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« Mo Mobile mAdness - Ecosystem-Elop Sells Nokia Mobile Ad Unit (??? - True!) | Main | No Straight Lines: an open access participatory book »

February 10, 2012


Sander van der Wal

Tomi, let's assume that Ovi Store is as big as Apple's App Store, making as much money for developers. You yourself have written how bad a business writing apps is, even for Apple developers. Now imagine having about ten times as many developers having to share the same pie.

Then look at the number of app. Less apps than Apple in lots more time.

The numbers just do not add up.

So to say that Nokia's developer ecosystem was healthy, is in my mind simply not true.

julian t

Wow. Just wow. What a good read. I do agree that this memo has damaged Nokia really badly, and I'm a good example of it. After using Nokia phones for more than 10 years, I've moved on to Android due to its similarity to Symbian (minus the excellent Nokia hardware). Windows Phone will not even come close to the flexibility of these OS's.

Thanks for the amazing read!

ej victor


My N9 sits before me in landscape mode, Swype keyboard works just fine in landscape... try doing a firmware upgrade. I think you miss Tomi's point. Meego was abandoned by Elop, even this dead abandoned OS is getting updates faster then Symbian or WP7. The N9 as an open system is also getting "hacks" and "tweaks" at an alarming rate, not to mention PR1.2 out soon.

Meego is so impressive that an American customer paid $875 for the phone, this phone if released in the USA would have been a game changer for Nokia, this from my unscientific sample of 100's of friends, and colleauges in AT&T Mobility who have played with my phone and have been utterly captivated by the seductive UX. Elop is so embarrased of the N9's sucess he will not release sales numbers.

Another aspect of the N( UX that is mind boggeling is the ability to VNC into the phone which means being able to fully control the phone from any PC via wifi...I can have the phone in the car in the parking lot and text and e-mail from my PC 100's of meters away. TRY THAT WITH AN iPhone!


Excellent article Tomi,

Very nice the word by word analysis of the Elop's memo.

You stated that -> true Stephen Elop as the 'delusional psycopath' who would destroy Nokia.

But, a person can be "mad", maybe even a powerful CEO can be "mad", but it is very very rare.
But, this mad person have a "boss", actually a group of bosses, these have placed him as CEO of Nokia, these can kick him out of Nokia in no time.

Now, it is crystal clear that Elop memo and Elop strategy is wrong, totally wrong.
Only winner of this Elop-Nokia strategy is Microsoft. (As well Google and Apple did benefit from Nokia suicide strategy)

Are the people that placed Elop as CEO in Nokia also mad ? Everybody is mad or lunatic ?

Anyhow, who are these people?
I will help you with two links:

Dodge -> over 5%

Capital Group -> over 5%

Yes, 2 American funds own over 10% of Nokia, yes, this is more then enough for have full control in a fragmented share ownership like Nokia.

Tomi, please, I'm sure you have better connection then most of us, if you want you can find more about it.



ps: Anyhow, is also Jorma a "psycopath", he has been supporting all the time Elop strategy ? I think he also did his dirty job in this very dirty story ... 30k people lost a job, more will, because of Elop & Friends

Dan Colasanti

For a little perspective - Follow this graph from Q4-2008 through Q1-2011:;range=5y;indicator=volume;charttype=line;crosshair=on;ohlcvalues=0;logscale=on;source=undefined

Q: What did Elop have to do with that?
A: Absolutely Nothing. It's the predecessor CEO's failure to compete with the radical market change brought on by Apple and Android - Period.

Here's more perspective from CES 2012:

Q: Did the CES 2012 Best of Show Award go to a Symbian or MeeGo smartphone?
A: Um, no. It went to Elop's 3rd Child, the Nokia Lumia 900:

It's hard to have perspective when your neck-deep in your own pride. MeeGo was a solid OS but what Nokia's demise between 2007 and 2011 did not come about by Elop's platform speech (which hadn't been delivered yet). It came about because Nokia's previous CEO had failed to understand the changed dynamic of the smartphone market - that it was no longer just about devices but also about the global eco-system.

One year later with Elop-era products just starting to hit the market is too early to judge Nokia, which makes the timing of this manifesto seem like a last ditch attempt to apply for martyrdom. Over the last year the stock has continued to plummet, in part because of Elop's memo killing MeeGo (which was unlikely to successfully compete on a global scale), and in part because of the continued inability of Symbian to compete with iOS and Android. Was Elop's memo well-received? No. But only time will tell whether or not he was right or justified in delivering it and setting Nokia on a new course.

