This is not complex stuff. If your company has a strategy built on three pillars, and all three are working - congratulations! You are in the rare position of succeeding in all you do, please do promote your head of strategy and give your CEO a big bonus, you may even have a young Steve Jobs in your organization. Your company is grabbing massive market share, you make huge profits and you are growing beyond your wildest dreams. Congratulations, enjoy this, it won't last forever.
If you have two of your three pillars working in your strategy, but one is failing, then you quietly shift away from the one failing part, you emphasize the two that are strong, and focus there. You don't fire your strategy guy, he got it more right than wrong, and you celebrate your CEO. You then quietly, behind the scenes, do a 'recalibration' of your strategy, where you find a new third leg to replace the failing one, but you do this quietly, behind the scenes. Because most of your strategy is succeeding, its full steam ahead. The CEO is doing a good but not stellar job, keep him, but don't give him any big bonuses for this performance. This, by the way, is kind of typical of most companies, part of the strategy is working but not all. This company should be profitable and growing. But its likely only to be growing at the pace of the industry, ie it would be holding its own roughly, in market share.
If you have two of your three pillars in your strategy failing and only one working, then its time to do the mea culpa, announce clearly that you are in trouble, and rapidly shift away from the two failing parts but convince your investors that yes, the one good part will keep you alive, please stay with us, this will be turned around. The strategy guy who cooked up this failing mess needs to be reassigned to non-strategy work and the CEO is probably over his head, you probably need a new CEO. But if you really belive the CEO is up to the task, he or she should be a change CEO and at this stage, the existing strategy MUST BE changed, it cannot bring success to the company if two of your three legs are failing. The one succeeding part cannot sustain you for long. This kind of company is in trouble, or on the brink of trouble, it is probably bleeding market share and probably making losses. It may even be shrinking in size already.
If you have three of your pillars in your strategy failing. All three failing, you must IMMEDIATELY STOP pursuing that strategy, as every day in it, brings you closer to death, to yes, bankruptcy, to oblivion, to complete failure, to junk status as a company, to being a takeover target. If your three pillars in your strategy are failing, you must fire immediately the strategy guy and replace not just the strategy head, but your whole strategy. If every leg of your strategy fails, then yes, ANY new strategy is better. Whatever you did before is better, whatever your competitors are doing is better, anything is better than pursuing a strategy that is 100% failing. The CEO who executed a strategy where all three legs fail, is clearly incompetent, and must be fired immediately. If the Board waits, then the Board is either asleep at the wheel, or incompetent, or in collusion with the incompetent CEO. If the Board waits in firing the CEO of a company where the whole strategy is failing - that Board must be fired instantly as well. This is elementary stuff. A company that finds its three pillars of its strategy all failing, is shrinking in size, is losing customers, is losing market share, is losing consumer and investor confidence, finds its share price rated junk, and is obviously generating increasing losses. This company is at least on the brink of bankruptcy and depending on how much cash it has on hand, it may prolong its life a little, but as long as the company pursues a 100% failing strategy - the company will kill itself.
If your CEO looks at his strategy and sees, that all three legs in his strategy are failing - and openly admits each of his three legs in his strategy are failing - then the CEO admits to being an utter failure and should resign immediately. And obviously the Board must accept his resignation. If you have three pillars in your strategy and you clearly state each of those three are failing - and you somehow then state that you will continue on that path anyway - that is the textbook definition of insanity - doing the exact same thing, and expecting a different result. If your CEO looks at the strategy built on three pillars, and all three pillars are failing - and if he even once utters the words 'lets proceed with this strategy anyway' - it means - yes literally it means - your CEO is not incompetent, he is a lunatic. He is literally crazy. He is insane. Yes, literally, insane. To look at all three parts of the strategy as having failed, and saying - yes, I will proceed in this direction anyway. It failed already, is failing currently, but if I do the exact same thing again, it will succeed. This CEO is the most dangerous there can be in corporate governance.
WHAT ARE THREE PILLARS OF NOKIA STRATEGY
Nokia had a strategy when new CEO Stephen Elop took over just over two years ago. Elop in his first five months executed Nokia's then-current strategy and this is what Nokia looked like during the full year 2010. Elop took over during the third quarter. This is revenues, not unit sales. This is only the handset business, which is Nokia's core business, it does not include the networking unit which is a joint venture with Siemens. But in Nokia's core business where most of its money is made, most of its profits generated, this is what 2010 looked like for Nokia:
See? Nokia revenues were roughly split in half, half coming from traditional 'dumbphones' that Nokia calls 'featurephones' and half were from the future of Nokia's industry - the smartphones. Elop joins a company that has recently had problems with profitability, during the worst global recession in our lifetimes, while selling consumer gadgets - where all of Nokia's traditional 'full portfolio' handset makers had suffered - yet Nokia's core business, the handset business had never reported a loss. Now, after Elop took over, did some painful cuts and fired tons of people to cut the fat, Nokia was well on the mend, its revenues were up, its unit sales were up, its profits were up - in both units mind you, in smartphones and dumbphones.
