Feeds

Microsoft bricking lesson bodes badly for Elop's Brave New Nokia

There are times when you need a bureaucracy...

High performance access to file storage

Not to heap more misery upon Nokia employees, but if you are a depressed Finnish employee, we recommend you stop reading now and turn to this adorable story about a rabbit adopting some kittens. What you are about to read throws Elop's challenge to the company into a whole new light.

Earlier this week Microsoft issued, and then withdrew, a software update for its Windows Phone devices. According to Microsoft it affected "a small number" of users of Samsung WP7 phones. For some users the consequences were serious - the phone was "bricked", meaning it was not only non-functional, but couldn't be restored into a working state by the user.

It's a nightmare for the manufacturer, because it requires an expensive return to a repair centre, and the customer, once burned, is much less likely to become a repeat purchaser. That "small number" may be as high as ten per cent.

Bizarrely, the patch didn't contain any new features. It was a notification about new features to come, the equivalent of that little alert you get in XP telling you that there's a new version of Software Update available - which really means you're several hours (and reboots) away from having an update to the system.

How this managed to create such severe (and for the OEMs, expensive) consequences is a mystery I won't try to explain here. But it does shed light on the magnitude of the task Nokia's new CEO Stephen Elop has set the company. I'm not sure the risk has been fully factored in by analysts.

Elop has bet the future of Nokia on Windows Phone, and destroyed the alternative options to ensure that there can be no turning back. There is no Plan B. This means Nokia's fortunes are entirely tied to the quality of Microsoft's system software. So far, WP has received warm reviews, but it's very much at version 1.0, its limitations are well known, and there's a long, long way to go. And one of those small things buried halfway down a "to do" list is firmware updates.

Don't touch that cable...

Until fairly recently, only one manufacturer - Sony Ericsson - allowed firmware updates to its smartphones. The others considered them too risky. If the user knocks out a cable, or the device (or PC) runs out of battery, the device is bricked. Nokia began to introduce them (via a PC) in mid-2006. It was for hardcore users only.

OTA, or over-the-air updates followed in late 2007. In each case the update required the user to backup and restore; it was only in 2009 that Nokia introduced "user data preservation" across most of its devices.

In 2007 Apple introduced the iPhone, which was umbilically tied to iTunes software - and suddenly millions of users were doing firmware updates without even realising it. Even Apple has avoided OTA firmware updates - or for that matter, wireless sync. Something might go wrong.

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
A black box for your SUITCASE: Now your lost luggage can phone home – quite literally
Breakfast in London, lunch in NYC, and your clothes in Peru
Broadband Secretary of SHEEP sensationally quits Cabinet
Maria Miller finally resigns over expenses row
Skype pimps pro-level broadcast service
Playing Cat and Mouse with the media
Beat it, freetards! Dyn to shut down no-cost dynamic DNS next month
... but don't worry, charter members, you're still in 'for life'
Like Google, Comcast might roll its own mobile voice network
Says anything's possible if regulators approve merger with Time Warner
EE dismisses DATA-BURNING glitch with Orange Mail app
Bug quietly slurps PAYG credit - yet EE denies it exists
Turnbull leaves Australia's broadband blackspots in the dark
New Statement of Expectations to NBN Co offers get-out clauses for blackspot builds
Facebook claims 100 MEEELLION active users in India
Who needs China when you've got the next billion in your sights?
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.