Nokia Plan B is far too late, but there’s hope for Plan A

I saw a re-tweet of the Nokia Plan B open letter to Nokia shareholders and investors. It makes for interesting reading and I do like and appreciate the broad thrust of their arguments. (The Plan B summary: Don’t do the Microsoft deal, get rid of Elop, fire some people, hire some people and the like).

The letter, written by ‘9 young Nokia shareholders’, makes some very credible points.

My response is: Where were you last year? Where were you when the company was spunking it’s market reputation up the wall and moving slowly, inexorably to last week’s position of utter weakness?

The Microsoft strategy is galling for many die-hard Nokia fans. However I think the company had absolutely no alternative. I don’t think many fans and stakeholders truly appreciated the gravity of the situation. The company was in such a dire position that the credit ratings agencies were considering reducing Nokia’s phenomenally good A1 status. The world’s largest handset maker? Downgraded? Shocking. Just because the market has/had lost faith. Nothing but bold steps would placate the industry and Elop knew this. The bold step comprised of two choices: Android or Windows Phone.

The steps had to be bold. Massive and bold. Dumping a one-off toe-in-the-water Windows Phone into the US market (as the Plan B’s suggest) would have done absolutely nothing for Nokia. It’s only the fear — the awesome fear — of the world’s largest handset maker adopting a brave new strategy that is making the market sit up and pay attention. Half a billion handsets a year? All migrating to a Nokia-customised WP7? This has lots of people rather excited. (I know the numbers aren’t quite accurate — but it’s not as if we’re talking about a marketplace minnow. This is Nokia!)

I don’t think people had any clue just how bad things were for the company prior to last week’s announcements. And taking the market temperature here at Mobile World Congress, I’m content to say that the new strategy is absolutely brilliant. For the first time in what feels like decades, Nokia is being treated as a player again. Developers, suppliers, operators, manufacturers, industry executives — I’ve spoken to many already and the overwhelming response is hugely positive.

Oh for sure there is a question over transition and execution, but finally Nokia has a seat at the table. (Remember, just a few weeks ago, Nokia was a total and complete irrelevance to the majority of the industry).

Finally Nokia has influence. Finally people are looking at the company and beginning to evaluate it based on an awesome future position. The world’s biggest manufacturer? With a logistical capability second to none? Now back at the table? Yes please.

What’s fascinating is the sea change I’m perceiving. All of a sudden people are talking about three major players: Apple, Android and Nokia/Microsoft. (RIM is in there too — although many people don’t quite know how to place them — underestimate RIM at your peril). The key is that — goodness me — Nokia is now ‘a big three’. Nokia is now a player. Of course this perspective is heavily based upon an assumption of proper execution over the next year. But Nokia is back in the game.

It’s far too late for what-ifs or maybes. The time for that was last year.

Nokia will fall apart if it’s employees fail to get behind the specified strategy 110%. The company needs to ‘right’ itself very, very fast. If you’re a diehard passionate Nokia fan, your first priority should be to help fix the company’s position using WP7. The industry will not wear any other option. A decision needed to be made. It could have been Android or maybe even WebOS (bit of a stretch, I know) but it could not centre around the company’s existing operating systems — they’re perceived by the market to have failed. I know to many this seems like ridiculous logic. Alas, it’s the game of perception vs delivery vs execution. Apple are masters, Google are obsessive and there was no further room for Nokia to deliver. There was no scope to allow Nokia to spend 12 months trying to fix Symbian/MeeGo to the market’s satisfaction. Nokia now has at least 9 months grace to get things right with WP7.

If you’d like to see Symbian, MeeGo and so on continue as is, great — me too — I simply adore my N86. I’d love to have seen another revision. But first, right the ship, get the strategy working and demonstrate it to the market. Make Nokia great again. Then by all means bring Symbian and MeeGo to the fore.

However I think Nokia can do much better than what we’ve seen hitherto. I think the company can take the existing ‘iPhone’ app interface paradigm and completely change it. I think Nokia could deliver us the next generation of mobile interface based around always-on, uber-connected network-aware seamless mobile computing. I don’t mean WP7 with bells, I mean a totally new interaction layer that will blow our minds. I am hoping for and expecting a lot.

