Nokia’s Stephen Elop is getting some grief for his choice of Windows to fuel his company’s new SmartPhones. (see Grief and disbelief greet Elop’s Nokia revolution) Over at HP, CEO Apotheker is dumping Microsoft in favor of its own OS (Global CIO: HP Mobile Dump Of Microsoft Is Brilliant).
These are two strategic visions heading into different futures. Nokia’s future is one where hardware and software are integrated but separate. Operating systems are general purpose and can run on a variety of devices. Innovation takes place from strength: software guys innovate on software and hardware guys innovate on hardware. Like highway improvement projects, the increased capacity means everybody gets there faster.
With HP, the future is synergistic. Innovation is a holistic endeavor where hardware and software teams combine and play off of each other. They are nimble because they control the the supply-chain, the value-chain and the idea-change. They are not dependent on Microsoft. If
As a scenario planner, I can’t predict which is right. The forces at play, from carriers to consumer adoption, are too fickle in the near term to tell. But Nokia and HP have laid their bets. Two things I can predict, are that the ability to learn quickly will be a competitive differentiator and that management will matter.
Learning: Bets are bets, they aren’t the end game. The end game can be won, even if you make a mistake, as long as you get out in time and change direction. The company here with the better learning model, will ultimately win. So don’t just watch the announcements, watch the men behind the curtains learning from the market and how quickly they turn their observations into action.
Second, management will matter. It will matter at Nokia if Elop and his team can find parity with Microsoft and drive features and delivery dates they need to create a market leading device. At HP, management matters because Apotheker will need to make sure his internal teams get along, negotiate quickly and execute to win. If the Nokia/Microsoft deals goes south, it will be because of management. If HP can’t deliver, they will only have themselves to blame, and ultimately, that will mean judgment for their new CEO’s management acumen and style.
So watch the consumer and see what he or she buys. Watch the companies, from their P&L statements to their quarterly calls to what analysts are saying in the press. And watch Apple and Google and RIM. HP is entering Apple’s world, and may be eaten alive if its OS doesn’t compete well. And Nokia is leaving the "we own it all" strategy for Google’s turf, in terms of strategic positioning, only they are just one of the many vs. the owner of the software jewels. HP and Nokia are both are switching strategies, or rather, exchanging strategies, and that is another management role: adapting to change. Getting either strategy to become company doctrine will take time.
Both companies have just made their futures uncertain, with very different uncertainties than they were looking at a week ago. Let’s watch as the future unfolds.