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Nokia Insider On Why It Failed and Why Apple Could Be Next 420

Posted by Soulskill
from the investment-in-waffle-technology-was-a-poor-choice dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The former chief designer of Nokia explains how the company's success and its corporate culture stopped it from taking risks and left it open to being beaten by Apple. He now sees the same warning signs emerging at Apple. Quoting: 'I look back and I think Nokia was just a very big company that started to maintain its position more than innovate for new opportunities. All of the opportunities were in front of them and Nokia was working on them, but the key word is a sense of urgency. While things were in play there was a real sense of saying "we will get to that eventually."' He worries Apple is now in a similar place: 'Nokia became more of a maintainer, more of an iterator, whereas innovation only comes in re-invention and Nokia waited too long to make the next big bold move ... that is now Apple’s challenge. Apple has arrived at a very safe place, it is responsible for something everybody loves, so it feels it has to keep it going.'" Oddly enough, this comes alongside news that a different former insider, Thomas Zilliacus (who was Nokia’s former Asia-Pacific CEO), has founded a company called "Newkia" in the wake of Microsoft's acquisition of Nokia. His goal is to take on former Nokia engineers and set them to building phones again — this time, running Android.
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Nokia Insider On Why It Failed and Why Apple Could Be Next

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  • Fail (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 06, 2013 @08:58AM (#44773789)

    Nope, Nokia wasn't defeated from the outside, it committed suicide.

    • Re:Fail (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 06, 2013 @09:23AM (#44773985)

      Nope, Nokia wasn't defeated from the outside, it committed suicide.

      I'm pretty sure you mean Microside.

      • "Microcide" would be the opposite: Nokia killing Microsoft (oh, if that could only have happened!). This was "suicide by Microsoft."

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Wrong, it didn't commit suicide it was just stubborn until it suffered unto its last. Nokia was defeated just like cart and horse industry was defeated by the car industry, the times changed and Nokia didn't.

      I see this argument is all relative. If Apple doesn't fill the next innovation gap after some unsuspecting company brings out the next "big thing" it could very well suffer as a result but that doesn't mean it will happen today, tomorrow or even for within the next decade.

      So the question can it happen t

      • Re:Fail (Score:5, Insightful)

        by DrXym (126579) on Friday September 06, 2013 @11:45AM (#44775383)
        Nokia may have left it late to adopt a decent smartphone OS but they could have turned the ship around. The problem putting it bluntly is they backed the wrong smartphone OS. They forced consumers to make a choice between Nokia hardware and an OS with few apps, or another handset with an OS with plenty of apps. Unsurprisingly consumers chose the latter option.
      • by Phil Urich (841393) on Friday September 06, 2013 @11:46AM (#44775395) Journal

        Wrong, it didn't commit suicide it was just stubborn until it suffered unto its last.

        There's a long recent history of Nokia management monkeying around with things, and infighting between the departments (for example, the Symbian folks successfully grabbed projects away from the Maemo folks and otherwise inhibited Nokia's attempts at developing any more future-proof alternatives). And it seems pretty obvious (was fairly obvious at the time, and is blindingly obvious now) that the Board hired Elop to prep for a Microsoft sale. At every level of management, it was just politics and a complete lack of faith in the engineering abilities down below.

        I'm not guaranteeing that it would've all worked out fine without management interference, but both the scope and malignancy of the bureaucracy within Nokia is fairly well known at this point. And, in the rare cases when individual engineers would actually get a chance to directly contribute to something, it very often turned out quite well. Felipe Contreras, for example, a device adaptation engineer, thought that the N9 would benefit from a gesture where swiping down from the top would close an app. This fit really well with the N9/Harmattan swipe motif, but he couldn't convince the project management to assign it to be programmed in, so he just went and learned the language the UI/UX bits were written in, wrote it himself, and managed to get it silently included in the version that shipped with the N9. You had to know to add a config file in the right place with the right text in it. With the first update released, however, that gesture was enabled by default. With the UI/UX the way it is, swiping down to close something just makes intuitive sense and feels right, and it was just one engineer not even working directly on that part of the device that made it happen, and only really in that weird moment of Nokia's history when people found themselves working on a flagship device that management was now saying was no longer their flagship.

        How many other ideas and features were strangled in their cribs by management? How many useless and misguided goals were set by that same management, monopolizing the time that entire departments had for things that any engineer on the ground could have told management was pointless? Certainly, I think, it was a primary reason for Nokia's inability to keep up.

        • by kbrannen (581293)

          There's a long recent history of Nokia management monkeying around with things, and infighting between the departments (for example, the Symbian folks successfully grabbed projects away from the Maemo folks and otherwise inhibited Nokia's attempts at developing any more future-proof alternatives). ...

          How many other ideas and features were strangled in their cribs by management? How many useless and misguided goals were set by that same management, monopolizing the time that entire departments had for things that any engineer on the ground could have told management was pointless? Certainly, I think, it was a primary reason for Nokia's inability to keep up.

          That -- far more than is publically known. I worked at Nokia from 2005-2011 and I can tell you there are/were some very smart people there. However, all too often they were hindered from doing their best. Worse, many times when the error was pointed out (along with a solution), minds of management couldn't be changed. The Maemo/Meego stuff was really cool, but it couldn't get traction because the other groups wouldn't let it (in broad terms). It was really frustrating to watch.

    • Re:Fail (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jellomizer (103300) on Friday September 06, 2013 @09:33AM (#44774037)

      Well like a lot of failures in the tech industry they get stuck on the idea.
      We are #1 at this so lets keep it up, Getting into something new will end up taking market share on what #1 makes.
      They play it safe and then they will slowly die.

      Nokia was the #1 phone maker, because they made good phones for a decent price.
      Apple Came along with the iPhone and said. Hey you non-Business users, Check this out, a Smart Phone for you! and look at all these cool features you guys can get for a few hundred dollars more.

