My Photo

Ordering Information

Tomi on Twitter is @tomiahonen

  • Follow Tomi on Twitter as @tomiahonen
    Follow Tomi's Twitterfloods on all matters mobile, tech and media. Tomi has over 8,000 followers and was rated by Forbes as the most influential writer on mobile related topics

Book Tomi T Ahonen to Speak at Your Event

  • Contact Tomi T Ahonen for Speaking and Consulting Events
    Please write email to tomi (at) tomiahonen (dot) com and indicate "Speaking Event" or "Consulting Work" or "Expert Witness" or whatever type of work you would like to offer. Tomi works regularly on all continents

Tomi on Video including his TED Talk

  • Tomi on Video including his TED Talk
    See Tomi on video from several recent keynote presentations and interviews, including his TED Talk in Hong Kong about Augmented Reality as the 8th Mass Media


Blog powered by Typepad

« Picture Tells it Better - first in series of Nokia Strategy Analysis diagrams, how Nokia smartphone sales collapsed | Main | The Seven Biggest Collapses in Mobile Handset or Smartphone History - this is part 3 in the Nokia Disaster analysis series »

January 04, 2013


John Phamlore

The lesson that should be learned from the Nokia debacle but I am afraid is not being learned is that if one wants to be part of the future, one has to pay for creating the future.

Nokia's fate as I have detailed previously was sealed in 2008, well before Elop joined the company. Observe that in 2008 according to:

"In October 2008 Texas Instruments announced that they would stop investing in smartphones’ baseband modems and that they were looking for someone to purchase the wireless department ... For Nokia this meant the end of the TI OMAP path for MeeGo, because the company had decided to buy the smartphone chipsets, that is the application processor and the baseband modem from the same vendor."

Okay, no Texas Instruments, what about ST-Ericsson to supply baseband chipsets? After all, supposedly the Jolla / Sailfish project will use their chips:’s-sailfish-os/

By the way just as I have been saying, everyone is regarding China as the last hope of carving a niche:

Observe the TD-SCDMA capabilities. Only few Western companies are all that optimistic they can hit the jackpot in China, for according to the Wikipedia article:

"On December 20, 2012, Ericsson announced that they will not buy the remaining 50% stake that STMicroelectronics held. The future for the company therefore remains uncertain."

Nokia did not invest in the right wireless future backing WiMAX instead of LTE, a move I have argued was the true breaking point with the telecoms, for WiMAX was incredibly marketed as disintermediating the carriers leaving them as dumb pipes. Nokia could not have possibly picked a more dangerous and politically connected set of enemies than the United States major telecoms. And this at a time when Nokia knew their 15 year cross-licensing agreement with Qualcomm was about to expire.

When every other company trying to stay in the mobile business such as Intel and Nvidia were buying baseband chipset businesses or developing them such as Samsung and Huawei at tremendous cost, Nokia was dumping theirs before Elop came on board. Though an incredible series of blunders, by 2010 Nokia had left itself both without the internal capability to develop their own LTE baseband chipsets and without suitable partners as an alternative to those of their mortal rivals, Qualcomm.

There's a reason Nokia was a burning platform before Elop took over.

John Phamlore

If someone wants to see a scary example of people not learning from history, do a Google search for terms such as Intel, TV, content, partners, Nokia. One finds a never-ending series of stories over the past decade that repeat over and over again, only different. Of course the stories end is never close to what was speculated earlier, such as the latest:

Let me summarize, Intel, without actually working with incumbents, instead proposes direct to consumer solutions that consumers never requested, angering the incumbents to fight Intel's solutions to the death, killing these solutions. We have seen the same story from WiMAX and other Intel-backed mobile technology angering the telecoms to Intel's unwanted solutions angering the content providers. What lunatic company would want to ally with a partner such as Intel who is busy collecting such powerful enemies?

Unfortunately that company was Nokia in the 2000s, repeatedly allying itself with Intel in one harebrained scheme after another, until Nokia made more enemies that it could handle including the major telecoms it needed to survive as a business. And why would Nokia ally itself with Intel, a company whose chips Nokia could not actually use in its mobile devices until possibly now? Because Nokia wanted to back an OS written by a Finn Linus Torvalds, who went to work for an Intel competitor Transmeta.

The crazy thinking in Finland was occurring way before Elop took over at Nokia.



First of all, I live in Asia. South East Asia (SEA) except Singapore, unlike Europe/USA were a lot of lagging behind in the technology adoption.

If you go to regular (90%) government school, or regular (70%) medium-sized business, the situation is like this:

1. Less than 20% of the student have computer at home.
2. Of those who had computer, might share it with their brother/sister/parents.
3. But 90% of that student have handphone.
4. and around 40%-50% have smartphone.

