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« Am Ready to Call it: Apple iPhone world's biggest smartphone maker Q2 of 2011 | Main | The Ecosystem Myth and Stephen Elop's Alternate Universe at Nokia »

June 07, 2011



I know it's a bit of a side-note to this blog post, but it's a bit unfair to pick on the original iPhone for not being a hit outside the US when it was only offered in a handful of countries (because Apple was trying for a repeat of their AT&T exclusivity deal).


I just hope the billions in "concessions" this clever CEO was able to negotiate out of Ballmer for this agreement is enough to buy some very nice flower arrangements for Nokia's funeral.


Wow, Tomi. If the channel has truly revolted against Nokia, incompetent is not nearly a strong enough word to describe what Stephen Elop is doing. Hopefully the Nokia Board takes swift action.


You know... you might be right.
Which means Nokia is already dead: the fist Nokia-WP7 phone will not be a success (*) because the carriers won't let it be a success.

(*) Unless it is truly a world-changing device. I find this highly unlikely - if Nokia could do such a device, the OS on it wouldn't really matter that much (and anyway, it wouldn't be important that the OS is WP7)

Jonathan MacDonald

In my opinion, this post is 100% spot on.

I totally agree with every single point and it would only be half as tragic if it weren't for the fact that so many of us in the industry saw it coming AND WARNED THEM.

But no...the arrogance is incredible...the Nokians let by the Dark Lord Elop and the Grand Master Ballmer (one of the least successful CEOs every to walk on planet Earth - check the share prices over his term) are determined to 'do things their way' - which is the polar-negative way our technological, sociological and commercial marketplace is moving.

I tried to tell them, you tried to tell them, we all tried to show them.

As the ancient Chinese proverb says - "when the winds of change are blowing - you can either build a shelter or a windmill"

Nokia are in the shelter game now.

But the wind is strong my friend. The wind is very strong


Much as I disagree wit your views on where the current leadership in smartphones lies (it's certainly not Japan!), and in your assessment of the performance of Nokia's smartphone business pre-Q1-2011 (remember that blog post you wrote about artificially propping up market share in Q1-Q3 2010?): Your are spot on about Nokia's current situation with the operator distribution channel. I don't see Nokia phones in the operator shops anymore - unless I really search for them. Even then, very few models are carried, and at unattractive prices. As for adoption by customers: I have, so far, seen two N8s, one E7, one C6-01, and not a single C7 in the wild. I fear for Nokia's survival, not in 2012 and beyond, but this year.


Let's face it Nokia's Symbian smartphones were not used as smartphones. They had appalling GUI's. They were difficult to use, and very few functions were used. They were slow with underpowered processors, stuttering transitions and slow response. Second grade internet and web experience. I have tried the N8 so-called iPhone killer. It was an appalling experience. Symbian is dead and we should be glad for it!

The questions for Nokians is why they were not able to bring a coherent narrative response to the iPhone, why the software was not good enough, and why it took 4 years to respond... Nokias collapse will be a text book case for business schools the world over for many years to come!

Øyvind Mo

Nokias demise is terrible for its staff and shareholders, of course. But it will accelerate the disruption of the mobile business, most notably the carrier's unsustainable dominating role. Consumers want advanced phones and simple network services, not the other way around. The carriers have been dominating many of the world's markets for far too long. Especially Android's march to victory will hopefully commoditize all network services, since Android phones are routinely rooted and modified outside of any operator control. It's about time. And it will be much easier without Nokia in the game. Ironically the carriers are bringing this upon themselves by outing Nokia, leaving all the room of the low/mid segment for Android.


If this is happening, Nokia's Board has to act fast. In this industry a competitive portfolio of products is a critical factor of success of any company, without it fierce competition will drive it out of the industry. Nokia doesn’t possess a competitive portfolio of products anymore thanks to Elop. Now I believe that Nokia has the financial resources to pass through the year even if their revenue decreases significantly, but the board must decide what to do next, and honestly I don’t they now what to do anymore. I guess they’ll hang to the WP7 hope, and that won’t be enough. If this road is taken, then we will have a finish Motorolla. On the other side if Nokia Board acts quickly and brings Anssi, or has Tomi suggested Jorma, I don’t now if there is still time to save Symbian, or even make an All-in on MeeGo. Symbian is death right now, it was chop to pieces and sold by its residual value to Accenture, the developer already fled, and MeeGo might take too long to implement successfully.

Sander van der Wal

Tomi, are these people talking about European sales or worldwide sales?

Carphone Warehouse is definetively talking about European sales, and what you are seeing in Europe is that demand for Nokia smartphones has disappeared, because people now either want an iPhone or an Android. You cannot extrapolate that without confirmation to other markets.


So, how long is it going to take before Elop the Dead (parrot) gets the boot, and should Vanjokki replace him? (Note that Olilla is leaving already.)

