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Nokia's CTO on changing the Windows Phone UI: Why would you?

Ever since the Nokia-Microsoft partnership was announced and Nokia CEO's Elop mentioned that this was a "special relationship" where Nokia had the right to manipulate the UI and go deeper on the phone than other OEMs, developers, users and analysts had been concerned with what that would mean to the Windows Phone ecosystem in terms of "build once, build for all".

On Wednesday in Barcelona, Nokia's Chief Technology Officer, Rich Greene, made a surprise appearance at the "Windows Phone Day" seminar for developers. After some softball questions from Matthew Bencke, General Manager Windows Phone, we in the audience had a few moments to ask Greene basically anything. Of course, the UI question came up and his answer is very telling: Nokia has little interest in wrecking the "build once, build for all" ecosystem and there are many more areas where they can innovate rather than "moving tiles around".  Below is his full response from the session:

We certainly do, in the context of this agreement, have the right to manipulate the UX, the UI, etc. but...I'm not speaking for the plan, I'm speaking as the Chief Technology Officer: Why would you?

Let me clarify. There are so many places to innovate, it is critically important to provide the greatest opportunity for you the developer, you build once and everybody gets it, when you create more and more variance it becomes a hindrance. We also want customers to move between devices, preferably towards Nokia devices, but move between devices and not to hinder that in any fashion. The hardware and additional services we can offer will bring people to us, but if there are unfamiliar with a different environment, there may be a barrier to that, so why do it?

The other issue is would I rather invest our resources in building really cool augmented reality applications or move tiles around? It just doesn't make sense. We're going to invest much more of our time, as we should have over the years, building on the platform as opposed to building in the platform. There's unlimited amounts of opportunity to differentiate and innovate in these things.

There's some more after the break...

Certainly a measured and focused response, alleviating, in our opinion, most people's concerns in this area. So what kinds of services? Augmented reality was one, the other is a big focus on geo-location, taking advantage of Nokia's vast resources and superior mapping abilities. To wit, Matthew Bencke (GM of Windows Phone)  said during the same session "over time" we will see::

 ...fantastic geo-powered experiences. I can imagine a geopowered hub...for geoinformed activities

Yes, he was referring to the Windows Phone Hubs: Music, People, Games, Office...and now Geolocation. That additional hub, if it comes to be, is exactly the kind of thing many consumers have expressed interest in, so to us, this all sounds great.

We certainly do, in the context of this agreement, have the right to manipulate the UX, the UI, etc. but...I'm not speaking

for the plan, I'm speaking as the Chief Technology Officer: Why would you? Let me clarify. There are so many places to

innovate, it is critically immportant to provide the greatest opportunity for you the developer, you build once and

everybody gets it, when you create more and more variance it becomes a hinderence. We also want customers to move between

devices, preferably towards Nokia devices, but move between devices and not to hinder that in any fashion. The hardware and

additional servies we can offer will bring people to us, but if there are unfamilar with a different environment, there may

be a barrier to that, so why do it?

The other issue is would I rather invest our resources in building really cool augmented reality applications or move tiles

around? It just doesn't make sense. We're going to invest much more of our time, as we should have over the years, building

on the platform as opposed to building in the platform. There's unlimited amounts of opportunity to differentiate and

innovate in these things.

We certainly do, in the context of this agreement, have the right to manipulate the UX, the UI, etc. but...I'm not speaking for the plan, I'm speaking as the Chief Technology Officer: Why would you?

 

Let me clarify. There are so many places to innovate, it is critically important to provide the greatest opportunity for you the developer, you build once and everybody gets it, when you create more and more variance it becomes a hindrance. We also want customers to move between devices, preferably towards Nokia devices, but move between devices and not to hinder that in any fashion. The hardware and additional services we can offer will bring people to us, but if they are unfamiliar with a different environment, there may be a barrier to that, so why do it?

 

The other issue is would I rather invest our resources in building really cool augmented reality applications or move tiles around? It just doesn't make sense. We're going to invest much more of our time, as we should have over the years, building on the platform as opposed to building in the platform. There's unlimited amounts of opportunity to differentiate and innovate in these things.

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Reader comments

Nokia's CTO on changing the Windows Phone UI: Why would you?

4 Comments

This is all starting to look pretty bright to me. The biggest thing I've missed about not having a WP7 phone anymore is the UI, and the reason I don't have a WP7 phone is because of the flaky hardware I had to put up with. If I could get a Nokia-quality phone with the Microsoft-intended WP7 experience, I'd pre-order it immediately.

I definitely would want an information hub as well where i could get aggregated news feeds from different applications into one seamless summary like the people hub, and then when you swipe to a different page it would be a page dedicated to that news feed. you could then click on the articles and it would take you into that article's feed application. I've been waiting for MS to add to the variety of hubs available. this is welcomed news.

This is what I expect from a hardware mfg. I removed the Samsung widgets from my Omnia. Nokia knows micro-manufacturing. They can work on the the 6th and 7th layer. MS can handle the rest. ~Sent from my Samsung Omnia