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« Elop 25 Million Dollar Golden Handshake for Destroying the Company - How Could This Happen at Nokia (analysis and speculation) - Tomi plays detective again | Main | Some News from Bloodbath Year 4: Smartphones Galore - Blackberry results, China market data »

October 01, 2013



Nice work Tomi. Here is another take on the same story, The rise and fall of the Symbian empire:




Now, that article reeks of warped perception of reality...

So, one can claim that the switch to WP was wrong (which it clearly was) but had Nokia continued with Symbian they'd have gone the same route as Blackberry (not a quick plunge into oblivion but a slow descent.) Granted, it would have given Nokia enough time to make a more controlled switch to any successor.

This article, though, treats Symbian as the Second Coming of God, and it clearly shows the attitude that made Nokia such a ripe target for utter destruction. If one has such a distorted view of one's own product it's obvious that wrong decisions are being made which ultimately lead to a shift into panic mode once they realize that it can't go on like this.


RottenApple, Symbian's days were certainly numbered but it was doing well. However, it was not the only or last option left. You have to take into account Meltemi and Meego, which Elop killed.


Error: 2016 -> 2006
OPK became Nokia CEO in the Spring of 2016



I strongly agree with this point:

> had Nokia continued with Symbian they'd have gone the same route as Blackberry (not a quick plunge into oblivion but
> a slow descent.) Granted, it would have given Nokia enough time to make a more controlled switch to any successor.

This is the core of Elop's failed strategy.

He *killed* Symbian, replacing it with an unready version of an unpopular product.

Since the very beginning he talked not as Nokia's CEO, but Windows Phone's ambassador.

He didn't talk about how great Nokia's products were; he talked about "ecosystem wars", and invited competitors to join his (actually Microsoft's) ecosystem.

If Tomi ever writes the book, I hope he'll concentrate in 2011, when Elop destroyed Nokia's future. 2012 and 2013 were just consequences of the absurd decisions Elop took in 2011.



> Every single rising statistic of vital Nokia performance was turned into catastrophic decline, next, by Elop. Why?
> Because he had 25 million dollars as a bonus to wreck Nokia rather than take a couple of million in performance
> incentives to continue this growth.

I still don't buy this theory.

I think that Elop wanted to help Nokia, but he also wanted -- in fact, was too eager -- to help Microsoft. The collapse was an unintended consequence of Elop's decisions (picking an unready version of an unpopular OS) and actions (pre-announcing the death of Symbian, trashing his own products, killing the alternatives, etc).

It is possible that sometime in 2012 he realized that Nokia was beyond salvation, and, for that reason, he started to make Nokia a better acquisition target. But I don't think this was his initial intention.

Tom Gorr

"Elop has been not just the worst Nokia CEO, he's been the worst CEO of any Fortune 500 sized company, ever."

If that is so, why is Microsoft taking him on? Surely they can see the figures?

They take him, because he did what was asked, and executed to the dot. For Nokia, he was a bad CEO. But it was all part of a plan and calling him stupid, is waste of breath. He is clever enough to get things done, and he managed most he set out to do.


@Tomi: Any opinion on this:

“I base this on what professor Seppo Ikäheimo from Aalto University said in the YLE’s “A-studio: Talk” show this week. He said that after reading the public information about the original and revised CEO contract he cannot see any reason that the selling of Nokia’s feature and smartphone business would trigger the change of control clauses in the contracts. He says the only reason for paying Elop, based on the contracts, is that Nokia has some somehow breached the contracts. And I think the breach is that Nokia fired Elop.”


@Tom Gorr

> If that is so, why is Microsoft taking him on? Surely they can see the figures?

Because at the end, with the cheap Nokia sell off to Microsoft, he saved WP and keeped a path forward alive.

There where and are alternate, better, bids on the table. There are still many alternate options. This chosen option, Elop spend many time on to make happen and cash the $25 millions, was saving a billion dollar investment. Microsoft says thanks and with taking him on (and even being as unrealistic as naming him a Microsoft CEO candidate) they also protect the dirty story behind.

