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« Undesirable at Any Price? What happened to Nokia, who invented the smartphone | Main | Return of the Jedi: Nokia can be saved, here is the how »

January 28, 2011

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William Dudley

Tomi - great analysis and conclusion. The fact of the matter is, that we see similar price compression -- many times artificially all over this industry, in order to "buy" market share at the expense of margins. That strategy eventually comes back to bite the perp. Many may not recover to compete effectively as Nokia seems to be now doing. It's probably a good thing they "caught" this practice in time, or it could have been much worse.

Raimo

Tomi,

Good insights. Pricing of mobile phones is an art. I remember when I worked at Nokia how you can steer a market by playing with prices. To be honest I don't think that pricing policy and market share buying can steer buy you 10 to 15 million smartphones. You need signnificant market pull to push that through the channels.

I really think that the problem of this is a general marketshift and a unchanged Nokia "phone pyramid". Let me explain. In general you see that the "feature phone" category is pulled into the "smartphone" category. Samsung(traditional featurephone sellers) enbracing Bada and Android helped them with this move into this segment. On the other hand Nokia which has a clear phone pyramid with a Symbian hero device in the top, some Symbian devices and S40 phones under it, etc. What Nokia tried to do is sell more Symbian devices (sell more in the top. Sell more smartphones, yuk terrible word). I think they neglected to answer the question how to transport their featurephone users into the smartphone users. That is something else. That is designing something specific for this group. Specific for this segment. This group wants a smart featurephone. This group does not want complicated smartphones with many features and options. So the real problem is that S40 is no smartphone.
I think Samsung did an EXCELLENT job with the Galaxy S. It had the right price, the right sexy look and generic enough to appeal to a big audience.
1 year ago those 10 million Galaxy S phones would have been featurephones.

My two cent

Simon

Interesting, but I'm still not overly convinced.

Sample of 1 here (mid 20s male in London that isn't overly technical), but Nokia's image just hasn't adapted to the times. In the 90s it may have had the first customisable covers, the first mass played game in snake, and many other features) but its recent innovation - and particularly the marketing of innovations - has been poor.

Nokia remains a solid all-rounder, but a functional handset that works well on the cheaper contracts/PAYG deals for less technologically comfortable people. Younger generations want something slick and different - BBM, app stores, AR etc. Within the hardware infrastructure, it will be the services that drive value. The Ovi store may be growing, but can it compete against the tight quality structure of Apple and the openness of Android? I can see Nokia going the way of Motorola...

Michael

Tomi:
Excellent analysis - as always. However, I'm not sure where you determined that a 28% to 30 % market share is Nokia's "natural" share. We'll have to wait for another six months or so to determine if your conclusion is correct.

In the meantime, I'd like to refer you to one of the best books on corporate strategy I've ever read. Value Migration by Adrian Slywotzky. Although the book is 15 years old, and filled with stories about early PC software successes and failures, it is still very applicable today. Dr. Slywotzky shows a number of well known products that simply fell off the face of the planet when the public moved on.

For several years now, smart phone users have migrated towards full smart phone infrastructure providers. RIM was the first with BBM, BIS and BES, then came Apple with ITunes software and the iTunes Store. Most recently, we have Google and the Android ecosystem rocking the world.

Nokia's hardware is not the issue, Symbian is (probably) not the issue. But producing smart phones with little more support than their feature phones is the issue. They cannot compete with RIM, Apple and Android as long as they cannot provide the full ecosystem.

The question is whether Elop can lead Nokia to build the required infrastructure. Coming from Microsoft, I'm not sure he has the background require, or the insight needed to get this done. We'll have to wait for a year or more to really know the answer to this question.

HangLoose

Wow, great post Tomi and thanks for spending your time enlighting us.
It was an eye opener and a lot of the facts you have been listing in the blog post make a lot of sense now that you have connected the dots for us.

I remember the price of each Nokia device sold decreasing under OPK regime (can I say it that way? :) and with what you have said about artificially inflating the market share does make a lot of sense now.

During the Q4 call they tried their best to point out the profitability, and the stock market has acutally "blessed" nokia with a slight share increase.