If Nokia had failed with MeeGo, 100% of Nokia would have been laid-off, not just dissenters. Now it looks like Nokia has a chance at success and the last three quarters of 2012 will be a telling sign of which direction that stock price will go. So far, with the Lumia 800 and 900, it's looking good.


Symbian nokia is death, face the truth
I live in indonesia, country where nokia was a strong brand here
until suddenly blackberry popular and become number one
and samsung attack from low price point + bonus attack from chinese/local brand

so its funny you blame it all to Elop,
if there is shit thing he did is the first 2 windows phone dont have front camera, all spec beated by htc windows phone

i doubt anyone buy nokia asha here, people will choose samsung android galaxy young for that price point
$150 nokia asha vs $100 samsung galaxy young
get it?

Timo Koola

Let's play Sherlock Holmes. So Tomi states: "then Nokia should have sold 168 million smartphones this year. Instead, Nokia only sold 77 million". Who and where did those 91 million customers go to that picked something else (or didn't buy a phone at all because Nokia killed Symbian/MeeGo)? Any breakdown analysis Tomi btw. Android/RIM/Apple? You did one before hand, but at least RIM failed to fully materialize the "customer giveaway" as you nicely put it.


Dear Tomi,

Yes, it's a long read, but if you see the amount of comments on your penultimate article, it was awaited (I even was afraid that S.Elop hired killers against you).

Anyway, you put the accent on the memo, but let me share my feelings as a Nokia fan, customer and small shareholder.

To me, it's not just the memo, but all what was done after that. I haven't read the memo before you put it here, in your article.

What I saw however, is the decision to get and keep Windows as the only available platform.

I saw high quality and desirable cellphones (N9, 701...) very difficult to get.

I saw factories closures - I'm sensible on it because although I live in Canada now, I'm European and I still pay taxes in Europe - and a lot of people losing their jobs.

I saw ridiculous promotional campaigns for Lumia range; as I said before, Dell and LG winphones were given for free to people, cupcakes and drinks offered at train stations, the "Amazing" word everywhere in a Simon game designed background.

I saw faithful bloggers supporting passionately Lumia products over other products.

So, what I saw is a promotion for Microsoft, and some typical North-American management, not just a memo.

Then, even promotion for Microsoft isn't well done; as another (well criticized) analyst, Eldar Murtazin, pointed out, no effort is made by Nokia.

It took 8 months to put standard windows phone hardware in a N9 shape and to subcontract it, and they're proud of it?

The Lumia flagship, the 910 is already obsolete, and won't enter the market before Spring, so it will be even more obsolete. Is that a serious way to make business?

Microsoft promised to help Nokia technically, to make Nokia Windows Phone unique.

It appears that HTC engineers know the OS better than Microsoft developers (which is not surprising as everybody at MS is a director/white collar), so they're able to break OS's limits (ie. 12Mpix camera for example) and to offer better products.

I could write a comment as long as your article so I'll stop here...

To me, it's not just a memo, it's a bunch of actions, which are understandable and profit only to few ones, as even Microsoft doesn't benefit from it (in the short term).

It looks like these old cartoons where water was replaced by alcohol. Yes, Stephen Elop is the fireman who replaced water with alcohol faking his try to save the building, but adding even more fire.

P.S. I don't know how well Lumia sales do. I visited almost every store that could sell Lumia 710 in Quebec City - pop = 500 000 - and in one week, a two digits figure of items were sold (I can't be precise, but less than 100 for sure). But "Lumia range is a success, welcome to North Korea!"

Earendil Star

I see that delusional visions of THT Elop actions continue to find supporters in people commenting.
We are talking about the effects for Nokia here, not for Microsoft or WP, but apparently many are not noticing.

Anyway, for anyone interested on the debunking of their reasoning, I refer to my previous posts.

One thing instead I wish to reiterate.

THT Elop's "Burning Platform" memo has a really simple explanation: you need to create a sense of urgency, emergency and panic if you want to force actions or policies that would never get through under normal circumstances, because anybody in a normal situation would regard them as crazy.

It is a well known tactic in many fields, from management to government.

Whenever you create a sense of emergency, you induce people to believe that an action needs to be taken fast, you minimize the time people have to critically think at what is being proposed. And suddenly, magically, the unthinkable becomes possible.

Thus, you pave the way to whatever action you may be interested in pursuing.
You then concoct a minimally plausible explanation of what you intend to do and why, and that's it.
If you need more factual support, a couple of misrepresentations may well serve the purpose.

Et voila! Here comes WP (WP????? The 0.000X% OS????) in place of the incumbent Symbian / Maemo ecosystem!

