Nokia Dumps VoIP (Update)

August 26, 2008 by Garrett Smith

Yesterday I wrote a post entitled, “Nokia Dumps VoIP” that highlighted the fact that Nokia had withheld the native Nokia SIP client, the one which has been present in the bulk of Nokia’s previous models, in two upcoming N series phones, the N78 and the N96. Apparently my focus on the fact that Nokia was dumping VoIP on these models struck a cord with Nokia’s PR firm, Communicano, as I was asked to more clearly present the fact surrounding this news.

Since I respect Andy and his team I would like to clearly present the facts from Nokia here, as well as my thoughts and some additional commentary from others within the space about this announcement so that you be the judge on what is really happening here.

Let’s start with what Nokia says:

  1. “Nokia Nseries is commited VoIP services as part of its offering. That is why we have included SIP stack and improved the developer VoIP offering in S60 3rd Edition Feature Pack 2 by enhancing the VoIP APIs to improve the call quality, as an example.”
  2. Nokia follows with, “A Nokia VoIP client is not included with the Nokia N78 and the Nokia N96 and VoIP solutions based on this particular client such as Gizmo will not work. However, Forum Nokia will cooperate with third-party developers to support them in porting their applications from S60 3.0/3.1 releases to S60 3.2. One example is Fring, whose popular application will be offered via Nokia’s Download! service for the Nokia N96.”

What does this mean?

  1. Nokia has improved their SIP stack and improved the develop offering for S60 3.2 operating system. This means that the programmers get a new toy to play with, but most regular cellular users aren’t really interested in SIP stack improvements and API’s. Sure, call quality may improve if a developer takes advantage of it and delivers it to us, but at face value this means little to regular users.
  2. Two of their new models do not have the native VoIP client. This would signal that Nokia has given in to pressures from carriers as it relates to VoIP enabled devices. Carriers do not want VoIP – it steals their minutes. This directly impacts regular users, as the N series is design with the consumer in mind (the E series is a Enterprise lvel play).
  3. Nokia is making it harder for Mobile VoIP providers as they will now have to port their applications from one release to another. While they may be assisting them, they have still placed a hurdle in front of them.
  4. Nokia isn’t getting rid of VoIP completely, but in dumping it for two new models, it does send mixed messages.

What are others saying?

  1. From GigaOm, “Truphone isn’t waiting around for Nokia to do something. A company spokesman told us: “From Truphone’s perspective Nokia has removed the VoIP client from all the N-Series phones for the planned future. We are putting in a replacement client functionality so that existing customers are not orphaned.”
  2. From JKOnTheRun, “It would seem to me that Nokia is bowing to some pressure from the carriers as there is seldom a reason to remove abilities that you already have. This probably won’t surprise many but it caught me unawares as I thought Nokia was above carrier pressure.”

None of this bodes well for Nokia and reminds me of something Seth Godin writes about telling a story,

“A great story is true. Not necessarily because it’s factual, but because it’s consistent and authentic. Consumers are too good at sniffing out inconsistencies for a marketer to get away with a story that’s just slapped on.”

This is the real story here – Nokia’s story has some inconsistencies and folks are merely pointing it out.

When Nokia decided to tell the story of open standards and VoIP, it made a commitment to ensure that the facts back up that story at every turn. Although Nokia hasn’t completely turned their back on VoIP, this release is not consistent with the story they have been telling of late.

When a company like Truphone, who I know works with Nokia, states they believe Nokia is dropping VoIP from their N series line completely, it tells me that regardless of what their intention was, Nokia’s message here was not consistent with what we have all come to expect and thus why folks are stating that it looks like Nokia is dumping VoIP.


16 Comments

  • At the moment seems to me too early to come to a conclusion: when we’ll see what are the differences with the “old” SIP stack and how big is the improvment we’ll judge their move.

  • Garrett Smith

    @Paolo:

    You are probably right.

  • Nokia’s move sucks, although they try to hide it.

    Nokia says that it’s no problem that they have removed the native SIP client from their latest handsets, since companies can develop their own VoIP software based on great APIs. But it’s not as easy as Nokia is trying to say: There are hundreds or thousands of companies without an own software for mobile VoIP. They just rely on the SIP standard. In Germany it’s GMX, 1&1, Sipgate and the several Betamax daughters. Together they have millions of customers, I am one of them. These people cannot use VoIP on the new Nokia phones.