Nokia was ahead of its peers in migrating from dumbphone to smartphones, and doing it successfully and profitably. Elop discovered a company where the smartphone unit set Nokia records for sales, growth, revenues, profits and profitablity that Christmas that he was in charge for the first time. The future of Nokia was yes, the smartphone unit which produced 20% of Nokia handset sales, 30% of Nokia revenues and 40% of Nokia profits by the end of the year. Nokia bucked the industry trend of falling smartphone prices where the Nokia smartphone unit actually produced a jump in its smartphone prices. The new OS version, Symbian S^3 based handsets were setting a Nokia record and Nokia said in public it could not meet the global demand, while selling 5 million units on only three new handsets, in that first quarter, in Q4 of 2010, led by Nokia's hot new N8 Symbian based flagship phone.
Stephen Elop was saying proudly in public that he was happy with his company and its strategy. Chairman Jorma Ollila said Nokia didn't need a new strategy, its current strategy was working, and that Elop was hired to fix Nokia's perennial 'execution' problems (long delays with new launches, glitches with early versions, that sort of thing). Elop said proudly that Nokia's carrier relations were the best in the world and its retail dominance was second to none, true competitive advantages.
Nokia's investors loved this too. The Nokia share price which had been falling 60% in the three years under previous CEO, Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, had in the first 5 months of Elop's leadership already recovered strongly by growing 11% in value. The three global ratings agencies which had been cautious about Nokia during its troubled summer of 2010, were all happy and all were rating Nokia one notch below perfect score. Nokia was strong and on a solid comeback. And Nokia's smartphone unit was definitely Nokia's crown jewel. It had a superhot new OS platform, a global hit superphone in the N8, with many new smartphones coming including the E7 in the next few weeks, and best of all, Nokia's future platform, MeeGo was ready to be shown to the world, with the first phone ready and at least 3 phones in the pipeline so ready, they would be able to be sold in 2011. The MeeGo OS ecosystem was the future for Nokia's smartphone unit itself, based on Linux, open source, with partner Intel, several dozen equipment makers lined up, and even China Mobile as a carrier partner, the world's biggest mobile phone operator/carrier.
SYMBIAN WAS WINNING
I do need to make this point, because so many revisionists want to rewrite history, especially those with a US tech point of view. This is the reality of Nokia Symbian unit in 2010. These are the four metrics you can have for a handset unit - its unit sales (actual smartphones sold, in millions), its revenues, its profits, and its profitability. I have harmonized these four numbers, indexing them to Q1, so you can see how they were developing during the calendar year 2010. Note that Nokia's smartphone unit profits and profitability were indeed declining during early 2010 but look what happened:
See? First, this is a profitable unit, utterly dominating its industry, dwarfing its rivals like the iPhone, the Blackberry and Samsung. But look what happened during 2010? The unit sales (blue bars) - actual smatphones sold - grew every quarter. Nokia grew more new sales during 2010 than Apple's iPhone! Yes. And Nokia did this profitably. If you are the biggest in your industry, and you grow more than number 2, and you manage to do that profitably, then your strategy is just fine, you don't abandon this winner under any circumstances. But look at the other data.
The revenues (red bars) of the smartphone unit grew every quarter in 2010. But they were growing less fast than the handset business, before Elop came along. That is not a good sign long term. But look what happened after Elop took over, the revenues grew far faster than total unit sales. So Nokia had managed to get past the storm, and was on the mend, and actually doing VERY well indeed. Customers were liking Nokia products so much, they were paying MORE for them, not less. This is good news, very good news.
Then look at profits (green bars). Profits in the smartphone unit had been falling, yes, and that is a bad trend, obviously, while the unit itself was still safely profitable, the direction had been wrong, under previous management (and I had been very critical of Nokia at the time, on this trend here on this blog, critical of Kallasvuo's leadership). Now look what happens to profits after Elop takes over - they jump, massively. They grew not just faster than unit sales - a good sign - but they grew faster than revenues! That is EXCELLENT. This smartphone unit is a hero at Nokia, they are doing all the things right (as they are, as I already said, dominating the market, so this is not done at the cost of winning the customer).
