OK, he didn't say that literally, but that's what he meant. Read:
some analysts agree with Anssi that relying on Android as the universal OS may lead to "permanently low profitability" with users failing to distinguish between different brands if they all offer the same experience.
I don't know about you, but this goes back to all the things I've been bitching about lately. Why do phones have to be tied to carriers? Why can't I just get whatever phone I want, and then choose whatever carrier I want? What Anssi is admitting is that their actual cell phone services are so lame that the only thing distinguishing the phones is the "look" on the screen...the wallpaper, essentially. Not the service quality, not the hardware, not the functionality. Look, Anssi, Nokia makes cell phones. If you want to compete, focus on making a bad-ass cell phone. If your cell phone is bad ass, it won't matter what operating system is on it.
Yes, it will make a difference. Because Symbian has a terrible ancient development environment. While they are getting away from that by switching to things like the Qt framework for the interface, no one wants to program for it outside of Europe. Nokia has made some totally badass cell phones, most recently the N8.
But no one wants it because there are no apps on the Ovi store for it, because developing for Symbian is a nightmare. Which is why there are hundreds of thousands of Android and iOS apps and only a handful of Symbian apps.
Actually, you want to be distinguishable? Why don't you make the very first cell phone that is not only bad-ass, but completely open for all carriers. Ah, business...don't you just love it?
They, and everyone else, have been doing this for years in Europe. Unlocked GSM phones are the norm over there, but they also have locked, contract-subsidied phones, which are also capable of being unlocked. But that's Europe, where all the countries have GSM 900/1800 support and UMTS 2100 support. In the US because of our spectrum licensing, things are quite different. We have two different GSM bands, 850MHz and 1900MHz. AT&T uses WCDMA/UMTS on those bands too. But then there's T-Mobile that uses the standard 850/1900 bands for GSM service while using the AWS bands of 1700/2100 for WCDMA/UMTS/HSDPA (3G). And that European phone that supports 2100MHz UMTS will not support T-Mobile's network, because they use 1700MHz for downstream and 2100MHz for upstream, or vice versa, I can't remember. The N8 (and upcoming E7) actually does support all five of the GSM/UMTS frequencies so it could work on both AT&T and T-Mobile's 3G, but no one in the US wants a Nokia with an awesome 12MP camera because they can't check in on Foursquare or whatnot do to the lack of developer support on the platform. If you look in the Nokia Ovi store, most of the apps there are in languages that are not English.
Furthermore, you have Verizon and Sprint. Both networks are CDMA2k based, using 850MHz/1900MHz bands. But a totally different network type than AT&T and T-Mobile. Yes, there are hybrid GSM/CDMA phones that you could use on either Sprint or Verizon, but assuming you buy one from them at the unsubsidized price and use it on the other carrier's network, you'll have hell getting it activated and even more hell getting data features to work. Oh plus Sprint still has that old 800MHz iDEN network (Nextel) that they claim they will be phasing out, but it was supposed to start phasing out iDEN once they bought Nextel, and the network was *supposed* to be totally decommissioned by 2010. Presently Sprint keeps rolling out iDEN phones, though...
Then comes LTE. That *may* end some of the problems listed above, but probably won't. AT&T and Verizon are both going to transition to LTE, but the there's Clear/Sprint who currently use WiMAX for their "4G" network, incompatible with LTE, though they've said they have the option to switch to LTE once WiMAX dies a slow death (which it will/is). Sprint/Clear deliver WiMAX in the 2500MHz band, not sure where Verizon or AT&T are going to deploy LTE. But that could fracture things even further. And who knows what T-Mobile will do. They're deploying HSDPA+ in major metro areas right now, still on the 1700/2100 AWS bands, which is damn fast (I have an air card), faster than WiMAX. But as far as LTE goes that's anyones guess if and when T-Mobile will deploy, and T-Mobile doesn't have the spectrum to deploy it on the 850/1900MHz bands. So AWS it will probably be, leading to more incompatibility.
So the US wireless industry: currently 4 or 5 different types of networks with different spectrum allocated to them, all incompatible with each other. For a truly universal phone to work in the US and the world, it would have to support GSM/UMTS 850/900/1800/1900/2100 plus that other band they use in Japan (700MHz maybe...I forget). Plus have CDMA 850/1900 support, plus throw in iDEN 800 just for fun, then WiMAX 2500 just for the US, and next year LTE on god knows what bands, then the few other different frequencies used in other random parts of the world, plus throw in TD-SCDMA for 3G in China and...you get the picture. Expensive expensive expensive, no point in it. That's why when you travel abroad you should just use your own unlocked phone (assuming it supports the world bands you need in the countries you're going to) with a prepaid SIM, or buy a burner phone if you're visiting some place especially exotic...And as a user of several Android phones, I can say that yes, Android does offer a mostly similar user experience throughout the phones you use, and having a Galaxy S/Samsung Vibrant (T-Mobile) which is also known as the Captivate on AT&T, the Fascinate on Verizon, and the Epic 4G on Sprint, it is hard to distinguish phones more and more now. Which is why, as you say, manufacturers should make them more badass.
But there is no universal solution, and like it or not, the OS DOES have a LOT to do with a phone's appeal right now.