I just have few questions for you, would be awesome if you would have the time to respond:
1. What do you think Elop will be annoucing on 11th February? He has mentioned in the Q4 call about building/joining different ecosystems. Partnership? Android? WP7? (I hope not)
2. Should Nokia try to regain some of the market share the same way? Would it be sustainable?
3. If know would decide to diversify the portfolio even more with Symbian3 devices in which way would this help them? In my opionion Nokia already has devices in all of the different tiers, missing the teen-texting-machine.

thanks

Christian Maurice

Brilliant analysis but I think the Nokia situation is bad losing 7/6 % market share in one year is not a good news at all... And the Stephen Elop already said the Q1 will be bad.

Nuno Pereira

Before my comment, let me please answer to @HangLoose's question 1: (if i may so)

Everyone is talking about Nokia joining Android, Winmo, etc.. they could add to it Bada and iOS that it would be the same: Using your competition's weapons won't make you win a war, you'll only prove thei're better than you.

Nokia commited to Symbian and MeeGo and still maintains that posistion (and must). If they "change their mind" again, it WILL BE even worse.

Now..

I am no expert.. infact, i'm just a simple observer (and Nokia enthusiast, ok), but this makes more sense to me if we drop the "tables and charts":

(what i see:)

Iphone is launched, and Nokia's (late) answer is S60V5 AKA Symbian^1:
Nokia comes out with a refurbished S60v3, and tells its fans that it's the best they can do. (delusion)

Ok, it's not that good, but we all knew it would evolve into Symbian^2;^3 and ^4..

Symbian^2 is scrapped (for us. NTTDocomo has it, don't know why). (delusion: We're starting to get tired of all these delusions).

N8 (p)review: We all know what happened there. It could be a lie, it could be true, but the only thing we had that time was that (p)review. (delusion) (Hint: Q3)

Nokia N8 is delayed, symbian^3 is delayed.(delusion) (Hint: Q4)

Also, no MeeGo devices this year.(delusion)(Hint: Q4)

No more Symbian^x. N8 and future S^3 phones will be upgradeable! (positive point, but we all know that N8's [and btw C7, C6-01 and E-7) hardware is considered a "piece of crap", so it will probably lag.

Symbian^3 is suposed to be "out" Q1/Q2 2010, but it (really) comes in Q4 (N8). (delusion)

This is only part of what "i've seen", and probably, manny enthusiasts out there, so if you know how the "world of mouth" works, you know that me and atleast half of my friends won't buy any Nokia device this year. (Ok, my brother bought the N8, but it was against my will. I sugested the Galaxy S).

Oh, and by the way Tomi, the article was huge, but i don't mind reading couple of extra words... maybe it helps me improove my English ;)

Nemus

Excellent points Tomi. Only thing that i disagree, based on Nokia Q1 outlook is that current numbers represent natural market share for Nokia. I expect further loss of market share in Q1 which IMO is likely will mark their natural share, as strategy that Elop will soon outline will start to make impact from Q2.
As i think more of it it seems quite unlikely that Nokia will choose WP7 or Android as new platform for USA, as this big and sudden market share erosion (if your analysis holds) is not caused by competition, it's more of a self inflicted wound.

Romain

Hi Tomi,

Great analysis. Your "inside job" theory makes sense given the coincidental profit increase.

However, I am surprised about Nokia's situation in the US: as you mention in your blog, not only T-Mobile cancelled some Nokia phone launch but also AT&T allegedly cancelled some Nokia models recently.

Given the fact that Nokia's weak position in the US has long been identified as one of the major challenges that the company is facing, don't you think they should have pursued their "market share buying" strategy at least in the US, just to get a foothold there ?

I mean, when you hear the rumor that it is Nokia themselves who cancelled the AT&T deal, it does not sound like they're trying really hard to get in the US...

Nemus

@Romain
I think that main point of this correction it new fresh start. There would be no point in dumping phones into US market that nobody wants there (bad publicity mostly influenced by tech blogs). I think they are preparing Meego for frontal market assault in US. That however will take some time, latest news is that Nokia Meego will be ready sometime after official Meego 1.2 release which is in April.

Baudrillard

I think you underestimate the influence that certain US blogs have had on mindshare and Nokia's bottom line. Their actions are equivalent to an anti-Nokia hate machine.All negative all the time.

Apple and Android fanboy USA patriotic bloggers slam phone after phone coming out of Espoo. Everything related to Nokia is written off as doom, gloom and death. S60 was compared to Syphilis on Engadget by Thomas Ricker for instance. Gizmodo flat out refused to review the new flagship Symbian^3 N8 as well.