      Apple took the risk, they could have failed, but they ended up making people to want to pay more for a smarter phone. This gave Apple a 2 year head start. The other phone makers who were trying to compete with Nokia, stopped that plan and started to compete with Apple. So in a few years Samsung, Motorola, etc... Caught up with help of Google's Android OS, which while was originally made for something else, but could quickly be modified to do what Apple does. During this Time Nokia was Happy to be #1 Phone maker, and even some growth as their competitors seem to stop competing with them. Then public opinion fully switched, normal phones seemed very outdated. So Nokia started loosing.

      To try to catch up, they figured giving Microsoft OS a try might be enough to make them different enough to stand out. But Microsoft has its own image problem, and lack of apps, didn't work out right.

      There are a lot of companies who make similar mistakes they are #1 so they are afraid of not being #1 anymore so they don't change to match demand.

      Other examples (And yes there are other factors such as not getting good support from MS for the changes.):
      Staying as a DOS application for too long:
      Word Perfect, Lotus 123, DBase, FoxPro, Boreland Compilers

      Staying stuck on a platform:
      Many OS's such as different Unix systems, VMS...
       

      • by Rob Y. (110975) on Friday September 06, 2013 @10:12AM (#44774353)

        As often happens in businesses that have 'missed the boat' on a marketplace change, a new leader comes in an decides to shake things up. By definition, they know little about the company's history and relative strengths - they just see the weaknesses and feel that change is what they were hired for. And naturally, lacking some vital info, the tendency is to 'go with the Microsoft playbook' and reap the glory when Microsoft is proven right. And with Elop's past history with Microsoft, that approach was a given.

        Except that Microsoft's playbook itself is in 'missed the boat' territory, and those 'bold and brilliant' managers that play that game don't seem to have figured that out. And of course, the money guys on the boards are completely clueless, so the game goes on.

        There was no reason Nokia couldn't have succeeded with Android. Their strengths are in hardware, industrial design and a large, relatively loyal customer base. That customer base is currently providing what little success Nokia's having with their Lumia line - and it took the low end versions of that line to do it. I.e., those customers didn't want Windows Phone - they wanted a cheap, attractive Nokia phone. They could have had that two years earlier with Android, and they could've done it without fighting the battle of the missing apps. In short, they could've been the Samsung of Europe. They could've even done it while testing the waters with Windows Phones.

        But you don't get to be touted in the business press as 'bold and brilliant' by hedging your bets. And you don't get to be rehired by Microsoft and short-listed for the CEO slot without that 'bet the shop on MS' attitude.

        • Android still has a problem getting into the Business market. Nokia probably wanted to carve a niche of being more business friendly phone. Microsoft promised them that.

      • Borland is still around! They had a booth at a convention I recently attended.
      • Re:Fail (Score:5, Insightful)

        by felipekk (1007591) on Friday September 06, 2013 @10:20AM (#44774423) Journal

        What this guy figured out has been taught over and over to MBAs all over the world.

        Basically the market leader is afraid to take risks because he doesn't want to risk his #1 position. Meanwhile the small players take risks and, sometimes, go all-in on whatever they think can be the next big thing - after all, they don't have that much to lose. Eventually one of the small players hits the sweet spot and becomes #1, displacing the incumbent. He then fights to defend his position, and eventually becomes risk adverse. Rinse, repeat.

    • by rasmusbr (2186518)

      Nope, Nokia wasn't defeated from the outside, it committed suicide.

      Sadly not far from the truth.

      While we're on the topic of tasteless analogies I'd like to compare Elop to the airline captain who entered the cockpit a minute after his copilot has stalled the plane while they were descending through 15,000 feet towards the rapidly approaching ocean surface.

      Who knows though, I guess Elop and Microsoft could still have conspired to continue the descent so that MS could get Nokia's top minds and their factories and other assets for cheap.

      • by dbIII (701233)
        They were pushed. Number one market share in every sub-segment of the phone market when Elop came on board. A stuffed cat would have made a better CEO since the fall was due to choices instead of no choice at all.
      • Re:Fail (Score:5, Insightful)

        by DuckDodgers (541817) <keeper_of_the_wolf AT yahoo DOT com> on Friday September 06, 2013 @10:19AM (#44774409)
        Symbian hemorrhaged marketshare for Nokia in 2009 and 2010 before Elop took over the company. Nokia had four options:

        1. Keep trying to update Symbian to be competitive. They were already working hard on that, and it wasn't stopping their decline.

        2. Put Maemo into production, or later Meego. This would have been a late new entry to the mobile market, and like the other late new entries it would have been fighting an uphill battle against iOS, Android, and their respective app stores. Windows Phone, for all that it's attached to Microsoft, was guaranteed to get tons of applications because Microsoft would build them in-house even if no other company would. Nokia didn't have that kind of developer resources available. WebOS went nowhere. Blackberry 10 couldn't save them. I'd love to see Firefox OS and Ubuntu Touch take the world by storm, but I'll be shocked if most of us even remember they existed in five years.

        3. Switch to Android, and become yet another Android also-ran with Huawei, HTC, LG, ZTE, and Motorola all fighting for sunlight behind Samsung's shadow. Nokia had some of the best designers in the business, but they would have been late to the game fighting other vendors for consumer attention. And they wouldn't even save much money, because Microsoft would have hit them with the same lawsuit it's used to extort patent fees from all of the other Android manufacturers.

