Last two weeks we've had a lot of disasterous news for Nokia. I reported on 'what we now know' after the Nokia latest profit warning (and Nokia share price fell a Nokia-record 18% in one day). As I was preparing to do an update of the forecast for Nokia's smartphone performance based on all the bad news we heard from that Nokia announcement, came news of the Microsoft tablet - more bad news - and then the second bombshell relating to Nokia: that none of the current Lumia smartphones running Windows Phone will be able to be upgraded to Windows 8. Nokia fell another 11% yesteday on the news.
What does all that mean now? First. That this current April-June Quarter, Q3, is as Nokia already warned us, going to be bad news in Nokia smartphones, both Lumia and Symbian based. What was the N9 project with MeeGo is being closed down, some countries (such as in Finland and Sweden) have already stopped selling the N9 even though it is highly regarded and popular and profitable. The Symbian based award-winning 808 PureView is for some bizarre reason not sold everywhere now, that Nokia is desperate for premium Nokia smarpthone sales and profits - like not in traditionally Nokia strong smartphone market of Australia. When I made my forecast of Nokia market shares, revenues and profits for this year 2012, I did expect the CEO would engage in smart, sensible behavior and try to sell as widely as possible. Now we learn, from the profit warning two weeks ago, that Elop's 'solution' is to increase sales by decreasing sales efforts (!!!). That he will actually shrink his sales efforts. That Nokia will not continue its global sales but rather now focus only on selected key markets. This is exactly how Siemens died in mobile phones. And how Motorola died. And how Palm died. Exactly the same pattern. When your sales stumbles, you start to cut your sales effort. I am reminded of the quote by Paul Harvey: "Marketing executives who stop advertising to save money are like people who stop the clock to save time."
So we knew Q1 was bad. We expected Q2 to be worse. We heard now, that Q2 is even worse than we thought. That was from Nokia profit warning announcement. Then we get the bombshell - about Windows 8. Now we find that the total Lumia line has been Osborned. Not by Elop this time, this time that was done by Ballmer.
THE WINDOWS ASSASSIN
This time it was not Nokia CEO who 'Osborned' the Nokia smartphone line as Nokia new CEO Stephen Elop did with the Elop Effect last year. No. This is something Steve Ballmer specializes in, the serial Osborning of Windows based smartphones. He did it with Windows Mobile by announcing no upgrade path to Windows Phone. At its peak, just before the iPhone, Microsoft had a ton of Windows Mobile smartphone manufacturing partners back then - including 8 of the Top 10 biggest smartphone makers Samsung, LG, SonyEricsson, Motorola, HTC, Palm, Dell and Fujitsu. Microsoft had 12% global market share in smartphones, but then when Ballmer decided to cut the migration path, the partners started to depart and the share dimish. By the time Windows Phone launched in 2010, Windows Mobile share was down to 3%. And even after Nokia was brought in, today the combined market share of Windows Mobile and Windows Phone is down to 2% globally. And now Ballmer says there won't be a migration path for Windows 8 either. Your existing WP7 based smarpthone is an expensive paperweight: you have to buy a new smartphone to enjoy Windows 8 on it - the total Microsoft handset partners team have shrunk to four: Nokia, HTC, Samsung and Huawei. Three of them - Samsung, HTC and Huawei do the majority of their smartphones on Android. And Samsung has not just one, but two of its own smartphone OS platforms as well - bada already in production and Tizen coming out later this year (also with four handset manufacturers already confirmed).
So that pipe-dream of the 'third ecosystem' is fully busted now. Microsoft's smartphone 'play' that once was the second largest OS in the world, is now ranked 6th biggest and sells only 2% of all new smartphones (with share that is still falling). That was before the current line of all Windows Phone based smartphones by all makers, became instantly obsolete this past week. If I was the CEO of any of those companies, I would have learned my lesson by now, and never put most of my eggs in to the Microsoft basket. In fact, like Samsung, if I was a Microsoft partner, I would be frantically building my own OS to replace Microsoft. And if I was Nokia with not one, not two, but three smartphone OS platforms - Symbian, MeeGo and nearly-completed Meltemi - I would certainly keep those well in production to be sure I would not be damaged by the whims of the Ballmer.
