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« Paging Truth Police: One Last Time - the Reality of Nokia when CEO Elop Took Charge as CEO, and What Was Not Broken | Main | Digital Jamboree Continues: Now Apple Q1 - iPhone sells 35M Units, drops to 22% Market Share (Corrected) »

April 24, 2012



The investors who installed Elop are clearly pro-Microsoft and obviously have a greater stake in MS than in Nokia. If Nokia fails, MS can still benefit (probably more than in any way that Nokia can succeed at this point). I don't think that a controlling interest in Nokia wants to see it succeed at MS's expense... so their certain death is just fine.

That's not fair to the other Nokia shareholders, but is it illegal? If Nokia investors want to sue or fire Elop or turn Nokia around, I don't think that it's possible to do this by convincing the majority of Nokia investors, who are on MS's side. Is it really a case of "People don't know this yet" or is it "They know. They don't care."?

Antoine RJ Wright

Tomi, interesting post. Got to admit that I almost let this one lie until I saw the image and had a Monty Python - Holy Grail reference go in mind - only to read you do just that. Funny stuff.

GIven all that's happened with Nokia (and RIM), one can argue that there is no way back to the former - in Nokia's case, it could very well be that they would no longer be Nokia in telecoms after too many more years. As with the rest of their history though, these motions have happened, and the company has done something else, just a bit ahead of wherever the regionsl or global market was heading.

Your analysis seems to not mention this part of things. What does the road of bravery to Sir Robin look like (if you remember the scene, he didn't take either direction noted, but went another route). What therefore for Nokia? Could they, as some have supposed, become something like Finland's IBM - leading the charnge in logistical, nanotech, and network intelligence (all of which are their small areas of work right now), with mobile devices hanging on until a Lenovo (MS, Huawei, etc) comes along to snap that up?

Or, could they have something else in the cards? And this pruning of mobile while faster than they would like, was an inevitible end because of the seeds planted before OPK?

In either respect, its one part sad, and another part interesting. Worth watching for sure.

Nice thoughts as usual; no go check your email (you got at least one from me, lol)

Marc Aurel

Tomi, it's not "von Paulus", just "Paulus". General Friedrich Paulus was a son of a school teacher with no aristocratic roots. As for the rest of your blog; you have written all this before, so I was a little disappointed you just reiterated your old points without new facts, estimates or analysis.


From what I've read, the keyboard of the N950 is not well integrated into Harmattan software. The keyboard form factor was a fork not taken with further development of Harmattan toward launch of the slab-style N9. The N950 is still too unfinished to be a consumer product. Better to release and further develop the N9 world wide and work on further improving the software for N9. Especially, devote some resources to the N9 and its software in China, where the return on investment could be immediate.

Short of firing Elop and calling for a total strategic review of smart devices, what could the Board be reasonably asked to do now? Release N9 worldwide, promise a coming higher spec N10, and promise continued development of the software past 1.3 -- as a strategic reserve against market failure of Nokia's Windows devices. If Windows devices come up a clear failure after Q1 2013, then put more resources behind getting Meego on other form factors and cheaper devices. It seems Harmattan and Meego are very flexible and could work on newer and on cheaper hardware without too much more work, so it's just a matter of priorities and willingness to spend and rebuild teams.

Problem: How to isolate continued N9/N10/Meego software development from Elop's baleful influence?



I was wondering if CDMA could be considered on certain road to death as american operator are drooping CDMA and go to LTE instead. :)


Elop already killed Meego. N9 is not pure Meego. It is kind of ex-Meego-Maemo hybrid. Most of the developers are laid down. It seems impossible to continue with Meego-Maemo hybrid now when there is Tizen.

N9 /N950 would not sell big numbers, because the infrastructure is ruined. No more Meego, but Samsung has ex-Meego Tizen

Game over!


Dunno if this has been brought up before (I'd assume it has), but it occurs to me that Elop's actions so far have been basically to make real what has been generally supposed about Nokia's status in the world all this time. Which makes me wonder if this isn't ultimately going to end up being a modern-day worldwide implementation of the old "Streetcar Conspiracy" w/r/t public transport here in the US. (

It may not be a deliberate setup like that was alleged to be, but it certainly looks like it's got a good chance of having a similar effect.