The problem with this constant pounding is that people start believing that Symbian is not a smartphone OS, that Symbian is not as good as an iPhone or Symbian phone. Every OS has its shortcoming but any Nokia device or any Nokia news is always negative and blow way out of proportion. The bigger problem is that these "influencers" as the marketing people would call them have their vitriol reblogged by hundreds of other blogs across the world from Singapore to London and the idea that anything Nokia is crap and old starts to sink in and then becomes dogma.

Baudrillard

Part2: Nokia should take some blame for this because the very conservative nature of the company (or Finnish society?) means that they don't make a big roar when these people crap on them. They pretend that it will blow over but it doesn't. They should have gotten angry long ago! The marketing and communication has been absolutely abysmal. Nokia fanboys have been doing more "fighting back" in comment sections of blogs and in forums than the company! The constant bashing started seeping through to the heads of some of the die-hard fan sites too. One big hit in my mind came when one of the big Symbian fan sites "Symbian Guru" closed down and made a huge public circus about it. Once again the anti-Nokia hate machine went into full force celebrating their demise.

Nokia was asleep at the wheel the entire time. Stephen Elop has made some very bold moves thus far that I like. His more explicit insistence on Qt as the only path for Symbian/MeeGo developers was brilliant. Why couldn't Nokia communicate this more clearly before?! His appointment of a sharp new marketing head who is ex-Verizon is another brilliant move. Lets see how hard she can fight back in her home country.

Bob Shaw

Tomi: Great Analysis. Both profit margins and market share are important. A certain profit margin is needed for a company to be able to generate a healthy return on investment. However, once that threshold is reached, the focus should be on market share without which it is not possible for a company to grow and thrive in long term.
You have given great examples to show why market share is important. I would like to add couple of more to it. One of the big reasons for success of Microsoft in PCs and Office Suite as well as Intel in processor for PCs is their focus on market share. Apple was the pioneer in PC and one can say that a good chunk of profits that Microsoft has derived over the years from PC OS would have belonged otherwise to Apple. Apple almost had a near death experience in 1997-98 before they brought Steve Jobs again who rescued and rejuvenated the company. Microsoft and Intel to the best of my knowledge have not had such near death experiences.
As far as the US smart phone market is concerned, unfortunately at present, the success or failure of smart phone is more decided by the carrier through its support and subsidy than by the consumer. I think Nokia should build a decent smart phone (comparable to current high end smart phones in user experience) that can be profitably priced below $100 and then target the US market. This way the carrier support and subsidy is not required and thus will not decide the fate of the smart phone. I know it sounds little crazy talking about a $100 smart phone when they are currently priced many times over. However there are many such examples in history where a determined competitor have achieved such things using creativity and out of the box thinking. A classic example is Ford’s model T. Nokia in its history have accomplished many great thinks as you have listed in your earlier blogs. So it is not unreasonable to think that Nokia can take on this challenge of a $100 smart phone.

kevin

Earlier, I wrote the following in two separate comments on your other entry: http://communities-dominate.blogs.com/brands/2011/01/iphone-sells-162m-in-q4-apple-barely-misses-out-title-for-2nd-biggest-smartphone-maker-2010

"... Nokia achieved a higher ASP of 156 euros (vs 136 in 3Q). RIM, Apple, and HTC showed increasing ASP, alongside increasing sales. Did Nokia lose sales because its phones got more expensive?"

"On the non-smartphone side, it looks like Nokia made a decision to drive up and maintain its ASP at 42-43 euros from the 38-39 level in the first half of 2010 (having dropped over 11% from 44 in 1Q09). And in so doing, its non-smartphone unit sales have now stalled - with decreases yoy of 9-10% each in the last 2 quarters. I think Samsung as well as ZTE and Huawei have been taking those sales."

So obviously, I think you are correct. I know you're only looking at smartphones, but Nokia seems to have done the same thing on the non-smartphone side. And the recovery in operating margin to 12% from 9.5% supports your explanation.

What doesn't fit is that Nokia's 1Q outlook forecasts the lower 7-10% margins for D&S. With revenue forecasted to be at 2010's 2nd/3rd quarter levels, if Nokia then holds ASPs at the 4Q level (or above), then unit sales (of all phones) will likely decrease yoy (just like they did for Q4) with possibly just 10% growth in smartphones. That would mean more market share loss.