How do they transfer data between friend??? Bluetooth!!!! Infra-red, PC-LESS.

The situation is roughly the same for medium sized business, although they now each have computer at their desk, this guy already experience the freedom of Symbian and can't go back into zune/itunes land. Most of this guy save their company data/presentation/etc IN THEIR PHONE. and android is the natural migration path REGARDLESS is NOT platform compatible. android is more NATURAL MIGRATION PATH compared to iOS & WP....

Furthermore only around 0.1%-0.3% of these people (mid-class) have credit card. (correct me if I'm wrong) I remember reading that Indonesia only have 3 million credit card for 250 million. So iOS with their Credit Card only iTunes membership is hard to swallow.

When you present them with iOS and WP, they might say "wowww", "cooooll", etc. But when they were given android and wp and iOS platform, most of them will prefer android.

I don't know if the European, African, Middle East person also feel this, but this is what happened in SEA.

and btw,
Meego is also cool, and were also considered the natural progression from symbian.
unfortunately, some lunatic kill it, because he afraid that his favourite OS will lose against it.
(PS: I have N9, and already sold it, and now using the Nexus phone).


>> I don't know if the European, African, Middle East person also feel this, but this is what happened in SEA.

I can't speak for all of Europe, of course, but here in Germany a credit card is not really that useful. The most popular cash free payment method here uses a different kind of card, controlled directly by the banks and is (not surprisingly) a lot cheaper for its users. As a result many stores do not even accept credit cards. Essentially, for store-shopping it's a completely redundant item. So the most popular use for credit cards was online shopping where now PayPal is a much more convenient alternative. I haven't used my credit card in over a year, except for booking some hotels online

I don't know how much all this plays into it but it's probably not a coincidence that the iPhone market share is relatively low here.

Nevertheless, Microsoft made a product that looks like it's tailored to the US market, completely forgetting that much of what they are offering may be an obstacle elsewhere. They slavishly copied all the negatives from Apple but then added several more on top of that.

Tomasz R

@John Phamlore - there's a difference between hardware and OS choice. Contemporary proprietary operating systems are used in bad manners by their makers as a tool giving them control over market. Operating systems are technically able to play that role, as they technically control hardware and resource allocation for applications, as well as basic security policies for users. In old days it were administrators on large computers, or users on PCs that controlled operating systems, telling them how to control hardware and applications. Nowadays it looks like the makers of modern proprietary operating systems are control freaks who use these technical capabilities to control the market. For example for Windows Phone 8 Microsoft:

1) Prevents installing applications if it doesn't come from their store.
2) Grants itself a right to reject any application from this store, so in fact it's a right to reject applicationf from running on the platform altogether.
3) Grants itself a right to remotely delete applications from users phones.
4) Prevents any screen resolutions outside of accepted list - 1280x768 max. resolutions allowed.


The general way to avoid being controlled by control-freaks is to use open source operating systems. Thus the idea to use ether open source Tizen, or semi-open Android or having your own operating system is much better than a proprietary OS like Windows.

Hardware on the other side is just a supplier-choice issue. A company may be less profitable if it buys from Quallcom rather than from others, but it won't result in a huge set of restrictions that proprietary operating systems bring.

John Phamlore

It's astonishing the damage that Elop did to Nokia especially considering Elop must have used a time machine to inflict this damage before Elop was hired in September of 2010.

This is where Nokia used to be:

"For years Nokia has been relying on Texas Instruments to produce its custom 2G/2.5G/3G chipsets. Nokia was designing the core chipset and letting Texas Instruments finish the integration and physically produce the chips: Nokia has been mastering the whole hardware IP of its phones, and has not been relying on generic chipsets for the vast majority of its production, with all the margins this implies."

Get that? Nokia used to own the "whole hardware IP of its phones" and had resulting margins to show for it. Then Nokia by betting on the wrong horse of WiMAX proceeded to lose both its reliable fab partners and its wireless modem business. Observe that in July 2010 the geniuses running Nokia, not Elop, sold their wireless modem business to Renesas:

Note that article mentions:

"UK-based Icera has been widely tipped to gain significant market share because its software defined modem technology is very advanced, and many larger contenders do not yet have an LTE modem strategy in place."

Whatever happened to Icera? Oh wait, it was acquired by Nvidia:

The companies that had serious strategies for staying in the mobile business bought or developed instead of sold wireless modem assets, particularly those involving LTE, such as Intel purchasing Infineon, Samsung and Huawei developing their own LTE chipsets, etc.

