Is there any chance for Nokia's survival with Elop as CEO?

Is there any chance for Nokia's survival with Elop as CEO?

Summary: It's been a sad 18 months watching Nokia and it's fall from mobile phone leadership. Can anything be done to turn the tide with Stephen Elop at the helm?


I enjoy using all mobile operating systems and even liked using Windows Mobile back in the day. I became a fan of Nokia products back in 2001. Thus, when I heard Stephen Elop announce that Nokia was going to use Windows Phone for future smartphones, back in February 2011, I was pretty excited. I never thought Nokia would fall so far over the last 18 months though and after reading the extensive 29,000+ word article by Tomi Ahonen I have to say my feelings are mixed over Nokia and Windows Phone.

I cannot summarize such a long article and recommend you set aside some time to read it. In addition to discussions about details of Elop's decisions over the last couple of years you will likely learn a lot about military history. FYI, I used the Pocket application to read it during a few train commute sessions since there is a ton in there to digest. Tomi is a former Nokia executive and author who dives into the subject at hand and tends to go off into some wild tangents. His blog posts can often be a bit over-the-top and controversial. I am not endorsing all of his facts and figures since I haven't done enough research myself to verify all the claims, but I thought this post was an interesting read that raised some questions we should be talking about.

It's quite clear that Nokia had to do something to stay competitive with iOS and Android manufacturers, but issuing a memo killing off existing businesses was likely not the best strategy. Windows Phone cannot seem to gain any traction and there is a LOT pinned on the success of Windows Phone 8. As you all know, I am a huge fan of Windows Phone, but I am using Android a lot more lately because of the advanced features and technology that really show me how smart a phone can be. Windows Phone is simple, fresh, fast, and fun, but the more I use advanced versions of Android (Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean) the more I see how far Windows Phone still has to go. Actually, Tomi brings up some glaring faults in Windows Phone that I didn't pay enough attention to before (no draft SMS or backup) and now I am starting to get a bit disillusioned with the platform since many basics, seen previously on Symbian, are missing.

I completely agree that MeeGo should have been pursued by Nokia parallel to the Windows Phone efforts since the N9 is a great device with a very modern MeeGo operating system. If Nokia could have continued development then there may not have been such a lack of applications and I think MeeGo could have competed with iOS and Android. MeeGo is similar to the fantastic webOS system and with that going away MeeGo could have moved right in and been a great choice. Thankfully, we see the new Jolla folks picking up the MeeGo torch.

I don't know what Nokia can do at this point to turn things around, but it sure is not encouraging to see such a worldwide leader in phones fall so far so quickly. Should Nokia make changes in leadership? What strategy do you think they should employ?

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Topics: Mobility, Mobile OS, Nokia, Smartphones

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  • Nokia actually did the exact right thing. They probably should have done it

    6-12 months earlier but there's no question they wouldn't have made it with meego. I am very much looking forward to getting a Nokia WP8 phone next spring. Nokia is going to make a substantial comeback in share. I wouldnt want to be moto right now. And in Elop they picked the exact right person to lead the way. He gets the ecosystem picture. He gets that the android malware/botnet future was not the path forward. I doubt anyone else would have had the foresight and judgement to make the correct decision to go to WP and stuck with it after they'd gotten in there. Also they needed an outsider to get them to move manufacturing out of finland and into asia. By the end of 2015 Elop will be a company turn around case study, probably surpass Gerstner, and some other company circling the drain is going to hire him for an emense amount to money to come in and save them too.
    Johnny Vegas
    • Agreed

      Nokia's problems started well before Elop took office. He is doing the right thing and in the long run is making the right bet for Nokia. If Elop hadn't started the righting of the ship when he did, Nokia would very likely be shuttering it's windows and doors now.
    • MeeGo may have succeeded, starting with China and Europe

      I am not convinced that MeeGo would not have succeeded. I gained a better understanding of the Chinese market reading Tomi's post and if Nokia could have gotten something like 5% of the world market by rocking China with MeeGo then MeeGo-based devices could have been the 3rd most popular OS eventually. Maybe this potential is what the folks at Jolla see and I look forward to watching further MeeGo developments.
      palmsolo (aka Matthew Miller)
      • Woulda, coulda, shoulda

        Why do people put stock in what disgruntled employees have to say? Tomi Ahonen is from the management team who positioned Nokia in its downwards spiral, and now is fussing over Stephen Elop, as he tries to right the plane. Tomi Ahonen, like RIM's CEO, is delusional in thinking that smaller companies can survive in the smartphone market, without aligning with one of the big three: Apple, MS, Google. Also Nokia was wise when it unburdened itself by relying on MS to do the heavy lifting when it comes to managing the ecosystem of the platform it is using. There is no way Nokia could have gone it alone with Meego, and not get creamed by the pressures of the smartphone market.

