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Former Nokia Exec: Windows Phone Strategy Doomed 447

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the iceberg-ahead dept.
itwbennett writes "Slashdot readers will recall that back in January, Nokia CEO Steven Elop blamed the company's Windows Phone woes on commission-minded salespeople, who pushed phones they thought would actually sell. Now, ex-Nokia exec Tomi Ahonen is calling the Nokia's Windows Phone strategy 'a certain road to death.' He bases this grim assessment on UK market shares from Kantar Worldpanel: 'When Nokia shifted from "the obsolete" Symbian to "the awesome" Windows Phone, Nokia lost a third of its customers! In just one quarter!' Can MeeGo or Tizen save Nokia now?"
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Former Nokia Exec: Windows Phone Strategy Doomed

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  • by baka_toroi (1194359) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @12:38PM (#39428873) Journal
    I think everyone who follows closely the industry was already aware of that fact. It was a shit move for Nokia, I'd go so far as to say it wasn't just a bad decision: the guys in charge should be prosecuted.
  • Re:First (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dintech (998802) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @12:39PM (#39428893)

    Honest question, why didn't they just go with Android?

  • Android (Score:5, Insightful)

    by d3ac0n (715594) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @12:40PM (#39428907)

    Pretty much the only thing I see saving Nokia is Android. Make some awesome quality Android handsets and customers will return. Make them with a nice clean stock Android loadout instead of some dumbass custom crapware laden ugly UI and you'll stand out from the pack even more. (Geeks will embrace you too. Word of Mouth is powerful advertising!)

  • Re:First (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @12:40PM (#39428911)

    Cause Microsoft paid them more than Google.

  • Adapt or Die (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sponge Bath (413667) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @12:42PM (#39428931)

    Nokia seems to be taking the Blackberry approach to dealing with disruptive change.

  • Re:First (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Missing.Matter (1845576) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @12:45PM (#39428977)
    Because everyone and their mother is invested in Android. If they go with Android, they're just another manufacturer in an already saturated market. If they go with Windows Phone, they get financial and technical backing from one of the biggest companies in the world, and have the advantage of being the manufacturer with the best windows phone integration as a result. Further, if they go with Android they're probably looking at legal issues with Microsoft and Apple, without any help from Google, just like every other Android manufacturer. Honestly they're making a big bet, but if Windows Phone starts picking up steam it will pay off big time.
  • Re:First (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gwking (869658) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @12:47PM (#39429015)
    That's an easy answer, and a very unfortunate one for Nokia. It's a classic trojan horse. The Nokia CEO was hired from Microsoft. And suddenly Nokia became very MS-friendly... eventually becoming Microsoft only. And that's the whole story. There was really little benefit to Nokia, it was more of Nokia taking a big risk to help Microsoft. Great for Microsoft with no risk; big risk for Nokia for questionable gain. Even a dual strategy of Microsoft and Android would have made sense, but nope, why go with Android that is a major market force with lots of backing and third party support when you can put all your eggs into the MS basket with 1.5% of the market and a tiny fraction of the third party support. It's a shame, I don't know if the shareholders could make a lawsuit stick, but I'd be really angry if I had counted on the exMS new Nokia CEO being there to grow Nokia.
  • Re:Android (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Missing.Matter (1845576) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @12:48PM (#39429035)
    How exactly would Android save Nokia in a marketplace that is saturated with Android devices coming out every other week? Sure they could make a great phone, but they'd be competing against Motorola, Samsung, HTC, etc. who also sell top of the line Android devices.
  • Re:First (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @12:49PM (#39429043)

    yes but windows phone is in the toilet and about to be abandoned aka zune.
    financial and technical backing doesnt mean squat. micro$hit is a vampire who eats companies which partner with it unlike google.

  • Re:First (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @12:50PM (#39429067)

    Because everyone and their mother is invested in Android. If they go with Android, they're just another manufacturer in an already saturated market.

    If they went android, they'd have a small slice of a very large pie. And then they could compete on price, or leverage their name, or simply be one of the many android phones. A small android maker is bigger than the biggest windows phone maker.

    Yeah, they could go with Microsoft. And get lots of backing and no sales.

  • Re:Android (Score:5, Insightful)

    by d3ac0n (715594) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @12:54PM (#39429111)

    And how are they NOT competing against them now?