Lastly the yellow bars, the single most important element in this graphic - the profitability of the smartphone unit. The profitability of the smartphone unit had been in decline under previous management. Now with Elop in charge, the profitability takes a Nokia-record jump and is bigger than we've ever seen the data reported at Nokia. This is a graph where all the data is good - and Nokia is poised to have it even better going into 2011, when Q1 has China sales - Nokia so utterly ruled the Chinese smartphone market, Canalys counted Nokia's market share in the world's largest smartphone market at .. 77% in 2010. And for China, Nokia was rushing out the hot new Symbian based E7 superphone (like the N8 but with a QWERTY slider keyboard as well as the touch screen interface, on a giant 3.9 inch screen for this time, one of the biggest on any phone, far bigger than the then-current iPhones and Galaxies).
And most of all, I have said time and again, that Nokia will be remembered in year 2020 as having won the smartphone wars, if it managed to win the transition from dumbphones to smartphones. Motorola lost its lead when the previous transition was from analog phones to digital phones. This is the ultimate test. How was Nokia fearing, in the transition from dumbphones to smartphones. And Nokia was ahead of that curve, where all of Nokia's major legacy handset maker rivals were behind on the curve. Nokia was doing the transition to the future profitably, where every one of Nokia's major legacy handset maker rivals - Motorola, SonyEricsson, Samsung and LG, had stumbled and reported losses in their handset units attempting this transition and were behind the curve (since then, two have already totally failed, Motorola went bankrupt, was split, and sold to Google; Ericsson pulled out of handsets altogether after SonyEricsson partnership kept faltering, and sold its half to Sony).
Undestand what this metric means. It means, that as the industry shifted from the old tech (dumbphones) to the new tech (smartphones), Nokia was ahead of the curve, it's world-leading market share in dumbphones - was even better in smatphones! It meant, that Nokia was picking up new customers as it shifted from dumbphones to smartphones !!! Motorola was losing at one point 9 out of every 10 customers it tried to shift from dumbphones to smartphones, Nokia was picking up more customers in that transition! And Nokia was doing this profitably!
WHAT OF THE MARKET CONDITIONS
Ah, then you say but the iPhone was winning the wars and Android was eating Nokia's cake. So, was that true? Lets examine the evidence. This is the market picture that I have often shown on this blog: The Three Giants of Smartphones. Who is in trouble here?
Those who visit this blog often know the story. Yes, the top line is not Apple, it is not Samsung, the top guy is Nokia. Yes. in 2010, Nokia was so utterly dominant in smartphones (globally, by unit sales) that it was more than twice the size of its nearest competitor - and growing more than that! Yes, durning 2010, Nokia added more new smartphone customers than Apple's iPhone, so Apple was not catching up to Nokia, Nokia was pulling away from Apple!
To understand how incredibly powerful - and rare - this is, Toyota, General Motors, Volkswagen, Fiat, Peugeot-Citroen, Renault, Honda, Nissan etc - have NEVER been able to lead the car industry by being so utterly dominant, as being twice as big as their nearest rival. Only Ford has been able to do that - and that was 97 years ago! It is incredibly rare to dominate your industry so strongly. IBM, HP, Dell, Compaq, Apple, Toshiba, etc - none of the big PC makers we know and use, have ever been able to lead the PC market by being twice as big as the nearest rival. Yet Nokia did, and was profitable - and was increasing its lead to Apple!!
Every CEO on the planet, EVERY Chief Executive Officer on the planet, would take the top line company, if all three were profitable. This is where the future of Nokia's business is going, to smartphones, and Nokia was beating its rivals like a rented mule. Yes, Apple did massive profits, but Apple could launch paper bags, calling the iBags, and sell them at huge profits. But this side of Apple, Nokia was by far the most profitable handset company in the world, and where Apple is a niche luxury product, Nokia was the most prevalent brand on the planet, in the pockets of 1.4 Billion customers - thats more than drink Coca Cola daily and yes, obviously, its more than the total installed base of Microsoft Windows worldwide, and more than even today, Facebook has users. Yes. Every single CEO on the planet would want to be the blue line on that picture - and every smart CEO would learn why they are ahead - and not touch one iota of that massively successful strategy his company had.