> They take him, because he did what was asked, and executed to the dot.

Yes but he was asked to execute that plan B only after plan A - the Lumia disaster - failed thanks to him. At least he successfully applied plan B. Point is all his earlier dones are related to either plan A or plan B. So, those two options where on the table to begin with. Any alternate, any other option, was going against. He perfect combined them by moving Nokia all-in on WP and burning everything else along the way.


> after reading the public information

The public informations... What about for example all the MicroNokia-deal contracts which very likely contain all kind of extensions?

> And I think the breach is that Nokia fired Elop.

And no announcements? Possible that this, keeping silent, ismanother aspect of some of the secret contracts.



"RottenApple, Symbian's days were certainly numbered but it was doing well."

Isn't that a contradiction in terms? Either it's doing well and no actions are needed or it's not doing well enough which indicates that something needs to be done.

"However, it was not the only or last option left. You have to take into account Meltemi and Meego, which Elop killed."

I know. I was criticising the attitude of the linked article which clearly shows a delusional view of Symbian.

Had Symbian been such a great OS, all Nokia had needed was a UI facelift and some more modern hardware and they'd been set for the coming years.


Hi to all, I would do some remarks from 'inside' regarding Symbian just before and after Elop's arrival. I was in the design team of Symbian products at that time. When he arrived Nokia had just launched the first Symbian3 capacitive touchscreen products (N8, C7,E7). The products were received well from an hardware point of view, but the sw resulted to be disappointing for the consumers, especially the Internet browser. The main problem of Symbian was simply that it was designed few years before Android, and resulted very difficult to modify (and debug)for multimedia applications. So the sales we had in the first months were decent, but inferior to the expectations. Nokia had obviously lost appeal respect to Apple and Google. Obviously Nokia knew it and were coming new OS, Meego in front of all. After the famous 'burning platform' speech we began to see a steep decline in the sale of our Symbian products, because the carriers didn't want them and the sw was not even liked too much. I remember that it was very frustrating for us, after a lot of effort and time spent in the lab. In my opinion one of the 'hidden' ways in which Elop steered forcedly Nokia towards Microsoft was not only dashing internal OS and refusing to try Android, but also making redundant 'in advance' thousands of skilled and experienced engineers. In the first round (end of April) just after the announcement of Windows for Nokia he fired 7000 people (about 3000 thousands were sofwarists, moved to Accenture, whose majority was anyway made quickly redundant by Accenture), and closed straight two big phone development centres (Copenhagen and Farnborough in UK). Most of the people made redundant were skilled and experienced designers, that could have easily diverted to other 'Plan B' projects. We had other redundancies during 2011, and there was another big round of redundancies (about 10000) in Spring 2012, when Elop cancelled Meltemi, shutting down also Ulm centre, that had a direct role in the development. In summary, the strong reduction of resources made in any case impossible for Nokia to develop serious product lines with OS different from the one in force (Windows), if not killing it, and made Nokia fate bound to Windows one. It would have been possible to do something different in parallel, it was not done and so we'll never know what would have been Nokia now with an Android or a Meego line on the market.


For god's sake, Baron, please stop spreading your anti European FUD!

When Elop took over, Nokia was still dominating the non-US market. Samsung was peanuts in comparison.

So, please, what on Earth made Nokia so much inferior to Samsung had they had to compete on even ground?

Nokia was out-executing Samsung easily for the previous decade, so please, why would they have stood no chance against Samsung? Nothing you said gives a good explanation for it.

Nokia already had the market, all they needed to do was stuff the channel with desirable products and they'd have won by default.
People were WAITING for Nokia to go Android - yes - imagine that! Most Europeans who were planning to upgrade would have eagerly waited a bit if they could get a Nokia phone instead od Samsung. Well, as Elop decided it wasn't to happen - and the result was an instant crash. With their past reputation they would have easily crushed Samsung who aren't really that popular, just considered the least of all evils.