Nokia before Elop got there had already cashed out of the business. Nokia before Elop got there had no alternative but to offer its unconditional surrender to Qualcomm and accept whatever terms Qualcomm demanded.

Tomasz R

@John Phamlore - Windows Phone 8 hardware requirement explicitly require "Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 dual-core processor". Full capitulation to Quallcom via giving up control of Nokia's products to Microsoft!

I I've stated - using other's proprietary operating systems is the biggest mistake by far, as it makes you loose control and give up deciding power to the proprietary operating system maker. Hardware decisions importance pale in comparison to that. Especially considering that the screen is the most expansive part of BOM :-) Quallcom itself produces very good hardware, so if Nokia capitulated to it having a good operating system the resulting cooperation might produce great results.

And btw. talking about partnership with Intel. Intel has the most advanced semiconductor manufacturing facilities utilizing 22nm process with 3D transistors. These 22 nm fabs stay 50% idle right now.

Yet Intel still produces it's chips for mobile devices in older 32 nm technology! And these are Atoms - by far the worst core Intel had ever designed. How come Nokia in partnership with Intel haven't teached Intel about the proper priorities in the modern world, told them that the mobile is the future etc., and convinced them to produce chips for Nokia in the most advanced fabs i the world?


@ ukd

> Qt for Android was not ready

It was ready. From february 2011:

Also remind you this was the work done by one guy in a little over a year. Android is Linux, Qt does well on Linux and Nokia had an incredible huge talent pool of Qt devs that time. Most of them are on Linux!

Also lot of the work done on Necessitas would not have been needed. Ministro? Not needed if Qt ships as default. QtCreator integration? Use MeeGo/Maemo (ssh exists on Android too). Mobility/hw integration? Its Nokia's hardware.

Tomasz R

Concerning Microsoft dictatorship and control-freakery - consider it's SkyDrive service. This is a cloud based file service, that constantly invigilates (reads and analyzses) it's users files, with both pattern-recognizing programs and by feeding the results to human employees. They search mainly for nudity, porn violence etc. If such stuff is found user can loose his account including his files.

Why would anyone make deals with a company with such controlling, dictatorship tendencies? Censoring files, censoring applications, remotely deleting applications, telling what hardware has to be used etc.?


I've read this article and all this writing, and I have something to say for those of you who were doubt of Tomi's 'theory'.

Tomi say
"Especially if 'smartphones' are the stated future of YOUR company main business. It doesn't matter at all whether you are company Blue or company Green or company Red, if you set company record growth and set company record profits in this smartphone business which is the future of your company industry, then you are SUCCEEDING. DO NOT STOP THIS SUCCESS."

Do you feel strange why Elop have TO KILL SYMBIAN PREMATURELY? Why don't he announce on Feb 11th that SYMBIAN IS OUR PAST AND FUTURE, BUT IT WOULD BE IN THE MID-LOW. WP WILL BE IN HIGH-MID.... (NOT KILLING SYMBIAN, BUT SEND IT TO LOWER LEVEL). If he did say that, the symbian sales would not see sudden death. Or in other word, WHY DO HE NEED TO KILL SYMBIAN ASAP? IS THE SUCCESS OF SYMBIAN WILL HURT HIS (REAL) BOSS WP STRATEGY?




It was alpha. Alpha is not ready. People seem to think that any alpha level software is ready.

And that still doesn't produce Dalvik code.

Sander van der Wal


Nokia started showing Qt for Symbian in 2009. It wasn't really ready until 2011. Before that date, Qt apps would fail Symbian Signed tests, which means that your software could not be Symbian Signed and sold in Ovi.

That was one of those things Nokia never got its head around. The engineers would say things were fine and then the Ovi people woild still shoot you down. You cannot write software to be sold for real money if the company running things are that disorganized.


Elop's greatest crime was not destroying Symbian prematurely (although it also qualifies as a great crime) but killing off MeeGo when it was born. The N9 was declared dead on arrival by Elop who said no more MeeGo phones will be released. Then it was banned from all major markets for fear that it will compete with Lumia. The N9's price was set high to discourage sales.

This was despite the N9 with an innovative swipe UI being highly acclaimed by reviewers all over the world. It was the first Nokia phone in a long time to have excited so much interest. Instead of grabbing this success and running with it Elop just killed it off. This is his greatest crime.

The Symbian based PureView 808 which also garnered worldwide interest was never given a chance. Nokia refused to promote it, restricted supply and sold it under the counter like a bootleg product.

Elop doesn't want any success unless it is a Windows Phone. Period.