        4. Switch to Windows Phone, get a big cash infusion from Microsoft, come along for the ride for free any time Microsoft advertises Windows Phone, and differentiate yourself in the market while getting a genuinely well done mobile operating system. ( Even if you dislike and distrust Microsoft - and I do - the reviews of Windows Phone, unlike Windows 8, have been uniformly positive. )

        As far as I can tell that's four different paths into oblivion. The one they took might have been faster than the others, but I don't see any way they could have survived much longer regardless. Anything Nokia was going to do in order to save itself needed to be started at least three years before Elop took over the company. He took the captain's chair on a sinking ship.
        • by whoever57 (658626)

          Symbian hemorrhaged marketshare for Nokia in 2009 and 2010 before Elop took over the company.

          Nokia only hemorrhaged market share in the same way Android is doing now. Once you get close to 100% market share, the only way to go is down. However, in 2009 and in 2010, Nokia was growing its sales and its market share was much greater than Apple's. Nokia's downturn correlates with the burning platforms memo.

        • Re:Fail (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Bert64 (520050) <bertNO@SPAMslashdot.firenzee.com> on Friday September 06, 2013 @10:46AM (#44774663) Homepage

          Maemo was not really a late entry, it was actually available a full 2 years before android, and if marketed and pushed correctly could have been where android is today...
          Instead, they restricted it to their niche "internet tablet" devices, and then stalled development by trying to transition to meego.

        • Re:Fail (Score:5, Insightful)

          by gaiageek (1070870) on Friday September 06, 2013 @11:22AM (#44775103) Homepage

          3. Switch to Android, and become yet another Android also-ran with Huawei, HTC, LG, ZTE, and Motorola all fighting for sunlight behind Samsung's shadow. Nokia had some of the best designers in the business, but they would have been late to the game fighting other vendors for consumer attention. And they wouldn't even save much money, because Microsoft would have hit them with the same lawsuit it's used to extort patent fees from all of the other Android manufacturers.

          - Even just two years ago, Samsung was not the massively dominant Android manufacturer it is today, and back then, most people had never heard of ZTE or Huawei, and HTC and LG didn't have anywhere near the brand recognition that Nokia has.

          - While I think Samsung phones are good, they are often criticized for their unoriginal design and sub-par (plastic) build quality. Nokia, on the other hand, has long had a reputation for making phones of great build quality AND original (even "crazy") designs. They could have easily distinguished themselves in the Android marketplace.

          - They would have been late to the game, but with their loyal brand following and great reputation, they could have easily pulled it off as being fashionably late.

          - All the other Android manufacturers are not Nokia, which I think it's safe to say, has a massive war chest when it comes to mobile device patents, putting them in a great position had Microsoft gone after them for patents -- and this is assuming Google wouldn't have helped them out.

          I think a previous comment nailed it: Nokia could have been the Samsung of Europe. I'm not even a staunch Nokia fan and I think it's sad to see what's become of them. It does give me hope to hear the news mentioned above about Newkia [zdnet.com] (though I'm guessing they won't be able to keep that name).

          • Since Google didn't help the other Android manufacturers when Microsoft went after them, I think it's safe to assume they would not have helped Nokia.

            But otherwise you make a good case.
        • by sjames (1099)

          The MS campus is littered with the bones of it's former partners.

          The problem is they waited too long to take some useful action until the cash infusion was their only hope.

          An earlier move to Android could have worked, after all they were known for producing really good hardware and they had the software abilities to make an actually good modified Android. Then as long as they had the drivers and kernel for their hardware, they could have also continued with other flavors of Linux on their hardware which wou

    • by DarkVader (121278)

      And it was obvious to anyone watching that it would happen. I mean, a Microsoft phone? Everybody HATED their phone OS, and as soon as alternatives became viable (iPhone, Android) people ran screaming, never to return. Throw in that their new phone OS was even worse than their old one, and it was a forgone conclusion.

      Throw in that Nokia made some of the worst dumbphones on the US market, phones that had a reputation for being cheap but having horrible audio quality, which is pretty much fatal for a phone

      • Horrible audio? That's not Nokia. The one thing every Nokia I've seen has is impeccable call quality.

    • Semantics. He pretty much blames the company for not having the guts to actually pursue new technology and remaining stagnant. That sounds like an elephant just stopped on train tracks to me. Was it really killed by the train, or was hanging out on the tracks a suicide attempt?

    • Re:Fail (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Lumpy (12016) on Friday September 06, 2013 @10:20AM (#44774413) Homepage

      Yeah, because a Microsoft guy was not sent in to destroy it from the inside so they could buy it later at a drastically reduced value.

      Everyone knew what they guy was up to, and the Board at Nokia had a lot to profit from it's demise.

    • by DragonTHC (208439)

      Entirely because they didn't embrace Android.

    • Re:Fail (Score:5, Informative)

      by gl4ss (559668) on Friday September 06, 2013 @11:38AM (#44775267) Homepage Journal

      suicide by thousand cuts.

      by thousand cuts of managers bleeding money from nokia - and at the same time blocking innovation - in their games between each other.

      fyi, nokia maybe had thousands of coders on their payroll but 80%(or more) of actual work(even things like handling weekly/monthly builds of their operating systems) was done by subcontractors - then they had layers that tried to hide that from other subcontractors(poorly, how the fuck do you hide it when they go to same fucking bar..). it made no fucking sense at all unless you saw movement of management to said companies some of who were given stupid amounts of money by intentionally stupid business decisions done by people who at the time worked at nokia(and later at.. well you guess where).

      what was the benefit of their foreign r&d centers? fucking nothing, just another way for managers to get more money into their own pocket(the germany unit that did maps excluded, but iirc that was bought into the firm and was just another money pump).

      conflicts of interests blocked innovation and delayed development and the stupid organizational structure made sure that designers were 3 degrees separated from actual guys churning code, because this worked out to the leeches benefit, so for every 3 coders, artists, designers or whatever there were at least 9 useless people with an agenda to keep themselves "necessary" for the process, mainly by introducing blocks - and think about the fun when all those 3 people, designer, artist and coder are actually on different contractors at different locations. the constant reorgs were a battle against this, but they never fucking got it right.