It will be almost impossible for Nokia to do anything involving significant engineering - I would bet upwards of 75% of their former software engineers have moved on to other things now. Also the best engineers do not usually hang about when the axe is swinging since they find new jobs easily. You can pretty much guarantee that almost all of those who could have performed miracles on systems they know well are now performing miracles for some other company.

Best of luck Nokia, you will need it no matter where you go from here.



Agree with you.
Nokia don't have any chance to stand with Symbian/Meego/QT anymore as Elop done his objective way too well.

But I think nokia can still rebound using Android and skin it with Meego UI/UX.


Today another American fund disclosed to own over 5% of Nokia
Now just 3 American funds own over 15% of Nokia
Elop CEO chair is more safe then ever
Microsft will artificially keep alive Nokia, hoping to gain further momentum for the WP, sucking more knowhow from Nokia engineers
Only hope for Nokia is to been acquired by Huawei ASAP

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi M, Antoine, Marc, Eurofan, Jaska, Viqsi, observer and cygnus

M - very good point that I do not make often enough, but if you were here on the blog or followed my Twitter feed, the first Twitter comment, and the first blog I wrote about the Elop announcement of Microsoft as the new OS and partner, was not about Nokia, it was 'wow this is good for Microsoft'. So right from the start, I felt exactly like you, no matter how poorly Nokia messes this up along the way, it is all pure good outcome for Microsoft, which would have been dead in mobile without Nokia as nobody else was willing to dance with them anymore.

As to how legal it all is, I feel Elop's actions have numerous clear violations of his fiduciary duty. Both the New York stock exchange and that of Helsinki have in their rules, that companies that trade there, the CEO must be above even the appearance of any conflict of interest. Elop clearly has crossed that line many times while at Nokia.

ARJ - haha, thanks, happy you liked the Python too. I thought of it immediately and wanted to post a screen shot of Holy Grail and Sir Robin for my readers, but I am very sensitive about copyrighted property, and felt it best to create that mock-up of the road sign instead haha.. But still now, 8 hours later, my mind is still playing the Sir Robin song, you know 'Sir Robin ran away. Bravely ran away-way...'

As to what road to take. First, it is possible for Nokia to abandon the mobile phone handset industry and go do something else, green energy or whatever. I think that would be grand stupidity. Smartphones today, are called the best engine for profits by several of the most profitable or most successful companies of recent history from Apple, to Samsung, to Google, to Sony, Nokia is the 'incumbent' and holds every advantage to rule this industry - starting with the world's best carrier relationships (before Elop came to mess it up and tried some Microsoft style Evil Empire'ing on their asses haha).

As to how, I wrote the separate (very long, 15K word) essay on how to fix Nokia, ie the path to victory. It has following parts. Fire Elop (obviously, carriers would love that). Put Ollila temporarily in charge (investors would love that). Inform the world in public that Nokia will seek to hire its next CEO from the carrier community (carriers will love that). Immediately rush N9 and N950 into mass production, sold in every country. Nokia would make some money out of that but its not a mass market solution. Apologize for Lumia as not up to Nokia usual standards (press and carriers will appreciate the honesty) issue replacement coupons that Lumia owners can go to alternate Nokia phones (customers will appreciate that). Re-new full commitment to path of Symbian-MeeGo-Qt-Ovi-Meltemi (developers will like that). Re-purpose Symbian as entry level low-cost OS especially for 100 dollar low-cost smartphones. Sell the Lumia unit to Microsoft and get rid of it.. Thats what I'd do. Nokia would return to (slight) profits by end of Q2 if Ollila did that tomorrow Wednesday. Nokia share price would climb at least 10% in the interim to the shareholders' meeting and Q2 results.

Marc - haha, thanks. Fixed. And nothing new? Read it again. New for example the forecasts of Nokia market share to end of year.. Don't you think that is worthy of a new blog just by that?

