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The Three Pillars of Nokia Strategy Have All Failed 409

Posted by Soulskill
from the time-to-reinvest-in-pillar-technology dept.
An anonymous reader writes "'When all 3 legs of your 3-legged strategy fail, what do you do? You rush — run run run — to change your total strategy. But what would a madman do?' Ex-Nokia exec Tommi Ahonen's new article has a few suggestions. Is the Nokia board either asleep at the wheel, or incompetent, or in collusion with the incompetent CEO? Ahonen provides an insider's view not just of how Nokia's Windows phone strategy has failed, but how this has spread to other parts of the company's technology. He says the 'Elop Effect' has 'single-handedly destroyed [...] Europe's biggest tech giant.' He raises the question: Why is Nokia's board failing to act? We've discussed Tommi's articles before, where he was correctly predicting Windows Phone's market failure at a point where others were claiming that 'the Lumia line is, in fact, selling quite nicely.'"
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The Three Pillars of Nokia Strategy Have All Failed

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  • How many more? (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 13, 2012 @03:56PM (#41643597)

    Hatred towards Nokia on Slashdot... Why not failing HTC, patent troll Motorola Mobility (nobody in Europe buys that Chinese crap btw)...

  • Old proverb (Score:5, Insightful)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @04:01PM (#41643629)

    "Never attribute to malice that which can be explained by stupidity." It's the Occam's Razor of the corporate world. Yes, people get greedy or manipulative, it's true... but that's the exception, not the rule. For the most part, people are just really, really, fucking stupid. Senior management in particular tends to develop problems like target fixation, confirmation bias, and even when everything is in the spiral of death and the alarms are going off, engines on fire, they somehow think they'll be able to pull out of the dive and fix the problem... right up until the part where they crater. They teach this in every management course studies... Have an exit strategy. Know what your breakpoints are and when to bail. And company after company, even big ones, really really big ones, still fail at this, not because of greed, but because of stupidity.

  • Re:How many more? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 13, 2012 @04:02PM (#41643639)
    It's far too early to be predicting the death of Nokia or Windows phone. It hasn't gained popularity, but that could easily change.
  • Re:How many more? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 13, 2012 @04:08PM (#41643691)

    No sir, we are really sorry for Nokia.
    If any hate is spewing, is targeted against the ex M$ bigwig Elop which brew this destructive strategy.
    Far-well Nokia, once pride of Finland.
    You are dead and we are really sorry.

  • Re:How many more? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by roc97007 (608802) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @04:13PM (#41643729) Journal

    Windows Phone 7 is dead. Microsoft declared it dead the exact moment Nokia needed it the most, but nevermind. Nobody in his right mind would buy one right now, even if they liked the platform, with Windows Phone 8 on the horizon. If 8 takes off, *and* Nokia can survive until 8 takes off, they could do fine, albeit as a somewhat smaller company. But when you read TFA, and look at the graphs, and look at the general user community reaction to 8 in general, neither of these things (8 takes off, and Nokia can survive until Windows 8 phones become profitable) seem particularly likely.

    Why (from TFA) haven't the board fired Elop? Corruption, perhaps? Payoffs?

  • Re:How many more? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tuppe666 (904118) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @04:25PM (#41643817)

    Hatred towards Nokia on Slashdot... Why not failing HTC, patent troll Motorola Mobility (nobody in Europe buys that Chinese crap btw)...

    I think mentioning HTC is very relevant, ignoring the shear scale on which Nokia has been destroyed by Elop in Months, for the third ecosystem [in reality sixth], to produce Windows Phones. Ironically one of HTC's strategy is to produce Windows phones too next year, and they cheaper than Nokia's offerings for equivalent models.

  • Nothing new (Score:4, Insightful)

    by zyzko (6739) <kari.asikainen @ g m ail.com> on Saturday October 13, 2012 @04:30PM (#41643839)

    Oh, a link to blog post by Ahonen, with nothing really new.

