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Microsoft Businesses

Former Nokia Exec: Windows Phone Strategy Doomed 447

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

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  • by baka_toroi ( 1194359 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @12:38PM (#39428873) Journal
    I think everyone who follows closely the industry was already aware of that fact. It was a shit move for Nokia, I'd go so far as to say it wasn't just a bad decision: the guys in charge should be prosecuted.
    • by Dionysus ( 12737 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @02:09PM (#39430373) Homepage

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

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

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

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

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

  • Never Fear (Score:5, Funny)

    by SydShamino ( 547793 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @12:39PM (#39428887)

    The royalties from their vibrating tattoo patent will keep them afloat...

  • Android (Score:5, Insightful)

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

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

    • Pretty much the only thing I see saving Nokia is Android.

      And, given their commitment to make Microsoft-based phones, that pretty much makes them doomed.

      Make them with a nice clean stock Android loadout instead of some dumbass custom crapware laden ugly UI

      See above ... they may be too far along in the jumping of the shark.

      I don't see a Windows based phone in my future any time soon. Though, I'm sure there's likely some hardcore fanbois who are salivating at the prospect.

      • by d3ac0n ( 715594 )

        Yep. pretty much right there with you. I'm actually still on my webOS Pre- phone, waiting for the G-nex to come out on Sprint. I wish more companies would just make a quality phone with bog standard Android. A Nokia one would be great, they make such good quality stuff. But not if I have to deal with Winblows. Not gonna happen.

        • by Sir_Sri ( 199544 )

          That's seems to lack certain objectivity. What reviews have you read that suggest windows phones is bad to deal with, or in some way worse than android/iOS (Which are basically copies of each other on usability). Given that all the android manufacturers have dual core phones, and Nokia is still shilling a single core as it's top end what evidence do you have that they would perform competitively with other handset makers?

          Just because you didn't like windows 95 doesn't mean windows 7 is good or bad, and has

    • Re:Android (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Missing.Matter ( 1845576 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @12:48PM (#39429035)
      How exactly would Android save Nokia in a marketplace that is saturated with Android devices coming out every other week? Sure they could make a great phone, but they'd be competing against Motorola, Samsung, HTC, etc. who also sell top of the line Android devices.
      • Re:Android (Score:5, Insightful)

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

        And how are they NOT competing against them now?

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

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

        • Re:Android (Score:5, Interesting)

          by semi-extrinsic ( 1997002 ) <> on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @01:01PM (#39429225)
          More true than you'd think. Early WP7 devices that weren't sold, are being rebranded, loaded with android, and sold in Asia. E.g. the HTC HD7, and probably most other early devices.
        • And how are they NOT competing against them now?

          They are competing sure, but by partnering with Microsoft they have an appreciable competitive advantage over the other manufacturers instead of being yet another Anroid manufacturer. Tell me, why exactly do we need another one of them? Is there not enough choice already for Android handsets? No, we don't need another, which is exactly why Nokia doesn't need to be yet another.

          Your problem is you start from the premise that Windows Phone is a terrible OS. It's off to a slow start, but so was Android, and Win

          • They are competing sure, but by partnering with Microsoft they have an appreciable competitive advantage over the other manufacturers instead of being yet another Anroid manufacturer. Tell me, why exactly do we need another one of them? Is there not enough choice already for Android handsets? No, we don't need another, which is exactly why Nokia doesn't need to be yet another.

            Let me rephrase that for you and see if it makes any more sense this way:

            They are competing sure, but by partnering with RedHat they have an appreciable competitive advantage over the other manufacturers instead of being yet another Windows manufacturer. Tell me, why exactly do we need another one of them? Is there not enough choice already for Windows PCs? No, we don't need another, which is exactly why HP doesn't need to be yet another.

            If someone came to you as the CEO of HP with that argument for why you should ignore the market for Windows PCs and focus on selling PCs with RHEL, what would you tell them?

      • Very simple. People don't dislike Nokia, they dislike the OS (Symbian) and don't believe in Windows mobile (as those handset sales show).