What's more interesting is why did OPK do this (at least, for smartphones)? Three considerations.

1. RIM let its ASP go down from $369 to $299 between Feb 2009 and May 2010 in a losing effort to maintain/grow market share; share dropped from 20.9% to 17.8% (using IDC quarterly numbers). In that same period, Nokia went from 190 to 142 euro. I don't know which is cause and effect. Similar to Nokia's ASP recovery, RIM has since brought its ASP back up to $317. So did OPK start the price war in the QWERTY messaging smartphone segment, and RIM responded OR was it the other way around as RIM expanded internationally into Nokia-dominated territory?

2. Android provided a way for many low-cost handset makers to make pretty good QWERTY and touchscreen handsets. With the success of Droid in late 2009, many Android-based handset makers entered Nokia's markets by mid 2010. Did OPK drive down prices to defend Europe/MEA, where ASPs dropped significantly from 3-4Q09 to 2-3Q10 but still were lower/flat in unit sales? Did he do it to fight vigorously for Asia-Pacific/China? If so, it worked in AP/GC, though the subsequent 4Q increase in ASP has driven down AP/GC smartphone sales by about 30%.

3. Apple probably played a much smaller role. Did OPK drop ASPs to respond to Apple's good showing with iPhone 3GS in 1Q10 in Gr China (5x yoy), and 4Q09 on multiple carriers in Europe (esp UK and France, over 2x yoy), and then to gain more carrier marketing support to fend off further encroachment by the coming iPhone 4 in Europe/Gr China?

In all, very interesting. Thanks for thinking through it; as it sheds further light on strategy.

kevin

@Baudrillard: Maybe you're correct about US vitriol. But I see many articles from Europe with the same disappointment. Many times, as well, the European stock markets have started the selling of Nokia shares before US markets even open.

It's best not to blame the observers or outsiders, regardless of their motives. Nokia needs to be honest within itself - stop denying - and then get on with fixing whatever is wrong.

kevin

The cancelled contracts with T-Mobile and AT&T could signal big Nokia changes coming soon. T-Mobile and AT&T would have been very unhappy with unknowingly receiving "end of the line" phones to sell, and that would have poisoned the relationship even further.

SoVatar

First, I am intrigued by your idea that Nokia bought market share by discounting their hand sets, could be one of the reasons for their poor performance.

Secondly, your comparison of Nokia's market share performance to the automotive industry (or any other mature industry) is flawed. You write it yourself, Nokia has increased its smart phones sales quarter over quarter. Looking isolated at the company, this is not a bad performance. The performance only becomes bad when you look at the competitors driving in the fast lane at a much higher speed. Still losing market share in a hyper growth segment is not as bad as in a mature (more stagnant) industry.

Thirdly, one of the commenters above mentioned the negative influence of the U.S. tech blogs, and this is a reality. Their writing is bad and flawed, most of them do not have any technical background and very often do not understand what they are writing about. However, Nokia allows them to spread their nonsense by not being aggressive, and Nokia seemingly does not understand how to use social media to their advantage.

But I agree, Nokia might be doomed soon if they do not change one major thing: Execution!

I do understand their strategy (Meego, Symbian glued together by Qt), but Nokia seems way too slow to execute:

- N900 (Maemo) was introduced in fall 2009, got a few updates. But there is no Maemo / Meego device I can buy now. Why?
- Symbian 3: The N8 seems to be a good phone, but how can Nokia not address the most apparent shortcomings within a year after announcement (brower, portait qwerty,...)
- And let's be honest, a company like Nokia needs to have a real flagship phone out there now and at any time, for the gadget lovers among us (4" Retina clear black display, dual core (better quad), 12MP camera, xenon, BMW idrive integration, about $1,000 or more,...)

So, can it be that a few points of their market share loss stem from executing too slowly and being half a year late compared to the competition? I think so!

Brian S Hall

Good God man! That was a lot of words!
But having read them all, I think your "excellent deduction" is probably correct (or at least, mostly correct).

But do not be so easy on OPK. He was not buying market share because of delays, but to save his ass.