        If Nokia had gone with Android, it would be delivering little more than me-too phones, and it wouldn't have the backing from Google it now enjoys from MS. As for Elop making plain the state of the Symbian ecosystem: all he did was state what just about everyone suspected. At best his statements contributed marginally to the collapse of the Symbian ecosystem, which started long before Elop got to Nokia. Elop is not incompetent; on the contrary, I believe he is brilliant. He brought to market, one of the best smartphones out there, extremely quickly, and is causing Windows Phone to see its best growth by far to date. (In fact I think Nokia is doing very well, compared to Apple’s initial performance.)

        Nokia is suffering from blows left and right. I think people would be wise to appreciate Nokia's situation, and what Elop and current Nokia employees are trying to do to correct things; rather listen to arm chair quarterbacking from an executive who helped drive Nokia into the situation it is now in.
        P. Douglas
        • Me too phones

          If Nokia can't make a compelling Android phone they have no hope of making a compelling Windows phone.
        • Is there any chance for Nokia's survival with Elop as CEO?

          @ P. Douglasare
          you praising a ceo that cost his company to lose billions of dollars in revenue and basically destroyed its corporate persona? some good analysis on your part. good luck!
          • LOL!

            You are ignorant beyond words. Nokia's decline started years before Elop set foot in Finland. Nokia was destroying itself by wasting billions on two operating systems that had no developer support, not to mention Symbian was awful. Nokia continually released broken, glitchy phones like the N97. The missed the flip phone craze and the smart phone craze.

            Elop did not put Nokia in the situation they find themselves in. That started years ago.
        • Nokia Android would have been a hit.

          Those who have used Nokia phones and loved their hardware philosophy would have loved a Nokia Android phone. I waited for them to go Android and bought my first Samsung android (SGS2) with lot of trepidation and fear. I liked the very feel of a Nokia in hand. Having said that, after using Android and using it, and loving it, there is no going back. unless Nokia has a better android phone. That could be said of most former Nokia users I know who have switched to the latest generation of android phones
          • That must be why........

            every single Android OEM outside of Samsung is losing money and struggling.
        • Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda... you got that much right !

          Does a former employee who is not a part of the 'Master Turnaround Plan' have to be a disgruntled employee ? As far as can be seen, although it took them long enough, Nokia realized they needed to move to a more competitive OS, hence the work on Meego. They moved slowly but an ecosystem was beginning, just as is the case with WP7 except that MS had to pay them to take on the OS in order to try to expedite share growth ! Doesn't the fact that Elop said they will be going all in with MS "..whether the N9 is a success or not" ? What sort of CEO would pronounce a completed project dead regardless of how well it is received ? That alone should speak volumes for the intended direction of the company, not to mention restricting the device to markets that would have no impact.
          Yes, it may be safe to make comments from the armchair, but some sort of rational and common sense also has to prevail rather than OS partisan talk.
          • All in with MS ?

            "All in with MS" - Really ?

            If that's the strategy, why are they wasting time launching the rather nice MeeGo based N9 and the PureView with the barking mad Camera on Symbian.

            An alternative strategy was to plough ahead with MeeGo, and take Intel's huge bucket of money - they are desperate to get a foot-hold in the marketplace as can be seen on the Orange San Diego made by Gigabyte.


            Intel were also a major development partner on MeeGo, as they folded Intel's Moblin into Nokia's Maemo to make MeeGo.

            Nokia currently being kept alive by the bonfire of what cash they have left will be hosed by the end of the year, they don;t even have the cash-cow of Blackberry Enterprise Server to fall back on like RIM do. If I was a shareholder, i'd be pushing the company into liquidation to try and get something out of it. Microsoft haven;t even tossed Nokia the bone of being the OEM for the Surface tablets, where they could have at least done some cashflow through their supply chain.

            Since the Windoes Phone 7 hardware is all junk in the bargain bin announcement last month, Nokia have nothing anyone wants to buy, other than the cheapo Series XX entry level or dumb smartphones.
          • Too little, too late...