    Nokia is in the Mobile Phone market. They compete against ALL other mobile phone makers. The OS the mobile phone runs is just one part of the overall feature set. All they have done by going with the crappy Windows one is hobble themselves unnecessarily by adding a rotten feature. Take the same exact hardware, put Android on it, and it would sell like hotcakes!

    I don't see why removing a bad OS and replacing it with a good one makes them LESS able to compete for market share with Samsung, HTC, ET AL.

  • by Microlith (54737) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @01:02PM (#39429243)

    They could transition back to Harmattan, and continue the N9's success. That'd get people's attention, but I suspect that Microsoft won't allow that to happen.

  • Re:Android (Score:5, Insightful)

    by d3ac0n (715594) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @01:03PM (#39429257)

    See my reply to missing meter. Nokia is already in compettition with the Android handset makers. There isn't a separate "Windows market" and a "Symbian market" and an "Android market", as though changing OSes would be somehow entering a new market. There is simply "The Market". In this case the "Mobile Phone" portion of that market, which they are already very much in.

    While I agree that having OS schizophrenia is a bad thing, if your Symbian OS is dying, and your Windows OS is DOA, why on God's Green Earth would you EVER stick with them? it makes NO sense. Put in a feature that your customers want, Android OS.

    People aren't buying Nokia because Nokia is suddenly a bad handset maker. They aren't buying Nokia because they aren't Apple (iOS) and they don't have Android. It's really that simple. Give the people what they want and gain customers.

  • Re:Android (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wanzeo (1800058) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @01:06PM (#39429299)

    Perhaps 2 years ago, but it is far too late for that. I'm sure that part of their agreement with Microsoft was a clause preventing them from using Android. And even if they somehow could switch, it just means they have to compete with the asian companies, and I have serious doubts about their capabilities there (unless they charged at least iPhone prices).

    If they would have stuck to their guns on MeeGo, I would have bought one. If I have to deal with Android as a consolation prize, I'm going to Samsung.

  • Re:Android (Score:5, Insightful)

    by errandum (2014454) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @01:08PM (#39429325)

    The flaw in your argument is, you can build a clean working interface for Android and differentiate yourself that way, while having hundreds of thousands apps available to captivate users.

    No one denies the Lumia 800 is a good phone, but windows mobile clearly fails to captivate a user base. The only reason it isn't dead yet is that Microsoft can afford to keep throwing money at it. On any other company it'd be dead already.

  • Re:First (Score:5, Insightful)

    by marcosdumay (620877) <marcosdumay@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @01:10PM (#39429361) Homepage Journal

    Microsoft offers free backstabing to all manufacturers, and for Nokia they are offering technical engineering traps and bait, which is a pretty good deal compared to what Android is offering.

    There, FIFY. It is like C-people can't bother googling a company name before closing multi-billion dollar deals with them.

  • Re:Android (Score:5, Insightful)

    by steelfood (895457) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @01:16PM (#39429465)

    In a word: MeeGo.

  • Re:First (Score:5, Insightful)

    by segedunum (883035) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @01:20PM (#39429521)

    Microsoft offers legal support to all manufacturers, and for Nokia they are offering technical engineering support and cash, which is a pretty good deal compared to what Android is offering.

    That's lovely and all, but it's not working because they're not selling. That's death for any company.

    1. Continue on their own with Symbian/Meego/Maemo or whatever they develop in house and try to carve out a niche for a 4th (or 5th depending on how you count) OS in an already highly competitive market.

    2. Develop for Android and compete with all the other Android manufacturers with no support or partnerships to help in the transition.

    3. Develop for Windows Phone and gain a partner in the OS transition who not only will help in support of your hardware but will work independently to improve the ecosystem

    So the theory goes for some people, but even as a third-rate Android reseller they would probably be selling a hell of a lot more than the Lumia phones they have done. Microsoft is also not anywhere near proven as any sort of risk-free partner in the mobile sector. They've been trying for years and gained little, if anything other than Android 'licensing' fees.

    In terms of applications and the 'ecosystem' Android is by far the better choice. It took Android some time to catch up with the iOS on the application front. I'm not so sure how well a second mobile OS behind that is going to fair.

    Option 3 is risky, but not as risky as going at it alone.

    They were already on their own with Symbian, and more successful.