But I guess that's something an American will never be able to understand.


Boron95 plays according to the book: Repeat lies until they have become "true" and never ever admit counter arguments and fact even deserve mentioning.

So Vatar

Baron does not add any new insight to the discussion. He repeats the same stuff over and over again and hopes that something sticks. He is not open to an honest discussion, has his pre-determined picture of the world, and interprets everything using only his narrow frame.

He is sometimes funny and sometimes just over the top. But he is not to be taken seriously. I would just ignore him.

(And Tomi, as this post has really nothing to do with OPK vs Flop please delete it once you've read it. Thanks.)


"He is sometimes funny and sometimes just over the top. But he is not to be taken seriously. I would just ignore him."

I know, but I still believe that more casual readers have to be made aware that he's a plant intent on promoting American business interests. :D


Hi Tomi,

Is there any possibility that the Nokia board could reject the deal? If they do, presumably Mr Elop will be back at Microsoft and his successor will have to pick a new OS such as Jolla for the future :)


I've never written what you are saying, that is that Nokia had tens of thousands of people working on OS. Android had 500 people because they worked on the sw design of the OS alone.
From what you write, it's pretty clear that you don't understand so much of mobile communications and engineering in general. A phone is a very complicate product: the design implies not only sw for the OS, but also mechanics, electronics (platform design), IC design, radio frequency, audio and acoustics, digital signal processing, quality control and planning, platforms, integration (mechanical, sw and hw), production control, reliability test,also management, planning and marketing (that are not strictly engineering)..only a part of the people involved worked in sw for the OS. A phone is a very small product, but very complicate. You don't need thousands of people to design an OS, so didn't Android, you can need thousands when you develop a complete line of products around it, because are necessary all the functions I've just mentioned. Nokia had employed a lot of people also because they launched many products every year; obviously, if you launch less products, you'll need less people. To summarize, you have completely misunderstood my writing. I don't know how many people should leave now, if anyone has to leave, but you cannot claim that 'another 20k people now need to go', showing at the same time poor knowledge of technology processes.

Giacomo Di Giacomo

It is not the board that is going to decide about the sale, but the shareholders. Who are the controlling shareholders, though, I do not know. Most of Nokia stock is held by institutional investors, who usually do not vote. So, there is a fair chance that the controlling shareholders are the board members themselves, thanks to the stock options they got. Which means that they will sell Nokia D&S to M$ for a ridiculous price in return for personal profits, therefore robbing the other shareholders. Note that this is just speculation on my side and I do not have any source for this.


@NW "Is there any possibility that the Nokia board could reject the deal? If they do, presumably Mr Elop will be back at Microsoft and his successor will have to pick a new OS such as Jolla for the future :)"

Giacomo is spot on but I'll also add that if the deal (although highly unlikely) doesn't come through, Elop will return to Nokia as CEO. Talk about a catch 22, eh? :D

The shareholders event might be quite interesting, I wonder if they will hold a decent Q&A? It seems like the Finnish people, albeit too late, kind of woke up and realized that Nokia alone stands for over 40% of Finland's total R&D.

Add some very dark clouds in the economy of Finland to the picture as well as the total wipe-out of Nokia market share & profits under Elops (and board) reign - Might be a really nice show.



Once again, my comment got deleted by Tomi.

I just wanted to make more visible the fact that judge a CEO alone is not enough.

The CEO and the board are elected by mayor share holders. This aspect has been too often minimized or not consider by Tomi.

If you miss to analyze who is behind Elop, the role of Jorma , etc ... you are missing the real actors and the real motivation.

On the other side the comment from Baron95 the Micro & Soft troll from West Cost that are totally off topic and off sense ... are abundant here.




After the burning platform, there was a fire sale. And here we are.

