back to article Nokia: When pigeons fly home to roast

Pundits this week are describing Nokia's fall from grace as one of the greatest corporate car-crashes of all time. But here's an unfashionable view. Nokia's problem is not Stephen Elop, or his strategy. Its problem is it didn't have Stephen Elop, or his strategy, in place two years ago. And while we are certainly watching a …


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  1. Anonymous Coward


    He did a Gerald Ratner. His message was : Our products are rubbish, I'm giving what we have developed away and we're going with Microsoft - this is so much better. If you are foolish enough to buy any of our higher priced, higher margin products today, you're buying an obsolete platform.

    Yes, Nokia was in trouble before Elop arrived. This ex-Microsoft man has made a controversial but, for him, comfortable decision and rocked the boat. Alas, the boat may sink...

    1. tmTM


      The boat was Sunk to start off with, this is a desperate attempt to re-float the good ship Nokia before it's dashed against the rocks of incompetent and lost forever.

  2. The Bit Wrangler

    Heartily agree, but...

    I completely agree that Nokia's mess was started way pre-Elop, they needed a strategy for the smart-phone market that would compete with iOs and Android and they needed it two/three years ago (a decent UI on-top of Symbian would've made a difference even though Symbian was - and still is - flawed).

    The thing is they now do have a strategy but it's arguably worse than simply doing nothing. Windows has never been a viable smart-phone OS. They've had two full goes at making something that will compete and both have failed to make any ground (despite the massive M$ marketing machine behind them).

    Also, they're bringing it to market on the back of a platform that is, traditionally, anti-M$. Existing Nokia buyers aren't going to want to touch a Windows phone and the very few Windows devotees are going to be highly dubious of Nokia.

    If I were Nokia I'd stay in the brace position for a little while yet, bottom is a long way away but acceleration will get them there soon.

    1. Geoff Campbell

      Have you tried Windows Phone 7?

      It's pretty bloody good. Forget everything you know about Windows Mobile, which was OK in the context of what they were trying to do, but crap in the context of phone operating systems.

      Try and get hold of an HTC HD7, if you haven't seen one. It's a revelation, and I think Windows 8 next year is going to be quite something.

      I'll carry on using my Android phones for now, though, having said all that.


      1. Tim Walker
        Thumb Down

        Define "good"...

        If you understand "good" to mean "lots of gee-whiz eye-candy at the expense of battery life and practical features"... well, judging by the Android-loving masses out there, at least you'd be in good company...

        As it stands now, WP7 is simply missing too many features compared to Symbian^3 (USB on-the-go, hot-swappable memory cards, "full" multitasking (not the current hobbled type WP7 now sports), to name a few), to make me even consider making my next smartphone a Nokia Windows Phone handset.

        Perhaps these will come in time, and as far as I'm concerned, MS has lots of that, because the way things are panning out, I intend to run my Nokia N8 until it joins the choir invisible. Unless WP7's development follows a path inconsistent with 30+ years of Microsoft practice, my next handset will probably be an Android one, but only as the least worst option on offer.

    2. Intractable Potsherd

      I'm waiting to see ...

      ... what actually happens in the future. What I do know is that I'd have to go a long way to find anything worse than the very fragile Symbian OS on my Nokia 5230. I really wish I hadn't been loyal and stuck with Nokia this time - Android looks like a much more robust and flexible OS. However, even Windows looks like an improvement from where I am at the moment.

      Whatever Nokia does, it is going to have to be significant if I'm to change my thoughts that an HTC will be my next phone.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    "...obscure languages such as Russian, Japanese..." ?!

    More people speak Russian and Japanese together that English I think (at least more than French or German certainly...)

    1. Funkstain

      Er yes, that was his point

      Trying to demonstrate how slow MS are at developing products, when in the mobile market their competitors deliver faster, better.

      Wonder if Elop will be given enough time to sort things out? I believe he will, and I believe WP7+ will be good enough to compete - almost tempted to buy stock and hold on for 3 years...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Yes, I could see the point...

        ... if really obscure languages such as Brazilian Portuguese and Finnish were not mentioned in the same breath...

        1. bolccg

          I think

          Brazilian is there because it is a massive emerging market for mobiles and Finnish for the narrowly missed irony of having a Nokia WinPho that none of the devs could read.

    2. envmod


      WTF? No they don't. English is the most widely spoken language in the world by some margin. Mandarin is of course technically spoken by a larger number of people but they're mostly all in China, so as a language it is not remotely widespread. Same goes for Russian and Japanese. What matters is in how may countries a particular language is used regularly - English is spoken regularly in around 115 countries I believe. Compare that with regualr use of Russian (16 countries) and regular use of Japanese (1 country - er, Japan).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I did not mean speak somehow, but use as a 1st language...

        ...and I did have doubts about English if you read my post carefully...

        1. Axel

          Ever heard of the Internet?

          It's a great place for fact checking.

          Here's a few fun facts you could have found with the help of a simple search engine:

          200 million people speak Brazilian Portuguese as a first language.

          150 million speak Russian as a first language.

          130 million people speak Japanese as a first language.

          375 million people speak English as a first language.

          150 milllion + 130 million = 280 million which is less than 375 million.

          HTH HAND

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Even can use it...

            ... primary language for 175 million (instead your quote, did not bother to check the rest...) It is internet, dude: take it with a pinch of salt :)

            1. a_been

              So your still wrong

              375 million > 305 million

    3. Tom Maddox Silver badge

      It. Was. Irony.

      No actual body required.

  4. Mage

    Spot on

    Indeed Nokia started digging their grave 2002 onwards.