    I agree that execution by Elop has been sub-par. But calling that "SYMBIAN WAS WINNING" is even by wearing Symbian-goggles a very red-rosed opinion of what was going on. Nokia was in huge trouble, it's UI teams competing with each other and handset teams not building on the same platform as noted in in an article [slashdot.org] from yesterday. Symbian as it was was dead. Developers hated it, users disliked it compared to competition and why it did so good up until the end was good quality Nokia hardware.

    Ahonen is right on some points, but he seems to totally disagree on that Nokia had to do something, by going on with Symbian without major rework was just not feasible, the whole MeeGo thing was really screwed up with competing package managers, UIs and teamwork with Intel so as a CEO what what would have he done - he doesn't tell. Maybe MeeGo strategy would have proved to be success.

    I don't want to resort to ad-hominems but in case of Ahonen I would take his comments with a grain of salt - he clearly has an axe to grind with Nokia and the postings he has made and appearances on interviews smell like bitterness. And they always boil to one point: Profits before elop and profits after Elop.

  • by WaffleMonster (969671) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @04:31PM (#41643845)

    Neither Windows phone 8 or the Lumina 920 have been released and we have people already yelling "rrruuunnn!!!"

    There is a fine line between working vigorously to save a sinking ship and trying to work the pumps and hand bailer after it is too late. You need equal quantities of balls and intelligence to make the correct decision.

    What TFA is doing is seeing a puddle on the floor and immediately sounding abandon ship and running for the life boats.

    There is no low hanging fruit left in business. Sometimes you need to slug it out and take risks because changing strategies every two seconds is not a winning proposition either.

    I'm not saying they won't fail or that windows phone is good or bad. I'm only asserting it is too early.

  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @04:32PM (#41643853)

    Nokia had an alternative, MeeGo. The trouble was at the time it was already outpaced by iOS and Android, so Nokia thought they probably could not catch up without a lot of rework.

    And that's why they chose Windows Phone 7. But, as one of the comments in the article notes, the real problem is that Windows Phone 7 was not really a way to catch up either. It was a temporary solution, to be abandoned by Microsoft to the degree that even fairly powerful Nokia phones running Windows Phone 7 could not be upgraded to WP8.

    If that were known (as the comment alleges) then Nokia probably would have been better off putting in an All-Hands effort to make MeeGo compete with other modern smartphone OS's. I'm not sure they would have been in a worse place than where they are now, and then they would be in full control of their own destiny.

    But as things stand the fate of Nokia and Microsoft are intertwined (with more risk to Nokia than Microsoft).

  • Re:Old proverb (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @04:35PM (#41643889) Journal

    They teach this in every management course studies... Have an exit strategy.

    "Hey, I've got my golden parachute right here, just like you said."

    "Oh, I see, you meant an exist strategy that saves the company. Haha, I'm off to apply 'lessons learned' elsewhere, enjoy!"

  • by rrohbeck (944847) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @04:36PM (#41643893)

    You call Apple, and say "Hey, I hear you have a maps problem. Guess what? We have lots of map data and experience."

    Response from Apple: "Sounds good, but we'll rather wait until you're bankrupt and pick up the patents and your map data for cheap."

  • Re:How many more? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968&gmail,com> on Saturday October 13, 2012 @04:50PM (#41643993) Journal

    For that to be true MSFT would have had to plan that 1.- Nobody would buy WinPhone...okay I see that one, 2.- Nokia would leave them with a product to sell in that gap...which if they wouldn't buy WinPhone on Nokia a change of brand name sure as hell isn't gonna help move units, and 3.- The gap wouldn't just be absorbed by Google, with the CCC Android 2.x phones taking the low end while the more expensive Android and Apple units take the high.

    So you see this is the problem I have when people describe Bill Gates kind of evil moves at MSFT....Ballmer just ain't that smart. I mean who was on stage bragging about his squirting Zune and not getting why he was being laughed at? Who spent a fuckton of money on products like Zune, Kin, Sidekick, etc, with no real plan on how to monetize the purchases? Who fucked over what few loyal WinPhone customers they had by not giving them Win 8 on their Win 7 phones and thus burnt the brand with many a customer? Who was fucking retarded enough to let IE get horribly fragmented in the vain hope that they could pretend its 2003 and they can actually get people to upgrade the OS just for a new version of IE?

