An Interview with Yannick Debaupte, Nokia’s European Ecosystem and Developer Director
By: Hillel Fuld (@hilzfuld)
Whether you are a fan of the whole Windows Phone ecosystem and the metro UI or not, there is no denying that together, Microsoft and Nokia, are doing some interesting things. The new Lumia 900 with its grandiose launch, has been making waves and is already sold out at AT&T.
The phone is getting across-the-board positive reviews despite what might be considered mediocre specs on paper.
We had a chance to catch up with the man responsible for the European Nokia developer community Yannick Debaupte, and ask him some questions about the Nokia Microsoft partnership, the upcoming trends, and the mobile industry in general. Enjoy!
1: Who is Yannick Debaupte? Please tell us a little bit about your background both professional and personal?
I am French, a father of one very clever 10 year old kid who shows me on a daily basis the mobile apps him and his friends play with at school… This is , for sure, one of the reasons I am glad to be currently taking care of our developer relationships and app store management in Europe for Nokia.
I am currently living in Moscow, Russia and have travelled quite a bit, living during my life in more than 10 countries. During my career in the telecom industry, I have had the opportunity to work in many parts of the world and to realize how mobile is a critical part of consumer life all around the planet, independent of social class, earning level etc.. Communication and entertainment are universal needs.
My role at Nokia is to support developers to create and maintain a business out of mobile applications. I have local teams based in most European countries, which are here to advise developers, support them with merchandizing on store and make apps development a profitable business.
My Linkedin profile is http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=5590929&trk=tab_pro
2: Many people believe Nokia and Microsoft are too late to the mobile game. You probably hear this a few times a day. How do you respond to that claim?
Nokia and MSFT are creating a new ecosystem, opening up opportunities for developers and partners and offering new choices to consumers, as seen in these first Nokia Lumia smartphones. Our complementary assets and strengths are the foundation of the relationship.
This foundation will enable us to innovate and differentiate, and build a new global ecosystem that creates opportunities beyond anything that currently exists today, offering a serious alternative to the existing choices for operators, developers and consumers. It provides scale, innovation and opportunity for all.
Together, Nokia and Microsoft bring a combined services portfolio covering location, search, entertainment, social, advertising and commerce, with a fantastic opportunity to create new experiences through the integration and combination of core services assets. We have a lot to offer to the market.
3: One of the primary concerns when it comes to Windows Phone is the number of apps. 80K is not bad for a start, but how does Nokia/Microsoft intend to get those numbers up?
I would emphasize here that even more relevant than the amount of apps, is the local management of the stores and the local support to developers and brands. And in that sense, from Nokia we can offer something different with the way we are organized and the local teams (EDX) we have around the world.
4: Lets talk feature phones. How do you define a feature phone and smartphone and is there really room for anything less than a smartphone in today’s world?
By definition, a featured phone is not a smartphone, but that’s not to say that it isn’t a ‘very smart’ feature phone with many capabilities you would associate to smartphones. In the Asha family, Series 40 allows for very efficient R&D, and we have invested in offering the features that matter most to the consumers. And it looks really smart as well.
The Asha family of phones deliver an aspirational ‘Smartphone Lite’ experience, meeting the high expectations of next billion consumers, many of whom are young, urban and aspirational. Our devices are optimized for great apps, social networking and browsing experiences – all the things people expect a mobile phone to do. And we’re engaging with local service and content providers to integrate locally relevant content for our consumers.
5: Tell me about Lumia sales. Is Nokia satisfied with the numbers so far and how much can you disclose about those numbers?
As communicated, our Devices & Services first quarter 2012 financial results and outlook for the second quarter 2012 illustrates that our Devices & Services business continues to be in the midst of transition. Within our Smart Devices business unit, we have established early momentum with Lumia, and we are increasing our investments in Lumia to achieve market success.
Our operator and distributor partners are providing solid support for Windows Phone as a third ecosystem, as evidenced most recently by the launch of the Lumia 900 by AT&T in the United States. We are continuing to increase the clock speed of the company The change is tangible, and we are proud of the way Nokia employees are quickly responding to the needs of consumers and partners.
We’re at the start of our journey here and look forward to getting the Lumia into the hands of more people around the world over the course of 2012.
6: Clearly Nokia is still investing in Symbian with its new purview device. But why? Will Symbian be around in a few years from now?
The Nokia 808 PureView represents a significant investment in the Symbian platform in the interests of extending our smartphone leadership in key areas of differentiation and maturing new technologies and innovation. Symbian will continue to play an important focused role in our portfolio, continuing to serve us particularly in markets like the Middle East, Russia and India, for example.
We are of course committed to providing software support for the Symbian platform until at least 2016.
7: Tell me about QML. What are its advantages and why did Nokia invest so much in this platform?
QML documents describe an object tree of elements. QML elements shipped with Qt are a sophisticated set of graphical (i.e. Rectangle, Image) and behavioral (i.e. State, Transition, Animation) building blocks. These elements can be combined to build components ranging in complexity from simple buttons and sliders, to complete internet-enabled applications
8: If I am a mobile app developer today, why should I choose Nokia to develop for?
- Still, big installed base. In the digital content business, where an app will be valid only for the next 12-18 months, for example in Europe if you want to reach 30% of the smartphone end users those have a Nokia smartphone. One single development (Qt) would allow you to target 30% of your market in the next 12 – 18 months.
- Local support with local teams ready to help you
- Local management of the stores and capabilities to locally decide about the merchandising of the stores
- Huge installed base of S40 devices worldwide. Nokia Store allows you to distribute your services and apps in emerging markets with huge business potential.
- Nokia Lumia range growing very fast, being WP the only OS that offers a totally different UI, so a big opportunity to differentiate your services from other.
9: What are five of the strongest trends we will see in mobile in 2012 and please don’t say Lumia, Lumia, Lumia, Lumia, Lumia:
- Nokia Lumia
- Internet for the Next billion = featured devices allowing Internet in emerging markets (instead of via PC)
- Integration of “Imaging “ capabilities in social networks (i.e. Facebook acquiring Instagram)
- Real convergence among devices: mobile, tablet, PC, TV…
10: What are five tips you would give a developer just getting into the mobile game?
- Mobility means “whenever you want it, you have it”. Prepare your content so it can be accessed and enjoyed in almost any situation.
- Your content will be good NOW, but probably obsolete in 12-18 months maximum.
- Think and define the right business model. The right definition will be key: free app based in IAAd, fermium with IAP, pure premium content…? There is no one solution for everybody, it depends a lot on every single case.
- Once you have your app, it is when the real work starts. You need to make people aware of your app, in a world with hundreds of thousands of them. The Mkt Plan is key and in that sense, linking your app to “seasonal” known events would help a lot.
Just a quick thank you to Yannick for his time. There were definitely some great insights here and I, for one, am excited to see what’s next from the Microsoft and Nokia tag team.
Please share your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter, Google+, or Facebook where we are always listening.
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