    Their Mobile division despite being the world leader was doomed.

  5. Paul Shirley

    strawman arguments as usual

    Nokia was certainly in trouble before Elop. But it wasn't dead, it took Elop to actually kill the company instead of curing it.

    Right now it's a zombie heading inexorably toward total Microsoft control then ownership. Nokia as a company is dead. In Microsoft's hands Nokia the brand is tarnished and dying.

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: strawman arguments as usual

      It's too early to tell if Nokia is out of the game completely, by about 18-24 months. The operators will rally around whatever Nokia has to offer next spring & summer. We'll then see how the market reacts, and after that, know if Nokia can make real money on those devices.

      The criticism that Elop announced the deal prematurely has a lot of merit, and I said so at the time. I'm sure Elop would have preferred to have had teams working on WP, so he could wave a real working prototype around when the deal was announced.

      But he didn't have the luxury of time. He was bequeathed an empty product pipeline. My contention is that Nokia's sales would be in the tank if it hadn't announced a new platform strategy.

      1. Ian Michael Gumby

        @ Andrew Orlowski...

        Ok, let me see if I have this straight.

        "The criticism that Elop announced the deal prematurely has a lot of merit, and I said so at the time. I'm sure Elop would have preferred to have had teams working on WP, so he could wave a real working prototype around when the deal was announced."

        As part of this deal, Nokia gets 1 Billion dollars. Ok. When do they get it? When they inked the deal?

        Now I don't know about you, but transferring a billion dollars would be considered a material event, right?

        Not to mention the deal itself would be considered a material event.

        For those who live outside of the US, both NOK and MSFT are traded on NASDAQ so there's this thing called 'Rule FD'....

        It seems that a lot of the 'bloggers' who are calling for NOK's impending doom or MSFT doing a buy out are reading too much in to what's been said.

        Conspiracy theory? I think not.

  6. Daniel 1

    Operators have already counted out RIM?

    Analysts and IT journalists may have (with that same 'unerring accuracy' that they've shown over just about anything else in the mobile computing arena in recent years), but operators still seem keen on RIM, and with just cause, I'd say.

    1. Magnus_Pym

      All the kids...

      ... want Blackberries.

      And most of the ones I see seem to have them. I also see a lot of flyers coming through the door advertising deals form them. There's no 'counting out' of RIM round here. He' talking out of his a*se.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        Actually from my personal experience with talking to kids is that *most* kids want iPhones or failing that a fancy Android. Very few want blackberries. The only ones I know with them actually got them because they were on really cheap contracts, and still want iPhones.

        This is in the UK, from my daughters groups of friends/family. Obviously this will be different in different markets/schools/etc.

        1. CarlC


          All my nieces and nephews (I am not a parent) who are between 17 and 25, have traded their iPhones and Android devices for Blackberries, as have most of their friends. I certainly know one of my nieces, some time ago, changed her phone to that phone on 'The Hills' (I think that was the show) - which was a Blackberry.

          Interesting......... because I believe it shows that there are as many preferences as their are devices out there. The problem for Nokia is my girlfriend, who has an 8 year old Nokia and won't change it because it works. Nokia will get no business from her until that phone totally dies, by which time I am not sure Nokia will be about..........

      2. Geoff Campbell


        I only know kids in the UK, but of them, only two have Blackberries, bought for them by their parents, and they hate them. Of the others, the objects of desire seems more or less equally split between Apple and Android.

        I think Elop took the only path available to him and Nokia. Whether they survive remains to be seen, but it's certain they would have died with MeeGo as their party trick.


        1. M E H

          Blackberry Instant Messaging

          Da yoof want Blackberries because they all communicate through Blackberry Instant Messaging which they get free. Texting and dataplans cost. Blackberry IM is thrown in with their deals.

    2. Conrad Longmore


      RIM is as doomed as Nokia is. Consumer sales are falling fast in the face of iPhones and Android. And I have to say that it's a pretty horrible user experience on a BlackBerry, even though it has some sound underpinnings. The tablet thing they did isn't going very well either.

      At least Nokia is taking the leap off the burning platform. I'm not sure RIM knows what to do.. but where Nokia is now, RIM will probably find itself in 12-24 months time.

      1. Lance 3

        Better check the numbers

        @Conrad Longmore,

        In 2009 Nokia sold 67 million smartphones that were Symbian based. in 2010 they sold 100 million; so 33 million more. Their net increase was 10 million MORE then Apple.

        How is increasing your sales a burning platform? Sure Nokia lost market share, but they still increased sales.

  7. Mark 40

    Don't confuse analysis with strategy

    I read with interest Stephen Elop's famous speech. I agreed with his observations regarding competitors and his 'burning deck' story was a good way to motivate the troops. However, I am worried by his strategy.

    I am a happy Nokia customer, having bought a variety of their phones over the years. I am also an unhappy Microsoft customer, having been given a variety of Windows Mobile phones by employers. I am unhappy because of errors and inconsistencies in their user interface design.

    Nokia's products may seem old-fashioned but they are reasonably intuitive. Recently my 13 year old son asked if he could downgrade from a smartphone I had given him to a simpler Nokia, which he found easier to use.

    Consequently, when I come to replace his phone one of my requirements is that the replacement must NOT be compatible with Windows Mobile. Similarly for my wife's phone - also a Nokia.

    If Mr Elop's strategy is to adopt Windows Mobile then he loses me as a customer. Choosing to annoy existing satisfied customers does not strike me as a good strategy.

    1. Da Weezil


      The dumping of Symbian cost Nokia 4 sales in my family alone since just before xmas.