      there were not just 1 or 2 companies but more in the finnish stock exchange that went up and down and worked as money pumps from investors - while their business was just pumping money from nokia and subject to change on moments notice.

      who's fault was this? well the top 10 guys in the company of course - they were not doing their jobs. they were so bad at their jobs that one wonders if the secrecy agreements and finnish secret service checks for working at nokia were just to protect them from prosecution(for failing shareholders on purpose).

      fyi nokia had an online software store for sw a fucking decade ago(subcontracted execution, of course) - then they redid it every few years but NEVER PROPERLY, it was always more important to decide who's company makes most money from it rather than deciding what would actually have been an usable store with decent license management(deciding who got to do that stuff was another big block and a biiiiig money dump for nokia with some of their sw choices. entering a deal where nokia paid money to give out free licenses? pure genius, right? yes, if you weren't nokia)...

      money money money. the people in nokia treated nokia like a government organization to bleed money out of in a bad way, and in a sense in Finland it was not just a company it was an institution. ridiculously nokia also was for years the biggest beneficiary of government originated r&d benefits money - even when they had 10 billion in the fucking bank!

      and every year this shit went to even crazier and crazier proportions. putting Elop in "charge" was the final nail in the coffin since he had no fucking idea what was being done where and why and what was possible or not - though he didn't need to since his agenda wasn't fixing the problems inside the company... just to crash the price enough so he could get back to USA.

  • by alphatel (1450715) * on Friday September 06, 2013 @08:59AM (#44773797)
    Getting Balmer to cough up 7B for this iterator didn't seem like failure if you ask me. Not to mention they still keep some IP to themselves.
    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday September 06, 2013 @09:05AM (#44773847) Journal
      There may or may not be some upset investors(if they managed to get in during some peak value period they may have managed to lose some money even at Microsoft's fairly sweetheart valuation); but I suspect that the real difference is that there are people who judge 'success' and 'failure' by "how much can I offload it on the next chump for?" and those who judge success and failure by "What were we doing and creating?".

      Microsoft's willingness to buy them out of what appeared to be a pretty hairy situation saved the day for team bean-counter; but I suspect that team engineer is wondering 'How did we go from being fucking Nokia to being eaten by a software company?'
      • by alphatel (1450715) * on Friday September 06, 2013 @09:14AM (#44773917)

        Microsoft's willingness to buy them out of what appeared to be a pretty hairy situation saved the day for team bean-counter; but I suspect that team engineer is wondering 'How did we go from being fucking Nokia to being eaten by a software company?'

        No doubt. Or you could be team engineer at Blackberry wondering "How the fuck did we put ourselves up for sale with no buyers?"

      • by dbIII (701233)
        Elop created the hairy situation and is now being rewarded for it with another job at MS.
    • by sjbe (173966) on Friday September 06, 2013 @09:13AM (#44773909)

      Getting Balmer to cough up 7B for this iterator didn't seem like failure if you ask me.

      When Nokia's market cap was $245 Billion circa 10 years ago and as high as $150 Billion as recently as 2007 then that counts as a HUGE failure.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        trololol market cap. not remotely a measure of value

        • Except by those that buy companies.

    • Huh?

      Nokia's market cap four years ago was $40B. Twelve years ago, it was $60B.

      $7B is chump change in comparison. MS has written down entire acquisitions as worthless after spending almost as much.

      Nokia was not some edgy web design garage startup trying to get acquired by one of the big boys. They WERE one of the big boys. There is no other way to describe this situation as a complete and utter failure of Nokia's management to cope with changing market conditions since 2007 and how they impacted the way Noki

  • Link Baiting This? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 06, 2013 @09:01AM (#44773811)

    A guy discusses how Nokia totally drops the ball and then link baits it by adding Apple? And, let's be very serious here - there is no similarity between Apple now and Nokia before their fall - Apple is still releasing innovative products with several new innovations obviously on the very immediate horizon). While they may not reinvent an entire market every year, they are most certainly not sitting on their hands doing nothing. Nokia, by contrast, fell from grace because they didn't change at all when the market around them underwent a massive shift in direction. Anyone who thinks Apple would succumb to a similar failure is either INCREDIBLY anti-Apple and wants to hate on them any chance they get or they are completely out of touch with reality.

    Or they are adding "Apple" to a blog post to link bait.

    • by Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) on Friday September 06, 2013 @09:13AM (#44773915) Journal

      It happened to Apple once already -- the founders forced out, and bean counters making cuts and skipping investment in new stuff. It works, for awhile, and profits even increase, but eventually they start lagging behind. By that time, the first few bean counter CEOs have ridden off into the sunset with millions in reward for doing a "good job" on the profits.

      • by jbolden (176878)

        Yes the bean counters can come in. But Apple's R&D has been exploding over the last 3 years. Investment is growing substantially faster than sales. Far from skimping Apple is allowing investment to damage the bottom line because they want to invest in the future.

    • by iserlohn (49556) on Friday September 06, 2013 @09:20AM (#44773963) Homepage

      Nokia came out with an internet tablet back in 2005. I have one sitting on my desk right now. The problem with Nokia wasn't innovation, nor is innovation Apple's strength. What (the consumer part of) Nokia lacked was a understanding of how to market products other than normal phones. Add to that, it was *too* engineering focused - case in point, Symbian was difficult to code for, but battery life was excellent due to the design of the OS. Add to that Symbian was too entrenched.

      Nokia had a good plan - they wanted to develop the OS from their tablets into a modern smartphone OS (Maemo/Meego), while at the same time, develop Qt so that developers have a good API and dev environment to code in. This code could then be portable across Symbian, Meego and desktop OSes.

      If Nokia was able to fully execute this plan, I doubt that they would be in a worse position than they would be now. Microsoft saw this as a threat (and opportunity to find a reliable HW partner as WP7 was driving the major manufactures away) and nipped it in the bud.