 Tomi T Ahonen

Thanks guys! Wow, 16 comments already

I will return to reply to all of you, keep the comments coming

Tomi Ahonen :-)

 Tomi T Ahonen

Ok, will do replies in sets

Hi William, Raimo, Simon, Michael, Hang and Christian

William - Good point and yes, I think it may have been well-intentioned 'short term' solution as N8 was running behind, the market share decline trajectory seems to have taken a few unusual bumps Q4 of 2009 and Q2 of 2010, and the rough timing is the delay announcements of N8. Then as the damage of this 'accumulated' over time, it soon was an unbearable cost element - the carriers/operators of course talk to each other so they all expect the same discounts and soon its a total mess.. Might have worked for one quarter but not really much longer..

Raimo - very good points and I much agree, Samsung has done a very good job of it - but also, part that you didn't mention, is that Samsung has its low-cost smartphone platform, bada, which sold 5 million smartphones in the second half and is Samsung's specific product to that 'featurephone' migration target segment. I think most Galaxy class smartphones are a bit too expensive for that purpose. Nokia does have low-cost smartphones but they may be like you say, a bit too complex. I really haven't studied that aspect haha, I am not really a phone guy haha, I do focus on the services of the industry (SMS, MMS, voice calls, mobile ads, music, etc) but am quite interested in all related to mobile including the phones..

Simon - very good points and yes, I see that in various consumer preference surveys time and again, Nokia tends to be seen by the youth as 'their parents phone' ie an older person's phone. That is not cool. SonyEricsson, Samsung, Blackberry and iPhone are seen far more as young peoples phones. Nokia has occasionally had perhaps one phone model or two that have had reasonable success but the whole range is not youthful and this may well be a branding problem. To make sure parents like Nokia, it can't be too 'funky' but then the kids won't like it. It might make sense to split out a clear youth phone brand, where the word 'Nokia' would not be the main item - like GM, it sells Chevrolet or Pontiac (I am not sure, is Pontiac still made, they have recently killed off several brands) anyway, at least Chevy has many youth and sporty cars, very distinct from say Cadillac haha.. Neither brand features 'GM' in the name, while we all know they are GM brands. I am not sure, I think N-Series could theoretically be this, but the N-Series itself is not really that hot or desirable (at least now). They seem to be catering to 'middle of the road' functions and abilities and abandoned just about any clever market lead, like say the optical zoom in the N93 or the Xenon flash in the N82 etc.

Michael - very good point! No, 28%-30% is by no means certain to be the right level, they might go ahead and fall far further, to 24% or something, we have to wait until the market share free-fall will end, and stabilize, to the level where QoQ market share change is only within 1%-2%, only then can we expect to have found the real level (possibly, not certainly). But I think its safe to say, it is not higher than where it is now haha, so its not the 39% we saw in Q2, or 33% in Q3 and not significantly above the 28% it is now. So 30% is the very best case haha, and 25% is equally possible and if this 'trickery' with boosting market share with dumping prices has been going on for a couple of years - we don't really know, it could even be as bad as something like 22% haha.. Very good point. We dont' know now, we can only be pretty sure, this 'correction' means there is absolutely no sudden jump back to say 38% over the next two quarters. Not possible haha..

Thanks about the book, gotta go check it out! Thanks! Love getting book recommendations, you know I am totally a bookworm haha..

On the eco-system, I agree with you that is increasingly important, but not yet critical for smartphone purchases. We had some consumer surveys last year, and they had very similar findings that about 1 in 6 or 1 in 7 customers makes a smartphone decision based on apps and the smartphone OS, most customers are buying smartphones simply as good premium mobile phones with good cameras, good screens, etc. Yes, the eco-system is important, but I am very sure it is far over-emphasized today and the real daily customer-purchase decisions are not driven by it (yet). Increasingly important yes, but not yet the main reason. And of Elop, here Nokia really doesn't 'need' a Microsoft guy to launch and push this - Nokia was the first smartphone maker to create an application developer community and has been supporting its developers for about a decade now, back when I was employed by Nokia in 2001, we were already involved in providing tech support for the developers. Its not something new for Nokia, so someone like say Google or Samsung are far newer to the game and far more still at the basics of inviting developers in, creating basic tools for them etc. All of the big developer houses - like say Buongiorno the world's biggest mobile applications developer - have solid Symbian competence inhouse haha. Its just the US based PC industry app developers, who have known Microsoft and Mac on the PC side and recently Linux, who are happy to go do iOS development (its a version of Mac's OS/X) or Android (which is Linux) etc but are wary of having to learn the clumsy Symbian system haha... European and Asian developers are quite familiar with Symbian - but also know its fragmented and that its faster and easier to develop for newer operating systems like Android and iPhone.