      We DONT want windows. We cant buy into Sybian without a certain future

      Elop pushed us onto Android,

      It may not be a trendy school of thought amongst analyst types, and inconvenient for the tone of this article but the cold hard fact amongst those I know is Nokia are now a no-no for the reasons stated above.

      RIP once trusted brand

      1. MIc
        Thumb Down

        Thanks captain anecdotal...

        well if your fam doesn't want them then that must be it. 4 whole data points. Thanks captain anecdotal...

      2. Anonymous Coward

        Me too

        ..'cept I bought a Blackberry (which REALLY does comms!) rather than that half-finished Android crap.

    2. dogged

      It's not Windows Mobile

      That, I suspect, is the biggest problem Nokia's going to have.

      It's not Windows Mobile. It's nothing like Windows Mobile. Not even remotely similar.

      In the same way that the iPad is not the Apple Newton, this is a whole new ballgame. And the weird part is, it's a pretty fun game to play.

      I'm actually convinced that Nokia phones had a strong influence on WP7's design. Not the modern Symbian crop but the old 6310 vintage. Back when EVERYONE had a Nokia phone, it was because they were so amazingly simple to navigate and use, as opposed to, for example, Motorola's horrific attempts at a UI.

      WP7 is like that.

      No joke.

      1. Ilgaz

        What about calling it smart phone?

        Go to Ovi App store site, pick a popular handset like N8 or as it is still new, E72. See the tools offered? Utilities? Sports Tracker? Browsers like Opera Mobile which I use right now on a remote village with EDGE?

        None of them will ship for Windows Phone as their "code in our failed flash killer" really doesn't work for large software developers or anyone into complex software. These guys doesn't do "10 print "Opera"" jokes.

        So, all Symbian/Nokia guys either move to Android or iPhone. People using their smart phone as a feature phone? That is covered too, RIM Blackberry.

    3. azimutha

      WP7 != Windows Mobile 6.X

      You do realize that the OS Nokia is moving to is as different from Windows Mobile as Windows 7 is from Windows 98 or C#/.NET are from VBScript?

      1. Ilgaz

        check a site , that is Poland's legendary smart phone development company who does even code something that uses your phones infrared to transform your device to the ultimate smart infra remote.

        See their products of that kind are only available for Windows Mobile (poo, a real mobile os) and Symbian since they aren't possible on Windows 7 phone.

        Funny is, I am also a Windows 7 desktop owner and I feel sad for that branding. It has absolutely nothing to do with "real" Windows 7. Windows mobile 6.x was the way to go, with modern UI and .NET portable.

  8. RichyS


    What would Nokia's situation be today if everything was the same, except for Elop not announcing the move to WinPho?

    Maybe it's harder to keep a secret in Nokia than it is in Apple, but he wouldn't have Osbourned Symbian quite so much...

  9. Conrad Longmore

    Elop is not the problem

    Elop is not the problem. Elop is the solution.

    Pre-Elop, Nokia was doomed. This was clearly obvious to anybody with an ounce of knowledge about the mobile phone market. The problem is that the market did not realise just what a deep hole Nokia was in, so when the truth was admitted by Nokia then shareholders (who did not really understand the market) dumped stock in a panic.

    Elop's approach has been pretty brutal and blunt, but then in order to get the business fully behind Windows then these things have to be done. Pussyfooting about will only take longer.

    So, Nokia's gamble (and be in no doubt that it IS a gamble) is that the new "Windows plus the next billion" strategy will work and turn it around. But that's a better position to be in than the agonisingly slow death scenario that they were already in.

    (I think we need a Stephen Elop icon at this rate)

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Elop is not the problem

      "The problem is that the market did not realise just what a deep hole Nokia was in, so when the truth was admitted by Nokia then shareholders (who did not really understand the market) dumped stock in a panic."

      Excuse me, but "the market did not realise just what a deep hole" a publicly listed company was in, whose financials have to be stated every quarter and whose sales are widely reported, and whose strategy was increasingly in question every quarter as no response to the iPhone was forthcoming? Are you serious?!

      The reason why shareholders dumped the stock was because you have a guy walk in as CEO and do the equivalent of saying, "This big balloon thing is wasting a lot of gas, and that ostrich just told me that we can do without it, so let's slash these ropes!" To be more literal: instead of actually dealing with the company's problems, the CEO takes the superficial approach and perpetuates the "software is an assembly line" delusion by doing an org. chart widget swap while keeping all the make-work management idiots and yes-men.

      "So, Nokia's gamble (and be in no doubt that it IS a gamble) is that the new "Windows plus the next billion" strategy will work and turn it around. But that's a better position to be in than the agonisingly slow death scenario that they were already in."

      That's why the share price agrees with you. Oh wait, it doesn't!

  10. RichyS

    Difference with 90s Apple

    I think there are some key differences with Apple in the 90s and Nokia now:

    1) Apple made both hardware and OS, so were in charge of their own destiny.

    2) Apple had a hardcore of followers who would buy their new kit irrespective of current reputation.

    3) Apple were pretty lean still from an organisation perspective

    4) Apple's competitors at the time were less formidable (no Google, PC makers were beginning to be squeezed on margin, so not massively profitable themselves, etc.)

    And probably some others that I can't think of.

    1. ThomH

      One more difference

      Apple got out of its funk by abandoning the existing software platform, bringing in external management and merging in an external development team, then segueing into a brand new market and then several other new markets.

      Nokia already switched management and are outsourcing a large part of the software stack. But they're effectively ceding a significant part of their destiny, something Apple have always managed to avoid.