BUT WIN 8 IS GREAT
So you liked the Microsoft PR show about Windows 8? You think its a great OS? That it will make great phones and tablets and be an ecosystem with great features and apps etc. This is a totally utterly completely comprehensively irrelevant point. In the PC market, in the videogaming market, in the music player market, etc, it matters how good or bad your device is. It does NOT matter in mobile phones (???). Look at this picture. Which of these lines is Nokia running the 'obsolete' Symbian?
Source: TomiAhonen Consulting based on Company Data
This image may be freely shared
No. The one that is Nokia - with the 'obsolete' Symbian - is the top line (in blue). Nokia was yes, selling more than the iPhone and all Samsung smartphones combined. Nokia was not declining - when everyone including me the perennial Nokia optimist - admitted that iPhones and Samsung Galaxies were better smartphones than the Symbian based Nokias. The reason Nokia was able to do this, was obviously not that it made 'the best smartphone' but something else - the carrier relationships.
Why did Palm die? It had the second best-rated smartphone this side of the iPhone? It has a superb phone! Palm died because it didn't have the right carrier relationships. Why did Microsoft's Kin phones die in only 6 weeks - a world record - because the originally committed carriers suddenly refused to offer it. In the mobile handset market, it is the carriers who decide. Not who has the biggest 'ecosystem' or who has the most apps or the best phone or the best user interface. If the best phone wins, Apple would not have suddenly doubled USA sales when Verizon came onboard. In mobile, the deciding factor is carrier relations, nothing else. Look at that picture again. Nokia lead over Apple's iPhone had grown - not shrunk - in the two year period. Does that make any sense? I know it doesn't, to those who live in the USA and see only the US market where Nokia was tiny. But Nokia had 77% market share in China - the world's biggest smartphone market where Apple had a pittance and Windows doesn't register on the charts. Nokia (with Symbian) was easily the biggest smartphone maker of India, Africa, Latin America etc.
(The dotted line is when Elop was hired to join Nokia and here is the Part 2 of that slide to show what I originally used it for, to explain the madness of the Elop Microsoft strategy:)
Source: TomiAhonen Consulting based on Company Data
This image may be freely shared
FIRST OF THREE SALES BOYCOTTS
I have reported on this blog that the Elop Effect resulted in the 'Osborning' of Nokia smartphones and also that the Burning Platforms memo destroyed resale confidence in the Nokia handset portfolio. The sales collapsed (as we can see from the above picture, strong sustained growth reverses immediately into steep decline, right after the Elop Effect). I said the stores will reject selling Nokia smartphones. That was strongly objected to by some on this blog. Since then Nokia has repeatedly complained that its the retail channel that is the problem. Elop said so at the Shareholders Meeting. He again said so now with the latest profit warning when he said that the Lumia line is a good phone but retail stores do not support the phone sales. I call this a sales boycott. I explained why it happens. The point is now moot, as it has been confirmed by Nokia's own CEO. Yes. there is a retail sales problem, worldwide, that sales retail is reluctant to sell Nokia handsets. That is what I call the Boycott number 1. It started first, in February of 2011, at the Elop Effect. Even Elop himself admits openly, to the Nokia shareholders meeting, that yes, separately he admits his Burning Platforms memo did hurt Nokia smartphone sales. And look at that graph, you see how badly it has caused damage to mostly Symbian based Nokia sales since February of last year.
One. This sales retail problem is real, it was caused by Elop, he admits he caused it. And two, the problem is systematic. Therefore three, it cannot be fixed by cosmetic things like a new phone handset or an update to the software or some nice apps in the app store or cutting prices. The problem is systematic. It is against Nokia. Note, it does not hit other Windows based manufacturers, but it obviously hits hard Nokia's Symbian based smartphone sales and even Nokia's featurephones.
