Now, in the foreseeable future, Mr. Biniak will be a part of the combining of talented teams between Nokia and Microsoft. It will not be such an alien task though since these groups have been working together for years.
Initially, we were going to be in a sterile studio with Nokia at their location along the Vegas strip, the “invasion” presence in lieu of an exhibit in the convention center. As the time of our late afternoon time segment approached however, we were instead invited to join the team for some Spanish fare at the Cosmopolitan.
Such a setting made for a much more relaxing and frank discussion about all the things going on in the mobile industry. Right there along the tip of the spear of innovation is the development of applications. Before we discussed the environment of such development though, we thought we would at least ask one obvious question (and receive the obvious answer) to get it out of the way.
How many phones will Nokia introduce in 2014? No comment. With that obvious item covered, we dove into a conversation that reflected on the nuances of the developer experience that Nokia strives for not only with those who develop for the platform, but for customers that use Nokia devices.
- Bryan Biniak, VP & GM Developer Experience, Nokia
Speaking of one of those apps specifically, an app long sought after by Windows Phone users, and Nokia in particular, was Instagram. One of the things revealed in our discussion with Mr. Biniak was that Nokia was in touch with Instagram before it was acquired by Facebook. “In the case of Instagram, we expected to do a lot with them…and it was a matter of once they commit, they commit.” He reflected that in many cases, working with developers of high-profile apps like Instagram required a lot of patience.
“You can’t do this job without being patient. It’s kind of like interviewing with your future boss. You got to make sure that it’s a fantastic interview because guess what, if it works, and he or she hires you, you got to work with them for a long time. Same thing happens with developers. You need to build a relationship with that developer.” The dynamics involved in promoting application development for a given platform vary greatly.
We also talked about how much of a role developer relations plays in influencing the development of the Windows Phone platform over the past couple years, and how that role will change as the relative offerings of Nokia and Microsoft expand once the acquisition is completed. “I think [the role] increases. Today, whenever anyone on my team talks to a developer, we talk about both Lumia and Asha devices. When Microsoft goes in, they talk about all the commercial opportunities. When we become part of that team, they have to be able to talk about our Asha devices, and we have to be able to talk about Azure and Xbox and everything else that they have. It’s going to be exciting for both companies.”
This notion of having 5-star apps is an important point. One app that has distinguished itself by being available on just about every mobile platform in use today is WhatsApp, the popular instant messaging program. We asked if it was easier working with companies that strive to be everywhere or is it easier when a developer has a distinct focus for a certain platform. “WhatsApp is an interesting company because their singular focus is ‘having the best product possible. Period,’” notes Mr. Biniak. “They push themselves unbelievably hard. It’s a pleasure working with somebody who cares so much about quality and innovation.”
We have been in correspondence with the folks at Nokia for a while, and the mood is unwaveringly positive. That is for good reason, and Mr. Biniak is a guy who took the job because of the geek factor, but he is also an enthusiast for the customer too, “We want to make sure that if you have a Lumia phone or an Asha phone today, that you love it and you stick with us forever. If you don’t [own a Nokia], we want to give you a good reason to switch.”