THE WORLD AND ECOSYSTEMS
Nokia was the bestselling smartphone on its own continent, Europe. It was also the bestselling smartphone on the largest continent by handset sales and smartphone sales - Asia. Nokia was also the bestselling smartphone on the second most populous continent, Africa, and on the third most populous continent, Latin America and even the bestselling smartphone on the smallest of the six inhabited continents, Australia/Oceania. Nokia was not the bestselling smartphone on only one inhabited continent - North America, which is the only continent where during 2010 seven domestic handset makers offered smartphones on six domestic smartphone OS platforms. Even there, Nokia as the outsider was not last, it was a midfield player on the North American continent, even in 2010, selling several million smartphones there.
Oh, and if you were curious about the seventh continent (Antarctica, the uninhabited continent) - the most used smartphone and OS on the Antarctica continent was also Nokia (the N900 using the Linux based Maemo OS, was an excellent instrument device used by scientists on the cold continent).
So you say 'ecosystems' and I say yes, Ovi. The Ovi store, as Elop took charge of Nokia, was just becoming the second most used app store on the planet, behind only Apple's iPhone App Store, and closing the gap fast. Nokia's Ovi was on over 100 carriers, with carrier billing and covering by far the biggest number of domestic languages and alphabet/writing character sets. The Apple App Store was the bestselling App Store in those countries where the domestic language was English. Nokia's Ovi store was the bestselling app store in all countries where the domestic language was not English (or Korean). That covers 94% of the human population, by the way. Did I mention that Ovi was closing the gap to Apple at this time totally dwarfing such rivals as, say Blackberry, Windows, Palm and Android? Closing the gap to Apple. Don't tell me Nokia was 'losing' the ecosystem war!
The only place where Nokia was not dominating the smartphone market was the North American continent (and there, only the US market, as Nokia was strong in Mexico and Canada too). And even that was about to change, as in January Nokia smartphone sales team very proudly announced the comeback to the US market, as AT&T had selected a new top Nokia flagship smartphone - running on Symbian - to be launched. AT&T was to celebrate this with Nokia at the world's biggest mobile industry event, the Mobile World Congress, in Barcelona that February.
This is textbook stuff of where you as CEO have just inherited a company that is winning, and you are on the verge of a very good year, with success everywhere you can see. That is when Elop decided he didn't like this future, and made his strategy announcement.
NEW NOKIA STRATEGY - THREE PILLARS
So we saw Stephen Elop release his disasterous Burning Platforms Memo (costliest management memo of all time, one that was riddled with errors, many that he himself has walked back, and one that Elop openly admits, did indeed cause damage to Nokia). Then if that wasn't enough bad news in February of 2011, came the bombshell - Nokia would end the Symbian path to MeeGo, and switch to Windows Phone based smartphones instead.
So. Lets not debate the merits of that decision. I have given you the full data of the market in 2010, and the Nokia handset performance in 2010, and the specific details of the future to Nokia, the smartphone unit in 2010. What did Elop tell us in February 2011? He would run a strategy on three pillars, one on the dumbphones unit (as before); one on Symbian but one that would be run down (changing from before) and one new leg, that built on Windows Phone, which would fully replace the Symbian leg over time - and more - would even take some of the business from the dumbphones unit. This is the big strategy picture that we saw in February 2011 anywhere that Nokia talked of its new Windows strategy. This was the big picture:
I have recreated the slide so I can show you how it is now being met with reality. Many readers will remember seeing this in various official Nokia presentations in 2011, but just to be very very sure, please do go check for example this image at Slashgear website, that I have trutfully, faithfully, reproduced exactly the image, with all detail it had, leaving nothing out, adding nothing (to my best graphical ability, obviously I am not a graphic designer or artist).
Several important points about this strategy slide. 1. It has three legs, obviously. The Featurephones leg (gray part) will continue indefinitely into Nokia's future. The second leg, the light blue part (Symbian) will continue in the short run at full but then when Windows Phone is launched, the ramp-down of Symbian will start, and end at some point in the future. And the third leg, will be the emergence of the Windows Phone (dark blue) based smartphones, which will launch at some point in the near future, then take over 100% of what Symbian has now, plus taking a small further slice from dumbphones.
All this is revenues, not handset unit sales. Note, Nokia had been growing revenues both in smartphones and in dumbphones in 2010. What Nokia told us in February 2011, is that the growth in revenues will stall, that Nokia sales revenues would be roughly flat in this transition period. Nokia also told us of the scale of the light blue part, Symbian, that there would be a transition period sales of about 150 million Symbian sales, which if Symbian was flat for the year, and Nokia sold 100 million Symbian smartphones in 2010, suggested roughly, that the total transition to Windows Phone would be done perhaps at the end of 2012, or very early 2013.