        Samsung is competing on Android and sells almost as many smartphones as Apple itself. The reason for this is a quality lineup with a friendly UI (that the geeks hate but the laymen love).

        If they did a good quality android set it'd sell 10x more than the Lumia line, I'm quite sure of this. Same with RIM. If you can't win, join them. The potential for profit will be lower, b

    • Re:Android (Score:5, Insightful)

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

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

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

      • Don't forget: even if Windows were to become successful as a mobile platform - they would still have to share the success of that platform with HTC and Samsung and everybody else who currently makes or in the future wants to make a Windows phone. Unlike Nokia, MS has not tied itself to just one partner, and neither have the other smartphone vendors. Only Nokia is dependent on a single platform which they don't control

    • Re:Android (Score:5, Insightful)

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

      In a word: MeeGo.

  • And Meego is dead anyway. Nokia can, should, and probably will in some way develop Meego/Maemo Harmatton further, as they still seem to develop Qt further. But going with Tizen and dumping Qt -- and for what? -- would be dumb, and is unlikely to happen.

  • Adapt or Die (Score:5, Insightful)

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

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

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @12:42PM (#39428933)

    Nokia's Windows phones continue to tank, meanwhile sales of the 'dead' and most excellent N9 (which was killed to make way for Nokia's WP handsets) are doing well. People are clamouring for Nokia to reconsider its position on the N9. Will Nokia listen and respond in time? Probably not.

    • by Luckyo ( 1726890 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @02:13PM (#39430435)

      It can't respond because the team responsible for N9 is long fired. There is simply no one left to continue development, all these people left for other companies.

      • by janimal ( 172428 )

        Say this is not true... please. Do you have proof? This is the worst news I heard about Nokia in a long time. Up until now, I thought they still had it in them to do the Apple grassroots comeback (iMac in 1995ish?). But now? :(

        • by Luckyo ( 1726890 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @07:01PM (#39434531)

          I used to live ~1km from campus where MeeGo team was located. People who worked on it, and who I personally knew were given fairly generous severance packages so they would stay and finish N9 after the news of nokia killing MeeGo were announced to the workers.

          Key members of the team, ones that got offers from competitors the moment Nokia announced that MeeGo is being killed left pretty much immediately after announcement. They still have the skeleton crew managing mandatory software updates, but essentially entire team that designed software part of N9 is now employed elsewhere. IIRC some were re-trained to develop for WP but most left since Nokia basically killed all of its linux OS level know how and with android coming up as well as Intel wanting some of the MeeGo people, they had other good job offers.

          I could be wrong on exact numbers, my contact in the company left after they released N9 as per her severance package and is now employed elsewhere.

  • by scorp1us ( 235526 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @12:42PM (#39428945) Journal

    Mer [] is the Qt-based successor to Meego. Tizen is all HTML5 happy, without Qt.

  • by Kohath ( 38547 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @12:43PM (#39428955)


    Nor can any other niche platform. Stop coming out with stupid new platforms that exist only to serve incumbent technology players. Phones and software are for people to use, not so Microsoft or Intel don't get left out.

    Design something to help your customers rather than yourself. This means you Nokia, Microsoft, and Intel.

    • The problem is, Nokia did have a decent platform. The Symbian kernel is a great design for mobile devices. Unfortunately, pretty much everything above the kernel sucked (or, to be a bit more fair, was well designed for a set of requirements that no longer applied). Their solution? Replace the kernel with Linux. It's easy to see why the managers of the people who made such a decision thought that outsourcing their software development to Microsoft - or to anyone except Nokia - was a good idea.
    • by JBMcB ( 73720 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @01:12PM (#39429399)

      This is what confused me about Windows Phone 7. Usually Microsoft tries to take an already popular platform or technology, and extends it until they take it over. When Android took off I was sure there would be a Microsoft-created platform that would run on top of Android, and tie in with their Live services, have Office,Outlook, etc... Maybe port .NET compact to Linux to run along-side Dalvik, probably with a significant speed advantage. Basically something cell companies can drop into Android that replaces the Google ecosystem with a Microsoft one. Start out by giving it away for free, then once the take rate picks up, start charging for it.