SECOND BOYCOTT CAUSED BY SKYPE
Then there is the second boycott. I reported on this blog that the carriers have revolted against Microsoft after it bought Skype one year ago, and carriers put all Windows based smartphones into sales boycott. That has since been independently verified by various US based news outlets from California to Boston to New York City. We got final confirmation from Nokia CEO Stephen Elop who admitted to the Nokia Shareholders Meeting that yes, carriers don't like Skype 'of course' and that some carriers have taken the step to even refuse to sell any Windows Phone based smarthpones, explicitly because Microsoft owns Skype. Not my words, Elop's. This point is beyond any argument - Nokia's CEO tells openly that yes, there are carriers reluctant to sell Windows Phone handsets because of Microsoft owning Skype (and he even explains to Nokia shareholders the revenue loss logic behind that reasoning). This is so well known, Elop uses the words 'of course'. Read the full Elop quote and see the video.
And this was not just hitting Nokia Lumia smartphone sales, it was hitting all brands of smartphones running Windows. Elop explained further, that for more than a year, Microsoft had tried to negotiate with the carriers to get some resolution about the Skype issue - with kind threats like 'Skype will come in any case' (not really helpful) and that after a year of such 'persuasion' there were exactly zero carriers who had taken Microsoft's offer.
Understand, this is NOT about which smartphone has or doesn't have Skype on it (we've had Skype on many smartphones for years) and the current Lumia line doesn't come with Skype on it. This is about Microsoft now owning the hated Skype and being able to bankroll the biggest threat to the existence of mobile operators/carriers. I have explained why carriers hate Skype - and why Microsoft ownership of Skype is the issue, not that some smartphone has it or not. That is no longer the issue because we have heard from the horse's mouth: Elop admits this is the cause of some carriers/operators even refusing to sell any Windows based phones.
So this Second Boycott is not about Nokia, it is explicitly aimed at Microsoft but any manufacturer who makes Windows phones will be hurt by it, including Nokia obviously. Elop openly admits this problem to Nokia shareholders. The same was echoed by Dell when they said they are quitting Windows and also by HTC why they were shifting from Windows Phone to Android, etc. LG and SonyEricsson had echoed similar themes why they were shifting away from Windows - who wants to make phones that the stores refuse to sell? They happily sell Android. And again, this is not what I am 'claiming' - Nokia CEO confessed to the Nokia Shareholder Meeting that yes, its because of Skype that Windows Phone smarthpone sales are suffering.
Because of the Anti-Microsoft boycott, the Windows Phone partnership has seen LG, SonyEricsson and Dell quit Windows Phone totally (in favor of Android) and HTC and Samsung reduce their Windows offering in favor of more Android. Before the Anti-Microsoft boycott, Microsoft's combined Windows market share of Windows Mobile and Windows Phone was 3%. That collapsed to under 1% by the time Nokia's first Lumia phones launched. And again, this is not my conjecture, this was verified by Nokia CEO talking to the Nokia shareholders, yes, the carriers hate Skype and because of Microsoft now owning Skype, are reluctant to sell Windows based smartphones. This was before Skype was integrated into the Windows smarpthones.
The anti-Microsoft boycott, what I call now boycott number 2, is real. It has been confirmed by Nokia and its been listed as a cause why some Windows partners have quit selling Windows based smarpthones and switched over to Android. This is a systematic problem of Windows and Microsoft. It cannot be fixed with a new operating system or some pretty new tiles on new phones. This problem is real today, it will only get worse with Windows 8, when Skype is fully integrated to the PC, tablets (and smartphones). I am not saying there will be no sales of Windows 8 based smartphones - but that because there is already a crippling sales boycott that after one year of Microsoft 'negotations' (aka threats and bullying) has not been ended, this problem will be far worse in Windows 8.
THIRD BOYCOTT NOW DUE TO NO UPGRADE
So now we get the Windows 8 news. No upgrade for any current Windows Phone based smartphones by any manufacturer, to Windows 8. The total Nokia Lumia line is instantly Osborned, not by Elop, but this time, by Ballmer. Anyone who bought a Lumia will seem like a total fool to any knowledgable friends. The carriers who sold Lumia (and Samsung, HTC etc Windows Phone handsets) will be blamed for selling an obsolete product - there will be record returns and tons of complaints, especially from all who are now on two year contracts. Those customers will demand to be released from those contracts.