At the time Nokia did not commit to explicit dates on the strategy, but Nokia Chairman Jorma Ollila said at the time this was revealed, that Nokia expected to offer Windows Phone based smartphones in wide distribution in many markets by the spring of 2012 (as it would also do).
That is your 3 leg strategy, as articulated by CEO Stephen Elop and shown by Nokia to investors and all interested parties. The Featurephones unit would retain current levels of sales until Windows Phone would come along, and even after that only very modestly see a decline in its revenues, shifted fully to Windows Phone. The Symbian unit would retain current levels of sales until Windows Phone launches, then there would be a 1 to 1 transition from Symbian to Windows Phone. And Windows Phone was not ready to launch now, but when it would launch, it would take all of Symbian sales and even take some featurephone sales revenues, over time.
Sounds like a plan. Now that Windows Phone has launched - as the Lumia branded Nokia smartphones - we can evaluate the reality and how it relates to Elop's grand new strategy. And because we have now, in Q2 reached the point where the Windows Phone revenues for Nokia are the same as the Symbian revenues, we are actually at this point in time:
So yes, June 30, 2012, is the point where we are half-way on the transition from Symbian to Windows Phone, and we can pinpoint a specific point on that graph, and make some meaningful analysis of how well it has panned out (or not). So lets dig in
HOW DID SYMBIAN LEG DO?
Lets start with the Symbian Leg. How did it do in this grand new Stephen Eloppian Strategy? This is the reality of what transpired since February 11, 2011 to now.
The white part is the gap between Elop's promise for Symbian, and the reality. This Symbian leg of his strategy has failed utterly, comprehensively. How enormous is that failure? So far it has cost Nokia corporation a whopping.. 11.9 Billion Euros (15.5 Billion dollars) in abandoned revenues due to the failing first leg of the Elop grand strategy for Nokia. That is revenues, not profits. Nokia's smartphone unit was producing record profits before this mad strategy was announced, and we all know, instantly after he announced this change, the smartphone unit plunged into loss-making, and the losses only have become bigger, not smaller. Nokia's smartphone unit has not produced one profit-making quarter since the losses began, and prior to Elop doing this, Nokia's smartphone unit had never produced a loss in its history. Ok. I said having a three-leg strategy, if one leg is failing, that doesn't mean your whole strategy has failed. Lets examine the other legs. How about teh Featurephones unit then? Check out this performance and keep in mind, the Featurephones unit grew revenues 23% during 2010. What happened after Elop announced his strategy from February 2011?
This is what happened in the Featurephones unit. This was 'not supposed to happen' (and Elop himself had expressed severe and sincere surprise at the fall in the featurephones unit sales, which started immediately after his Burning Platforms Memo and Microsoft Announcement). After all, the Windows strategy was only impacting 'smartphone' sales, not 'featurephone' sales. How did this happen, well, if your CEO publishes such a ridiculous document as the Burning Platforms Memo, where he openly calls his own products rubbish, that will of course impact ALL sales of Nokia handsets, not only smartphones. And there is the resulting retail boycott, the retail and carrier troubles that have plagued Nokia ever since.
Please readers, do not write about this point. It has been proven in independent press surveys of Nokia retail stores in many countries. I have reported on the retail boycotts and carrier reluctance to sell Nokia phones many times here, but it has been VERIFIED by Nokia's CEO himself, who told the Nokia shareholders' meeting this April that yes, there is a global carrier revolt against Nokia and Microsoft. This issue is settled. Elop has complained bitterly at every single quarterly results since his strategy was unveilled last year, that the carriers are not supporting his sales, that the retail is not supporting the handsets. He has said time and again, that the handsets are fine, it is not a design problem - it is retail/carrier relations that is the problem. And don't argue this point - Fitch, Moody's and S&P - all the ratings agenices - in EVERY ONE of their dozen downgrades of Nokia to junk status - said the problem was not bad handsets or delays etc, it was - carrier relations/retail problems. Every single downgrade of Nokia's future was caused by bad retail channel management - by Stephen Elop and his new sales teams. The previous Nokia sales had set the world's best sales relationships in mobile - so said Elop himself when he took over. That was all perfect for the first 5 months - look at the top graphs, all sales was good at Nokia. It all died, February 11, with the Elop Effect.