      • by JaredOfEuropa (526365) on Friday September 06, 2013 @09:34AM (#44774049) Journal

        What Nokia lacked was a understanding of how to market products other than normal phones.

        Nokia lacked an understanding of products other than normal phones, period. To them, a smart phone was a regular phone with PDA functions bolted on, and it showed in the design of their products. The reverse is more accurate: a smart phone is a PDA that happens to have the ability to make calls. Their mobile OS looked interesting but I think their strength is in hardware; and I would have loved to see a Nokia Android phone.

      • by jbolden (176878)

        Microsoft saw this as a threat (and opportunity to find a reliable HW partner as WP7 was driving the major manufactures away) and nipped it in the bud.

        That's not what happened. When Elop came on board he discovered there 4 models with MeeGo planned all the way through 2014. Moreover the divisions had resolved issues in contradictory ways. MeeGo as a platform for converting Symbian and a modern OS were in conflict. Arguably the N9 was as good as it was, because once it was a terminal project the Symb

        • by iserlohn (49556) on Friday September 06, 2013 @11:29AM (#44775163) Homepage

          The Microsoft deal was a done deal right from the start when they floated the idea to the board. Did it occur that you that every other phone manufacturer making WP7 phones were also making Android phones? Nothing stopped Nokia from licensing WP7 while making Meego or Android phones.. Well nothing apart from those platform support payments and the fact that a Microsoft executive was at the helm..

  • It's natural (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Thanshin (1188877) on Friday September 06, 2013 @09:01AM (#44773819)

    Imagine a game where you can choose between two options:
    A - Try to move up: 1/5 you move up. 4/5 times you go down.
    B - Try to stay: 3/5 you stay. 2/5 you move down.

    In such a game, to place yourself in front, a good strategy is to try to move up until you reach a certain point where you're the first and then stay there, forcing everyone else to risk moving up.

    There's a limited amount of people with a limited amount of money. It's not important how far ahead you are but whether you're the first one.

    Assume the strategy is good and accept the times you move down as natural and only push when you're behind. Don't judge the strategy for the times where you move down.

    • Imagine a game where you can choose between two options:
      A - Try to move up: 1/5 you move up. 4/5 times you go down.
      B - Try to stay: 3/5 you stay. 2/5 you move down.

      In such a game, to place yourself in front, a good strategy is to try to move up until you reach a certain point where you're the first and then stay there, forcing everyone else to risk moving up.

      If the "up" and "down" motions are equal in magnitude, then you lose 0.6 per turn in strategy A, and 0.4 per turn in strategy B. Clearly strategy "A" is the optimum one to maximize your return: to place yourself in front you chose strategy A, and gain the front position because every player who doesn't goes down faster than you do.

      There's a limited amount of people with a limited amount of money. It's not important how far ahead you are but whether you're the first one.

      OK, now it gets more interesting. Say that there are N players, only one can win, and you want to optimize the chance of winning after K moves. Now everybody is sliding down, b

  • Innovation? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Maury Markowitz (452832) on Friday September 06, 2013 @09:04AM (#44773827) Homepage

    "take on former Nokia engineers and set them to building phones again — this time, running Android"

    Nokia needed to innovate, and an example of this is to build the same phone everyone else is? Good luck with that.

    • Re:Innovation? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by h4rr4r (612664) on Friday September 06, 2013 @09:07AM (#44773867)

      Better to make something you can sell than something that there is no market for.

      What Nokia should have done was stayed the course with the N900 and beyond. They could have made that work, it should not have been hard to even support Android apks and its third party markets like the Amazon app store. Instead they got in bed with MS and ended up with a fatal disease.

      • by c (8461) <beauregardcp@gmail.com> on Friday September 06, 2013 @09:18AM (#44773951)

        Instead they got in bed with MS and ended up with a fatal disease.

        More like they got pregnant, had a severely disabled child, and their only sane option is the marry the father.

      • by kurt555gs (309278)

        I am/was a Maemo fan. The N9 could have been the next "iPhone". I think that was what M$ was afraid of. The reason for their war to destroy Nokia.

        • Maemo/MeeGo was destroyed by internal fighting and disagreements. ArsTechnica had an interesting article about that a few months ago.
          Unfortunately, the N9 destroyed itself by being late and not being properly optimized. Poor developer support was the final straw.

      • by noh8rz10 (2716597)

        Instead they got in bed with MS and ended up with a fecal disease.

        FTFY!

      • "Better to make something you can sell than something that there is no market for."

        How do we know they can sell it?

        Samsung has the mid-range market sewn up. Sony and a few others have the fancy-phone versions. A host of Chinese companies have the low end.

        I'm happy to be surprised, but let me express my scepticism that this entirely new company can find any niche to operate within.

    • Re:Innovation? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by LordLucless (582312) on Friday September 06, 2013 @09:07AM (#44773869)

      Android isn't a phone - it's an Operating System. You can innovate (blergh, I hate that word) at the hardware level, while using the industry standard to stay competitive in software. Especially if, as with Nokia, your strength has historically been with hardware rather than software.

      • by Walterk (124748)

        This. The Nokias I've owned before have all been great pieces of hardware. It's likely that if they launched an Android phone it would sell well. In fact, if they only put Android on one of their Lumia 925s, I'd be very tempted to ditch my Nexus 4.

    • Re:Innovation? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Friday September 06, 2013 @09:09AM (#44773889) Homepage Journal

      Nokia did not need to innovate. They needed to apply their hardware engineers to creating an Android phone, and their software engineers to making a nice Android release for it. Who wouldn't like a hot-shit Android phone with the indestructability of a Nokia?

    • by Shavano (2541114)

      "take on former Nokia engineers and set them to building phones again — this time, running Android"

      Nokia needed to innovate, and an example of this is to build the same phone everyone else is? Good luck with that.