What Elop can do, obviously, is help boost Nokia's internal migration into more of an internet and software oriented company (something Nokia started years ago) and to help it understand how fast the internet and software business is.

Hang - thanks. About Elop and the 11th. I don't know obviously. I think that the strategy Nokia had before Elop came in - that Nokia the world's biggest mobile phone maker but most phones being dumbphones - has to migrate that customer base to smartphones - is the best of any dumbphone makers. The task is different from that of Samsung (new OS in bada) where Nokia has to migrate developers and apps from the obsolescent Symbian OS onto MeeGo, supporting both, through Qt and Ovi store. Note, Microsoft decided that kind of migration is too expensive and difficult, and made a clean break from Windows Mobile to Phone 7 - and now seems to be severely hurting by this decision. I am very sure Nokia has the best strategy of the big 5 traditional handset makers - and that it is executing it reasonably well. By no means perfectly, but reasonably well. So to me, it is foolish to expect a Phone 7 or Android announcement, that would be suicidal for Nokia and its whole eco-system. Ovi store would immediately lose credibility, as would Symbian and the precarious MeeGo alliance would disolve. Not to mention the long work and expense to acquire and adapt Qt to be the tool to manage the transition would be wasted.

I do not see Elop announcing a major strategy change as to Symbian, MeeGo, Qt and Ovi. I would hope that he could reverse some recent decisions and/or give some clear management emphasis and focus on customer satisfaction and Nokia traditional strengths. It would be a tremendous moment to reverse some recent decisions that Nokia loyalists have hated. I would think a healthy announcement would be some commitment about when phones would be announced in the future so we don't end up waiting for a year for a new phone model haha with several delays. But it could be a major re-organization, could be some 'put to pasture' announcements of some executives. Could be some major partnerships. That strange naming convention is quite a mess, there could be some better/more clear naming and a new sub-brand like current N-Series and E-Series might be there. A youth brand to me would be a very reasonable move. MeeGo will almost certainly be discussed, Elop's future is tied totally to the success of the MeeGo transition and that will take many years, but he will have to manage it, and very importantly, manage the press coverage.

Then you ask about market share. Thanks! Yeah! I totally think yes! Nokia SHOULD be fighting to recover market share, yes, especially in smartphones. I totally believe that any player in any condition can create a winning strategy to gain some reasonable amounts of market share, over reasonable periods of time. For Nokia, it means careful regional analysis, customer analysis (meaning operators/carriers and retailers, not end users), end-user analysis (meaning both consumers and business/enterprise users), and careful competitor analysis. Then project current and near future product portfolio into that market opportunity, discover opportunities and pursue those very rigorously. So, for example, as Latin America was a loss in the past quarter - why? - (obviously RIM is making strong gains there) - it means fighting back. More QWERTY phones and especially hybrid QWERTY and touch-screen phones for LatAm - use Nokia's strengths to overcome Blackberry's strengths. Support Spanish and Portuguese language apps and services and promote their translations etc to make Ovi more appealing to LatAm. And so forth. Yes, market share can be recovered but not unreasonable amounts. Maybe 1%-2% per quarter, fighing hard. In very many cases it means working very closely with the carriers/operators and there Nokia tends to have a bigger 'army' of sales force than most rivals. So incentivize and authorize those sales people to go and sell haha..

As to the product portfolio. I think opposite. I think its rather poor 'engineering' oriented thinking, to limit the product portfolio. Look at cars, no car maker is offering less choices, they keep creating more choices. BMW sells off-road vehicles, Aston Martin offers a four door car, etc. Recently Nokia announced they were reducing the number of handset models they offer (a cost-savings move! Not a market winning move!) and that certainly did not help gain market share, it helped lose market share. Nokia has the best sourcing, best manufacturing and best distribution of the industry, due to its scale. It should use this to flood the market with 200 Nokia models for every market, so that in any store you get five shelves of Nokia phones and 2 shelves of all remaining phone brands. Why not? This is what Coca Cola does with Diet Coke and Cherry Coke and Coke Zero and whatnot. And while the engineers in Espoo hate the cutesy stuff, they should just look at the hysteria about the 'White iPhone' Come on! Nokia invented color phones. Every single Nokia phone should have at least 12 color options and tons of custom covers as well. This is basic marketing, but Nokia engineers hate anything that smells of marketing haha, they think that if they just make a perfect phone (in black) it will sell. That is not the real world. Some 'women' will buy a phone just because it is pink - haha, I am kidding but I also speak of witnessing this. And I have several times myself gone out of my way to get an alternate color body for my newest phone, just to have 'the right color' phone haha.. (and not to be quite like all others..) Marketing stuff!

