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July 06, 2012



Thanks Tomi for the epic blog writing. It must have been like a marathon to write it! It is really impossible not to let your rhetoric bring a smile on a readers face! Thanks again!


Thanks Tomi for the history lessons, strategic analysis, sales management lessons and exemplifying an ethos of critical thinking and freedom of expression.

Thanks to the designers and implementors of these devices:

- Blackberry QWERTY devices since 2-way pagers
- Motorola Startac, Palm Pilot
- Nokia N900 Maemo Linux QWERTY, N8 Symbian, N9 Meego Linux
- Samsung Galaxy Y DUOS QWERTY (BB clone Android dual-SIM with VPN)
- Samsung Galaxy Note (iPad / iPhone fusion clone)

Best of luck to #Jolla in their valiant pursuit of human freedom-of-augmentation (a.k.a. mobile-optimized, open Linux smartphone / mobile computer).

One day, historians will record "management crimes against humanity", i.e. unnecessary destruction of human creative output and time-limited opportunity. This article will be an exhibit.

Sander van der Wal

For one moment I thought that Apple led by Jobs was playing the role of the Finnish Army, that Nokia was the Russian Army and Elop was playing Chuikov, trying to save what was to be saved from the iPhone counterattack, after Nokia invaded Apple's mobile computer and MP3 territory with their N-Series, what computers have become, Nokia being the number one MP3 manufacturer in the world, and all that.

But it was not so.

Interesting news about the MeeGo ressurection, though.


Very interesting reading.

However, I do not really believe that Elop is the world's worst CEO. According to me Nokia has the world's worst board. Steven Elop is a Trojan and the goal has always been to break down Nokia which succeeded very well.

The reason why Nokia became a target was that two monster companies banded together to make MeeGo project fly.

You can read about here to understand what a threat this was against Microsoft: Understanding MeeGo -

Consider that giants like Nokia and Intel collaborated to come ashore with this solution, if they would have succeeded it would have risked to destroy Microsoft's business model.


Thanks for relating the Winter War. I had already read about it but nothing like this one. That said I'm afraid Greeks have already fought a bigger opponent and won a decisive victory in the battle of Marathon (modern estimates consider 10000 vs 100000 as plausible, but even at 10000 vs 50000 it's just crazy).

As for Nokia... I remember getting my first (low end) Android device shortly after Elop's announcement. Otherwise it was going to be a Nokia with Symbian (I wanted a device with a free software OS). Ironically, each time Elop tries to clear the way for Windows Phone by killing Symbian, MeeGO, Meltemi and whatnot, it benefits Android. Great job from Elop, indeed.

The one thing I don't get is how Nokia accepted to be borged in such a way. I don't know how the high level corporate stuff works, but Nokia apparently even gave up the right to touch Android. It's as if Microsoft had bought Nokia, except that it didn't. How the shareholders, the board, and even the Finnish state let this pass? How is that possible? (Nokia shareholders do not seem to be the same than Microsoft's). If someone has an explanation...


Tomi, I enjoyed very much this post! Both your reflections on Sun Tzu's teachings applied to Elop and your vivid recount of the Suomussalmi battle, which I did not know about. I see you are a big lover of military history, so you may also want to read about the battles of Las Navas de Tolosa in medieval Spain, a cornerstone in the Spanish Reconquista, and the Battle of Cartagena de Indias (Colombia) in which the formidable Spanish Admiral Blas de Lezo with less than 4'000 men defeated an English fleet almost 30'000 strong.

Nok down

Elop is not insane.
Elop is not delusional.

Elop is a chess player...

He's been very methodically unraveling Nokia...while suffocating Symbian, Meego and Qt in a death embrace.

His ( and Microsoft) ultimate checkmate is the killing of Qt as a viable development platform.

Qt is the ultimate threat to MicroSoft's existence...
Qt eliminates dependence on MS Visual Studio which feeds apps for MS WinXX
Qt allows true develop once deploy to multiple OS platforms.

Nokia stock price will stagnate at US$ 1....Nokia will not be allowed to die but kept in perpetual coma under Microsoft life support systems.

That is the endgame Elop pursues.

Nok down

So you students of Sun Tzu need to understand your enemy much better and evaluate them properly for the deliberate criminal execution to make Nokia comatose.