But none of that will arrive if Nokia can’t fix its current position and execute Elop’s plan. If you want to see how bad it really was for Nokia, just wait. The real position was hidden for many. But just wait. If we get 9 months of in-fighting and emotional toys-out-the-pram behaviour from an obstinate employee base, we’ll see the true reality — and that will be an awful sight. If you think things changed dramatically on Friday, give a bit of thought to (for example) HP or Qualcomm buying a financially stressed, downgraded paralysed Nokia handset business for a paltry $5 billion this time next year. And doing so primarily for the patent library and a much diminished 10% market global handset position.

The game has changed. Nokia missed the boat this time around. The Phoenix is rising from the ashes right now — come on Nokia! Let’s see what you’ve got to show us. I think it could be simply brilliant.

Posted via email from MIR Live

Update: Ben Smith weighs in with his perspective on the issue.

64 Responses to Nokia Plan B is far too late, but there’s hope for Plan A

  1. Anonymous February 14, 2011 at 10:27 pm #

    Love this piece. Let’s Go!

  2. JamesVincent February 14, 2011 at 10:58 pm #

    Woohoo. So happy to know they are killing off symbian. What A disaster and a waste of 400 pound on the N86. Then had war with them to change it and the N97mini was a disaster. Bring on WP7.

  3. ex-meegouser February 14, 2011 at 11:04 pm #

    I don’t agree with your take. I think Elop came in with the express purpose of adopting WP7. There was no regard for the momentum that the Symbian^3, MeeGo, OVI and Qt ecosystem was building up. When you read his “Burning Platform” memo, it takes a narrow-minded US-centric view of Nokia and the world. Tomi Ahonen had a brilliant analysis of all the factual errors in his memo.

    He sounded like someone who had been reading too many negative stories about Nokia and Symbian in the Nokia-hating US press. Nokia’s US sales people had just broken through and had phones in the pipeline with carriers with AT&T and T-Mobile like the X7 and C5-03.

    The new Symbian^3 outsold the also new WP7 by a factor of 5. The Symbian^3 series sold more than the entire Galaxy S series over the same period. Symbian^3 had steady momentum. For the first time in a long while there was excitement around Nokia.

    It may be too late for Plan B but lets not rewrite history. Nokia’s market share was declining but there was hope on the horizon with MeeGo. With WP7 it looks far more bleak.

    History will show the choice of Elop was the day Nokia lost it. The Nokia we knew and loved is no more.

    I support Plan B (even though I think it’s too late) because the Windows Phone ecosystem doesn’t offer anything that the OVI ecosystem doesn’t already have. Nokia is giving up everything and gaining nothing but a dependent licensing model that benefits Microsoft more. It’s the reason why Nokia’s stock is down 25% since the announcement. It’s the reason why developers and die hard fans of the brand have tuned on them. Becoming Microsoft’s lacky was not the only option.

  4. James Pearce February 14, 2011 at 11:19 pm #

    > He sounded like someone who had been reading too many negative stories [in the] US press

    But is it a co-incidence that their two rival ecosystems are being created about 5 miles away from each other? Clue: not in Espoo.

    As the line from The Social Network goes: “It’s time for them to see this in Palo Alto”.

  5. Joey February 15, 2011 at 5:51 am #

    WMP7, don’t see any one i know carrying it. In fact, one could be bought for a song and yet no one buys it. Strange. From 899-> 799-> 699->599-> 499 in a matter of 6 months.

  6. Dimitris Tsonis February 15, 2011 at 8:36 am #

    Now that Nokia had finally managed to make an acceptable Symbian^3 OS, with a concrete improving plan, that MS guy decided to say that their platform wasn’t even close to the iOS user experience.
    Sucks…

  7. Vdharankar February 15, 2011 at 8:41 am #

    You are absolutely correct, whole world knows that N8 sold like anything and there was a wave of happiness amongst Nokia users , they enjoyed N8 more than any other nokia phone, also every one knows there were so many preorders that it left iphone behind in race.
    Still you people think that Nokia lost the market share ? Unbelievable, Elop came as a MS trojan to Nokia and thats the fact many of us agrees. Nokia was much more ahead in terms of sale in Asian and Europian countries wasnt it promising enough for Nokia ?

