A decade ago, Microsoft, Nokia, and Symbian grossly underestimated Android


Back in 2007, the world was quite a bit different. George W Bush was still President of the United States, The final chapters of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows got published, The Simpsons Movie was debuting at theaters, Tesla was making its baby steps at car shows with the Roadster, and Steve Jobs showed the first iPhone at an iconic press event.

2007 was also the year when Google introduced its own operating system for smartphones, dubbed Android OS, which was quite different from what you could imagine. The market was quite different back then, ruled by mastodons like Nokia, Motorola, and BlackBerry, but still, Android did register as a blimp on the radar.

However, not everyone was convinced that Google will be successful with its OS endeavor. In particular, 10 years and 1 day ago on this date, Microsoft, Nokia, Symbian, and Apple all grossly underestimated Android by shooting down its potential aspirations for anything more than a small chunk of the phone market. 

Here's what some of the key players back at the time had to say about Android:

Nokia"We don't see this as a threat."

Microsoft: "It really sounds that they are getting a whole bunch of people together to build a phone and that's something we've been doing for five years. I don't understand the impact that they are going to have." - Scott Horn, Microsoft Windows Mobile team.

Symbian"If Google was not involved the industry would have just yawned and rolled over. We take it seriously but we are the ones with real phones, real phone platforms and a wealth of volume built up over years." - Symbian's John Forsight.

Apple"We have a great relationship with Google and this doesn't change anything. They are certainly an important partner for iPhone." - Apple Spokeswoman Natalie Kerris.

Fast forward 10 years and Microsoft is done with mobile devices, Nokia has learned not to downplay Android, and Symbian is, well, gone for good; only Apple is the exception to the rule, relying on its iPhones to bring home the cash. Granted, that was mostly true in 2007. Boundaries had been established, the major players were enjoying increasing sales of devices on an unsaturated market that was just experiencing the mobile boom of the Internet, and only the iPhone was trying to break the mold. Of course, in the long run, it became clear that Android is not only going nowhere, but is also gunning for almost total monopoly of the market, available on. 

The lesson one can learn? Be careful who or what you underestimate.

source: Engadget (5/11/2007)

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35 Comments

1. roldefol

Posts: 4744; Member since: Jan 28, 2011

So pretty much the same reaction BB, MS, and Nokia had to the introduction of the iPhone: "We're the real players and we don't see this as a threat." And to be fair, the first Android phone wasn't exactly a powerhouse. But by 2009, Google was already pretty damned powerful and should have been seen as a rising force. The Droid showed them all.

18. MINDoSOUL

Posts: 322; Member since: Feb 28, 2014

Pretty much the lesson here whether its old companies or new ones be it Apple or Google; if you are not growing you are dying a simple fact that will stand the test of time. If you don't keep innovating someone from behind will come and stick it to you, so you better watch out Apple i am speaking to you.

23. Penny

Posts: 1851; Member since: Feb 04, 2011

Yep, that's a fact I always find myself emphasizing to business owners that get complacent.

32. sgodsell

Posts: 7365; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

What was Androids hidden secret innovation was it's VM and it's agnostic nature. Especially when mobile SoCs were constantly evolving and changing very rapidly back then. This meant that Android could run on any mobile SoCs. Plus the VM isolated sensors and other hardware. This helped Androids ecosystem grow, and today Android is the largest agnostic platform in the world. It's agnostic nature lead to others trying to follow it. Apple with its Swift language and runtime, and Microsoft with its universal apps.

2. vishalvenky

Posts: 79; Member since: Feb 12, 2012

Nokia actually teach you a lesson! lesson not to bindly move forward without considering the fact what the future has in store for you!. They were actually top notch innovators at that time. But they were so over-confident that they got blindfolded by their own success. Today, I still love Nokia but google has won hands down! gg google! gl Nokia!

8. Shubham412302

Posts: 578; Member since: Nov 09, 2011

They shoud have invested in apps and multicore Phones

17. microsoftnokiawin

Posts: 1268; Member since: Mar 30, 2012

nokia's demise was a result of a bad management and a bad CEO at the time stephen elop announced the "burning platform" memo which saw sales plumment overnight Symbian was still the most popular OS in marketshare and had the most sold apps of any phone QT was cooking up nicely and the successor of anna which i don't remember the name was gonna bring a ton of new features as well as multicore support on the other hand Meego could've played as their flagship OS the reception MeeGO recieved was amazing everywhere but nope stephen elop literally said doesn't matter if it sells well we're not selling anymore of that stuff who in their right says that and they went on to make windowsphones at a time where WP7 was less mature than both MeeGO and Symbian

19. Peacetoall unregistered

Anything microsoft touches turns into a flop. Microsoft is a curse . Their xbox division is a joke , mobile division is a joke , and even now windows 10 is a joke.