Eurofan - I hear you and honestly, I don't know. I hear from the few friends who have gotten their hands on an N950 that they absolutely love it. But if its not fully ready for sales, then at least commit to it in public, and rush it to market, say May or June - BEFORE the iPhone 5 is out haha.

As to any solution short of firing Elop - it won't work. Like you said, the Board can't run the company fixing Elop errors every day. Making a few decisions against his would only undermine him and cause an internal struggle. No. The China sales is the final straw (Colin Giles departure) - the carriers have clearly said they will not tolerate Elop. I suggested he was playing with fire last autumn when he threatened carriers with the Lumia launch. He has no idea how powerful the carriers are, and how its not the same as with Microsoft who can be the bully and totally dictate to the Microsoft VARs (Value-Added Resellers). Yes, you are right, the solution will fail if Elop is allowed to stay. He has to go.

cygnus - haha, CDMA is on a gradual road to oblivion perhaps, but not a road to ruin yet. There are years, decades of more reliable good profitable business left in CDMA, handsets, consumers, subscribers, networks... But it has no chance of 'winning' haha.

Jaska - ok, I am not the programmer. If its a MeeGo/Maemo hybrid in N9, then yes, lets use that for the future. I don't care exactly what it is, the public perception is that it 'is' MeeGo and I think all consumer reviews of N9 call it MeeGo... perception and reality and all that haha..

As to N9 and N950 not selling in big numbers? N9 alone sold 1.75 million in Q4, without ANY CEO or HQ marketing support. It succeeded inspite of Nokia. If Elop gave N9 and N950 only one quarter of the budget and his time as he did for Lumia (and released them in major markets), N9 and N950 would sell easily 4 million and at that level, Nokia smartphones unit would revert back to profits. Easily. Jaska, read the reviews of the N9 by the tech press in the countries it has been released, they are incredibly positive.

Viqsi - haha, I wasn't aware of the GM Streetcar conspiracy to buy streetcar companies and then make them end the streetcar business and switch to busses. Pretty clever haha.. Yeah, I don't know if on the handset side it makes any sense applying to Nokia, but on the software side, definitely every action here is consistent with a possible Microsoft consipracy to kill off rival software platforms from MeeGo to Symbian to the Qt developer tools environment.

observer - haha, you are quite correct. Most of those engineers are gone. Nokia definitely cannot (easily, quickly) return to the previous strong standing it had 15 months ago. But the current road is a certain road to ruin. This path leads to certain death. Even if Nokia were to have to 'suffer' in attempting to manage its empire with far less engineers to support it, any other path is less certain death than the current one. I would argue, that the path I suggest - Symbian for Emerging World and low-cost smartphones until Meltemi is ready, and MeeGo for flagships and mid-priced smartphones - is better. But it won't be easy, definitely.

cygnus - on Android path - would be even more costly and time-consuming ie Nokia total collapse to continue till mid or late 2013. I don't think even if they fired Elop now, but tried to move to Android, Nokia could survive. But they could do MeeGo as a close cousin of Android and try to gain that kind of kinship benefits.

Thank you all for writing

Tomi Ahonen :-)



I moved on from my Symbian devices to Android, and I now work with Android every day. It is a nice system to develop on, mostly due to the Linux base, but I am afraid that as a rough finger in the air it would probably take a good 6 months to a year to develop a UI skin with enough eye candy and features for today's markets regardless of the size of the team. In my estimate, unless there was a secret skunkworks team which have continued Nokia-izing Android since 2011 it is already too late. Perhaps Nokia could make a 'Google-Experience' Android handset in the N9/L900 case and it would sell like hot cakes.

When the WP7 news came out, I was sceptical. Well at first I was incredulous but eventually only sceptical. After all, if I want a locked-down, 60fps phone I can already have an iPhone. I didn't see what it was that the Nokia BoD and upper management had seen, but I hoped that there was something which had WOWed them so much and the rest of us would see it given time. Perhaps when WP8 lands and (if) it comes with a fully integrated PC-tablet-game console-phone ecosystem, there will be something sufficiently new to sell, but it feels like we have been waiting for 'it' now since Feb 2011.