    Although many here on /. believe Option 3 is doomed to fail, those who use the WP platform see it as a rising star, and obviously Nokia sees the same thing.

    Well, it's lovely that you have such faith but consumers simply are not buying it and if and when WP rises high enough Nokia will be bust. It's not turning out to be the least risky option.

  • Re:First (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dr_Barnowl (709838) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @01:27PM (#39429631)

    1. Continue on their own with Symbian/Meego/Maemo or whatever they develop in house and try to carve out a niche for a 4th (or 5th depending on how you count) OS in an already highly competitive market.

    Given that they are really the only manufacturer making a serious play with Windows Phone, they were still in this position of trying to carve a market for a niche OS. It made no sense for them to abandon the traction they had already gained with their preceding developers models and return to shaky ground with a new, untested platform.

    Moreover, Elop did his best to sink their flagship MeeGo device, the N9, by deliberately only selling it in low-income, low smartphone areas rather than the core markets you'd expect to place any device you actually want to succeed - and despite being made into a pariah, it outsells their entire Lumia (Windows) line 3 to 1. This is a device that that Nokia don't even list on their website as a product [nokia.com], but it still outsells all their Windows phones combined? I don't think Elop succeeded in his mission to make Linux phones look bad.

    The bottom line is that despite taking his paycheck from Nokia, Stephen Elop appears to still work for Microsoft.

  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @01:29PM (#39429647) Journal
    Yes and no. They do care about battery life, and a kernel with a driver architecture that was designed with power management in mind from the start helps there. They do care about being able to run random apps without getting malware on their phone, and a kernel with a capabilities model at every layer helps with that. They may not care about the kernel itself, but they certainly do care about things that are dependent on the kernel.
  • Re:First (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Asic Eng (193332) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @01:33PM (#39429709)

    They really didn't have to gamble everything on a single platform. Other smartphone vendors manage to support multiple platforms - if HTC and Samsung can make Windows Phones alongside their Android offerings, why couldn't Nokia do that?

  • Re:Android (Score:5, Insightful)

    by d3ac0n (715594) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @01:36PM (#39429779)

    No, we're NOT. I already corrected you on this, apparently you haven't read it yet. But I will reiterate;

    There is no separate "Android" market! there is just "The Market" and the mobile phone segment of it. Nokia is ALREADY IN the mobile phone market, competing against Samsung and HTC etc. The difference is that they are competing with a featured OS that people DO NOT WANT, Windows.

    As I stated before: It's not that people don't want Nokia phones. It's that they don't want Windows and Symbian and they DO want iOS and Android.

    Nokia needs to put out some high-end Android phones and give the people a product they will want to buy. They already have arguably better quality hardware than Samsung or HTC, now they just need the software to go with it.

    It's not entering a new market, it's competing in a market they are already part of more efficiently and effectively.

  • Re:First (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TheLink (130905) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @01:37PM (#39429791) Journal
    I'm wondering whether my old nokia dumb phone will last longer than Nokia the company ;).
  • Re:First (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pieroxy (222434) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @01:41PM (#39429875) Homepage

    I'm wondering whether my old nokia dumb phone will last longer than Nokia the company ;).

    I'd bet on that for sure.

  • Re:First (Score:5, Insightful)

    by archen (447353) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @01:41PM (#39429883)

    I'm guessing the cash injection from Microsoft came with the stipulation they don't support android. I haven't heard about anyone else receiving money from MS, so this is probably a situation specific to Nokia.

  • Re:First (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anthony Mouse (1927662) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @02:06PM (#39430313)

    You're obviously going to get modded troll when you phrase it that way, but you're actually dead on.

    Think about the possible outcomes of this for Nokia: The worst case is probably what is actually happening, which is that nobody is buying Windows phones. But even if they actually succeeded, what do you think Microsoft would do then?

    Nokia currently has the option of Microsoft paying them to make phones nobody is buying, but as soon as anybody starts buying them, Microsoft is going to want Nokia to start paying them. Nokia ends up in the totally perverse situation that the more Windows phones they sell, the stronger Microsoft's leverage over them becomes, because demonstrating a market demand for Windows phones would get other phone makers into bed with Microsoft and thus into direct competition with Nokia.

    Right now Microsoft needs Nokia more than Nokia needs Microsoft, but Nokia has put itself in the position that in the event Nokia succeeds, that situation reverses and then Nokia fails. In the long term it's totally lose-lose for Nokia.