This means that the current stock of all four Lumia phones is instantly undesirable. What we thought that Nokia profitability and average prices were falling, will be far worse. Now these obsolete phones have to be sold for pennies on the dollar.
UPDATE 27 June - wow that didn't take long. One of my Twitter followers, Jose Galvez @xoj_21 sent me update from Amazon that the Lumia 900 which originally had Amazon list price of $499.99 US dollars - is now sold.. wait for it.. for one cent !! For one penny !! I was wrong! Lumia didn't crash so badly it would sell for pennies on the dollar. It sells for one fifth of one penny on the dollar. From 500 dollars to one penny. This is murder on Lumia and the Nokia reputation. (Thanks Jose for finding the link)
The carriers will demand to return their existing stock and refuse to accept delivery of placed orders. The mere transport costs of handling the returns will add massively to Nokia's costs now in late Q2 and into Q3. This means yes, further big losses beyond the profit warning.
Any carrier/operator or handset retailer who has Nokia Lumia in stock, will try to return it to Nokia. Then if not, they will sell it at huge discounts. That means, that in all markets where Lumia is sold, the prices collapse. That hurts all Nokia brand sales, including Symbian and MeeGo based smartphones and including featurephones. Who is willing to pay 100 dollars for a mid-priced Nokia branded featurephone/cameraphone if there is a brand new Nokia Lumia for 25 dollars in the basket in the same store, on fire sale. All Nokia prices are now collapsing, in all markets where Lumia had launched - bearing in mind, a collapsing Lumia price in your competitor store, will hurt your sales even if you do not offer Lumia yourself.
Any carrier or operator or retailer who had signed up to Lumia but hasn't yet started its sales, will immediately stop and refuse delivery. The biggest carriers/operators will try to muscle all kinds of concessions and refunds from Nokia further damaging Nokia's profitability.
Am I imagining things? No. This is the immediate response from T-Mobile (as per TamsPPC): Because there is no upgrade to Windows 8, while T-Mobile had originally committed to sell the Lumia 900 in Germany and did advertise it already, it now will not do so. No Lumia 900 to be sold by T-Mo in Germany. Note, T-Mobile is Germany's biggest operator/carrier and Germany is the headquarters for the T-Mobile group, one of the world's 20 largest mobile carrier/operator groups for example the parent of USA's T-Mobile. If this is what T-Mo does and says so in public, you can bet your bottom dollar it ain't the only one.
WHEN YOU HAVE 3 ALTERNATIVES
So we see Stephen Elop and his 'management style'. What did Motorola or LG do when Windows Mobile sales tanked? What did HTC and Samsung do when Windows Phone did not sell well. What did Dell and Sony do when they noticed Windows Phone has a carrier boycott? All of those smartphone makers had an alternative, in every case at least Android. All of them - of course - shifted away from the platform that was having problems in retail, and shifted to the platform(s) that didn't have a problem.
And Elop has not one, not two, but three smartphone options. He can right now sell tons of smartphones on Symbian - like China Mobile the world's largest mobile operator/carrier (that is like 7 times AT&T haha, did you get that - SEVEN times AT&T). They said no to Lumia, they have the equivalent to the Lumia 800, as the Nokia 801T, which runs on Symbian - and has a 4 inch touch screen, 8 mp camera, WiFi, 3G, NFC (and TV tuner). If your customers don't want the 800 Lumia, give them the 801T. Or the 808 PureView etc, running Symbian.
And not just that, what of MeeGo? Is not obsolete and Osborned by Microsoft. The smart CEO would immediately react to the Microsoft announcement by recommitting to MeeGo - the most loved OS ever made by Nokia - the N9 running MeeGo is the only smartphone ever made by Nokia that has consistently been rated as good as - or get this - better than the iPhone. The N9 won the D&AD Award for Design beating not just the Lumias but beating the iPad 2. Who does that? Wins a design award ahead of Apple? What moron CEO doesn't celebrate this award and flood the world market with this superb device?