Unlike Tomi, I don't think that there is any credible plan B from where we are today. I don't see how Nokia can resurrect any of their prior platforms, and I'm sure if it were possible to have a Meltemi device in the market today it would be here. In any case, I'm beginning to think that the low-end has already been lost to chinese Android phones and Meltemi will be 12-24 months too late. No doubt Meltemi devices will have much better performance than an equivalently priced Android handset but they will have no ecosystem and I don't see why buyers of budget smartphones should expect less app service than anyone else. In any case, MediaTek should have some much better chipsets out reasonably soon and I feel any non-Android devices at the low end are likely to be dead in the water.

From here, WP has to become a big success before the end of this year or Nokia is toast. As you say, Elop has fulfilled his objective very well.



The huge problem I see with Symbian as a temporary fix is that inside Accenture, the Symbian devs were told a few months ago to find alternative jobs in the company or go. In my company we have hired tons of very experienced guys, and this is the story I hear.

On top of that, Nokias HW platform efforts were mostly wound down ages ago and there are only rapuyama platforms with Symbian drivers. I don't know if you're aware, but those chips will not be manufactured for much longer - they're already years past the original end date for that platform.

It looks seriously bleak from where I sit :(


W8, WP8 and W8RT will flop in the marketplace when they are introduced. As a scrim placed in front of W7 functionality, W8 Metro/Live Tiles is a distraction on desktops, most IT writers who have reviewed W8 beta agree. IT buyers won't fall for it. WP7.5 is clearly now a market flop everywhere, despite the 270 bogus testimonials for the Lumia 900 still viewable at Amazon, a number which has hardly changed in two weeks. I suppose the "sold out" story at AT&T stores is better than reports of no customers for Lummia, but if there really were customers for Lummia, Lummia 900 would not have dropped already to #4 on the Amazon best seller list for phones with contracts, where is has been now for three days, and where it is available for immediate shipment. Lummia sales for Q2 are going to be dismal.

W8RT will come to market on some dozens of Asian manufacturers tablets, from what I've read, but Nokia branded Chinese made tablets will achieve distinction? As far as W8RT tablets, themselves, obviously there is no pent up consumer demand for this product. Early sales will have to come from the enterprise, if they come at all, and the X-Box branded tablet gaming market. Skype will be dumbed down to suit operator demands and iOS and Android will be one iteration better than they are now. Unfortunately, the Nokia Board won't believe W8/WP8/W8RT is a bust until they see it in retrospect in Q2 2013.

The only software Nokia has access to capable of making a profit in devices is Harmattan.



I agree with what observer said....
I don't think Symbian can save nokia anymore.
I search the web about ARM CPU price and found out that even the CPU for original Samsung Galaxy S that were on the same level as the one in Apple iphone 3GS, Lumia 800, Nokia N9 were only cost around US$ 8 - US$ 12.
And the one that Symbian use is a generation behind that CPU.
So Symbian problem were it can't compete in US$ 100 market anymore.

In my analogy....
Symbian is like a great hero,
but somehow there were a parasite/cancer living inside symbian for more than 1 year, and costing symbian an arm and a leg and also symbian's kidney.
Now, the ex-hero can barely walk, and when symbian want to raise his sword, he will sneeze.

So, I think if elop got kicked in the butt, nokia need to buy some company with Android knowledge to speed up their development in android. Perhaps skin the android with Meego UI/UX. or perhaps nokia should buy the Motorola handphone division from Google. :)

Henning Heinz

It seems that you are trying to write Elop away from being Nokia CEO. I doubt this will work.
Firing Elop would have been an option 9 months ago. Now Elop successfully implemented his "No Plan B" strategy.
Either this works or Nokia will fall. But I would not underestimate Microsoft in this game. In no way they want to see Nokia fail and they are in a position that they can sack billions in this sinking ship. At the end Nokia will be another company. One that probably stops innovating but just sells some Windows Phones.
I know that you don't like Stephen Elop but to me he hasn't done anything that was not to be expected. Pushing Windows Phone, abandoning Symbian and Maemo, firing people and closing facilities, products, brands and services. Wasn't this to be expected?
I can hardly believe that the people who hired Elop expected something different. This was his plan up from the beginning and this is what he has been hired for. He wasn't even smart enough to hide his strategy but wrote the famous burning platform memo.
Next he is probably going to pull the trigger on NSN.