      That said, I agree with the article. Nokia's nothing like finished, its old strategy was on a crash course long before Elop turned up, and the platform switch gamble is the only workable way forwards. You can argue about the decision to use Windows Mobile versus other comers, but its hardly the most significant of his decisions.

      1. Ilgaz

        MeeGo/Maemo was the Apple moment

        When Apple hired SJobs, he came with NeXT, something so portable that it could even run on Windows NT. For some reasons, other ports were cancelled and they concentrated on making that the future OS. It was amazingly smooth transform starting with the Carbon framework and "fat" binaries, virtual macos.

        What this genius did is not different from Apple asking Windows NT for Apple computers and asking all userbase and developers follow it. It is such an insane and stupid idea that my english isn't enough to describe it.

        I just can't handle amateur media/bloggers who have never, ever used a full Symbian handset and think the people using Symbian will move to Windows.

        As a last note: If you check Mr. Orlowski's stories from the beginning, you wonder what would happen if Nokia listened to him and very rare other mobile watchers?

        Start with reading Ovi Store story and I am sure couple of geniuses who are STILL impressed by numbers will defend Nokia. I can't freaking format my phone as the apps will need manual support to get reinstalled.

        1. Ian Michael Gumby

          @llgaz Huh?

          NeXT Step is Mach, a unix micro kernel developed at CMU.

          Its an OS that can't run on other OSs although you could probably put an emulator on another platform.

          You port it to the hardware not to another OS.

          I think you're confused by the fact that the slabs were running on Moto chips and the OS was ported to Intel. (Last things done before Apple brought Steve back.)

          When Jobs went back to Apple, they bought and brought NeXT back in house which became the core of the Mac's OS X.

          With respect to Nokia...

          Until the dust settles you won't know anything.

          1. Ilgaz

            NeXT can run on any kernel

            I can understand your confusion but trust me, NeXT is a collection of frameworks and a development style. In fact, even developers aren't aware of this so they are confused when you show them couple of GNUStep/OpenStep apps which are compiled from exact same source and can run on OS X, Windows and Linux/BSD.

            Some people hate SJobs for "prisoning" it to Macs. Funny is, Apple's software on Windows (except iTunes) are somehow developed with exact same philosophy. First versions of Safari for Windows shows this more obviously.

            Seek web for openstep, it was the most close thing to the original NeXTstep idea.

            OS X on Intel wasn't really some super secret thing, everyone knew OS X could run on any platform. Funny that Apple can release OS X for Windows today, they choose Mach, not because it is a requirement, it is better for their needs and development style. Give "openstep" a modern kernel that can handle its calls, it will still run.

          2. Anonymous Coward

            Re: @llgaz Huh?

            "NeXT Step is Mach, a unix micro kernel developed at CMU."

            Actually, NeXTSTEP is Mach plus BSD technology.

            "Its an OS that can't run on other OSs although you could probably put an emulator on another platform. You port it to the hardware not to another OS."

            What the commenter is referring to is OPENSTEP which formed the basis of NeXT's strategy after the company realised it couldn't compete either with its own hardware offerings or by trying to get manufacturers to bundle NeXTSTEP.

            The Nokia angle involves Qt: the idea was to have a platform-independent toolkit (like OPENSTEP) in order to have some flexibility over the underlying technology and to transition away from Symbian for some models. Elop has more or less thrown that lifeline away.

        2. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

          Re: MeeGo/Maemo was the Apple moment

          Thank you.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Also most of Apples competition was actually crap at the time.

      Windows wasn't great - but was starting to be 'good enough' and being cheaper meant it would spread faster etc.

    3. Kristian Walsh

      Sorry, but

      RichyS, I worked at Apple from just before the NeXT reverse-takeover, to just after the iPod came out, and your recollection doesn't match mine at all. The Pre-97 Apple was sprawling, un-focussed, had a major R&D effort that was going to go nowhere, and couldn't market its products.

      I will give you point 1. And point 2 is famously true (in my time there, there was an celebrated market-research report that suggested there was a 5% core of the Apple customer base that would buy ANYTHING the company produced, regardless of what it was).

      On the other hand, you can't discount Nokia's brand image either. There are parts of the world where Nokia are still undisputed brand leaders including markets like India and China which dwarf EU and US. Visit some mobile-phone websites, and there will be many Nokia fans, just as irrational and deluded as Apple fanbois.

      On "pretty lean still from an organisation perspective", I can't agree. Apple was grossly inefficient and overstaffed in the mid 1990s, and in terms of revenues it was doing far worse than Nokia. The losses in 1996 alone were colossal, and nearly closed the company.

      I can only really speak about software, because that's what I was in, but while there was some good R&D work done at this time, the majority was wasted dead-end projects like AppleLink, PowerTalk, QuickDraw GX, the entire Newton product line, Pippin, the first Apple TV Set-Top Box (brought to production casing, then canned)... and let's not dwell on OS8/Copland, the most costly software project in the industry at the time. The big staff reductions happened in 1999-2000, after Apple's recovery had begun. While they may be lean now, they weren't then.

      In hardware and manufacturing, Nokia are still more efficient - Jobs himself has stated that Nokia are matchless in their supply-chain, logistics and manufacturing. They may suck at software, but they excel in making phones.