Nokia is now just a low margin OEM of a commoditized OS like WP? With no ecosystem left (oops, WP ecosystem is actually... MS's, not Nokia's...)?
Stopping in house production and outsourcing everything to the likes of Compal? At the mercy of a single OS provider instead of diversifying?
Being deprived of its best bits (patents, maps, brand, carrier aggrements, etc.) piece by piece without anyone noticing?
Oh, who cares about that. That is only minor details. Why bother!

Yes Tomi, this memo has been the most effective value destroyer for a company in history! Ever! No doubt!



The memo by itself was not causing a big damage to Nokia, once leaked the Nokia share price (it was around his year high due to the good Q4 results) if did not change much.

Yes the memo was having incongruence and it was painted in red blinking colours, but it could also be read that Nokia need a shake up, yes the sentiment written in the memo was agreed, the war was about eco-system, yes android popularity was starting to attack Nokia market (Apple did not really took customers from Nokia at that time)

In the memo is written that "This means we’re going to have to decide how we either build, catalyse or join an ecosystem."

That could be read in tons of positive ways: strength the current symbian eco-system, or build the MeeGo one, or eventually join the most popular Android eco-system ... any of this three was a possible and wise decision to be explained in the incoming new strategy.

The unexpected was what happen days later, announcing with BallMerd that Nokia drop everything for join Microsoft.
Three wrong decisions in one. Drop the current production, lose the eco-system (Microsoft own the eco-sytstem of Windows Phones) and join the worst and weakest Mobile OS in the market.
Once the new strategy got announced, Nokia made -30% on the market in few hours.



ps: I would also not forget that since new strategy was announced, immediately Nokia changed, before every month Nokia did announce multiple mobile phones per months, 4 or 5 in average. Fact is that after the announce Nokia stop bring new phones on the market, having only old phones on sales that have been self disbanded by the CEO, it was an additional contribution of Nokia self destruction.

pps: Good result of Nokia in Q4 2010 are not due to Elop, this is an inheritance from previous CEO/Managemt strategy and execution. Since Elop is CEO of Nokia he did nothing good the the company, NOTHING !


"I welcome comments on this blog. Please note, I have a rule, your comment must reflect the fact..."

Dear Tomi: I also hope you are ready to follow the rule "your comment must reflect the fact". I expand it to cover also the blog post itself.

Remember, I asked you to alter you last blog article "Mo Mobile mAdness - Ecosystem-Elop Sells Nokia Mobile Ad Unit (??? - True!)" to be more truthful because Nokia/Navteq didn't sell its mobile ad unit 10/2011 but TV and radio ad business to Radiate media.

Because that is the truth, right? You have not still taken actions to fix the points that I've proven to be false. Show you're worth your high level words.

One more link for you:



I agree totally the leaked memo has had some effects.

But it's exaggeration to draw a conclusion that with Symbian/Meego lineup Nokia would still be the king of the hill.

Your analysis has so called ceteris paribus hypothesis and therefore a big problem. I strongly claim iPhone and Android would have dethroned Symbian from #1 position was the memo leaked or not. Or would Nokia have relied solely (in smartphones) on Symbian/Meego-combination. Ceteris paribus rule may work in books of economic science, but rarely in reality.

Downturn in market share was inevitable and there is no single manager in our universe who could have stopped Symbian's market share slide. Therefore with or without Elop, Nokia would have lost it's market share anyway.

So it's more truthful to discuss which percentage of the market share slide is Elop's action's fault including the memo and MS deal. Tomi says 100%, I'd say the percentage is much much lower...


@ej victor: yes, yes, yes!

I also use an N9 and it is just simply _good_. Of course, it can be made even better just like anything else but really works well. PR1.2 bring working fron facing camera and DLNA - the two feature I really lack at the moment.

With working FFC video calls will work with Skype - I hope - and with DLNA I can connect it with my TV set without any cable to see videos made in the kindergarden... :-)

And finally I can make apps with QT Developer if I really miss something - amazing...

it would heve been really interesting if N9 being released worldwide. Any numbers from China? Just to see how it performs when it has opportunity to scale. (OK, no real opportunity there due to pricing but anyway...)

Kirill Zelenski

yes. fantastic text.
I disagree only with "Nokia was recovering under Elop's leadership first 5 months".
on my opinion these first 5 months Elop was doing nothing to recover Nokia, waiting to issues burning memo. It was the grow planned and produced by OPK, Anssi etc. Elop was not leading that, just forced to stop it ASAP.

still question why Jorma Ollila decided to take him onboard... Ollila is much more responsible for that. Elop is just MS muppet and doing what he have to do and used to do - whole his working life he was selling his companies...