And its sister smarpthone, the N950, also running MeeGo. Not Osborned either. Why not launch the N950 now, while there is still interest in the MeeGo OS, and as a gimmick, promise to bring Android compatibility to MeeGo (they are both running the same Linux base) so suddenly most Android apps will be compatible with these two MeeGo devices? If the Nokia CEO was really concerned about Nokia's best interests, that is what he'd do now, when Microsoft pulls the rug under the Windows Phone platform.
Any sensible CEO over at Sony or LG or Samsung or HTC or Dell would have no qualms about doing that. In fact they have all done that. Why is Elop afraid? Because he is beholden to Microsoft, he was never honestly pursuing Nokia's best interest after all.
And that third option for Nokia is Meltemi. Elop just announced that he is firing the Meltemi staff. He hasn't done it yet, it was only announced. Since this Microsoft bombshell now destroys pretty much all of Nokia's plans to expand Lumia to low-cost smartphone markets and poisons those carrier relationships - there is sitll time to reverse the decision to fire the Meltemi staff - the Meltemi OS is nearly finished! Why not finish it now, rush those low-cost smartphones to the market (use the Lumia 610 model for example but issue it with the new Meltemi software) and Nokia would have a low-cost OS option where Windows 8 is not fit for it. There is still time. Any sensible CEO would do that, once being burned by Microsoft.
At this stage, if the retail channel refuses to sell the smartphones running Windows, then its time to say thanks and switch. For RIM it would be a long and costly shift away from the Blackberry OS, because there is nothing else. If they wanted to switch, say to Android, it would take 18 months. But at Nokia they have two alternate OS platforms currently in production! Why not sell those phones now, everywhere? And as Windows is clearly a pointless platform, end that development path. Who cares what the costs of breaking that deal is, with Microsoft. Clearly Microsoft doesn't care one bit about its 'strategic partner' Nokia's interests. Let them sue you, pay back the 750 million dollars of marketing support and end the dead end of the Windows path. As I wrote previously, the Windows path is a Certain Road to Death. That was before this deliberate Osborning of the Lumia line by Microsoft.
PS - if T-Mobile in Germany refuses to sell the Lumia 900 - give them the N9 !!! The N9 was never sold in Germany but so loved by the German press, Der Stern wrote only a couple of months ago, the N9 is so good, Germans should travel to other countries to buy it !!! The N9 looks like the Lumia 900 - because the Lumia 900 is based on the N9. The N9 is a better phone - beats it in side-by-side tests. The N9 doesn't have the 101 problems that Windows Phone has. The N9 is much more like a Nokia phone, so current Nokia owners will find it familiar where Lumia often seems odd to Nokia users. And the N9 has features the Lumia 900 doesn't, like NFC. Hey, Elop - if you don't now offer T-Mobile the N9 - you ARE a criminal and should be fired, sued, investigated, barred from corporate office, and tarred and feathered. Oh, PSPS, also release the N950 now everywhere !!!!
SO WHAT HAPPENS
I was the most accurate forecaster of how badly the Elop Effect will damage Nokia sales last year. I hit the end-of-year market share and again this Q1 market share within one percentage point. Since then, I also gave my forecast for now, this year 2012 Nokia market shares by Quarter. That has now again been destroyed, so yes, I will have to revise (and thus downgrade) my forecasts for this year 2012. But yes, I predicted Nokia would end in Q4 of 2012 with 3% market share in smartphones (it was 33% when Elop took over less than two years ago). Now that number will need to be downgraded. I will return with those numbers as soon as I have them.
If you thought you knew how bad Nokia will be this year - with globally collapsing sales, two reseller boycotts, one directly hitting Nokia due to the Elop Effect, and the other aimed at Microsoft but hitting Nokia's new Windows and Lumia strategy - and that all pushed Nokia's smarpthone unit from strong profits to big losses last year, and worsening losses now - that all got worse. Now there are THREE boycotts all hitting Nokia, one on all things Nokia (due to Burning Platforms and Elop Effect). One due to Windows due to Skype. And now the third, courtesy of Ballmer's Osborning of the Lumia line with no upgrade to Windows 8.