      Instead of hopping on the Android bandwagon, they did their own thing. Their own completely un-leveragable thing, with no incentive for anyone to adopt it, short of them dumping tons of money into Nokia.

  • by Compaqt ( 1758360 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @12:48PM (#39429037) Homepage

    It would have:

    1. Nokia's excellent call quality

    2. Great camera like Nokia's latest 41 megapixel phone with a huge sensor []

    3. Replaceable battery.

    4. Nice, open Linux setup with easy API (like WebOS HTML/Javascript).

    5. WebOS-style UI (especially cards)

    6. Not needing to be tied into an account like Google/Android or iPhone/Apple in order to simply use it.

  • by na1led ( 1030470 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @12:49PM (#39429047)
    Nokia should stop trying to compete in the Smart Phone market. It's already flooded with too many models and manufacturers. Nokia should go back to what they do best, and make low cost basic cell phones for those people not looking to pay for data plans. Most of the carriers have lots of Android models, but few good basic phones.
    • by Dusty101 ( 765661 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @01:00PM (#39429209)

      I don't agree with the parent. Nokia made the best smart phones for years, long before iOS and Android devices were available. I had several of them myself. Look up the release dates and feature sets of their Communicator series of devices to see how long it took the rest of the mobile phone manufacturing world to catch up.

      Nokia's problem has never been an inability to produce awesome smart devices: it's always been about their management's unwillingness to fully commit to a long-term course of action, despite having some fantastic showpiece R&D. Elop did bring that willingness to commit, but unfortunately, the way he did it wasn't with Nokia's benefit in mind, but Microsoft's...

    • They also pursue this with the S40 platform. From the little that has been said so far, there is a revamp based on linux and Qt in the work. The S40 does address the low cost market.

      But good luck to them here. If you've been to China / Taiwan and have seen what they can do in the low cost area on Android (or even without for even cheaper feature phones), there will be some fierce competition there. And the most dynamic low cost chipmakers (Mediatek, MStar and the like) are there too, with very cheap integ
  • by segedunum ( 883035 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @12:56PM (#39429151)
    As I'm living in the UK I can state that this is definitely not for lack of marketing. Every shopping centre I have seen has several slick looking panels advertising Lumia and it seems to have made zero effect. People just simply do not want them, and that is probably going to be a great puzzle to Nokia and Microsoft.

    They had a next generation phone with what Meego was actually starting to turn into. Now they're going to need a stop-gap measure, and the only option is Android.
  • by Tridus ( 79566 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @01:01PM (#39429229) Homepage

    The problem Nokia faced is that Symbian was a fading, older platform. It still has fans and users, but that's a market in decline and a sure road to ruin (eventually). Meego was having trouble getting off the ground and wasn't gaining much traction.

    Microsoft shows up with a wad of cash and offers to make them the premier Windows Phone people. If it works, they're set. If it doesn't work, they're on a faster road to ruin.

    But really, if you're already on a road to ruin (which they were), can you afford not to take a risk to try and get off it? I don't think Nokia really had better options aside from becoming yet another Android handset maker. That gamble hasn't worked out for them, which happens sometimes. Shame too, I loved Nokia phones back in the day for how tough they were.

    At this point, their best chance is the unlikely scenario that Windows 8 tablets take off. If they do, people will become more intersted in phones that can run the same things and work with the same UI, so Windows Phone 8 devices will see growth. I'm not willing to bet on it though, and it's a bad place for Nokia to be because their success now depends on things outside their control.

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @01:02PM (#39429249)

    Quite seriously. Windows mobile was a godawful platform right until the current version (which is actually fairly decent... or would be if it was stable, would boot up in finite time and most of all I didn't have to create a windows live account just to update the frickin' firmware, are you kidding me, MS? What is my company supposed to do should I decide to leave, never update the phone again? Or am I supposed to hand over my account and let someone else be online with my personal data? And before you ask, not my fault, my company made me use it...). But back on topic.