      It would get them in the mindset of building phones with modern hardware. A separate arm of the company could work on building a new OS with new software capabilities and they could run it when it's ready on their phones. Make it interable with Android apps and if possible also iPhone apps.

    • Re:Innovation? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Xest (935314) on Friday September 06, 2013 @09:42AM (#44774111)

      No, people want Nokia hardware, with Android software.

      Even Lumia's with Android would've been a hot seller compared to how they did with Windows 8.

      Samsung demonstrated what a complete and utter fallacy it was to for companies like Nokia and RIM not to use Android with the argument "you can't differentiate in the Android ecosystem", quite obviously Samsung proved you can very much differentiate pretty much on hardware alone.

      Well maybe that's not entirely accurate, I suppose yes you can't differentiate in the Android market if your CEO is a complete and utter incompetent muppet like Elop, but the point is you can easily differentiate in the Android market.

      Nokia didn't even have an excuse, there was precedent, Symbian was on a lot of non-Nokia devices also but Nokia was the top phone manufacturer precisely because it's devices stood out amongst the rest.

      Personally right now I find the Android hardware market very underwhelming, it's all dull and very similar - wide, tall, thin, and some form of grey, white, or blue. There's so much scope for a new provider to produce something that stands out amongst the crowd and takes Samsung's crown and again, as Samsung has proven, there's plenty of profit to be made too.

      You can perfectly well use Android and still innovate.

  • Newkia (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 06, 2013 @09:06AM (#44773859)

    My sister got a newkia after her old car was totalled. Personally I wouldn't be caught dead driving one.

    • Why such a stupid Finglish name, I wonder too. Univ student humor magazine Tamppi suggested LempÃÃlà Mobile Phones in 2000. But seriously, there is Westend ICT. Karamalmi or Keilaniemi would be obvious choices, but the guy's name, Zilliacus, is cool too.
      • by mwvdlee (775178)

        Perhaps you're biased because it's your language, but to anybody outside Finland, Karamalmi or Keilaniemi sound much more stupid than "Newkia".

        Regardless the name, the bigger problem they have is basing their hardware on engineers that no longer have access to the patents they've used for many years. Whatever made Nokia phones good, has to be reinvented.

  • "...the key word is a sense of urgency."

    Apple's development pace has always been glacial, but since 2012 it seems to have slowed even more. Samsung's new watch shows what can go wrong when you rush a product, but there is a happy medium between those two extremes. I'm hopeful Apple's recent comatose posture stems more from management shuffle than a fundamental limitation on capability or worse, a deliberate choice.

    • Like the iPod in 2001
      iPhone in 2007
      iPad in 2010

      New laptops every other year.
      New desktops every other year.

      How has it slowed since 2012? They only release new categories of devices every few years. God forbid they don't break ground every year.

      Or release total shitstains like the Galaxy Gear.

    • by jbolden (176878)

      In 2012 they cut weight and introduced an entirely new means of manufacturing. This year they are releasing an entire new GUI. How is that glacial?

  • Trick #2... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday September 06, 2013 @09:14AM (#44773921) Journal
    Apple, under Jobs, definitely didn't suffer from a risk-averse willingness to uncreative iteration (How many more incremental generations of the bestselling-product-ever iPod Mini could they have squeezed out when Jobs basically said 'Hard drives make me sick, fuck the Mini and go build me a Nano, I don't care if it actually reduces storage capacity until you get to the higher-end model a generation later."? However, Apple also (mostly, the 'why not make the shuffle a featureless rectangle for no reason, even though we had a version that was only slightly larger and incorporated the iconic control-wheel design?' was not a clever move) had the virtue of having a good idea waiting in the wings when they exercised their willingness to take an already-successful product out and shoot it.

    That's possibly the even trickier part: there are very strong incentives to be a conservative, risk-averse, iterator when you are on top, so people tend to do so; but there's also a well-developed literature on 'just sitting around and milking your cash cow is how you get eaten by hungry upstarts'. Trouble is, unless you actually have lots of good ideas, like those hungry upstarts just outside the gates, staring at you, doing some cargo-cult management and killing random cash cows won't actually save you, just reduce the amount of delicious cash-milk you get to collect before you die.

    You don't want conservatism to crib-death the upstart ideas that could genuinely save you from succumbing to old age and laziness; but you also want to be careful to recognize that, if you are in fact ossified and uncreative, that milking the situation for all it's worth and then cashing out gracefully beats the hell out of increasingly desperate flailing as you bleed out.
  • by Rik Sweeney (471717) on Friday September 06, 2013 @09:16AM (#44773937) Homepage

    I'm due for a phone upgrade soon, and I'm currently looking at whatever mid-range Android phone is the best value for money.

    I have a good job, but I'm simply not willing to spend 40GBP a month on an iPhone (plus 200 upfront costs) when a 20 a month Android phone will let me make calls and check Facebook just as well.

    If the iPhone 5C exists and is competitively priced, then maybe Apple will get back in the game, but at the moment, they're stumbling in the smartphone market.

    • I have a good job, but I'm simply not willing to spend 40GBP a month on an iPhone (plus 200 upfront costs) when a 20 a month Android phone will let me make calls and check Facebook just as well.

      You can get an iPhone for £20 a month with no upfront payment. At least that's what they display in the shop windows. Not top of the range, but that Android phone you mention isn't top of the range either.

  • All companies can become complacent based on past success and fail to acknowledge new technologies or a shifting customer base or anticipate future needs. This is further complicated by new technologies that change the business model. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Innovator's_Dilemma [wikipedia.org] . It introduced me to the concept of the S curve in terms of the innovation life cycle and it has great examples of how disruptive innovation [wikipedia.org] can negatively affect a business that's at the top of their game when they fa

    • by mwvdlee (775178)

      It introduced me to the concept of the S curve in terms of the innovation life cycle and it has great examples of how disruptive innovation [wikipedia.org] can negatively affect a business that's at the top of their game when they fail to adapt to the change.