      And Apple's competition was good, very good. Dell were able to push out PCs at a fraction of the cost that Apple could, and they made mincemeat of Apple's traditional strongholds in Education and Science - sure, the quality wasn't as good, but with a free replacement unit delivered in 24 hours, who cared? In software, Microsoft had a scalable, robust OS with preemptive multi-tasking and protected memory in the form of Windows NT at a time when Apple's System 7.5 could seize up completely if just one app got too busy to call WaitNextEvent() The hot new things at the time were Java and the Web, and Macs had poor support for either: You might think IE is a lousy browser, but it wasn't in 1997/1998. Plus, Microsoft had a monopoly in productivity software, and by refusing to confirm ongoing support for Office on Macs, they were dragging the last of Apple's corporate customers away.

      Add to this a bewildering range of products, where people didn't know which were the "good" models, and which were the "economy" ones, marketing campaigns based on feelgood rather than telling people why they might want the product, and an inability to get any significant R&D work out the door, and there's a lot in common. The one big difference is that Nokia is still turning profits, whereas Apple were running on red ink for a long time.

      I don't know what's happening within Nokia, but I can tell you that nobody working in Apple in the mid/late 1990s knew where they'd be working 12 months ahead - the company was on a death watch, constantly referred to as "beleaguered computer maker Apple", and nobody gave it a chance until the iMac started to make serious inroads into the home market in 1999/2000.

      1. multipharious
        Thumb Up

        Excellent post Kristian

        I remember (from the outside) what you have written. Nice summary.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Elop set fire to the platform

    Nokia's existing platform was probably shaky, but it looked strong to outsiders (and undoubtedly still has many strengths). That perception - whether justified or not - was critical to Nokia's ongoing performance. Then Elop stepped up and announced to the world that Nokia was a 'burning platform' to be leapt away from as soon as possible. And - surprise, surprise - everyone is doing just that.

    If the problems were really so grave, the transition should still have been done but presented as just one strategy among many, as if to compliment their existing lines. But no, Elop burned the whole lot in one fell swoop and destroyed any strength or credibility that remained (and I think it was considerable).

    By way of contrast, look what Steve Jobs did when he returned to Apple. The classic Mac OS was a burning platform, but he didn't announce this to the world. No, he kept the market and existing customers on board whilst carrying out radical surgery behind closed doors. Apple was still a good company, and Jobs leveraged that strength to rebuild. Nokia is also a good company - but Elop has publicly and irreversibly trashed it in the eyes of the world.

    1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

      Nailed it

      In one.

    2. bamalam

      ...and poured petrol on it

      I think the contrast is with what Steve Jobs did is apt. There are loyal customers and more importantly developers of Nokia and Elop managed to ditch them over the side by not going to MeeGo

  12. Jean-Paul

    It isn't Windows Mobile

    It is Windows Phone, there is a huge huge difference.

    I think Elop's mistake is that it is taking them so long to get a Nokia based Windows Phone device out. I think the combination would be really really good. But why is it taking so long....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      It makes a huge different to techies maybe.

      To everyone else who ever had to fight with a shit PDA, they will just go "no thanks. not again".

    2. Ilgaz

      You can sell Windows Mobile to Symbian users

      Windows Mobile which that schizoid company abandoned is the right platform you have slightest chance to sell to Symbian owners. Even companies who only coded Windows Mobile and Symbian software will tell you that fact.

      Windows 7? Trust me, if Sun/Oracle wasn't that stupid, I would choose a J2ME featurephone instead.

  13. Mikel

    in hand

    He could have announced the shift when he had new product to ship. He did not.

    1. DF118


      Because it would be such an easy secret to keep.

  14. Frank 2

    All they need to do... create a smartphone that actually lets you make telephone calls while you're still indoors.

    1. Robert E A Harvey

      and the screen while outdoors

  15. James 47

    An Alienated Developer???!/ceoStephenElop

  16. Anonymous Coward

    Basically if you wanted to fix Nokia do start from where Elop had to.

    The big mistake was announcing the switch before having anything to immediately launch. There were two reasons for that. 1) Keeping anything secret seems to be a problem for Nokia. 2) Legally a switch to Microsoft (or Google) would have been too big a relevant factor to keep secret from the shareholders and Nokia could easily have been sued in the States for trying.

    Elop unlike his predecessors has actually taken the time to talk to his workers. Nokia Employees have seen and heard more from Elop in 9 months than they did from Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo (OPK) in in his whole tenure. He has spoken frankly, and like the message or not, Nokia Employees have been happy about the level communication.

    The big problem at Nokia is that the Finnish management in particular is extremely risk averse, they stuck to Symbian because it was working. They didn’t invest in Meamo back when the Nokia 770 first came out as a long term replacement. They were afraid to take any big decisions to re-write S60 preferring the ‘safer’ route of evolving it. This is exceptionally strange in a company and country that doesn’t have a cut throat business culture and one or two bad calls were unlikely to get you canned.

    Elop now has the company in a position where they have to make Windows Work there is no longer an internal power structure thinking it can just carry on with Symbian and maybe the windows thing will just go away.

    Personally I don’t think Nokia would be in any better a position if it had gone with Android rather than Windows. It could have flogged off Navtech since it wouldn’t need it, but it would still be faced with the apparent death of Symbian and the lack of an immediate replacement.

    Personally I might of gone for padding out Maemo by ‘nicking’ open source bits from Android (including Dalvik) and allowing people to run QT or Android Apps. Beefed up OVI store to sell Android Apps as well but in a more controlled way than Google. With hope that the QT migration path would retain the Symbian Camp during a long migration to MeeGo. However it’s Just as risky a strategy and would be at higher cost than the clean break.

    Basically if I wanted to fix Nokia I wouldn’t have started where Elop had to. I’d have put someone else in, instead of nice safe OPK back in 2005, but that would have been a risk, and as I said Finnish Management is risk averse.

