What’s next for Nokia post-phones: wearables?
In a move that would seem unimaginable even a few years ago, Nokia is exiting the phone business – a move we predicted at the weekend. Most of the coverage has focused on the implications for Microsoft, a company which will now have its own phone – and potentially tablet – manufacturing division. I’m not sure that it’s the most interesting angle, though. The rump of the old Nokia, the bit that Microsoft isn’t buying, will have two things that will make it very interesting to watch: Some compelling interaction and…
Most of the coverage has focused on the implications for Microsoft, a company which will now have its own phone – and potentially tablet – manufacturing division. I’m not sure that it’s the most interesting angle, though. The rump of the old Nokia, the bit that Microsoft isn’t buying, will have two things that will make it very interesting to watch:
- Some compelling interaction and mapping tech
- A whole bunch of cash
The cash gives it some runway to build useful – and commercial – products over a few years, while the markets it’s planning on entering mature. What are those markets? Well, we already know about cars. The smart car is an obvious area for development. There’s a lot of money in cars, and the whole driving experience could be made richer – and safer – through the application of good technology. Here Auto could be a strong contender here, by offering a product that manufacturers could get into the vehicles straight away – and then growing to be smarter over time. Google has aspirations in this area – look at its self-driving car tech – but there are regulatory and practical issues (and some social ones, too) to overcome before that becomes mainstream. Released from the fetters of Old Nokia’s commitment to Windows Phone, Here has the potential to become a compelling service on every mobile platform, because it ties into your car.
What else could the new, streamlined and cash rich Nokia explore? Well, what does it have left? David Mayer for GigaOM:
Here, and its Advanced Technologies division, which deals in new sensor, materials, cloud and web technologies. In other words, it still has the two key units to take it into a wearables-centric future, on both the location-based services and associated core tech development sides.
Wearables are an interesting market, if a very much nascent one right now. They’ve started slowly, with mainly health-related objects. They’re gathering pace, though, with Google Glass gaining the most attention. Earlier today Samsung announced their first smart watch and – not coincidentally – Apple are being rumoured to be working on something in that vein.
What’s left of Nokia looks like it has the time, the money and the technology to do something very interesting in this space. It raises the interesting question: if the screen in your car, in your home and on your wrist are smart – could the mobile phone be about to see a decline in relevance? Nokia, freed of the phone business, has no reason not to explore that.
That’s a whole lot more interesting than being a company competing for third place in the phone market…