      That's what I always liked about Google. They were constantly trying to do the disruptive innovation themselves; trying to replace their cash cows instead of just improving them. Recently it seems Google has dropped this culture though, so it's inevitable they'll be replaced themselves.

  • by Shavano (2541114) on Friday September 06, 2013 @09:22AM (#44773979)

    "Apple has arrived at a very safe place, it is responsible for something everybody loves, so it feels it has to keep it going."

    Not quite. Apple is responsible for something many people love. Not me. I much prefer the features of Android to the point that I wouldn't consider an iPhone. iOS is an inferior product for functionality (specifically, customizability of the user interface) and it doesn't play well with non-Apple software and has excessively restrictive controls on what the user can do with their device. I have other issues with Google (their data use policies). There's room in my mind and wallet for a new player with better for the customer data use policies and an Android-like feature set.

    • by King_TJ (85913) on Friday September 06, 2013 @09:56AM (#44774209) Journal

      Fair enough statement.... but oddly enough, as long as I've been into computers and I.T.? I still vastly prefer my iPhone to any of the Android devices I've tried using in its place.

      To address your points specifically?

      Customization of the UI is something I don't necessarily consider "inferior", simply because what's provided doesn't allow as much modification. The REAL question is how much you like what they give you initially. (To use the way popular "car analogy" on Slashdot once again? With very FEW exceptions, vehicle dashboards are not user-configurable at all. Many accepted standards have been kept to, such as placing a speedometer someplace more or less directly above the steering column, and placing a fuel gauge just to the left of it. Several items like a tachometer are absent or present, depending on the particular vehicle's design, but you'll always find an odometer in about the same place, turn signal indicator arrows done a similar way, etc. etc. This arrangement works quite well, and most people don't feel a pressing need to rearrange it. If you asked most drivers about preferences for the dash, they'd talk mainly about the styling details ... whether they preferred chrome rings around the gauges, or if they liked the gauge needles to be white instead of red.) That's how I view the iPhone. You can still pick custom "wallpapers" to change up the look a bit, and you have control over arrangement of the icons on multiple screens. Without jailbreaking and using unsupported hacks, no ... you can't "go crazy" with it, radically changing the UI. But that also means businesses writing instructions for configuring the phones can safely write them ONE time, based on a single sample iPhone, and the instructions will make sense for pretty much all iPhone users. It means someone who mastered his/her iPhone can easily share knowledge with any other iPhone user. So the ONLY valid benefit I see to all the customizing possible on Android is if you really dislike what Apple has done with iOS and find the UI unworkable/frustrating enough that you need a totally different design. Again, fine if that's you. But iOS works great for many millions of satisfied users every day.

      Not quite sure what "non Apple software" you're upset the iPhone "won't play well" with? It supports the latest Bluetooth connectivity standards, so in that regard, links up with all manner of non-Apple branded devices just fine. Yes, it's designed around Apple's iTunes as the preferred "central management hub" for placing media on it. But 3rd. party alternatives exist too, including programs that will let you download music FROM your iPhone to save onto a computer, instead of Apple's default "one way" setup where content only syncs TO the phone. Overall, I find I use smartphones as essentially "stand alone" devices anyway, once I have them initially configured. There's only so much outside software it needs to work with?

    • by l0ungeb0y (442022)

      yeah -- and I for one stick to Apple becauseI have no need to waste time fucking about with my phone's UI and the fact that most vendors lock you to a specific OS release, leaving it up to the user to go about figuring out how to get in and update the OS by themselves.

      So hey -- you might get a big stiffy for all that "hands on uber-geekness", I for one just want a smart phone that works well, gets regular OS updates and where I don't have to suspect each and every app of being a trojan.

    • by div_2n (525075)

      There is someone trying to be that third player -- Canonical.

      Lots of people have recently taken on more negative views of them because Upstart, Mir, Unity and also the Amazon stuff. Should they succeed, there's no reason to think you couldn't mod the crap out of an Ubuntu phone or slap on your own distro unless the heavy lifting is done via blobs I guess.

    • by kasperd (592156)

      There's room in my mind and wallet for a new player with better for the customer data use policies and an Android-like feature set.

      I agree with that. I think the way to achieve this is to fork Android and distribute it without so many Google apps installed by default. The challenge is, what you are going to replace those apps with.

      The customers still need to be able to download applications onto their phone, including those well known Google apps, to the extent they want those apps. I think Google Play i

  • Truly? (Score:4, Funny)

    by korbulon (2792438) on Friday September 06, 2013 @09:26AM (#44774001)

    To summarize: if you're not selling the next big thing in the next product cycle - no matter how big you are, and Apple is literally the biggest - then you will face certain doom.

    Frankly that sounds like all kinds of ridiculous. I don't particularly like Apple, but I don't sense any sort of stagnation, they have a fairy wide portfolio of products, and have they committed any serious foibles in recent history. They could afford not coming up with the next two big things and still not suffer mightily. Some might point at Microsoft, Nokia and Blackberry as cautionary tales of not innovating. To which I would respond: Microsoft's current ills can be largely attributed not to not innovating, but to half-assed innovation at the expense of its core businesses (while if it had stayed boring it wouldn't presently be undergoing so much restructuring); Nokia was and is largely a phone maker which did not diversify enough when it had a chance while also making a wrong bet on the future of phones, while Blackberry, ah... Blackberry is a monkey in the time of chimpanzees.