    Windows mobile was maybe the worst platform there was in the mobile field. Don't ignore that a sizable portion of your customer base is the customer that gets his phone with a new contract, especially in the younger echelon, the 14-25 crowd, which is also the people who always want the latest and greatest. And WinMobile was much, but it was not cool. Nokia used to be cool. Now it's Android. Android is cool for the 14-25 crowd. There's tons of software for it and you can easily download it from the net. An iPhone is cool, for exactly the same reason. WinMobile is ... umm....... not. For exactly that reason.

    I remember the time when I was young, and I can only assume that today cells are what computers used to be in my time. There were those that were cool, and those that were not. Those everyone else had and those ... well, that I had. Commodore, first C64 then Amiga, was cool, Atari, neither 800 nor ST, was not. Why? Because your peers have them. It's as simple as that. You can go around and compare, give tips, belong together. WinMobile doesn't belong.

  • Tomi is legit. (Score:5, Informative)

    by MrCrassic ( 994046 ) < minus caffeine> on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @01:08PM (#39429329) Journal
    He's been vehemently against Nokia's decision to leverage their smartphone strategy on Windows Phone. For more awesome reading explaining why, check this [] out.

    As explained in the link above, it's not Nokia's decision to use Windows Phone on their smartphones that is the chief problem. They are, essentially, hedging their entire existence on the platform, which is a very bad bet for a company whose popularity has always been stronger in Europe, Asia and developing nations. It's almost like a Kodak in reverse in that they are, more or less, giving less importance to their bread and butter and more importance to a huge, HUGE risk. (Notice that HTC and Samsung, the top dogs in the non-iPhone smartphone world, use more of their resources for building Android and their own OS's than Windows Phone.)

    The sole fact that, to this day and despite a very recent system update, Windows Phones still have the crippling text-message-of-death bug clearly demonstrates where Microsoft thinks they're at with the OS. I haven't seen any of the major players on Android/iOS commit serious time to Windows Phone yet; until this happens, it's a sinking ship.
  • by sgt101 ( 120604 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @03:19PM (#39431649)

    Watch Steve Job's come back key note : MS supported Apple because they saw them as an important eco-system player. This is what they are doing with Nokia now. Without a successful Nokia MS is looking at Apple and Google/Motorola carving up the market. They are not prepared to allow that.

  • This article stinks on so many levels. It is well-known that Nokia had an internal war going on for years around the Symbian platform, resulting in, among other things, the well-designed but effectively DOA Nokia N9 which in effect became the prototype for the Lumia 800. Maybe Meego would have gone on to be a market-leading platform, but it got buried by politics. Clearly this guy was on the losing team and now he's trying to use whatever authority he still thinks he has to trash-talk Nokia.

    Yet the very first comment on his blog post [] is proof that Nokia is far from dead. No, market share for Windows Phone 7 isn't that great, but it's obviously growing at a rapid rate, and even if it never passes Android or iOS - there's plenty of room in the market for a third player. Blackberry was it for years until they shit the bed.

    What the world most certainly doesn't need is yet another Android phone manufacturer. We already have more than enough. Microsoft had the cash that Nokia needed and an OS that, while not perfect, is certainly a differentiator. Couple this with Nokia's design sense and you get a phone which stands out in the sea of blandness (and the fact that the Lumia 800 alone now accounts for something like 85% of all WinPhone7 sales in the EU is evidence of this).

    I don't want to go too much into subjective opinion here, but my own experiences with the Lumia 800 is that it is a damn good phone and a pleasure to develop for. It performs much better than its meager specs would suggest. It is certainly proving popular in my circle of friends, almost all of which owned high-end Android phones before. Thanks to the apparent ease of porting stuff from Xbox, there is a ton of great games for it. And it's being marketed VERY competently - certainly better than any Android phone I've seen except possibly Samsung's. I have a very hard time believing it will flop.

    However - and this is important - even if I'm wrong, Microsoft can easily afford not to have Windows Phone 7 be an instant success. They are swimming in money. And so can Nokia, because they are feeding off Microsoft. It's happened before with the Xbox, the same Xbox that got laughed at and is now making enough money that Microsoft can afford to keep going at the smartphone business until they succeed.

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