I agree Elop should be fired, and he will leave for sure.
But likely he will get a chance with Nokia Windows 8 devices. That's at least one more year. That is Microsoft's last chance, too, so they will help Nokia sail through this year. In return, Ballmer won't accept any plan B of Nokia and Elop is there to ensure this. M$ has enough cash to burn on this.

I don't think WP devices are as bad as their reputation is. I don't know why they don't sell better, it may have to do with the Microsoft name and its associations. They are certainly not mobile experts (yeah, Apple wasn't either). But the mistakes of Elop show that whoever were the masterminds behind the new strategy, they were caught surprised by the responses in the mobile industry. Epic failure there, outsiders shaping the strategy. It was a coup d'etat for sure.

I agree MeeGo/Qt should have been kept as plan B, but it's evident that Elop's strategy shift was for benefiting Microsoft first, only then Nokia (eventually). But Elop may now be forced to reconsider this. Even though the key developers are gone, there are many still there, and some available around in outsourcing companies, so it would be still possible to create devices on a successor platform based on Maemo/MeeGo/Meltemi/whatever. The Qt/QML ecosystem gives nice forward path to HTML5 too, so it may also be Tizen-compatible. With the newest release, Qt rocks. Actually this would be the fastest and cheapest plan B for Nokia, requiring no more than around 1000 engineers, plus support from the board and executive management. The point would be to maintain an own platform in order to leverage Nokia's innovations (e.g. PureView and a number of others).

I don't see Android as being any faster or cheaper path forward, and it's not exactly easy either. Ask the device makers how many developers are they using for making Android phones... I wouldn't be surprised if this would be in the order of thousands.

All in all, I agree with Tomi, except that the Windows strategy may still work out. But it's the last chance. And having no plan B for Nokia is the road to certain death indeed.

Sander van der Wal

If a company is making the lion share of all profits in a market, that company is the biggest.

About going back to Symbian/MeeGo/Qt, I do not see how it will make developers happy, unless these devices are going to sell. Which is still very much in question.

Regarding the size of Ovi sales, compared to Apple App Store sales, where are the actual figures which prove that developers make more money in the entiere Ovi ecosystem than in Apple's ecosystem?


It might be a bit late for Nokia. Maybe before WinPho, Nokia wasn't really on a burning platform but now it really feels like Nokia is on a burning platform.

What Nokia should have done is to just concentrate on one or a few phones, high, medium and low end and make those phones better. There is no need for twenty of each category. Nokia could have just straight-away gone for Meego/Qt and forget about anything else.

If you do things right, you only need to do them once.


@Eurofan, spot on! Strengthen N9 sales as an insurance/Plan B, and then make it Plan A when (not if) WP completely fails. Or even diversify more with Android (additionally!).

I can only repeat what I said before - while Nokia has a good Ovi store, they should also move towards making their programming environment more compatible with Android/iOS, so that the "new" developers can port games and apps easily.

@observer, it would probably take time. But nevertheless, Android could be a viable road for Nokia, if they can differentiate with a custom skin. Maybe start with a "Google Experience" device, which is good for both companies, and then release a modified Android some time later. I have to say though, that it may not be in the best interest of Nokia to go "full Android", much as it pains me to say that ;-) They should follow Samsung strategy - token effort in WP, put strong resources in Android, and put resources in Meego including development of ecosystem.

I hope you all realize that if Nokia even reduces efforts on WP, that OS will almost definitely fail. All other handset manufacturers, at this point, basically only put in token efforts. And for those saying that "WP8 will fix it"... 1) None of the previous versions has, why this one and 2) Neither Google nor Apple are standing still.

Also, Nokia will probably not return to its "former glory" for some time to come, even if they change course (my prediction is that CEO will be fired soon, when shares drop below $3 in US). But, at least they can return to profit in foreseeable future, and maybe re-capture a small part of the smartphone market.

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