    Hell I could write a post the length of a Harry Potter book just pointing out the fucking DUMB moves that has gone on under Ballmer, his mobile "strategy" is a trainwreck, he is taking a shit on one of the few remaining cash cows MSFT has in order to push Windows onto...ARM? WTF? Are you shitting me? WTH would ANYBODY want Windows on a chip that...won't actually run Windows programs? Why, because they think the Win 3.x color scheme of Metro is just too damned sexy?

    Actually I think one could argue that Nokia and MSFT are the same company, its just that MSFT has...for the moment at least..a couple of cash cows to keep its head above the water ATM but the simple fact is both companies seem directionless, completely devoid of any real innovation inside, waited until the market was already in the middle of a huge shift before simply reacting with half assed products, and both are acting like they have no real competition when in reality they have to bring their AAA game or get curbstomped which even Ray Charles could see the latter is exactly what is happening.

  • by LordLucless (582312) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @04:52PM (#41643999)

    Android is generic, so they have no edge over Chinese manufacturers.

    Nokia makes excellent hardware at a good price. Their gear tends to be much more rugged than Apple's fragile mobile devices.

    Your second quote puts paid to your first. Nokia was a hardware company. They made good hardware. They should have jumped into Android with both feet. A proven, reliable, popular operating system, that lets vendors customize it, and would have let them concentrate on their strengths - hardware.

  • by tuppe666 (904118) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @04:55PM (#41644015)

    the iphone stole 14% of mobile PROFITS a year after it was first released. and that was only 1 million units sold.

    almost all of those cheapo phones sold around the world make no money. all the profits are made on a few devices.

    apple is now at something like 60% of PROFITS of all cell phones sold around the world. Samsung is 30% or more. everyone else is fighting for scraps

    iPhone never stole anything! Apple make massive mark-ups to their products and have people prepared to pay for it. Most people aren't which is why Androids market share is 4 times that of Apples...and Apples is dropping. Apple does well with early adopters, but now the market is maturing not so much!

  • Re:How many more? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by amiga3D (567632) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @04:59PM (#41644041)

    I think it's clear now that Microsoft, as always, used a stopgap solution to make their followup successful. Winphone 7 was never going anywhere and the plan was always for Win8. Nokia fell into the EEE trap and was used to crack into the market to pave the way for Win8. Their carcass may still prove useful to MS down the road with their patents and such and also as an inroad to European and other world markets. This is yet another brilliant move by MS. I still find it hard to believe that companies partner with them knowing how it usually turns out. I guess the short term benefits are just too tempting. I expect to see Win8 phones from Microsoft. Wonder how that will play with Nokia? I'd say they are helpless.

  • by dgharmon (2564621) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @05:23PM (#41644241) Homepage
    "Ex-Nokia exec Tommi Ahonen's new article has a few suggestions. Is the Nokia board either asleep at the wheel, or incompetent, or in collusion with the incompetent CEO?"

    No, they are just another in the long line of suicide-by-Microsoft [groklaw.net] victims ..
  • by Curupira (1899458) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @05:32PM (#41644337)

    Android is generic, so they have no edge over Chinese manufacturers.

    I really don't get why this argument applies against Android but misteriously doesn't apply against Windows Phone. Hello, WP is also a generic, third-party licensed operating system, not a in-house solution. After all, HTC is a Chinese manufacturer and also uses Windows Phone...

  • Re:Nothing new (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TheLongshot (919014) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @05:41PM (#41644405)

    Symbian was doing well, and I don't think his argument was that it was ultimately a winning strategy to ride Symbian. What he's making a point of is that Elop's "Burning Platforms" memo quickly killed Symbian, which was bringing in money for Nokia. People knew after that that there was no future in Symbian.

    I pretty much knew at that point that Nokia was doomed. They pretty much killed everything that made them money, for a weak platform that they wouldn't even have a phone out for almost a year. Even a moron could see that. While things did have to change at Nokia, Elop pretty much destroyed most of the phone division, with little to show for it.