  17. Julian 3

    Sleeping on the job

    Microsoft's development of their Windows Mobile platform was abysmal and half hearted at best. They are trying to play catchup by doing some actual work on Windows Phone 7 rather than letting it wither away like they did with Windows Mobile. Nokia have been resting on their laurels for years thinking past glory's will keep them alive. Much like Motorola and look where they are now.

  18. Dick Pountain


    Almost everyone would like an iPhone

    Almost everyone will settle for Android

    End of

    1. DF118

      Yep, almost everyone

      Don't like iPhones (had a 3GS, found it... underwhelming).

      Don't like Android (got one currently - the UI foibles and blatant omissions, even compared to Nokia products of almost fifteen years ago, do my head in).

      Will definitely be trying WP7 next time round, and with a bit of luck it'll be on Nokia hardware. Everyone I've spoken to who uses it (yes, both of them) loves it.

      And I'm sure I'm not the only one.

      1. multipharious

        Best way to decide is to use all three

        I am currently using iOS, Android, and WinPhone7, and the WinPhone7 interface is the best IMHO. Real pleasure to use the phone. Get the Samsung with the AMOLED. The WP7 startup configuration is a right royal pain in the ass if you are not in a domain using an Exchange server, but afterwards, life with the phone is really a nice user experience since you don't need a bunch of apps to get to the info you want. Watching a demo doesn't show you this. You are going to dig it. I am looking forward to returning to Nokia hardware. I was a loyal customer for ages.

        Currently the Apple hardware is hands down the best. What they do with design is wonderful...but they need a little push from behind to get their interface updated to this decade. That ain't Android honeycomb. I really think this Win8 push for the tablet with touch optimization and Mango's goal of integrating Apps into the experience will get Apple off their duffs.

        At home and for work, I use Ubuntu, Win7, and I will use ChromeOS asap...typing this from an iPad. Have fun with the decision, and if one of your two friends (and rare users) will really show you some of the hubs on WP7 you might see what I mean about the interface and usability. Out of the three it is the one I prefer to carry the most, the iPhone is next, and at some point i will have to pull the battery of one of the other two so that i will give the Android a fair shake. (the Android xbmc remote is great) That's just my opinion. Have fun making yours or get a multiSIM so you don't have to! Nothing wrong with using multiple vendors.

        1. Richard 12 Silver badge

          WP7 does not sync to Outlook

          I know that sounds surprising, but it doesn't! At all!

          It can only sync to Windows Live or a *new* Exchange server.

          So if you're not running a newest-edition Exchange server and don't want to hand over all your data to Windows Live, you simply can't use a Windows Phone.

          Android and WM6.x however can sync direct to Outlook.

          The people I know who tried out a WP7 device said that the hardware was great - but the lack of basic contact-management functionality meant that it was simply not fit-for-purpose, so they took it back and got an Android instead.

    2. Anonymous Coward


      I don't want an iPhone, neither does my other half *.

      I won't go near Android, and neither will my other half **.

      * Irrespective of how good it is (and it IS good), we're not willing to replace PCs, media centre and laptops with Apple equivalents.

      ** It may be a good OS (I have some doubts), but neither of us are willing to run the security risk, nor are we willing to give our lives over to Google.

    3. MIc

      Iphone is a snore

      I find the lame ass grid of icons to be lame and monotonous. I'll take a WebOS or WinPho 7 before I did iPhone.

  19. NX1977

    should have gone android

    Why didn't Nokia use the highly customisable Android base like HTC has done and focus on a front end interface and their forte hardware.

    Most people who've left Nokia ownership miss the hardware quality but don't want symbian or winmob.

    Nokia need to realise this, and quickly.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We did *know* that Nokia was dying anyway

    Elop was just corporate euthanasia.

  21. fritsd

    How well does it run

    Does Windows Phone 7 actually even run on any current Nokia phone model? Or are the requirements a bit higher?

  22. Anonymous Coward

    Oh dear...

    "The idea of Windows-on-Nokia has great support from the operators, who have already counted out RIM, and don't wish to be faced with a duopoly of Android and Apple. Pundits should be more concerned that Microsoft, now Nokia's most important supplier, can maintain a reasonable place of development."

    Andrew, Andrew...the operators and you can say whatever you want but costumers buy what they want, not what someone wants to impose to them. It's funny, you turn from a Symbian supporter to a Winphone one now, why? Get over it, and in the way Elop and Ballmer, people dislike Microsoft on mobile. Period.

    I bought a new smartphone. Not a Nokia, not a Winphone, not a iPhone. It was one with Android on board. I just sidelined Nokia forever, and like me, many more. Got it?

  23. Andus McCoatover

    One way out...

    (and I'm not talking about Kari Kairamo, the Nokia CEO who topped himself in 1998...



    Let's just slam the lid shut.

    Good article, Andrew. RIP, Nokia. Just keep paying my pension, ta muchly.

  24. Barney Carroll

    Market, legacy, destiny

    I used to be a massive Nokia fan. Their hardware was modestly excellent, their UIs were absolutely top notch, and their understated brand oozed elegance. From my subjective perspective, the smartphone killed them. They felt they had to build their own (their feature phone firmware was always great on a UX level), and they obviously invested massively into it. That's when they stopped being cool for me. I had massive difficulty visualising their future in that market, so the initial investment in those clunky Symbian devices, as opposed to Apple, HTC or even RIM's offerings, never struck me as serious.