    I have always ten or more VoIP providers installed on my Nokia E61i’s SIP client. This way I can always use the cheapest route and leverage free on net calls. It would be nasty if had to install ten or more pieces of software for that purpose. So as a VoIP tinkerer I have to stay with the older Nokia devices.

    It’s obvious why companies like Fring, Truphone, Gizmo5, Vyke and others are applauding the Nokia move. It ties their customer to them and makes it more difficult to use other companies’ offers. With a native SIP client, which allows to be connected to several different SIP services at the same time, I can be promiscuous. Even the most disruptive mobile VoIP companies prefer to lock me in their walled garden, but I don’t want that.

    I still believe that pressure from mobile operators has caused this move of Nokia. HSDPA and HSUPA have brought great bandwith to the latest handsets, enough to use it for Voice over 3G.

  • Garrett Smith

    @ Markus:

    I agree with most of your points, however, if you read Om’s post, he has a statement from Truphone that wasn’t exactly a ringing endorsement for Nokia.

    Gizmo is pro-Nokia here because they are a “service aggregator”, able to function, in many ways, like the native client (IE you can use different services via Gizmo). Pure speculation here, but quite possibly Gizmo and Nokia struck a deal for Gizmo to replace the native SIP client on some devices…

  • I’d send my N95 back if I could. When code is already written and working and then it’s removed, it tells me we’re all walking down a dead end street with Nokia. Too bad.

  • Seb

    I agree, just picked up an new N96 yesterday, shocked isn’t the word, I had a quick play in the shop saw the SIP stack and thought ok. I got home to find I couldn’t log on to my Sipgate account. Bloody pain in the arse. I may return the phone and move away from Nokia, I’ve had their handsets since 1992, with one Ericsson in 16yrs! Their tight VOIP integration and was the main reason I didn’t switch to the iPhone. All bets are off now. Bad move Nokia you really know how to PISS your customers off.

  • Make

    See this post on Nokia’s Support Discussions Board for some real info. http://discussions.europe.nokia.com/discussions/board/message?board.id=smartphones&message.id=111954

  • Garrett Smith

    @ Make:

    What makes that real and what is above fake?

    I said the same thing they did, except there is no sugar coating. Nokia removed the SIP client – not the stack – but you can’t use the stack because you don’t have a client!

    Therefore VoIP functionality was removed for the normal everyday end-user.

  • Make

    N85 and following products having voip will support new version of the integrated voip called voip rel 3.0 see http://www.forum.nokia.com/main/resources/technologies/voice_over_IP/voip_support_in_nokia_devices.html

  • RS

    Make,

    Yes I hear N79 and N85 will have the nice Nokia voip client. So did the N95 and N95 8 GB. My question is why did the N96 get ignored? I saw the SIP stack on the N96 at the store so I assumed it would have what my old N95 had. Then I got home and got slapped by Nokia in the face after using their phones for 13 years.

    Improved SIP stack my arse. What good is an improved SIP stack if there’s no client to use it? If Nokia don’t make the VoIP client available via download/firmware for the N96 in the very near future, they’ve definitely lost me and the people I influence.

  • eric

    yeah agreed with make , why leave sip stack, then removed sip client, we cant call anymore via SIP provider / N96 to sell back to Nokia loll

  • clemens

    RS,

    fully agree.

  • No news from Nokia on this. Very frustrating.

  • ridiculous

    this is ridiculous. way to go moronokia!

  • get stuffed nokia

    Get stuffed Nokia – the way you have been treating customers this year is nothing short of contempt – buggy firmware releases, outdated OS’s and dragged out ‘promises’ and ‘hints’ at some amazing ‘future’ that brings only REDUCED features, not added features! The N97 actually has LESS specs (not even graphics acceleration???). I was a die hard Nokia fan since the N95 but I have been put off from upgrading. It’s just the arrogant attitude that really annoys me.

  • Ralf

    I had a conversation about this with the German Nokia Support. The guy on the phone admitted, that they removed the client due to pressure from the network carriers, but they obviously didn’t want to make an official statment about this. However, he said that Nokia is listening to their customers – which is a good thing. So I can only urge you guys to sign this petition: http://www.petitiononline.com/s60v5sip/petition.html

    Another inquiry at Nokia USA yielded, that Nokia is in fact “planning” to release the SIP client on the N97 in H2/2009. Don’t know why I got 2 crontradicting responses. Either way I think it would be great if we could get as many signatures as possible. Please share the link!

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