    It really feels like the focus on quarterly profits has doomed them. The Microsoft deal, if the market hadn't decided that it doesn't want Windows phones, would have been the most profitable for them in the short-term, but it completely ignores that inserting Microsoft into your supply chain does nothing but drain your margins in the long-term. And it completely ignores the very strong possibility, which has now been realized, that Windows phone would fail to sell.

  • by Dionysus (12737) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @02:09PM (#39430373) Homepage

    Everybody on Slashdot also knew that iPod, iPhone and iPad were failures.

  • Re:First (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Grishnakh (216268) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @02:15PM (#39430461)

    Ok, as much as I'd love to see MS keel over and die, I have to call "Citation Needed" on this one. MS appears to be pumping a lot of money and effort into WP7, the same way they did with Xbox, with their strategy basically being brute-force, or "let's keep pumping money into this thing until we achieve dominance, no matter how much it costs and even if it's never profitable". Hopefully this one will fail though.

  • Re:First (Score:5, Insightful)

    by the_B0fh (208483) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @03:22PM (#39431699) Homepage

    He didn't actually say it was the least risky. He said best risk/potential benefit ratio.

    ... for the CEO.

    For the rest of the company, not so much.

  • by Dionysus (12737) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @04:09PM (#39432455) Homepage

    Oh, please. Read the comments for those articles. Read how iPod is a useless mp3 player because it doesn't have wireless, and nobody would buy one (except for the iSheeps) when they could get a nomad. How the iPhone is a useless phone because it doesn't have physical keys, and nobody would buy one (except for the iSheeps) when they could get a Blackberry. How iPad are a useless device because you can't do all the stuff you can do on a laptop, and nobody would buy one (except for the iSheeps) when they could get an Asus EEE.

    The point is, when it comes to prediction of successful products, Slashdot group think usually knows Jack Shit.

    Some quotes for ya:
    About iPods

    Raise your hand if you have iTunes ...
    Raise your hand if you have a FireWire port ...
    Raise your hand if you have both ...
    Raise your hand if you have $400 to spend on a cute Apple device ...
    There is Apple's market. Pretty slim, eh? I don't see many sales in the future of iPod.

    http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=22940&cid=2467504

    About iPhones

    My guess is that early adopters will get it and use it, but for the general masses, this won't be something they get for another 6 years, unlike the iPod.

    http://apple.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=215930&cid=17528796

    About iPads

    It's more than just an iPod touch that won't fit in your pocket...it's also an underpowered netbook with no keyboard. It's the worst of both worlds!

    http://apple.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1527002&cid=30921390

    Note how all these comments got either +4 or +5 insightful?

  • by 21mhz (443080) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @04:23PM (#39432643) Journal

    I think everyone who follows closely the industry was already aware of that fact.

    Everyone who actually follows the industry, instead of reading fringe blogs like Disgruntled Ex-Nokians Dominate, cross-reinforced with the Slashdot groupthink, knows that the Lumia line is, in fact, selling quite nicely. And just today they released Nokia Transport, which to me is a killer app that any smartphone will need to match to be considered a viable replacement.

    OK, that's over, now we all should have a brainwave and flip back to the tale of how N9 was the great future simply because it runs Linux, MeeGo was a competitive platform that had been made ready for a smartphone, and S60, if you squint at it just so, did not look like a barely maintainable pile of crap that has long outlived its heyday. If not that, then becoming the 57th Android(-oid) vendor in line was a gold-paved road to success. Elop can't be trying to whack some sense into Nokia to keep it afloat, no, he's a trojan horse because being an executive in M$ (spelling obligatory) is an everlasting mark of the Dark Side, and everybody's read that story on the internet that he held on to Microsoft stock, or did not sell it too quickly, or, anyway, he's evil, I tell you! MSFT!

  • Re:First (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sonicmerlin (1505111) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @07:13PM (#39434665)

    Because Android sucks. It lags and drains battery extremely fast. No, ICS still lags. Android was developed as a Blackberry clone originally. It doesn't give the UI thread priority, and therefore will *always* lag.

    Nokia should have gone with MeeGo. All that work done over the years by various developers who dedicated so much time and effort to MeeGo, just to throw it away... that's pathetic.

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