How bad is this on the featurephones side? The utterly failing Elop Strategy has cost Nokia at least 4.9 Billion Euros (6.4 Billion US dollars) so far. Again, this is lost revenue. The handset unit overall went from profits to loss-making with the problems. So the second leg of Elop's grand strategy is completely failing too. Well, at least there is the third leg, right? This was the sure thing, the can't miss, the perfect Windows strategy with Microsoft. Stephen Elop and Steve Ballmer on stage together, promising the world we'd have a 'Third Ecosystem' when these two tech giants get together. How did that pan out. Lets see:
This is yes, the Windows Phone success rate (or failure rate) so far. Please please please also note - while we don't have Nokia Q3 results out yet, the consensus view is, that after Microsoft 'Osborned' the Nokia Lumia line, making it instantly obsolete, the sales in smartphone units sold, and the prices of the current Lumia line have collapsed. The dark blue line is NOT INCREASING, it is currently DECREASING. It is getting even thinner. This is Elop's future in his strategy, his third pillar, and it is failing the most!!!
So far in just two quarters, it has already lost Nokia 1.9 Billion Euros (2.5 Billion USD) out of this promised strategy. That is again revenues, the profits are disasterous, the Lumia unit is hideously under water, generating massive losses and now with the instantly-obsoleted products, the current line of Lumia is sold as obsolete goods for bargain-basement prices, making massive losses to Nokia.
So there you have it. Three pillars of Nokia strategy. The Symbian leg - failed massively. The Featurephones leg - failed. And the Windows Phone/Lumia leg is failing the most of all. This is a certain road to death. And only a fool and utter incompetent delusional madman would suggest, in this situation today, after we have seen the June 30 data, that this strategy is worth continuing. Elop has openly admitted, his Burning Platforms Memo damaged Symbian sales. He openly admitted he was surprised how badly Featurephone sales have been hurt. Now, just a few weeks ago, in an interview to All Things D, he said this of the Windows Phone and Lumia part of his strategy "I’ve said this at our results, in getting the first Lumia devices out there, I would have liked to have done better. There is no question.”
The CEO took a winning strategy he inherited - that dominated the industry and had growing sales in units and revenues; and growing profits and record-setting jumps in profitability - and the destroyed that strategy. He then boldly announced a new, high-risk strategy that many instantly called perilous and dangerous. Now we have the facts, Elop himself admits leg 1, the Symbian leg - has failed. He admits leg 2, the Featurephones leg, also to have failed. And now, yes Elop admits that leg 3, the new promised Windows Phone leg - is also failing.
When all 3 legs of your 3-legged strategy fail, what do you do? You rush - run run run - to change your total strategy. But what would a madman do? Here is Stephen Elop's opinion of what to do after Nokia's total strategy has failed producing massive losses and a collapse of the company. This is how All Things D wrote: "Elop said, the products are solid and the company isn’t changing course and still believes it can build a good business creating phones based on Microsoft’s operating system."
All three strategic pillars have failed. Elop himself has admitted none are performing as he wanted. Now he looks at three failing pillars of his new strategy, and he tells us "the company isn’t changing course"
If you keep repeating the same action, but expect a different result, your brain is not functioning properly. You are clinically insane. You should not be operating heavy machinery, you should not be driving a car, you should DEFINITELY NOT BE IN CHARGE OF A FORTUNE 500 SIZE COMPANY. You should not be signing contracts, you should not be selling Nokia assets, you should not make decisions of what people Nokia should be firing and who it should be hiring. You are clinically insane, you should be in padded room, with 24 hour supervision, safe inside a mental institution. In Finland, that means you should not be prancing around Nokia's HQ in Espoo, you should be safely locked up in Lapinlahden Mielisairaala in Helsinki, where you can't do any damage to yourself or your employer - or sell its patents or its HQ building for that matter.
WHEN EVERY SIGN IS HORRID
This is the picture of what happened after the Elop Effect to Nokia compared to its competitors in the smartphone part, that is the future of Nokia:
It doesn't get more brutal than that. Or does it? This is how Nokia's profits fared before and after Elop Effect:
I have not bothered to update that for the latest Q2 numbers, they were worse than Q1 so the red lines just get worse and worse
What of Nokia's only true measure in year 2020 if and when there is a Nokia to consider. Did Nokia see the future coming, and prepared correctly for it, and managed to execute a rare successful transition from a legacy technology to a disruptive one? This is that failure in a picture:
That is not fair, it is not a Nokia failure, it is how Elop snatched failure from the jaws of victory. This is totally Elop's fault, Nokia was doing just fine before he meddled on this most strategic of transitions. And now the final piece, when all is said and done, the three pillars of Nokia's highly publicized new Strategy of February 11, 2011 and how reality has hit the three pillars of that strategy. How did Nokia do? Is this strategy succeeding?