  • by Miamicanes (730264) on Friday September 06, 2013 @09:41AM (#44774109)

    The beginning of the end for Nokia happened around 2004, when UMTS arrived in Europe, and Nokia made an intentional business decision to not support EDGE, and to basically walk away from CDMA as well (even though at that point, probably half the phones sold by Verizon and Sprint were Nokia, as well as the majority of high-end phones sold by AT&T and T-Mobile).

    As a result, their phones became useless paperweights in the US as far as anybody who ever used data was concerned. EDGE wasn't exactly "high speed", but compared to GPRS, EDGE is just "annoyingly slow" compared to "uselessly slow". Circa 2005-2008, EDGE was the best that existed in most of the US anyway... T-Mobile hadn't even started deploying HSPA yet, and AT&T's HSPA data existed in maybe two dozen cities.

    Nokia presumably wrote off the US market because, in terms of total unit sales, it was roughly equal to Portugal or Switzerland. What they overlooked was the importance of mindshare... half the world's tech blogs and web sites are American, and as far as anyone in America was concerned, by ~2007 Nokia had effectively ceased to exist. At best, they were a company that used to be popular, and now just made throw-away low-end phones sold to people in remote African villages.

    Other companies learned their lesson. Today, companies like Sony-Ericsson are working as hard as they can to break their Qualcomm addiction(*), and make a point of getting their phones into the hands of American reviewers who live in cities where T-Mobile has good HSPA+ coverage.

    (*) Qualcomm insists on licensing LTE radio firmware to carriers rather than manufacturers, which means it's basically impossible for a manufacturer to sell phones capable of using LTE on AT&T or T-Mobile without the active involvement of AT&T or T-Mobile, and de-facto impossible to sell a phone built with a Qualcomm LTE chipset that's carrier-agnostic and capable of doing LTE on both AT&T and T-Mobile.

    It's technically possible to use a separate non-Qualcomm chipset (like Beceem's) for LTE, but the price premium is fairly stiff (about $100, by the time the phone gets to retail stores). That's why companies like Sony-Ericsson (who desperately want to break the stranglehold American carriers have over the American phone market as gatekeepers with economic -- or in the case of Verizon & Sprint, real -- veto power) have eagerly embraced chipsets like the Renesas MP5232 and MP6530, which will enable them to make phones capable of doing LTE on AT&T and T-Mobile, and break the "LTE Lock-In" AT&T in particular has been working overtime to exploit as a way of making their nominally-GSM network into one that's as de-facto proprietary as Verizon's.

  • We'll see... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by MaWeiTao (908546)

    Nokia's decline began over a decade ago. It started when they got focused on phones as a fashion accessory you're supposed to replace every 6 months. The wanted to be the Swatch Watch of phones, a comparison I recall hearing at the time. While others were envisioning of smartphones Nokia was banking on phones turning into a disposable commodity. This was less evident in the US because they were already losing a foothold here. But I was overseas and Nokia was releasing some truly wacky designs; one of the mo

    • Re:We'll see... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dbIII (701233) on Friday September 06, 2013 @10:46AM (#44774671)
      That technological dead end of Symbian sold 53.7 million units in the second quarter of 2013 while their flagship line of WP8 apparently sold 7.4 million.
      Everyone needs to look at numbers instead of lies by the guy that talked down the share price to prepare Nokia for a corporate raid. When something cut off at the knees by the CEO is outselling his pet project five to one you know that the CEO is not working for the company that he's supposed to be running.
  • Okay, listen. I know it's popular to bang the 'Apple is failing to Innovate' drum, but it's STILL NOT TRUE.

    The problem is that people are compressing the last decade of work into a much smaller space than it deserves. Apple doesn't release huge, blockbuster game-changing products every year. Not even every couple of years. It's MANY years between cycles. The time between the iPod and the iPhone was a long time. The iTunes music store was its own special story. Yeah, the iPhone has sort of settled into a pattern, but it's still a very good phone.

    People are looking to Apple to change the PHONE industry again, and they probably won't. They changed the music player industry ONCE, and iterated on that until it wasn't relevant anymore. Apple will continue to make a good phone--even a GREAT phone--but they probably won't ever really be the industry leader again.

    Apple will find a new market to disrupt. It's easier than trying to disrupt the market you're entrenched in. Is the next thing a watch? Maybe iWatch refers to a TV (that would be a big surprise, wouldn't it--it's the sort of misdirection that I would expect from them). In all likelihood, it's something that people won't be able to predict, just like the iPhone was.

    Stop asking Apple to a) really, truly innovate faster than they have before; and b) ask them to innovate in a space that they're already making money in. That's not the way they've ever worked.

  • Nokia went with devices like the Communicator, which opened out to give a big screen for web browsing with a computer style keyboard, with much of their pre-iPhone touch screen developments still on the drawing board when Apple pounced.

    That makes it sound like Nokia's Communicator only failed because it missed the "next big thing'" of touchscreen. The real reason they failed was because they were awful phones. Even without the touchscreen iPhone around to compare to, they were terrible. Slow, buggy, poor UI

  • by dbIII (701233) on Friday September 06, 2013 @10:16AM (#44774381)
    The summary is missing what we can see from the outside - Nokia had plenty of "skunk works" projects going on which could be seen from the outside even if the former chief designer wants to pretend they could not be seen from the inside. I'm hoping that it's misquoting him and he's not just trying to sweep under the carpet that he starved some successful projects that spawned products which sold well on nothing but word of mouth.
  • by roc97007 (608802) on Friday September 06, 2013 @10:31AM (#44774533) Journal

    > "The former chief designer of Nokia explains how the company's success and its corporate culture stopped it from taking risks" [...]

    Adopting a Windows-only strategy wasn't taking a risk? Well, hmm. Maybe not. It practically guarantees single digit adoption. But I can't believe that this was Nokia's goal.

  • by dittbub (2425592) on Friday September 06, 2013 @10:52AM (#44774765)
    I would have opted for the name "Yeskia"

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