Baron95: Apple suffered incredible pain, almost going out of business, when they ditched the PowerPC processors to switch to Intel.

Please don't spread lies around, Ok? Take a look on chart:;range=my;indicator=volume;charttype=line;crosshair=on;ohlcvalues=0;logscale=on;source=undefined

Steve Jobs returned in 1996 and indeed in 1997 Apple hit the lowest point. But it was NOT because it burned it's platform and tried to do some kind of switch. In fact TILL 1999 APPLE CONTINUED TO SELL IT'S LONG-OBSOLETE MACOS CLASSIC - and market rewarded it: Apple's market cap grew TEN TIMES in this period. Only when Apple was sure they'll survive switch to radically different MacOS X they started the process - and for a long time they supported both platforms. Market was not enthusiastic (AAPL fell more then NASDAQ in that period), but Apple was no longer in danger of dying.

And Intel switch? That happened in 2006. Try to find market reaction. You'll be hard pressed indeed. Because there are none.

Why? Well... take a look on Steve's announcement:

See the difference? "We are the best, we will continue to be the best tomorrow, but to be number one the day after we need this switch. We already did that once, we know what we are doing, we are not abandoning you. Oh, and I, personally, already did that switch already - and you can not even see that on first glance".

Nothing like Elop's panic with nothing to show and with decision to abandon everything right away when replacement is not even on horizon.

Oh and don't forget that both transitions ("from MacOS Classic to MacOS X" and "from PowerPC to Intel") kept support for the valuable ecosystem: MacOS X supported MacOS Classic applications and MacOS Intel supported PowerPC applications (and believe me, it's about as hard to do as to support Qt applications on WP7).

If Elop wanted to save Nokia then he would have put an ultimatum to Microsoft: new OS must run old Symbian applications. There are nothing impossible in this demand, if Microsoft refused then for Android Nokia can even do the work itself. And note that for a long time Symbian actually had MORE applications then WP7. If we are talking battle of the ecosystems then why drop this advantage before replacement is ready?

Instead Nokia broke everything and went with totally incompatible platform with not transition path. Apple did that, too - with Mac. And they lost leadership in a PC market as a result. Steve was much younger back then, he never repeated this error after that. But looks like Elop need this lesson taught to him personally. To bad Nokia must suffer through it, too.



I generally agree with you but I think calling Elop the second coming of Steve Jobs is going a bit too far. Not that I disagree with you entirely - I don't think Nokia would eventually gone the way of RIM had they stuck to their original course. Perhaps going solely with Microsoft was the right choice - I don't know. I am willing to give Elop the benefit of the doubt here.

However, what is unforgivable is how he communicated his new strategy to the rest of his company and the world. I'm sorry, but no CEO should say "we're moving over to a new platform that is completely incompatible with our current ones and, by the way, our current platforms suck!" That would be extremely unwise even if Nokia had Windows Phone devices ready to ship at the time of the announcement. Making such an announcement when the new platform is 9-12 months away is grounds for ousting the CEO and the board that authorized this hare-brained scheme.

I disagree with Tomi's contention that MeeGo was such a wonderful platform that could have pulled Nokia's fat out of the fire find it hard to disagree with his view that the unnecessarily premature and overly-dramatic announcement caused Nokia no end of trouble. Given that you have made the Apple comparison, why don't we look at how Apple handles a product announcement. Nobody talks about new products until they are ready to ship. We know now that Apple planned the move to Intel processors for years. However, we never got an announcement to the effect of "we're very unhappy with the PowerPC platform and we'll be switching to Intel a year down the line." Apple did not say a word until all pieces for the transition were in place.

There were many ways in which Nokia could have spun the agreement with Microsoft. One obvious way would have been to say that they were partnering with Microsoft exclusively in the American market and, once some degree of success had been achieved, they could have talked about dumping their other platforms.

Would Nokia's smartphone sales have tanked regardless of what Elop did? I can't say for sure but if what is happening with RIM is any guide, chances are that with a more prudent announcement of the Microsoft partnership and no Burning Platform memo, chances are that Nokia's market share and profit would have slowly declined - giving the company more than enough time to fully transition over to the Microsoft platform.


Sander van der Wal

As a developer I can clearly relate to the sentiment that an investment into Qt would have been a disaster after the adoption of WinMob. I was this close to investing in Qt, as Nokia appeared to have finally got ts act together after Green killed the two stupid UI's and unified them. Everything else is other people's money, though my pension fund is likely to have some Nokia stock.