    Having said that I really believe they are throwing the baby out with the bath water. What I see at the minute is a kind of negative capitalist speculation. The whole dump Symbian move to Meego confusion, rushing out that awful new corporate font with its hideously embarrassing bugs when the old one was still timelessly elegant, modern & distinctive, the humiliating Microsoft-courting when MS are known for bloated, distinctly un-hip and UX-hostile software and Nokia's legacy was that of a somewhat cultish but universal synonym for simple, intuitive mobile UIs… This combined with the drastic management shuffles and bleak confessional PR…

    They seem to be getting good at fire-fighting and turning to arson to keep themselves busy. As far as I can see they are leaping from drastic tactic to tactic without giving any of them the time to prove themselves.

    If they were slightly less suicidal in their "something must be done, jump now look later", I can imagine them having a bad patch as the underdog, learning some lessons, steadily improving what they have, coming back stronger from the mistakes. But on a gut level, the present apparent strategy of continuous firesale speaks to me of stupid desperation posing as bravado. They're repeatedly throwing away their historically strong points with no apparent alternative.

    And yeah, as a fanboi the MS deal just makes me cringe. The Americans were the problem in the first place.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Depends how much influence Nokia have on M$

      How about this for an alternative analysis:

      iPhone stays niche. Apple can't stay a cool and influential brand if they are too mainstream.

      RIM stay as they are. Marmite UI popular with kids for BBIM and businesses for BES but ignored by adults who don't want to be seen as suits.

      Android goes the way of all Open Source OSes with competing versions and mutually incompatible software that can't be updated or run on all hardware versions. It rapidly falls out of favour with the public especially when people find out that Google uses it to constantly spy on their movements.

      This leaves WM8. Nokia's hardware is excellent, their supply chain peerless but their software has been buggy for years and their product range has lost its way.

      If Nokia can exert enough influence on Microsoft to write code from a mobile device mentality of small screen, limited processor power and conservation of battery life then they might, just might, be the mobiles to have in a few years.

  25. Spanners Silver badge

    It wasn't the Burning Platforms analysis

    It was what he decided to do about it.

    Nokia has a huge command of the stupidphone market, but these are just comodities and probably little profit there. For smartphones he had the following options

    1. Carry on with their existing OS.

    2. Make a new one

    3. Use someone else's

    They had stuck with option 1 too long and were sliding down the tubes ever faster with it.

    Making a new one could take years and the problem was now.

    They had to buy one in. So which one?

    a. Apple

    b. Blackberry

    c. Windows

    d. Android

    e. Something obscure that nobody had ever heard of.

    a and b were obviously non-starters. They werre in-house jobs so closed off.

    c had a minor market share and poor customer acceptance. It did however have a huge marketing machine and famously sharp business practices.

    d was growing hugely but defining your Unique Selling point is very important to executives.

    e. was pretty much the same as point 2 above. Too uncertain.

    They knew then they were going to follow someone else. Either MS or Google. It all comes down to which is more important - market trends (Android) or friendly and welcoming for the corporate mentality.

    1. shaolin cookie
      Thumb Down

      Option 2

      The same problem here as in Elop's speech on feb, ignoring the fact that option 2 wouldn't take years since it already existed. The one MeeGo device he's still agreeing to ship will go out before you see any WPs from Nokia. And with Qt it would've provided the existing Symbian users with an upgrade path, in fact the UI was to be copied to Symbian also to make it more competitive and smoothen the change.

    2. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Analysis fail there

      Nokia's big problem was that they'd gone with Option 2 several times - ditch the old, make a new thing. Everybody should be using this new thing!

      Roll on six months - again, ditch the old, make a new thing. Everybody should be using this new thing!

      Elop then repeated that, but this time saying "Our old things are crap, we have to buy a new thing from somebody else"

      That kind of tactic is a sure-fire way to alienate the customer and 3rd-party developer base, for one simple reason:

      I want to be able to use the stuff on my current phone on my next phone!

      Back in the day, that meant being able to copy my contacts, ringtones and wallpaper onto the new one. On a smartphone that means being able to do all the above, *plus* copy my daft games and useful apps onto the new one.

      So if I'm forced to lose everything except my contacts even by staying with the same phone manufacturer, then I might as well consider *all* smartphones and go for whatever I think is prettiest and *most likely to be able to keep everything next time*.

  26. Anonymous Coward


    WebOS was there to be taken. no Android, no Symbian, see? But who cares now?

    Sent from my Android :-)

  27. mr-tom

    Nokia Shares

    In another 6 months, Nokia shares might be an interesting pick for the contrarian (and brave) investor.

  28. maccy

    why windows?

    I said in the pub a year ago that if nokia brought out an android phone, I'd pay a lot to have it. Windows, not so much. I like windows on desktops, but it always seems a bit clunky. Windows phone is better, but not enough.

    OK I said it in a pub, so it's not like it has any value or anything. But now I'm sober I stand by it.

  29. ratfox

    Jumping out of the sinking boat

    We all knew that Nokia was in trouble... but why MICROSOFT?

    Does anyone believe that Nokia would have been considered so doomed, had they gone for the Android route?

    Still do not know what the M$ icon is supposed to represent.

    1. Goat Jam

      Thumb up

      because I don't know what that icon means either.

      And another thing, and this is really bugging me, WHY DO I NOT GET A GUY FAWKES MASK OPTION!

    2. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Jumping out of the sinking boat

      Because Google wouldn't cut them any special favours, and WebOS wasn't available.

  30. MS Rocks

    .....but android is rubbish

    I see we have the usual 'nokia should have chosen android' freetards moaning away on this thread. However, as per usual, none of them know what they are talking about.