Christian - yes, very true. I do think that Stephen Elop is a sharp guy and understands Nokia has suffered from over-promise and under-deliver recently, so he is wise to do the opposite. So its good if he sets the expectations low now, and then hopefully brings a bit of a better surprise in April when Q1 results are revealed.

Thank you all. I will return with more comments.

Tomi Ahonen :-)

em

Excellent discussion.

Tomi has a good explanation but I think it is not the only reason. Reducing number of handset models was a guaranteed move to lose market share. As Tomi says in his comment, space on shelves matters.

I am somehow on the side of Steve Litchfield here, trying to say that percentage points are not always the fairest measure of performance in this industry. Nokia has enormous scale. There is no book titled "How a company delivers 500 million pieces of hardware in a year profitably. Learning by experience". This book is about to be written later. We are witnessing an important piece of modern history. It is a new territory, and I think it is a good idea to be a bit prudent when moving on. Running thin margins and this kind of scale needs some careful steering just to keep on track.

I would say Nokia has hit something like "fear of growth". If Nokia wants to sell 30% more mobile devices, the absolute sales must grow over 100 million units. It would be too risky to target this within a year.

Economics of scale does have a cap. Mobile market has enourmous opportunities, where the relatively small players can make a good money. There is no need to be huge by % to make some billions of money. Most of the businesses are happy with this fact. I am not saying that a huge scale is always a disadvantage, but from business point of view there are different opinions.

It is not always reasonable to look at the market of smartphones only, but the market of mobile phones. A mid-range featurephone is a substitute of a low-end smartphone. Many Nokia S40 featurephones are more expensive than its low-end smartphones. Both categories offer same services. And if you see your main enemy is Google, delivering services to the low-end should be your goal.
Making production decision between smartphones and featurephones is fairly easy. Make what sells and brings more money in /short/mid/long term. For business the share in smartphones is not the main goal.

Market space is moving. There is more room to breath for Samsung and Nokia because LG must retreat. This can be tens of millions devices more for Samsung and Nokia this year. It was not a part of smarphone bloodpath, but a mobile phone bloodpath. This "LG space" will be filled with a mix of featurephones and low end smartphones made by Nokia, Samsung and "Other". Who is best positioned for this?

Baron95

WOW!!!!!!!!!

I'm not kidding when I say this, but I nominate this to a Pulitzer prize. You looked under every rock and came up with a non-obvious answer, which I think no other journalist would come close to uncovering.

I have had difference of opinions with you in the past, so I don't say the above lightly.

I just think two of the suspects you unearthed are not completely exonerated yet.

I agree with you main suspect/culprit - buying market share. Guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

But, he had accomplices. Namely: THE INTERNATIONAL GROWTH OF iPHONE 4 and 2.2+ Android phones.

To properly identify these accomplices, you need to follow their EXODUS FROM THE US.

Look at iPhone and Android market share growth OUTSIDE the US (and Japan). Why? Because Nokia does not compete in those markets.

Fact 1: The iphone 4 and post 2.2 Android phones, were the first products that were in a clear higher plane in usability, ecosystems, capability.

Fact 2: The initial iPhone/Android growth was US centric, and of course did not affect Nokia's market share.

Fact 3: In 2H/2010 both iPhone and Android branched out in a much bigger way into Nokia's backyard.

I'm venturing to say that the loss of Nokia Smartphone market share is a mirror image of the iPhone/Android/RIM market share gain EXCLUDING US and Japan.

So all three are indicted. Buying market share, iPhone growth outside the US/Japan, Android growth outside US.

Co-conspirators. All will likely be found guilty, though I agree with you that the decision to stop buying market share (probably because costs to pay carriers got out of hand) was the proximate cause of death :)

What are the implications for Nokia?

OMINOUS.

Why?

Note that Elop admitted (I have to respect him for that) that in markets where there are multiple ecosystem choices (namely places where Android and iPhone have been launched in a big way), Nokia loses smartphone customers.