Nok down

Place your bets.

Elop will divest everything else, but he will not divest Symbian, Meego or Qt.

Elop will simply keep those properties and not allow anyone else (with decent market muscle) to develop them further.


Its pity the n9 design belongs to nokia now. Arghh.. the n950 design belongs to nokia too.. double arghhh!!!

Jolla need to start from scratch

1. A award winning designed phone.
2. New app store
3. Nurture new developer or courting existing one to developed apps
4. Cultivate and nurture consumers for meego os

Jolla need to get ready for patent war too. The evil giant microkia are ready to bounce on it instantly. The momemt jolla release the os and phone.

Its a rocky road ahead..

Jouko Ahvenainen

Thanks Tomi, interesting historical review. I think Raatteentie is a good example, how Finns do well in tough situations. I think another topic for you would be to compare the fall of Nokia to the summer 1944 and Soviet troops massive counter-attack. And to be honest Finns were not well prepared, because they had had a strong position and didn't believe the Soviet Union would have now such such a massive force. And when the situation had been stable, there started to be typical internal politics, more focus on personal position etc things in the Finnish army. And the Soviet army started in June 1944, Finns were in panic and escaped. But a couple of weeks later a miracle happened, and the Finnish army was able to stop the Soviet in some really fierce battles like Tali-Ihantala ( I think the background and situation is now little bit like the summer 1944, and something similar is also needed to save the situation.



> Ironically, each time Elop tries to ... it benefits Android.

Indeed. Tomi wrote about that. Samsung just needs to watch Elop executing something and pick the fruits from the street where Elop let them off.

> The one thing I don't get is how Nokia accepted to be borged in such a way

My guess is that a group of investors who owned Microsoft and Nokia shares tried to make money by bundling both.
They where thinking that if you bundle the worlds largest Software company with the worlds largest mobile company the result must beat everything out there.
They then somehow where able to influence the Nokia board to make that happen.

> as if Microsoft had bought Nokia, except that it didn't.

I think Elop and his team just are bad in negotiations too.
I have no doubt he did lead the.negotiations and handled tue conditions himself and had little trust and believe in others to help him there. It must have been a great feeling to talk with your ex-boss not as soldier following his general but as partner. Ballmer was just better prepared.


> Jolla need to get ready for patent war too.

Good point. I think too that may happen. Post-Nokia, as pure patent shop, will be a nice vehicle to attack Jolla and Android. Lets wait and look what google will do.


@Spawn: Thanks for your reply. Reflecting a bit, I don't think Elop is bad in negotiations. In fact, he may well be devastatingly good (and yes, he probably handled everything himself). Let's look at this the other way around:

Ratner and Osborne Symbian at the same time with the burning platforms memo: catastrophic for Nokia's interests, but vital for Microsoft because otherwise nobody would have taken Windows Phone as anything else than dead. Ballmer's seat was (or still is) at risk here. We now know what happened, Tomi's graphics are crystal clear. Like Horace Dediu said, someone made sure the platform would keep burning.

Telling you're not going to sell MeeGo even if it succeeds: again, bad for Nokia but good for Microsoft by eliminating a worthy competitor (and Qt at the same time, another worthy competitor).

Killing Meltemi two months prior to launch: same here.

Selling Nokia asset like mobile money, ads and so on: had you wanted to make Nokia unable to survive by itself and dependent on a "key partner", that's exactly what you'd do.

Unlike all other major players who don't have their OS absolutely refusing to touch Android and thus giving up your independence: now Nokia can't even tell Microsoft to buy them or else. Devastating for Nokia as even the carriers tell bluntly that with Android Nokia would sell more, but nice for Microsoft.

The list goes on and on. Elop may not be familiar with the mobile industry and may have underestimated how fast Nokia is falling. He may even have made very bad decisions by poisoning their relations with the carriers. But other than that, his decisions do not seem delusional at all (Tomi needs to remember that psychopaths are *not* delusional :P). His decisions seem, on the contrary, to follow a logical pattern with good preparation. But for this, you need to assume that your following sentence is false: "It must have been a great feeling to talk with your ex-boss not as soldier following his general but as partner." "Ex"?