  8. a_goedde February 15, 2011 at 8:50 am #

    First of all – I hear you, Ewan. The markets demanded change, and they got it. I’m not one of the Symbian apologists and Nokia ultra-loyalists who will still argue that things were fine. This doesn’t mean I have to be happy about the announcement, and I certainly see a lot of risks here.
    The annoucement itself hasn’t fixed anything – it’s down to execution again, only this time with a partner who has a mixed history of delivering software on schedule and to spec. Isn’t the first WP7 update overdue by now? And what about the announcement that twitter integration into the people hub is going to take them another six months? Call me a pessimist here, but these are exactly he kind of problems that Nokia was already very good at producing in-house. Plus, if it takes that long to do something this relatively simple, maybe that is an indication that WP7 really isn’t all that modern and easy to maintain under the hood?
    Regarding the 9 months – Nokia themselves have said that the first WP7 devices might not be until 2012, and definitely not in volume until then. These are time frames where MeeGo could have been released, without the irreversible damage to the Symbian ecosystem done now. Sure, Symbian was in decline (even though I thought the Symbian^3 numbers looked OK and I saw real potential there), but this year will see far worse.
    On the plus side, maybe people inside of Nokia really have woken up now, and will produce great results again. Let’s hope the company can survive until then.

  9. Ewan February 15, 2011 at 9:18 am #

    Good debate! I do see your points. Let me ask you this: What could Nokia have announced on Friday that would have quietened the market? Even temporarily?

    9-12 months to wait for MeeGo? That would have been corporate suicide.

  10. Anonymous February 15, 2011 at 9:20 am #

    Already on the bandwagon, eh?

  11. Anonymous February 15, 2011 at 1:24 pm #

    That is the second time you said that, but I do not see the problem here. Especially after the additional information we got on Sunday. You see:

    Symbian was going to be replaced/reduced anyway, by MeeGo. Instead of MeeGo it is WP7.
    Symbian will still be developed, will still get the new UI, and will still sell 150 million additional units.
    Qt will continue for Symbian & MeeGo

    So, the question really is, what have we lost. With we, I mean Europe. I see the loss of full vertical integration a certain loss for Europe, and I am sad about that. At the same time, what is the alternative? Apparently, Symbian was to slow to go forwards & MeeGo is not ready yet. Since Nokia still needs to make money, what exactly would be the alternative?

    Also, it is not as if they turned into a LG overnight, since they will keep some Ovi branding within the Marketplace, keep their Navigations assets, get a cut of advertising, their Music offering will be absorbed, their carrier agreements are still in tact.

    It seems the core OS development work has been transferred to MS, with a OpEx reduction for Nokia. Nokia will still work on the Ecosystem, notice how no one said Nokia Windows Phone 7 Phone, but Nokia Windows Phone.

    I very much would have preferred a MeeGo ecosystem, or a Symbian of the future, but they are not here now.

    So, Nokia lost a battle, does that mean we should hope for it to lose the war? Should we be melodramatic about the future of Symbian? (Notice we saw the new UI for the first time during the MS Nokia Q&A).

    Also it is my personal belief that MeeGo will not go either, but will be invested in as a hedge against MS, and as a early warning system for “future disruptions” (Hate that term)

    Now, I am talking to NokiaPlanB. I admire the effort and their conviction. But how exactly are they building their business model in Excel right now? They do not know the term sheet, have no insight into how far MeeGo is along? Without those, what is the point of being an Armchair analyst?

  12. Anonymous February 15, 2011 at 1:24 pm #

    That is the second time you said that, but I do not see the problem here. Especially after the additional information we got on Sunday. You see:

    Symbian was going to be replaced/reduced anyway, by MeeGo. Instead of MeeGo it is WP7.
    Symbian will still be developed, will still get the new UI, and will still sell 150 million additional units.
    Qt will continue for Symbian & MeeGo

    So, the question really is, what have we lost. With we, I mean Europe. I see the loss of full vertical integration a certain loss for Europe, and I am sad about that. At the same time, what is the alternative? Apparently, Symbian was to slow to go forwards & MeeGo is not ready yet. Since Nokia still needs to make money, what exactly would be the alternative?

    Also, it is not as if they turned into a LG overnight, since they will keep some Ovi branding within the Marketplace, keep their Navigations assets, get a cut of advertising, their Music offering will be absorbed, their carrier agreements are still in tact.

    It seems the core OS development work has been transferred to MS, with a OpEx reduction for Nokia. Nokia will still work on the Ecosystem, notice how no one said Nokia Windows Phone 7 Phone, but Nokia Windows Phone.