Anyway, it does show that alternative actions, such as not announcing the windows deal until devices were ready in volume an then murdering Qt and Symbian and MeeGo would have had a catastrofic effect on Nokia too. Now it's the owners of Nokia taking the pain, as it should be. That s after all the risk assciated with owning a business.

Afaiac, Elop had little choice, and they made two mistakes.

1, the effect on the channel was completely misunderstood. Everybody thought it was consumers that would not buy Symbian devices. It was the channel instead, which nobody had predicted.

2, they should have insisted on having Qt on Windows mobile too, for a year or five. Then developers would have been able to make the transition, an microsoft would have saved face.


I've got to agree with Baron95 that one of the points of the burning platform memo was that the jump was going to be painful and risky. There's still a good change it may fail, but I do think the alternative would be worse; a slow decline to irrelevancy.

No amount of Symbian sales numbers can change what I saw happening in late 2010/11; my N8 was clearly not competitive with iOs, Android, or even WP7 when it came to day to day productivity. Sure it had great specs and some clever features like "USB on the go", but when it came to email,texting,social networking and other essential uses it was slow, cumbersome and unstable to use in comparison to the others. As far as app backwards compatibility that was hardly an issue in moving to any of the the other platforms as there were very few unique Symbian apps to even worry about.

The N9 is a beautiful phone, but's it's too late in the game to compete alone against the Apple and Google juggernauts (Intel's a weak partner). If Nokia had stayed this route, I think they would have become the Volvo/Saab of smartphones; wonderful products with a fiercely loyal but limited customer base.


Hi Tomi,

Great article, as always.

I just wanna add something here: Elop were right on a price things*.... That's if the phone is great, people will be happy to pay a lot of $$$*, that's why he launched the Nokia Lumia 800 today in Indonesia with US$ 200 without contract. Because he know NO ONE will buy it at US$ 500.

*Actually, nokia know this very well, the nokia communicator used to be priced around US$ 1200-1500 in Indonesia, and no one care about the price.


@Baron95: You completely misunderstand the technology of Apple's transitions. I question your motives when you accuse Khim of being unhinged. With your direct contradiction of basic facts (Symbian sales increasing, ASP increasing, profits increasing, which you say "never ever" would happen), I think maybe you're the one who's unhinged.

Every transition that Apple has made to Macs, they kept selling the old model, and they maintained backwards compatibility with the apps for a while. Indeed, after their first major transition, from Motorola 68k CPUs to IBM PowerPC CPUs in 1994, you could continue to run 68k programs until the Intel transition in 2006. In the past few revisions, they haven't maintained compatibility as well, but you can generally run current programs on new Macs.

In every transition, the new Macs were positioned as being like the old Macs, but faster and prettier. Furthermore, Apple briefed their partners before every transition, so it was never a surprise. Therefore, the transitions did no noticeable harm to Apple's market share or profits.

Now, contrast Nokia. They continue selling Symbian phones, but the phones are a dead end. There's no compatibility, no likeness at all between the Symbian phone and the Windows Phone. An investment in Symbian is wasted, because you have to start all over with Windows Phone. And Nokia has to start all over with Windows Phone, which is why they have such a precipitous drop in market share.

For that matter, Microsoft had to start over with Windows Phone. That's why Windows Phone never beats even Windows Mobile for market share.

I don't know about the rest of the world, but I personally wanted a Maemo/Meego phone. I've wanted one since 2008. And I was considering settling for a Symbian phone, because of Qt, when the platform was set on fire. Now I will no longer consider buying a Nokia phone. I'm just an anecdote, but enough people like me are an interesting statistic.

When the Meego project was announced, I was apprehensive, because I was worried about bureaucratic interference. Nokia was developing Maemo just fine by itself. It turns out that I was right to worry.


@Baron95 Now I'm sure you're unhinged. $250M/quarter? A pittance for a company like Microsoft, that makes like $20890M/quarter. That's barely more than 1% of their revenue.

It should also be trivial for a company like Nokia, that still makes like $13000M/quarter. That's like 2% of their revenue.

But when that revenue comes with like $1200M/quarter operating losses and billions in lost opportunities, that's when the $250M/quarter is just to laugh.

I am aware that Qt on Windows Phone is a long shot. I would not expect it to happen, especially with what I know technically about apps on Windows Phone. But, speaking of concessions, many people agree that Microsoft needed Nokia more than Nokia needed Microsoft back then. Nokia could have negotiated more out of Microsoft than just maps.

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