            Rather than now deciding to launch or 'allow' the N9 officially into the US as a desperate backup move, it should not have had a restricted worldwide launch in the first place. Let the market decide if it likes a product and development will follow, especially if the product is complete and indications are it is good ! There are some places where the Nokia name is still very strong, and people might jump at the 808, but unfortunately, that camera tech needs to be coupled with an OS that people have sprung for and that can be pushed a lot further. I just retired my N8, and it would have been amazing to see the 808 running Meego !
          • Yes, all in with MS.

            The N9 was only released in limited markets (probably to make sure it didn't have the chance to humiliate WP7 in a head to head). It was probably due to a deal done with Intel prior to Elop and Windows Phone's limited language support at that time.

            If it's not 'all in with MS' then why wasn't the N9 released in every market?

            Notice how Elop will never give specific numbers about N9 sales?

            Likewise PureView was in development prior to Elop and Windows Phone can't currently support the technology.
          • You're an idiot!

            Nobody bought the N9 except for Microsoft hating idiots like you. Developers never supported it and were never going to support it. It only took Nokia a billion dollars and two years just to get one Meego phone out.

            As for Windows Phone not being able to support Pureview, that just shows how ignorant and stupid you are. WP8 can easily support a 41MP Pureview camera. The reason they don't is nobody wants to carry around a hideous phone that looks like quasimodo, like the 808 which bombed. I suggest you get a clue before spouting blatant lies.
          • The "surface"

            Was designed by, and is being made by the same company that designed and makes all current Nokia phones. Foxconn. I do wonder if the Surface is being made in India, at the same plant that makes the Lumia phones?
            Troll Hunter J
          • Please!

            They weren't going to build an ecosystem for Meego, for the same reason they couldn't build one for Symbian. Developers had no interest in either OS. Windows Phone has over 110,000 apps. Windows Phone 8 and it's native development will make that number explode.

            Symbian and Meego combined have a tiny fraction of that, and Symbian was on the market long before WP came alone. So no, they weren't going to build an ecosystem on either of those platforms. I shouldn't have to mention they wasted billions of dollars on these two awful platforms, with nothing but declining revenue and market share to show for it.
        • You're not very bright...

          ...if you think Elop's brilliant. The writing on the wall is there, yet for some reason you fail to see it: Elop's just another prick emanated from Redmond, a Trojan that infects that last remaining bastion of good OEM manufacturing, just to fulfil Ballmer's megalomaniac's dream of beating Gates. What, you expect the bald dude that was recently voted the worst CEO of all the companies in Forbes 500, whose annual bonus in 2011 was cancelled because of the WinPho fuckery, who declared back in 2007 that "the iPhone has no chance" - to actually have a decent mobile strategy for the company?! You must be on some quality crack if you can't see that Elop's just a puppet, coordinating the downfall of Nokia so that Ballmer can throw chump-change at it (buying Skype for $8 billion must've alarmed investors still in their right minds). What "brilliance" do you see in a man under whose tenure more than 15.000 (and counting) people have lost their jobs, who declared MeeGo dead even before it had a chance to impress, killing a potentially-great partnership with Intel, who decided that one-size-fits-all, betting the future of a great company on an OS that was never supposed to live more than 2 years (see the WP8 upgrade)? While I wholeheartedly agree that Nokia's downward spiraling wasn't initially caused by Elop, I'm sure he's there just to make sure the last nail in the Finn's coffin is knit tightly.

          And yeah, whatta great phone Lumia 900 is: 800*480 resolution, only 720p video and not even a native YouTube app (the one in the Marketplace is just a link to YT's mobile site). You fail miserably on so many aspects I kinda feel sorry I wasted my time answering.
          Semper Fidelis
          • There's enough stupidity.......

   this post to kill a billion brain cells. So I won't bother except to say you're an idiot, and that nobody cares that you hate Microsoft.
        • Your evidence please

          Please provide some factual evidence of "the collapse of the Symbian ecosystem".

          The facts are Symbian was outselling Apple and Samsung combined and in terms of revenue Ovi was bigger than the Android market place and everywhere other than North America it was bigger than Apple's app store too.

          Not only that but Qt Creator and QtQuick were in beta and looking outstanding so developing for Symbian was just about to get a whole lot better.

          And then there was the anticipation of MeeGo, a fully fledged Linux computer in your pocket.

          In January 2011 everything exciting on the mobile horizon was going to come from NOKIA, then Elop intervened and now all we have is a husk of a formerly great company.
          • I've seen rocks smarter than you.

            Nokia's market share and revenue were falling off of a cliff for two years before Elop. I'd suggest you do a little research, because you are woefully ignorant.