    I very much would have preferred a MeeGo ecosystem, or a Symbian of the future, but they are not here now.

    So, Nokia lost a battle, does that mean we should hope for it to lose the war? Should we be melodramatic about the future of Symbian? (Notice we saw the new UI for the first time during the MS Nokia Q&A).

    Also it is my personal belief that MeeGo will not go either, but will be invested in as a hedge against MS, and as a early warning system for “future disruptions” (Hate that term)

    Now, I am talking to NokiaPlanB. I admire the effort and their conviction. But how exactly are they building their business model in Excel right now? They do not know the term sheet, have no insight into how far MeeGo is along? Without those, what is the point of being an Armchair analyst?

  13. Anonymous February 15, 2011 at 1:24 pm #

    That is the second time you said that, but I do not see the problem here. Especially after the additional information we got on Sunday. You see:

    Symbian was going to be replaced/reduced anyway, by MeeGo. Instead of MeeGo it is WP7.
    Symbian will still be developed, will still get the new UI, and will still sell 150 million additional units.
    Qt will continue for Symbian & MeeGo

    So, the question really is, what have we lost. With we, I mean Europe. I see the loss of full vertical integration a certain loss for Europe, and I am sad about that. At the same time, what is the alternative? Apparently, Symbian was to slow to go forwards & MeeGo is not ready yet. Since Nokia still needs to make money, what exactly would be the alternative?

    Also, it is not as if they turned into a LG overnight, since they will keep some Ovi branding within the Marketplace, keep their Navigations assets, get a cut of advertising, their Music offering will be absorbed, their carrier agreements are still in tact.

    It seems the core OS development work has been transferred to MS, with a OpEx reduction for Nokia. Nokia will still work on the Ecosystem, notice how no one said Nokia Windows Phone 7 Phone, but Nokia Windows Phone.

    I very much would have preferred a MeeGo ecosystem, or a Symbian of the future, but they are not here now.

    So, Nokia lost a battle, does that mean we should hope for it to lose the war? Should we be melodramatic about the future of Symbian? (Notice we saw the new UI for the first time during the MS Nokia Q&A).

    Also it is my personal belief that MeeGo will not go either, but will be invested in as a hedge against MS, and as a early warning system for “future disruptions” (Hate that term)

    Now, I am talking to NokiaPlanB. I admire the effort and their conviction. But how exactly are they building their business model in Excel right now? They do not know the term sheet, have no insight into how far MeeGo is along? Without those, what is the point of being an Armchair analyst?

  14. Anonymous February 15, 2011 at 1:24 pm #

    That is the second time you said that, but I do not see the problem here. Especially after the additional information we got on Sunday. You see:

    Symbian was going to be replaced/reduced anyway, by MeeGo. Instead of MeeGo it is WP7.
    Symbian will still be developed, will still get the new UI, and will still sell 150 million additional units.
    Qt will continue for Symbian & MeeGo

    So, the question really is, what have we lost. With we, I mean Europe. I see the loss of full vertical integration a certain loss for Europe, and I am sad about that. At the same time, what is the alternative? Apparently, Symbian was to slow to go forwards & MeeGo is not ready yet. Since Nokia still needs to make money, what exactly would be the alternative?

    Also, it is not as if they turned into a LG overnight, since they will keep some Ovi branding within the Marketplace, keep their Navigations assets, get a cut of advertising, their Music offering will be absorbed, their carrier agreements are still in tact.

    It seems the core OS development work has been transferred to MS, with a OpEx reduction for Nokia. Nokia will still work on the Ecosystem, notice how no one said Nokia Windows Phone 7 Phone, but Nokia Windows Phone.

    I very much would have preferred a MeeGo ecosystem, or a Symbian of the future, but they are not here now.

    So, Nokia lost a battle, does that mean we should hope for it to lose the war? Should we be melodramatic about the future of Symbian? (Notice we saw the new UI for the first time during the MS Nokia Q&A).

    Also it is my personal belief that MeeGo will not go either, but will be invested in as a hedge against MS, and as a early warning system for “future disruptions” (Hate that term)

    Now, I am talking to NokiaPlanB. I admire the effort and their conviction. But how exactly are they building their business model in Excel right now? They do not know the term sheet, have no insight into how far MeeGo is along? Without those, what is the point of being an Armchair analyst?