Nokia smartphone market share was collapsing. The speed of the Nokia collapse is now increasing. Nokia's handset unit is generating a loss. Those losses will now get bigger. Nokia's market share was in freefall in smartphones and dumbphones. That was before Elop's emergency measures of 'increasing sales by reducing sales'. That means Nokia's market shares will shrink even faster. The Nokia brand is badly burned by the past year, this latest Lumia upgrade disaster burns Nokia's brand even worse and causes even more of traditionally loyal Nokia carrier partners to bail.
The Lumia line is now dead and cannot be resurrected. Even if Nokia were to try to reuse the Lumia line with Windows 8, it will be badly damaged branding, and Nokia is better off creating a totally new brand (how expensive is that?). The most expensive handset launch of all time has been a total fiasco, mismanaged from day one by incompetent CEO Stephen Elop. The Lumia handsets will be laughing stocks and sit in discount bins in stores, polluting the Nokia brand.
I can see why there are rumors of Microsoft branded smartphones, following the Microsoft tablet. These rumors further support the idea that Microsoft itself sees the Nokia project as having failed. Which smart CEO of which carrier or operator will ever trust Stephen Elop, or Microsoft, or Steve Ballmer ever again. Why would they ever allow Windows Phone based smartphones to jeopardize their customer relationships? Especially when there is a highly desirable Android alternative, and the iPhone, and soon this Autumn coming the Tizen OS from Intel and Samsung, with already four handset suppliers committed to it. The Windows dream of smartphones is now dying and money thrown by Nokia into this bottomless pit is money wasted.
When the previous CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo saw one quarter of Nokia corporation making a loss (but not the handset unit) and the Nokia share price had fallen 55% in a three year period - he was fired. At that time Nokia's handset market share was over 30%, Nokia's smartphone market share was 33% and both featurephones and smartphones units were profitable. In the first 5 months that Elop was in charge, when he was executing the older Nokia strategy with smartphones (Symbian to MeeGo transition strategy) the Nokia share price had grown 11% and the unit sales, average sales prices, revenues - and profits - in smartphones were growing! Nokia's smartphone unit was highly profitable.
Since February 2011, when Elop announced his Microsoft strategy, the Nokia share price has fallen by 80%, the market share in smartphones has fallen to 8%, and not just the handsets units, but all of Nokia is now generating a loss. Elop promises bigger losses to come. He botched the announcement of his strategy - he admits that. Microsoft torpedoed the viability of the Microsoft strategy with the Skype purchase, we cannot blame Elop for that, but it ended the dream. The first Lumia phones were each rushed and faulty, the costliest marketing launch of any handsets ever was a failure. Now we see Microsoft stabs Nokia in the back with no upgrade path to Windows 8. Its time to admit the Windows strategy was a failure and end it. And this experiment of a sweet-talking serial liar as a CEO should be ended. Elop truly needs to be fired, so Nokia could recover any semblance of credibility in its primary customer base - the carrier community. And what are Nokia shareholders waiting for? Share price fall of 55% in three years killed OPK's career. Now Elop has destroyed 80% in 16 months, less than half that time. Fire the Microsoft Muppet!
Like I tweeted when I first heard about this, when you sleep with Microsoft you soon become both Micro and Soft. We should have learned from the past disasters of 'partnering' with Microsoft in mobile, like Sendo, Motorola, Palm, Nortel, LG etc. Yes, Nokia is a dead man walking. But again, the news only keep getting worse. I did not think the news could get any worse, but again, last week, they did.
(Update 27 June) I have just added my revised (downgraded) forecast by quarter of Nokia smartphone sales in 2012 including Lumia specific sales, plus average sales prices, revenues and Nokia profitability. See the disaster expressed in numbers here: Revised Nokia 2012 Forecast for smartphones.