  • Re:How many more? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LWATCDR (28044) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @05:53PM (#41644475) Homepage Journal

    The optimism for Windows Phone in the press really does surprise me. Windows Phone 7 was really feature incomplete at launch but people made the excuse that it was their first Version. Ahhh No it was not, Microsoft had been making mobile OSs for a long time and Windows Phone 7 was Major version 7 and used the same kernel as Windows Mobile.
    Microsoft has chopped Nokia off at the knees when it announced Windows Phone 8. Not only will it not run on the Nokia Lumia 900 it would not run on any existing Windows Mobile device. At that moment Microsoft was telling everyone to not buy a Windows Phone but wait for the next version and new hardware. Sales probably dropped to as close to zero.
    Microsoft and Nokia need to understand that Windows Phone can not be almost as good as IOS and Android, it can not be as good as IOS and Android, it can be a little better than IOS and Android. It has to be much better than IOS and Android. Any new mobile OS that launches will have few apps than IOS and Android so you must be a much better platform than IOS and Android. RIM might get by with good enough because they have a large customer base that trusts them. Microsoft could have gotten by four years ago with Windows Phone 7 when IOS was limited to a few carriers and Android was just getting going. MeeGo could have leveraged the Nokia user base. Palm could have made it because it was at the right place and the right time but had a crippled SDK and not great hardware.
    Also Nokia gave up the potential profit center of running the app store and selling media to the devices.
    Nokia smelled smoke and jump off the platform and into a cold heartless sea and had to hope for Microsoft to save them. They should have put out the fire.

  • Re:How many more? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by 21mhz (443080) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @05:55PM (#41644491) Journal

    I think it's clear now that Microsoft, as always, used a stopgap solution to make their followup successful. Winphone 7 was never going anywhere and the plan was always for Win8. Nokia fell into the EEE trap and was used to crack into the market to pave the way for Win8. Their carcass may still prove useful to MS down the road with their patents and such and also as an inroad to European and other world markets. This is yet another brilliant move by MS. I still find it hard to believe that companies partner with them knowing how it usually turns out. I guess the short term benefits are just too tempting. I expect to see Win8 phones from Microsoft. Wonder how that will play with Nokia? I'd say they are helpless.

    Wow dude. You almost make it look as if Nokia is already bankrupt and is NOT the one finishing the sexiest Windows Phone 8 device (if not the sexiest smartphone overall) to come out in 2012. And Microsoft is already pushing its own Windows Phone 8 devices to compete with Nokia, so it's not just a rumor. But then I go out of the Slashdot bubble and the vision disappears.

    Windows Phone 7 was, indeed, a stopgap solution. For Nokia as much as for Microsoft. And it actually made engineering sense to overhaul the hardware platform requirements for Windows Phone 8, because of the depth of the software changes. Legacy hardware, in principle, could have been supported with some extra effort, but my armchair CEO skills are insufficient to give a verdict on how easy would it have been for both companies. The existing Windows Phone users do not have it much worse than the users of Android phones stuck on Gingerbread. Who was the latest refusenik OEM again, Motorola Mobility? Their new owner company, what was it? Must be evil.

  • by geoskd (321194) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @07:18PM (#41645197)

    Response from Apple to MSFT. Bring it on!

    We are not talking about 1997 Apple here. This is 2012 Apple with more money than God. Well, than Microsoft at least.

    Followed by Apple deftly driving the price up, and letting M$ pay through the nose for a soon to be obsolete database. If there is one thing that history has proved its that Balmer can't resist paying twice what something is worth. He believes his customers should pay more than the products are worth, and likes to lead by example.

    -=Geoskd

  • Re:How many more? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by roc97007 (608802) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @07:18PM (#41645201) Journal

    > Apple gets flack for changing a CONNECTOR after NINE years...

    By some, I guess. By many (including me) it gets flack for changing the connector to yet another proprietary connector, when the rest of the world has standardized on micro-USB.

  • by vakuona (788200) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @07:20PM (#41645215)

    If Microsoft wants it that bad, then Apple would be stupid not to bid the price up. They win if they win, and they win if they lose.