John Phamlore

Organizationally, the following change completely changed Nokia's culture from one of possible cooperation to divisions relentlessly fighting to the death, regardless of damage to the company:
Why Nokia failed: 'Wasted 2,000 man years' on UIs that didn't work

"This kind of internal competition was encouraged within Nokia, and enshrined into the "company constitution" in the 2004 restructure designed by then CEO Jorma Ollila. Perhaps taking Darwinian metaphors too literally, he hoped this would avoid the creation of a bureaucracy."

This is very interesting timing because according to:

"In 2002, I'm told, Linus Torvalds convinced Nokia to create a Linux unit. The skunkworks bore fruit in 2005, and Nokia backed it strongly, maintaining an high retail profile for it in the United States."

The total change in how Nokia managed its divisions just happened to occur shortly after upper management decided to back Linux as the future and create a competing skunkworks that would be nature be opposed to the rest of the company.

Too many coincidences.


Elop did not bring his family to Finland because he thought he would just destroy nokia and run away laughing like the trololo man.

I dont get it you nokia board, you have neither balls or brains. Shame on you!

John Phamlore

This article describes exactly when the rot set in in Nokia:

"As recently as at the beginning of the century, Nokia had just two business units: Mobile Phones making handsets and Nokia Networks producing cellular network equipment and solutions ... In September 2003, Nokia announced it was comprehensively rearranging the corporate furniture, and Mobile Phones was broken up into three business groups ... In the considered view of the ex-Nokia man, "the key reason" for Nokia's present problems is there: Jorma Ollila's matrix organisation, which came into effect from January 1, 2004."

Odd isn't it that this change, which was orchestrated from the very top by the person regarded as one of the most competent leaders Nokia has ever had, occurred so soon after the alleged decision to create a Linux skunkworks on the urging of Finn Linus Torvalds.

Too many coincidences.

Dr.Saswat Samant

Over years you have successfully convinced your readers that Elop is one of the greatest nitwits the world has ever seen in top level managements.But what I wonder is why is he not being fired by the Nokia board.(Unless the controlling stake in NOKIA is held by MICROSOFT !!!) Are they not loosing precious share-value ? Or did they gain something when Elop burned Symbian/MeeGo ?
An unrealistic alternative would be that your analysis is wrong.(But I cant figure out how it would be wrong!)
Somewhere down the line Nokia's smartphone unit will become irretrievable.Then?Would the groups with controlling stake gain anything ?


@ Dr. S.S.

It is not a secret that:
- Nokia shareholders ownership is very fragmented.
- 3 big, huge, American Funds groups alone own over 15% of Nokia shares, and since Elop is there, they have full control of Nokia.

Think ... the big American Funds make money, when Google, Apple, Microsoft are going up. Nokia has been scarified for the good of Microsoft, and the side effect have been that Google and Apple got also advantage of Symbian and MeeGo destruction.

If Elop will give a future to Windows Phone, even if this will cause to destroy Nokia, this will give a huge market value to Microsoft.

Nobody touch Elop, since Nokia is controlled by these American Funds, and even if Nokia is loosing under Elop, the other American company are profiting from Elop actions.

Clearly, it is 100% un-moral ... and possibly also illegal what it is done by Elop ... but nobody bother to fight the titans, especially if the main damage entity is Finland, and the Finland government is doing nothing about it.



ps: The analysis of Tomi, as in the 99% of cases it is just 100% correct. Tomi mainly see the technical, and telecom aspects, but so far he did not touch much the money power game on the back, that did bring Elop in Nokia, and keep him undisturbed in his destroying activity.



> It was alpha

Only cause QtMobility was. As I wrote: that would not have been needed for Nokia hardware cause QtMobility for Lanku (N9/N950) was there already with MeeGo.

But even if it took Nokia close to ayear to deliver the first Lumia. When Lumia came out Necessitas was ready. Imagine the quality if not only one guy worked onthisin his sparr time but the whole Linux talent they had inhouse. Hundreds of highly skilled Linux devs.

> And that still doesn't produce Dalvik code.

And it never will cause its NATIVE. Performance, portability,etc. Google's Android provides first level support for that with its NDK out of the box.


Goodbye CN, Hello ukd.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Available for Consulting and Speakerships

  • Available for Consulting & Speaking
    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

Tomi's eBooks on Mobile Pearls

  • Pearls Vol 1: Mobile Advertising
    Tomi's first eBook is 171 pages with 50 case studies of real cases of mobile advertising and marketing in 19 countries on four continents. See this link for the only place where you can order the eBook for download

Tomi Ahonen Almanac 2009

  • Tomi Ahonen Almanac 2009
    A comprehensive statistical review of the total mobile industry, in 171 pages, has 70 tables and charts, and fits on your smartphone to carry in your pocket every day.

Alan's Third Book: No Straight Lines

Tomi's Fave Twitterati