not try to replace them.

Tim: Think about iTunes, there is a strategy with the PC as the central piece and lots around it. Will it be the same for Nokia? Ari: NOKIA wants to make it as easy to use all those services with your handset.

Tim: Now what about the Adressbook, why do we only see the last 10 calls not every call as this is my social network? Ari: This is one of the potential services NOKIA can think of. This kind of presence information can then again combined with your context. The starting point is a trusting ground, a trusted platform which NOKIA has. You need to build on top of that.

Tim: When will NOKIA join the open handset alliance? Ari: We always did open architectures and open standards (he sort of avoids an answer here). Tim: Is there another “open”? 🙂

Tim: Do you see the phone getting into new form factors? Ari: Certainly, see the internet devices and also laptops will change. It’s more a business model change though than a technology change when it goes to the more open internet model (e.g. VoiP). NOKIA will soon have WIMAX on some devices. But this might add a subscription model and they don’t want this on the internet devices.

Tim: Do users really care about subscription? You pay “hidden subscription” somewhere. Ari: You have it absolutely right. It’s hard to predict how much your phone usage costs (problem of carrier business plans). Users might want to buy devices and subscriptions separately so competition is driven

Tim: So what about Google and the GooglePhone rumours? Ari: Google is very much serving the vision Nokia has but slightly different. All in all this is good for the industry as it drives these things. The more companies are supporting these architectures, the better. No answer to whether he thinks Google will succeed.

Tim: Is NOKIA moving further and further away from devices? Ari: We do both directions, devices and services. Just launched no device strategy.

Tim: How much revenue do bring services to NOKIA? Ari: Depends on the services. So far the services are mostly in test status. Business model on navigation and mapping might be buying city guides or download fees for maps.

Tim: Why hasn’t loaction based stuff happened that much from triangulation? Ari: GPS will be NOKIAs strategy. Not all devices will have GPS though due to the wide range of devices. But high end devices will mostly have it.

Tim: How fast is the high-end becoming the low-end in mobile (see PCs)? When is the smartphone the norm? Ari: The markets are slightly different. cannot put the finger on an actual number of months or years.

Tim: Do the used phone market change that at all? see ebay. Ari: Not a major part of the market because most people want to have a new device as it’s a status device.

Audience: Can you give us a NOKIA POV on sustainability, like chargers, packaging, etc. Ari: Good question. NOKIA is thinking about this very seriously. Very soon we will try to standardize these plugs for chargers etc. another q: Why was the plug changed recently? Ari: The new plug is smaller and it’s much better for the device design. They wanted to do it rather sooner than later. Goal is to have a new standard charger for all phones.

Question about Media serving. Ari: We have different types of serving media. The most common is one-to-many. But there is another one-to-one serving type.

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