Well, Apple will divert some capacity to feed Verizon in Q1, so Nokia will get some breathing room from Apple. Hence a down, but reasonable Q1 guidance from Elop.

Come Q2 and beyond, Apple and Android makers will unleash a storm of volume and new products on Nokia's backyard, the likes of which they have never seen.

There will be iPhone 5s, iPad 2s (complementing it), Motorola Atrix at the top, $80 (unlocked) ZTE and Huawei Android phones at the bottom and everything in between.

Nokia smartphone market share, as I predicted, goes below Androids by the end of Q2 - it may or may not be reflected in the Q2 overall number, but by June, Android daily activations will exceed Symbian's.

My guess is that Nokia's share in June will be in the 22-25%.

In any event Tomi - this was your best work ever. Can't disagree with anything in your analysis.

My questions to you are....

Do you think Elop and the Board fully see this?

Can Symbian be fixed fast enough to enable an orderly transition to Meego and can a Meego ecosystem be built fast enough to go toe to toe with iOS/Android?

If Elop is convinced that he can achieve the above with margin for error, he can stay the course.

Else, he has to announce an alternative ecosystem for the US and pursue a dual strategy. Let the two paths compete.

To use your car analogy, this is 100% equivalent to what Toyota did with Lexus (for a long time a US only brand then branch out), Honda did with Acura (a 100% US-only brand) and Nissan did with Infinity (for a long time US-only, then branch out).

So the precedent is there, where global brands had to create specialty brands for the large, unique and extremely competitive US market. Sometimes they remained US-only, other times they used that as a base to launch in other advanced markets.

That, I think, is the most likely scenario for Nokia.

A dual strategy to be announced on Feb 11.

A high-end strategy (for US at first - then see if it can be expanded) and a global-markets strategy (Symbian fixed plus Meego).

The US high-end strategy will be a Meego mega announcement with partners or Android in some form (e.g. Android on Meego) or WP7. It doesn't really matter what it is, so long as it is credible.

Nikhil Pai

A few points from my side:

1. I may be wrong here since I have no stats but I think a very small proportion of Nokia's sales happen to operators. A majority of Nokia's sales are unsubsidised & direct to the customer. So how could Nokia have sold such a large number of handsets to operators in Q1 & Q2 at low prices?

2. It isn't the iPhone but Android which has taken away Nokia's market share. Though Android was launched in 2008 it became usable for many only with version 2.1 Eclair. Hence Android stole Nokia's market share.

3. Nokia also suffered since they didn't have *any* high end handset to sell, whether good or bad, for a large portion of 2010. After N97 & N97 mini were launched in 2009, the next flagship Symbian arrived only in October 2010 with Nokia N8. Any Nokia fan wanting to replace their N97 with a new Nokia had no phone to look upto. The lack of a N900 successor also made things worse.

4. Most users were expecting a lot of UI changes in Symbian^3 though that was never on the cards even officially. When these segment of users saw a similar Symbian in Nokia N8, they turned their backs towards Symbian & Nokia

5. Ovi Store is still the same as it was. It has nowhere near the number of apps that Apple App Store or Android Market has and is definitely one of the reasons for Nokia's decline

Bharadwaj

Excellent post,Tomi !!

It seemed like everything fell into place, great build up by eliminating some obvious reasons, others(crazy buggers who call themselves analysts) would have said so... All of them eliminated quite nicely :)

I am satisfied beyond anything that, buying market share is the reason.

Of course market share reduces when you have huge competitors, like Apple,Google.And of course, Android is a threat to market share but seriously, it WILL not cause such a huge drop, because sales alone show that Nokia has done enough, more than others.

So, Tomi, here's my question : Is Nokia the GREECE of the Mobile union ?

MeeGoUser

One big mistake was when Nokia was trolled by 'analysts' and 'experts' into reducing the amount of handsets they produced. Samsung and the like took advamtage of that gap to flood the market with tons of variants of the same device.

The N8 should have had 4 different variants at the same size with hardware keyboard and other variants. I hope they reverse this idiotic move. You are correct about Nokia needing to be on a few rows in a phone shop display.

I love my N8 and N900.They are far more powerful than anyhig the competition is coming out with. As Elop said, there are a lot of rough diamonds at Nokia. They need to build on their strengths as they are doing with Qt and MeeGo. I just hope they speed up delivery.

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