No. This strategy is failing totally, comprehensively, utterly, on all three legs. It must be ended NOW. Elop as the creator of this strategy must be removed from anywhere near Nokia strategic thinking if he produces such a failure plan, that all three legs have failed. Elop as CEO must be fired for executing so poorly on all three legs of this strategy, that all three have failed. The company, its employees, its investors, its credit rating agencies, all have lost faith in the CEO. He has to be fired for being such a total loser, and now, for moronically saying he will continue on the doomed path.
THERE WAS BIG GROWTH, NOW AN EMPTY PIT
Note one more important thing. In 2010, when Elop took over the company - all metrics were GROWING. Nokia was growing smartphone sales (on Symbian), and growing revenues in the smartphone unit, the average price for Nokia phones was increasing - customers loved Nokia and were willing to pay more - and Nokia said openly, by Q4 the demand was so big, they could not keep up. The profits were up, the profitablity was up.
Also the dumbphones unit (featurephones) produced increasing unit sales, increasing revenues, increasing profits and increasing profitability (while its average prices were indeed falling). Nokia towered over its rivals - remember, more than twice the size of Apple's iPhone in smartphones and more than 50% bigger than Samsung even on the dumbphones side. This is a position any CEO would love to have, from HP to Apple to IBM to Intel to Sony to Toyota to Honda to GM to Ford to Volkswagen to Airbus to Boeing to .. you name it, nearly anyone this side of Microsoft who essentially have a near monopoly in the PC software business haha. Yes. Nokia was supremely successful in 2010 - and every single major handset analyst - every single one of them - expected Nokia smartphone sales to INCREASE in 2011, not be flat or decrease. EVERY single analyst who published a position on Nokia smartphones in 2010, said it would grow smartphone sales in 2011. EVERY ONE OF THEM.
So in this analysis of Elop's failure, I am not taking the most common view - that Nokia were to grow during 2011 (and 2012) but rather, I took the far more reduced future outlook, that given by Elop himself on February 11, 2011, that the revenues would be flat for the coming years. And even by that far-reduced goal, his 3-prong strategy has utterly failed. If we count even modest growth into the picture, the damage done by Elop - the real damage in fact - is obviously far greater than these pictures tell you. Oh, I can't make up my mind what is the best way to present that same slide. Is it better perhaps with the original colors kind of there like this:
Or maybe it should be this version I tried, with lost sales in black? Take your pick, as usual, of course you are allowed to use any stats, facts, numbers, pictures etc from this blog, if you want to report on this story - and please do.
And I have not even mentioned the damage he did to Nokia's new profit engine in 2011 - MeeGo. But that is for another blog. Now we look at that picture and we see, all 3 legs have failed in his strategy and Nokia cannot recover even to his modest goals of 10% profitability (which is far less than what he had when he set off on this mad misadventure). The big analyst houses now are talking of 2% market share for Nokia in smartphones in 2013 - and I concur, that is the level we will now hit. Nokia had 29% when Elop announced this strategy. This is the biggest collapse of any market leader in any industry in any time, ever. The biggest disaster in corporate management. Elop is the biggest loser as CEO ever seen. Yes, he has set the world record for management failure. No wonder his staff are resigning and running away.
I want to make one return to the beginning. Remember his first 5 months? Elop actually inherited a company with strong handset sales - the unit sales grew both at the smartphone unit and the featurephones unit. The revenues grew at both units. Both units were very healthy and profitable, the smartphone unit has a huge jump in its profits and profitability towads the end of the year 2010. Lets bring this reality back to the picture. So I am taking the above, and adding now the previous 12 months to the picture. I also make a few other observations in the diagram. This is the true story of the Three Pillars of Stephen Elop's New Nokia Strategy as of June 30, 2012. He has wiped out 21 Billion Euros (27 Billion US dollars) of Nokia handset revenues in the past 20 months (and turned growing profits into growing losses). This is what misery looks like:
So yes, that is the sorry state of Nokia's strategy today. Yes. the Windows Phone strategy has failed so comprehensively, that even without considering any growth factor (the smartphone industry has doubled in size in the past 18 months), just by replacing the existing level of sales, Elop's Windows strategy has failed so totally, he has only managed to capture 17% of the lost Symbian smartphones revenues (and nothing of the promised capture of lost featurephone revenues). Yes, his failure is so total, he is losing 5 out of every 6 loyal Nokia customers he tries to recruit to Lumia from Symbian - and please, look at the graph, Nokia was GROWING both smartphone and featurephone revenues before this strategy, growing featurephone revenues annually by 20% and growing smartphone revenues by 31% annually.