Ergo the real problem is the board IMHO. No wonder why Gassée says they need to be fired. They probably know they messed up so very much that they can't budge. So, all in all, it's as in Battlestar Galactica... "The cylons have a plan". Sad to see Nokia fall like this.

Sander van der Wal

Regarding the ecosystem,

1) are we talking about the same Nokia that was hosting cracked Symbian software on their file sharing website in 2005-2007 or so, and who refused to remove said software? I am sure Sun Tze has something to say about that too, about treating your allies badly when you do not need them and only figuring out you need them long after they allied themselves with your enemy.

2) do not add potential ecosystems to real ones. Nokia has a Symbian ecosystem, a Qt ecosystem, a Windows Phone ecosystem and a Java ecosystem. Nothing else. The synergies between these ecosystems are not very large, so there is no point in adding them up.

3) who cares about the size of an ecosystem in one county. It is the size of the entiere ecosystem which matters most, as you can reach a world wide customer base.


Here is the first press release from Jolla Ltd:

Seems very promising :)


Really interesting reading, I am studying embedded systems at the University of Turku and started to read your blog recently, it has given me a better perspective about the mobile world, it has been a complement to my technical education.

James G

I agree with the 3rd comment by Jack that MS wanted very badly to kill MeeGo, the Linux cancer. There was a very good reason for this. All Android phones pay MS a royalty. I have a funny feeling that MS would have had a hard time collecting anything from Nokia with their large patent portfolio. Google is lacking enough patents to put up a fight and most Android manufacturers simply pay the fee as part of doing business. If Nokia could get out of payments, and I think they would have fought this battle given the right management, then MS would stand to lose the rest of their royalties.

I also find it interesting that Jean-Louis Gassée said the board consulted him before hiring Elop and he recommended using Android, but the board replied the company would "lose control of their destiny." Well, the deal with MS to use WP sure allowed them to control their destiny didn't it?

RIP Nokia



I once was believing too that how some things, especially related to pilitics, turn out there must be conspirancy. There must be someone working towards the result cause its so cristal clear that this would happen.

But I learned that in lot of cases its not conspirancy. Its dump decisions sometimes parted with "simple minds" that are influenced by the wrong persons, ideas, experiences.

I think that is the case here with the board, with Elop.

Very likely Microsoft spined that, somehow influenced the decision-making processes in Nokias management crew and made certain things happen in Nokia that where of Microsofts best interests.

I do not think Elop got money from Microsoft to work for them. I think Elop is just totally incompetent, simple minded and yet thinks of himself as "General" and actively refuses anything or anyone that goes against his (probably by some clever spin-doctors introduced) opinions.

Do not believe that really dumb people easy to influence would not make it into suvh a top position. They just need the proper support. Think of George Bush.


"I have no doubt it would have becoke a huge success-story."

@Spawn: This is religion.

Tomi's analysis IN THIS BLOG says that an "other" platform without the apps people's friends are using will meet with rejection at retail because of returns. (The sales guy doesn't want the return when buyers figure out that it doesn't have WhatsApp and Dropbox and 500 other must have apps.)

I agree with him. It turned out that Windows didn't work out, but the attraction was that Microsoft would twist enough arms to get over this basic hurdle. (They did, but WP7 wasn't enough.)

If you want to address this argument, do it directly. Don't explain a publication they sell at the kiosk downstairs. Don't try to convince me that it took Nokia 10 years to ship a Linux based phone didn't matter (management was the problem).

Instead explain why---in 2011 or, now, in late 2012---a platform with no apparent traction among consumers and developers would suddenly take off, when it costs a lot and doesn't even support what are now the basics no phone above 100€ is allowed to avoid.

Leading Analyst

About San Diego and Nokia's RnD work. Symbian's biggest shortcoming is the terrible browser, which they seem to be unable to fix even after years of trying. The browser however has been developed in the US of A. Although not in San Diego, but Boston. Maybe that is not west enough?

Nokia's problem has been just the opposite - spreading all kinds of RnD functions globally. They could have achieved a lot more with a smaller headcount by remaining focused in Finland, and investing on personnel quality. Good youngsters come out of Finnish universities and they are dirt cheap to hire. One of those equals a dozen Chinese, Indians or Yankees.

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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 Helsinki 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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