  15. Anonymous February 15, 2011 at 1:24 pm #

    That is the second time you said that, but I do not see the problem here. Especially after the additional information we got on Sunday. You see:

    Symbian was going to be replaced/reduced anyway, by MeeGo. Instead of MeeGo it is WP7.
    Symbian will still be developed, will still get the new UI, and will still sell 150 million additional units.
    Qt will continue for Symbian & MeeGo

    So, the question really is, what have we lost. With we, I mean Europe. I see the loss of full vertical integration a certain loss for Europe, and I am sad about that. At the same time, what is the alternative? Apparently, Symbian was to slow to go forwards & MeeGo is not ready yet. Since Nokia still needs to make money, what exactly would be the alternative?

    Also, it is not as if they turned into a LG overnight, since they will keep some Ovi branding within the Marketplace, keep their Navigations assets, get a cut of advertising, their Music offering will be absorbed, their carrier agreements are still in tact.

    It seems the core OS development work has been transferred to MS, with a OpEx reduction for Nokia. Nokia will still work on the Ecosystem, notice how no one said Nokia Windows Phone 7 Phone, but Nokia Windows Phone.

    I very much would have preferred a MeeGo ecosystem, or a Symbian of the future, but they are not here now.

    So, Nokia lost a battle, does that mean we should hope for it to lose the war? Should we be melodramatic about the future of Symbian? (Notice we saw the new UI for the first time during the MS Nokia Q&A).

    Also it is my personal belief that MeeGo will not go either, but will be invested in as a hedge against MS, and as a early warning system for “future disruptions” (Hate that term)

    Now, I am talking to NokiaPlanB. I admire the effort and their conviction. But how exactly are they building their business model in Excel right now? They do not know the term sheet, have no insight into how far MeeGo is along? Without those, what is the point of being an Armchair analyst?

  16. Anonymous February 15, 2011 at 1:24 pm #

    That is the second time you said that, but I do not see the problem here. Especially after the additional information we got on Sunday. You see:

    Symbian was going to be replaced/reduced anyway, by MeeGo. Instead of MeeGo it is WP7.
    Symbian will still be developed, will still get the new UI, and will still sell 150 million additional units.
    Qt will continue for Symbian & MeeGo

    So, the question really is, what have we lost. With we, I mean Europe. I see the loss of full vertical integration a certain loss for Europe, and I am sad about that. At the same time, what is the alternative? Apparently, Symbian was to slow to go forwards & MeeGo is not ready yet. Since Nokia still needs to make money, what exactly would be the alternative?

    Also, it is not as if they turned into a LG overnight, since they will keep some Ovi branding within the Marketplace, keep their Navigations assets, get a cut of advertising, their Music offering will be absorbed, their carrier agreements are still in tact.

    It seems the core OS development work has been transferred to MS, with a OpEx reduction for Nokia. Nokia will still work on the Ecosystem, notice how no one said Nokia Windows Phone 7 Phone, but Nokia Windows Phone.

    I very much would have preferred a MeeGo ecosystem, or a Symbian of the future, but they are not here now.

    So, Nokia lost a battle, does that mean we should hope for it to lose the war? Should we be melodramatic about the future of Symbian? (Notice we saw the new UI for the first time during the MS Nokia Q&A).

    Also it is my personal belief that MeeGo will not go either, but will be invested in as a hedge against MS, and as a early warning system for “future disruptions” (Hate that term)

    Now, I am talking to NokiaPlanB. I admire the effort and their conviction. But how exactly are they building their business model in Excel right now? They do not know the term sheet, have no insight into how far MeeGo is along? Without those, what is the point of being an Armchair analyst?

  17. Anonymous February 15, 2011 at 1:24 pm #

    That is the second time you said that, but I do not see the problem here. Especially after the additional information we got on Sunday. You see:

    Symbian was going to be replaced/reduced anyway, by MeeGo. Instead of MeeGo it is WP7.
    Symbian will still be developed, will still get the new UI, and will still sell 150 million additional units.
    Qt will continue for Symbian & MeeGo

    So, the question really is, what have we lost. With we, I mean Europe. I see the loss of full vertical integration a certain loss for Europe, and I am sad about that. At the same time, what is the alternative? Apparently, Symbian was to slow to go forwards & MeeGo is not ready yet. Since Nokia still needs to make money, what exactly would be the alternative?