So he is the 27 Billion Dollar man, eh? The biggest loser of all time? The worst CEO of any industry ever. He single-handedly destroyed the worlds' largest handset manufacturer, the company that invented the smartphone and dominated the smartphone industry, Europe's biggest tech giant. Thank you 'Mr General' or should we call you 'Pretend-Patton' - Mr Stephen Elop the total failure as strategist and leader in the mobile industry. You are a disgrace. Resign now! And Nokia's Board - fire this clown now or you will be fired too!
CAN WINDOWS PHONE 8 SAVE NOKIA
So, there you have it, the published Nokia strategy reviewed when we have a clear point in the strategy time-table, the clear point where half of total Nokia smartphone revenues come from Windows Phone. It is clear, this strategy has failed not on one leg, not on two, but on all three legs. It must immediately be terminated and Nokia could pursue any other strategy and be better off. And the CEO is incompetent, he must be fired immediately.
PS - for readers from Slashdot - This on Monday 15th October. I noticed that over the weekend we had a lot of traffic coming from Slashdot (thank you for referencing this blog!). It also increased the comment traffic here with many new people commenting. And while we have over 100 comments here, there are over 300 comments at Slashdot - my readers may want to go read those too, its very good stuff there. I want to make a brief comment to those who are here for the first time at my blog.
Yes, I am an ex-Nokia exec, but I left years before Elop came to town; I left before the previous CEO took over. I left 11 years ago in 2001, back in the good old days. Nokia has used my consulting services - in public - often such as speaking at official Nokia events - so we have no grudget and I am not 'against Nokia' in any way. I disagree with the current strategy of the current CEO but I love Nokia. Note, I am not a 'Nokia fan-boy' either - I was critical of the previous CEO's management of Nokia and yes, Nokia did have trouble with its Symbian project - that is why Nokia was preparing MeeGo - and I was fully supportive of this move.
Also while the style of my blog is often edgy, I am not a nutcase, I am the most published author of this young industry - 12 books so far - and my peers respect me, I am already referenced in over 120 books by my other authors in this industry (I believe that is by far the most of any author in mobile). I am regularly quoted in the world media on mobile matters, over 400 press references in over two dozen languages in all major countries of the mobile world. Over 100,000 people have seen me live, delivering keynotes to most of the biggest mobile industry events on the planet. Forbes named me the most influential expert in mobile. You may disagree with me, or dislike my rambling writing style but this blog is a hobby for me - if you want cleanly edited good grammar English, then go buy one of my books.. On this blog there is no advertising, I don't ask for your registration, I don't ask for your emails, I do not spam you later for visiting here, and this blog has had 3 million visits over the years - and over 27,000 comments, the evidence is pretty conclusive that I am not trying to build traffic to sell this blog either haha. I am not paid one red cent for the blog posts I write. I simply am here to share with my fans, readers of my books and my friends. I do this out of a love of this industry.
Don't mis-interpret this blog as claiming Nokia was 'fine' with Symbian or that I somehow suggest Nokia should go back to Symbian. I never said so in this blog, I never said so in 2011 or 2010. Nokia should have been on a path from bringing Symbian to lower-cost smarpthones - where the global mass market exists and Windows Phone cannot serve those price points; and Nokia should have introduced MeeGo to the top end to eventually replace all of Symbian. We now have learned Nokia had at least 3 MeeGo handsets plus a tablet ready for launch during 2011 (they only released 2 handsets and only sold one of those) plus an older Maemo handset that could have been upgraded to MeeGo meaning they could have had 4 MeeGo phones and a tablet for sale during 2011, rather than 2 lame Windows Phone based Lumia devices in very limited release right for Christmas. This blog is a study of Stephen Elop's announced new strategy of February 11, 2011, and the facts of how it panned out in the next 20 months. It is not a total critique of Elop's management apart from strictly his strategy failing, he has also been a horrid manager and executive. See the full extent of his failures at this blog: Elop Worst CEO of any industry of all time.
PS PS - to all readers - For those who would like to understand the mobile handset industry, I have just updated my handset industry statistics ebook, the TomiAhonen Phone Book 2012, with all data now current to the end of this year. If you want to understand the handset industry, smartphones and their operatings systems and apps, the dumbphones/featurephones, and all related data such as features and abilities, please consider this handy resource - conveniently formated for your small screens so you can read it on your smartphone screen and have all the industry data in your pocket. Over 100 stats, tables and charts. See more here: TomiAhonen Phone Book 2012.