The road not taken -- betting less dramatically on multiple software product lines, such as Android, forked Android, WP, Symbian, Meego -- might have kept Nokia in the position where Samsung is today, possibly with better profitability and a stronger market leadership. But it is of course an open question whether hardware-oriented Nokia was ready to execute on such a software-heavy strategy. Arguably, the technical dithering prior to burning down their platform indicated that they were not.


Gentlemen, Ladies, baron95,

Nokia is done,
the talent is gone,
left are failures,
assimilated by the falling empire,
talent moved on the sailors,
fullfiting our desire,



> But it is of course an open question whether hardware-oriented Nokia was ready to execute on such a software-heavy strategy.

No, its proven fact that they did. Buy and test a N9 and be left with the common sense that this was and still is ahead of time, an iphone-killer.

Beware of that Elop-brainwashing. Nokia always was better in the mobile SOFTWARE field then Microsoft. Nokia was number 1 wit there own software, switched to Microsoft (who never got mobile) and crashed down to irrelevance. This are the facts. So, either accept them or prove them wrong. Period.



"GSM-ETSI-ITU dictats bubble era of low and stable competition"

You obviously never looked at the evolution of market share of mobile phone manufacturers, network equipment suppliers, and telecom operators during that "diktat" period. Competition was ferocious. Look at Ericsson: nr. 1 in 1997 (27% worldwide market share) was not even at 9% in 2007 (which was a good year for the new SonyEricsson).

"In OPK's era there were no deaths of smartphone of mobile phone makers"

Just (by a matter of days) before OPK became president of Nokia, Sendo went bankrupt. During the OPK era, BenQ-Siemens folded as well.

"Up until mid-2011 Android had less than 500 - FIVE HUNDRED - people working on it. You are telling me that Nokia had tens of thousands of people working on phone OS."

Henry already provided a detailed answer, but let me nail it down again: yes, Nokia SW development was bloated and inefficient. On the other hand, you would have to add all the OS people working at Samsung on Android to those 500 Google guys to have a realistic point of comparison. The OS is not the just UI or the libraries; it is first and foremost managing the hardware -- all the device drivers for the memory, I-O, NFC, display, and most importantly the RF (UMTS/LTE, WLAN, BT) and its associated protocol stacks require considerable work, which Google is precisely not doing.

Which is also why I do not have much confidence in an OSS phone (like Jolla or Ubuntu) for the time being.

While Baron95 raises (a bit vituperatively) some good points, I regret to say that he often exhibits a stunning ignorance of some fundamental aspects of the industry.


Should we really believe that the biggest owners are not running their company and steering the Board of Directors? There are not that many companies even 1/100th of Nokia's size where this would be a reality.

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    Tomi Ahonen is a bestselling author whose twelve books on mobile have already been referenced in over 100 books by his peers. Rated the most influential expert in mobile by Forbes in December 2011, Tomi speaks regularly at conferences doing about 20 public speakerships annually. With over 250 public speaking engagements, Tomi been seen by a cumulative audience of over 100,000 people on all six inhabited continents. The former Nokia executive has run a consulting practise on digital convergence, interactive media, engagement marketing, high tech and next generation mobile. Tomi is currently based out of Hong Kong but supports Fortune 500 sized companies across the globe. His reference client list includes Axiata, Bank of America, BBC, BNP Paribas, China Mobile, Emap, Ericsson, Google, Hewlett-Packard, HSBC, IBM, Intel, LG, MTS, Nokia, NTT DoCoMo, Ogilvy, Orange, RIM, Sanomamedia, Telenor, TeliaSonera, Three, Tigo, Vodafone, etc. To see his full bio and his books, visit Tomi Ahonen lectures at Oxford University's short courses on next generation mobile and digital convergence. Follow him on Twitter as @tomiahonen. Tomi also has a Facebook and Linked In page under his own name. He is available for consulting, speaking engagements and as expert witness, please write to tomi (at) tomiahonen (dot) com

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