    Android is an unfriendly, unstable, unsecure and unpolished phone operating system. It is free for a reason. I recently had the unfortunate experience of having to move from a WinPhone 7 device to an android device. It was horrible. It was like moving back a generation. Comparing android to winphone 7 is like comparing windows mobile to the iphone.

    Elop has chosen the platform that has the best long term potential. Sure, android will remain in use and people who want to make cheap and nasty phones for poor people will still use it as it is free. But if you want a classy, consumer friendly device that will appeal to the mass affluent marketplace (like the iphone) then the OS has to be windows phone.

    1. Spanners Silver badge

      Wrong I'm afraid

      What did you move to - a G1? A good android phone makes WhinPho7 look clunky, overcomplicated and ugly.

      Windows mobile phones seems to be a very niche market. I know people with iPhones, various sorts of Android and even a couple of Blackberries - seem to be getting popular with females. I only know one Windows phone user. I did meet a visiting executive with one last week. He came into IT to ask us questions about his. I thing he was intending to change to android as soon as possible. After helping him set things up, I could see why.

  31. EtonBears

    Eggs, meet single basket...

    One of Nokia's problems pre-Elop was that if you wanted a Windows or Android phone instead of Symbian, you couldn't buy a Nokia, whereas their competitors would supply all three.

    So, it would have been a much better idea to simply add lines of phones running both Android and WP7, whilst running down Symbian software development and emphasis.

    As is clear from other comments, and for different reasons, there are plenty of people that will not be interested in their new phones, whenever they arrive, and will ignore their current range and roadmap. Couple that with the subordination of the Nokia brand to the Microsoft brand in WP7, and it doesn't really look like a winning proposition in the Smartphone market.

    Perhaps they will make a better fist at recovering in the feature phone market, where their hardware excellence may prove a stronger selling point?

    Perhaps they will realise at some point that relying exclusively on a single company for their future software supply is a poor choice and diversify?

    It will be interesting to watch...

  32. J. R. Hartley

    Strange times...

    Nortel dead, Nokia dying, Skype worth $8.5b.

    What's going on?

  33. ScissorHands
    Thumb Down

    Only six months two late

    I bet Elop would've swooped in and grabbed Palm if he had been in place six months earlier. They would have hardware ready to go in a couple of months, and I bet Trolltech could whip up a WebOS QT library in the blink of an eye.

    Bu the also had to dump the whale (Symbian managers and subcontractors) overboard. He couldn't do it by keeping Symbian on life support. If you have to cut, do it clean, do it fast, measure twice and cut ONCE.

  34. gautam

    Switch to Android

    So much talk here about using Android instead of Windows.

    Can someone really point me out where and how I can port Android ( whichever version) onto my brand new Sony Ericsson Satio (still boxed after 3 attempts to use it) and Nokia N97? Would really appreciate it.

    Being so open source, surely some bright engineer ought to have figured out this dual boot options to save this burning platform/hard rock .

    It will create a great secondary market for this product and save everyone. Nokai would then become more multiplatform/ Open platform and carry on making good hardware.

    Why let thier ego come in the way and stick to one platform? Copy the Samsuns/ HTC and offer multiple OS choices to consumers. Anyone thinks with such offerings, consumers will abandon them.? They will prefer the OS of their choice and get on with life.

  35. Christian Berger

    Windows? Then what?

    I mean for the foreseeable future a WP7 phone will be exactly as useful as a good feature phone... for several times the price.

    It's completing in the "I just want a browser and don't know what DRM is"-market. And that market is already full with Apple with it's IOS as well as Google with it's Android, as well as hundreds of cheap Chinese companies trying to sell good feature phones.

    What might have been a success would be the Maemo approach. Take a full featured OS (in this case Debian) and trim it down until it fits on a mobile device. That actually creates a new, untapped market.

  36. Nabil Shabka

    Nokia blew it 1998

    I was one of those people who bought the first smartphone to ever hit the market back in 1996 - the Nokia Communicator. I idd this as I was convinced it was the future - too bad Nokia didn't realise this. Three 'bricks' later I switched to the Palm Treo as I gave up on carrying the Nokia brick.

    1998 saw the peak of a number of companies including Nokia and Microsoft. They were the big guys who just didn't get the changes that were occurring - and still don't.

  37. AdamWill Silver badge
    Thumb Up


    For once I entirely agree with Andrew. Shocking.

    You can agree with or disagree with Elop's approach to solving the gigantic problems Nokia has, on a pragmatic or an ideological basis. But the thing is, if the company had been vaguely sanely run before he showed up, _he wouldn't have a gigantic problem to solve_. Meego and the hardware on which it was to run might actually have been developed efficiently and well, and they might have had products in the marketplace in vaguely the right timeframe. It's painfully clear that this did not happen; whatever the merits of Meego, it's very hard to argue that it had any chance of being delivered on anything like a timeframe that would make it competitive. Or Nokia might have picked a different strategy which also might have worked. They didn't.

    Throw Elop out the window and you're still left with the biggest phone company in the world still trying to sell phones based on a platform that's an outdated, antiquated joke, which no-one in their right minds actually wants to use, up until at least 2012 (the vaguely believable date for any sort of mass-market phone based on Meego; the first was to have been a developer device in the same style as the N8xx / N9xx series). Even current Nokia fans tend to cite things like hardware design and quality - i.e. they're Nokia fans _in spite of_ Symbian, not because of it any more.

    Why blame Elop for the sins of his (metaphorical) fathers? You can argue that he might have switched to Android and not WP7, sure. But don't kid yourself; that would have caused most of the same consequences _right now_ for Nokia.

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