A Reader

Great blog - very thought provoking as always ....... but it is very easy to be wise after the event.

If we had a time machine what would we do differently, not only in 2011 or 2010 but even in 2009?

As with hindsight Nokia seem to have been making a number of "big bets" for a number of years - none of which have played out as intended. Perhaps this was one of Nokia's biggest failures R&D and their ability to capitalise on it

The Apple and google story has had a huge disruptive effect on the market with their views of what the future looks like - it would have been interesting to know what Nokia's vision was. Perhaps this is what went wrong lack of clear vision...........

Keep on with the thought provoking blog


The most frightening thought in this excellent article is the notion of Elop using Microsoft software to do teleportation and time-travel with a mobile phone. Your body would end up in one Tokyo, your head in New York, your arms somewhere in the Pacific Ocean, your legs would never be found back again and in the case of time-travel you would end up in a big blue void ;).

Steve Barker / @stevebarker

Hi Tomi

As good a read from you as ever, but I wonder what you make of Apple's iMessage service announced yesterday? This is designed to compete directly with your favourite medium - the good old SMS (no dancing, now!) Do you think the carriers will punish Apple the same way you maintain they are now punished Nokia for buying Skype?

Will this be the first 'death nail' in the Apple coffin?


Hi Tomi,

Your Skype fear is overblown. In the US they have really expensive data overages (or only sell you data if you buy unlimited minutes) and in Germany I burned through EUR 10 prepaid with just having the phone check e-mail every 15 minutes...

Otherwise you are spot on and the only hope for Nokia is to fire Elop and switch to Android with a custom Nokia skin. It's interesting what HTC is putting out recently with getting people to make apps for their Sense UI. I even can see a Nokia skin supporting QT -- why not?

Also the convergence of tablet, phone, and computer - see Windows 8 and Apple's Lion & iOS would favor Microsoft and I can see why Elop would push there. But I just feel that Google is further along with it's cloud offerings which will be at he heart of this converged world -- also they don't seem to be too restrictive otherwise Amazon wouldn't be able to muscle in. I am just more confident that Nokia could carve out a very profitable space in the Android eco system.

Regarding Symbian, Mego, Windows Mobile 7 -- the train has left the station. I feel there is no room for a third big ecosystem and even Blackberry aknowledges hat by making it's Playbook run Android apps.

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi all

Excellent comments, thank you everybody. I am on heavy business travel this week but hope to have time for a few replies now, will definitely be back later and respond to each of you. Please keep the comments coming.

Many asked how to fix it, I think Jorma Ollila needs to step in for interim - that would calm the investors. Anssi Vanjoki would have been excellent choice as CEO, I doubt he'd take the job now, and furthermore, with the poisoned relationship with carriers/operators, that is not the best case. I think the best choice is to fire Elop now and cancel the MS migration. Then commit to Symbian to the end of the decade (I have some ideas how) and that Symbian would power low-cost Nokia phones essentially forever, and go to MeeGo, the only new OS on which Nokia can release at least some phones this year. The new CEO? Ideally hired from a carrier/operator.. and ideally from Asia. I'll have much more on this in next blogs on this topic, but I have to blog about the big tsunami-wave disaster heading to Nokia HQ right now. It is not this blog. There is honestly worse still to come..

Keep the comments coming, I have read all and am learning a lot from them and our readers will enjoy them I am sure, as much as I do.

Tomi Ahonen :-)


I think analysis of WP7 + Skype being bad combo is inaccurate.

Look As Sprint and Deep Google Voice integration.

Its coming and maybe Nokia wants to be a head of curve for a change, or maybe they are already too late....


There is something Microsoft can do to please the operators: Kill Skype. That would make it. The end users would be dissatisfied, but that would not be Nokia.

But how to explain that this was needed to the shareholders of MSFT?


it amazes me ho the rest of the board see the direction that events are taking and do nothing! are some of micrsoft millions reserved to them too?

John H

Didn't you mention in a previous post that Nokia spent gobs of money to keep their phones on retail shelves and for retailers to push them? Nokia is in cost cutting mode now. If the new strategy is not to pay retailers for competitive space for current S^3 phones of course they won't be selling well now. Nokia/MS may decide to spend money to have their WP7 phones on the shelf; which will be their focus OS moving forward.

Android didn't sell well its first year on the market. I wouldn't call WP7 a dead platform especially with the Mango update coming along with Nokia's lineup. MS has the $$$ to make a platform succeed when it wants to; just look at the XBOX.

Why not give the West Coast design team a fair chance? If Finnish designs are so desirable they should be selling themselves, but as you state they're the worst selling phone in the UK; their typical stronghold.

You're judging Elop on devices that were in the pipeline before his arrival. He is actually taking actions on Nokia's past mistakes, where previous management stayed the course with slow and poor updates to existing platforms.

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