  • by slashrio (2584709) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @07:29PM (#41645285)

    If any hate is spewing, is targeted against the ex M$ bigwig Elop which brew this destructive strategy.

    As pointed out above [slashdot.org], it was the board that was already decided at ditching the previous CEO and hiring Elop/MS instead.
    Now, as Dilbert [dilbert.com] has pointed out, this was a strategic move of sheer genius, with which MS has realised three very strategic goals:
    1. Windows phone introduced in the market,
    2. Nokia, the biggest competitor for their own phone hardware sales ambitions has been crushed,
    3. Linux as OS for the mobile phone has been disabled.
    Luckily, there is still the Jolla [jolla.com] (currently connection time out) initiative with Tizen.

    The grand question: How did the Nokia board get played up so much by Microsoft?

  • Re:How many more? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 13, 2012 @07:44PM (#41645389)

    Elop did the exact same thing when he effectively announced that Symbian was dead nine months before they had a Windows Phone on the market. So that's nine months without a product to sell during the transition to Windows Phone 7 and another six months with no product during the transition to Windows Phone 8.

    At this point I'm expecting a Windows Phone 9 announcement the week after Windows Phone 8 launches.

  • Re:How many more? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by menkhaura (103150) <espinafre@gmail.com> on Saturday October 13, 2012 @08:30PM (#41645729) Homepage

    I don't see as hatred, but rather as pity for a once great company crumbling down right before our eyes because of wrong decisions. If there is any hatred, it's for Elop.

  • by tuppe666 (904118) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @08:49PM (#41645847)

    Google is either lying when they 1.3 million phones are activated per day, or Android is such a piece of shit operating system that you have to activate it continuos over and over again to get it to work.

    In 2011 there were a total of 491.4 million smart phones sold [email-mark...eports.com]. 491.4/365 is ~1.3 million. As we all know not every one of those phones is an android phone.

    Fun chart plotting Androids activation a day.
    http://www.businessinsider.com/chart-of-the-day-android-activations-per-day-2012-9 [businessinsider.com]

  • Re:How many more? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968&gmail,com> on Saturday October 13, 2012 @11:36PM (#41646653) Journal

    Then you offer a cheap upgrade path to your loyal customers not give them a trollface and let a big nasty fart in their general direction.

    I mean a company the fucking size of MSFT shouldn't need me, a little PC retailer in the middle of BFA, to explain economics 101 to them but I guess i have to...Hey MSFT? yeah com 'ere. you see its is like this Sparky, you make people happy? they tell 3 to 5 friends and that is how you build what is called "word of mouth" but when you give them a trollface and fuck 'em over? then they not only tell over a dozen that you suck and your products are shit but they make blogs, they jump into forums, you'd be surprised how badly people that feel like they were fucked over will want to hurt you back.

    Again I should NOT have to explain this shit, its business 101. This is why I'll ALWAYS offer some kind of trade in on a new unit, even if I'm just gonna take that trade in and throw it in the garbage because it makes people feel like they are being treated fairly, which REALLY fucking matters MSFT. Hell you could have refurbed those Win 7 units, put them on Woot! and made some of your money back while more importantly giving people who were loyal to you a reason to stay loyal instead of filling the net with "You fucking suck!" rants.

    I man for the love of God you couldn't even do this ONE thing right? Hell you like ripping off Apple and even Apple, the kings of hardware churn, support at least ONE upgrade per unit! So if you needed the hardware to be upgraded for Win 8 fine, no problem, at least give a reason those units that are for sale now with Win 7 should be bought and give those that already bought a reason to stay with you.

    Because I hate to break the news to ya but you ain't got billions of dollars in third party software to keep them loyal like you do Windows, so this was a seriously fucking retarded move, but what can we expect under Ballmer was seriously fucking retarded moves? I swear he thinks its 1999 and Windows can just walk in and take over a market without trying...wrong.

  • Re:How many more? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by RabidTimmy (1415817) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @02:05AM (#41647201)
    If you're plugging in a cable while you're driving, YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG!

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