9. biagnosis

Posts: 106; Member since: Nov 19, 2012

did you say "notch"? lol. kidding but yeah I agree with you.

3. palmguy

Posts: 982; Member since: Mar 22, 2011

Palmmmmmm!! :-)

4. surethom1

Posts: 31; Member since: May 01, 2009

Nokia Symbian could have been the king, but they ignored the change to touchscreen, I remember emailing Nokia before Android was introduced asking then for a full touchscreen screen phone.

5. Scott93274

Posts: 6033; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

I remember when the iPhone was first announced, I was so excited to get one, but I was on Verizon, not AT&T, and I wasn't willing to change carriers. Then came Android, which at first seemed like a compromise, but I bought the Motorola Droid because the commercials were "so cool!"... lol. Now I'm glad I'm with the Android platform, maybe that wouldn't be the case if I switched carriers or if Apple had not been an AT&T exclusive for several years, but that's how they let Android take over, exclusivity did not work in their favor (Market share wise).

33. sgodsell

Posts: 7365; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

There was a bunch of things in Androids favour. For instance being free and open source also ment that OEMs could easily add new hardware, including new CPUs, GPUs, and more. This also helped to grow Android, and it helped to drive the prices down as well. Not to mention Androids VM and agnostic ecosystem means that developers could easily make apps that would run on x86, MIPS, and any multitude of ARM SoCs. Something that no other mobile OS offered, which also helped Android grow even more.

6. antonmassoud

Posts: 89; Member since: Oct 22, 2016

Good job Google c:

7. Derekjeter

Posts: 1488; Member since: Oct 27, 2011

Good ole days, my first Droid Incrdible was an awesome phone and the HTC EVO with the black and white was probably my favorite.

10. MartyK

Posts: 1043; Member since: Apr 11, 2012

The only real reason Android took off, was because it was open source! They allow us to make change, to add what we want and remove what we didn't want..

13. Peacetoall unregistered

The same open source system would lead to its death. Mark my words the more mobile company adopts android due to its open nature the more old players will drop android and choose other os. Its already happening people are getting tired of oem who are only adopting android os rather developing their own os.

11. cnour

Posts: 2305; Member since: Sep 11, 2014

Android becomes known due to Samsung S1 which was a copy of the first iPhone: A shame.

12. Peacetoall unregistered

And Iphone 4 was a copy of sony design concept

15. roldefol

Posts: 4744; Member since: Jan 28, 2011

And the first iPhone was the LG Prada.

25. cnour

Posts: 2305; Member since: Sep 11, 2014

LG Prada, hahahahahahaha. We are serious here....

24. cnour

Posts: 2305; Member since: Sep 11, 2014

Seriously, copying a concept!!!!!

34. worldpeace

Posts: 3133; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

No, LG Prada is actual product, it's the first capacitive touch-screen phone on market. And it won many award for it's design, no wonder apple copy it - International Forum Design—Product Design Award for 2007 - Red dot design award—LG Prada Wins "Best of the Best" red dot Design Award, 2007 - Fashion phone of the year—Mobile Choice (2007) - Best fashion phone—What Mobile Awards (2007) - Gold for best looking phone—CNET Asia Readers' Choice Award (2007/08)

14. Heisenberg

Posts: 374; Member since: Feb 11, 2015

Wow. How much was added to your account today for mentioning Samsung?

16. roldefol

Posts: 4744; Member since: Jan 28, 2011

You're not wrong, but think about it. The iPhone was the device to beat at the time. Why not copy a winning formula and then make it bigger? That's what people wanted at the time. It's just business, even if it's not groundbreaking.

20. Monty007

Posts: 49; Member since: Mar 21, 2017

Android a copy of Symbian with poor security at that time

21. darkkjedii

Posts: 31034; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Copy is a copy of copy.

22. DogeShibe

Posts: 1121; Member since: Jan 10, 2014

This whole Nokia saga brings tears to my eyes. The best part of my life was probably when I returned home from school on a hot afternoon, taking my father's Nokia while he slept and play bounce until I complete a level. It's a sad realization that I will never achieve that kind of comfort,joy and satisfaction no matter how hard I try. Good days

27. Wiencon

Posts: 2278; Member since: Aug 06, 2014

Oh man, bounce on my 6230 took too many hours from my life but I don't regret it at all

26. cncrim

Posts: 1588; Member since: Aug 15, 2011

Well, one day iOS and android will fall, why? Simple because it has rise.

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