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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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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 13, 2012 @03:58PM (#41643611)

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

    • Re:What you do is... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by tuppe666 (904118) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @04:20PM (#41643785)

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

      I could see how that would help Apple. I can see how it might get some short term money from Apple, but as they already get money from Apple, and still managed to burn through $10Billion in months how exactly is this going help Nokia. In fact other than promoting Maps on Nokia over Apple like they are already doing. I fail to see any benefit.

    • 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."

  • 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: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 thegarbz (1787294)

        "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!"

        And what did we learn? Hey stop wiping your arse with $100 bills and pay attention, there was a lesson in corporate management in there for you somewhe... oh is that a solid gold toilet?

    • So, after looking at another thread on Slashdot, is Nokia just a simulation or some kind of hologram?
    • Yes, people get greedy or manipulative, it's true... but that's the exception, not the rule.

      In the corporate world, especially in publicly traded companies, greed is the rule. Anyone who has been in touch with middle and top management in publicly traded corporations knows full well that greed trumps everything - personal greed, to be quite precise.

  • by 0xdeadbeef (28836) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @04:06PM (#41643667) Homepage Journal

    Woah, he predicted Windows Phone would not succeed at the level of iPhone and Android? Better tell James Randi to hang it up, because we got a real god damned psychic right here!

  • by Animats (122034) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @04:19PM (#41643773) Homepage

    It's hard. Apple won't let them use IOS. Android is generic, so they have no edge over Chinese manufacturers. Blackberry has tanked. Microsoft looked like a good option.

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

    • 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).

    • 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 Dan East (318230)

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

      I don't understand the logic in this. Samsung stands out in the mobile market because of their hardware. People aren't saying "Oh, the customization Samsung has done to Android stands out and makes their devices less generic, so Samsung is selling a lot of phones." Nor do people equate Samsung as the definitive Android device. Whenever I heard "Samsung" in reference to phones, a single thing came to mind: their beautiful OLED displays

    • 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...

  • Nothing new (Score:4, Insightful)

    by zyzko (6739) <kari.asikainen@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> 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.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Symbian might not have been winning, and yet it was and still is - the bread winner for Nokia. Symbian sales did not drop because it was behind the times - but because Elop killed it - just a few months after launching a flagship device - and in that process also frittered away the brand loyalty. And all this was done in favor of WP7 which had no future.!! Had Nokia stayed with Symbian until WP8, they would have been in a much better position than they find themselves in today.

    • by tuppe666 (904118)

      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.

      From the latest results of IDC Q2
      http://www.idc.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=prUS23638712 [idc.com]
      Symbian 4.5% windows phone 3.5%

    • 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.

  • 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.

  • Other cellphone makers are leaving a lot of 'easy' niches open IMHO:
    - You need a shop in high street. Android is too generic, Samsung is too much of everything else (TV's and stuff) - Nokia could have an 'Apple store' and get away with it.
    - You need security and robustness. Smartphones are moving from a hipster-thing to a commodity right now, so it's time you start addressing companies to use smartphones for company uses. And then I mean properly - with security inside the phone, bigger batteries and compat

    • by tuppe666 (904118)

      Other cellphone makers are leaving a lot of 'easy' niches open IMHO:
      - You need a shop in high street. Android is too generic, Samsung is too much of everything else (TV's and stuff) - Nokia could have an 'Apple store' and get away with it.
      - You need security and robustness. Smartphones are moving from a hipster-thing to a commodity right now, so it's time you start addressing companies to use smartphones for company uses. And then I mean properly - with security inside the phone, bigger batteries and compatibility with office tools. Huge market.
      - Stop doing everything that's irritating about Apple: no app-store, no iTunes obligation, no stupid connectors, no wrong way to hold it. No selling your soul to placate His Steveness. Emphasize it. Android does that, but not enough - it has no commercial incentive: make sure that hipsters are on the defensive - it's easy: they're hipsters.

      You seem a little confused
      Nokia has several!! OS offerings, and a larger more successful store.
      Nokias phones were considered so rebust they were a meme!!
      Nokia are following Apple, because Microsoft is following Apple they have to change OS's to stop.

  • Nokia failed to realise is that their customers were buying because they had a reliable brand with a respectable name, but that in most other respects, most of their customers considered Nokia's phones to have similar features as all the rest. They were trusted and reliable - they were an IBM, not an Apple. When they stopped making phones with similar features as all the rest, they were taking a big step into unknown territory.

    If they had simply built a solid android phone, they could have retained much of

  • by John Hasler (414242) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @04:51PM (#41643995) Homepage

    With no legs?

  • 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 quax (19371) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @05:26PM (#41644263)

    ... by getting a Windows Mobile 7 device.

    She used to be a happy Nokia customer but being a M.D. she didn't pay attention to the gizmo market and unfortunatelly didn't ask me prior to deciding on her new phone.

    Basic functionality that she needs for her job i.e. Outlook contact import, how long a call lasts, alarm function when the phone is turned off etc. are not working. The touch screen menu is so sensitive that sometimes she accidentally places calls, on the other hand she sometimes has a hard time accepting calls.

    Other than that the phone and its software looks really sleek.

    After spending hours on the Nokia hotline and getting answers like "we don't know if this is supposed to work" or "we never thought about that", she now considers returning the phone and has been turned from a loyal low attention Nokia customer to one that wants anything but another Nokia.

    • by guttentag (313541)

      My sister walked in to the Lumina trap by getting a Windows Mobile 7 device.

      So she's the one. Up until now I thought the reports that Microsoft had actually sold one were pure propaganda.

  • by Spazmania (174582) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @01:18AM (#41647071) Homepage

    Ahonen gets it wrong. You can see the problem in his chart here: http://communities-dominate.blogs.com/.a/6a00e0097e337c8833017ee41902ae970d-pi [blogs.com]

    Samsung and Apple were already on their respective trajectories when Nokia stumbled. Like Blackberry, Symbian wasn't. The writing was on the wall and Elop read it. If Nokia stayed the course they would promptly slide from #1 to #3. Perhaps not as painfully but every bit as surely.

    Unfortunately, Elop then made two inexplicable mistakes. And in this Ahonen and, well, everyone on Slashdot at the time saw it.

    1. Planned obsolescence of the core product. Did he learn nothing from the 60's and 70's disaster with the U.S. automobile industry? Customers don't like that!

    2. The new product line to challenge the meteoric rise of Samsung and Apple would be... Microsoft Windows? Really!?

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