    Also, it is not as if they turned into a LG overnight, since they will keep some Ovi branding within the Marketplace, keep their Navigations assets, get a cut of advertising, their Music offering will be absorbed, their carrier agreements are still in tact.

    It seems the core OS development work has been transferred to MS, with a OpEx reduction for Nokia. Nokia will still work on the Ecosystem, notice how no one said Nokia Windows Phone 7 Phone, but Nokia Windows Phone.

    I very much would have preferred a MeeGo ecosystem, or a Symbian of the future, but they are not here now.

    So, Nokia lost a battle, does that mean we should hope for it to lose the war? Should we be melodramatic about the future of Symbian? (Notice we saw the new UI for the first time during the MS Nokia Q&A).

    Also it is my personal belief that MeeGo will not go either, but will be invested in as a hedge against MS, and as a early warning system for “future disruptions” (Hate that term)

    Now, I am talking to NokiaPlanB. I admire the effort and their conviction. But how exactly are they building their business model in Excel right now? They do not know the term sheet, have no insight into how far MeeGo is along? Without those, what is the point of being an Armchair analyst?

  18. Ewan February 15, 2011 at 1:26 pm #

    An interesting point!

  19. Ewan February 15, 2011 at 1:26 pm #

    An interesting point!

  20. Ewan February 15, 2011 at 1:26 pm #

    An interesting point!

  21. Ewan February 15, 2011 at 1:26 pm #

    An interesting point!

  22. Ewan February 15, 2011 at 1:26 pm #

    An interesting point!

  23. Ewan February 15, 2011 at 1:26 pm #

    An interesting point!

  24. Victor February 15, 2011 at 2:07 pm #

    The time for Nokia to act should have been late 2009, right about when you were writing all those Nokia bashing posts. However, hindsight is 2020…

  25. Ewan February 15, 2011 at 2:23 pm #

    Indeed

  26. Anonymous February 15, 2011 at 5:33 pm #

    So you’re an intellegent man after all. It is just tbat your fanboyism blind you. I’m glad you’ve finally seen the light.

  27. Alex Kerr February 15, 2011 at 7:47 pm #

    Ewan your position is in direct contrast to Tomi Ahonen: http://communities-dominate.blogs.com/brands/2011/02/when-things-get-even-worse-than-you-thought-1st-preview-of-potential-for-nokia-microsoft-partnership.html

    Now, to be blunt, you know your stuff to an extent, but I’m afraid Mr Ahonen knows his stuff much better, so it’s his take on the proceedings that I think people would do well to trust rather than yours.

    > Half a billion handsets a year? All migrating to a Nokia-customised WP7? This has lots of people rather excited. (I know the numbers aren’t quite accurate

    Erm…nice try, but you’re not getting off that easily with such nonsense 🙂
    A half billion handsets a year will be mostly J2ME S40 based. Even if Nokia experienced a 100% conversion rate of Symbian/MeeGo fans to Windows Phone fans (and everyone’s predicting the exact opposite) that’s around 100 million WinPho/year. Not half a billion. Given how pissed off most people are and how inferior Windows Phone is to Symbian, the number will be far, far lower than that for the forseeable future. Android is and will be far more attractive to smartphone buyers than Windows Phone – and the remainder will jump to iPhone or RIM.

  28. Alex Kerr February 15, 2011 at 7:50 pm #

    Totally agree with everything you and Ex Post Facto write.

    Think it’s time for bloggers and other commentators to start being honest about this (we know the mainstream media is incapable of this though, mainly through ignorance)

  29. Alex Kerr February 15, 2011 at 7:55 pm #

    > (Notice we saw the new UI for the first time during the MS Nokia Q&A).

    No, I REALLY don’t think that was a new UI. It was quite obviously a simple graphic indicating that a new UI would be made, the actual UI will be nothing like it.

  30. Ewan February 15, 2011 at 8:04 pm #

    No need to be afraid!

  31. a_goedde February 15, 2011 at 8:56 pm #

    I do try see the markets angle. If that’s really how the situation was, then there really wasn’t anything much they could do. It’s shocking that the choice was then between suicide through staying a viable course, and possible suicide through going with Microsoft.

  32. Ewan February 15, 2011 at 8:59 pm #

    I worry that your definition of ‘ready-for-market’ might not be entirely the view of the rest of the world?

  33. Ewan February 15, 2011 at 9:04 pm #

    There was no viable course. Do this for me, put yourself in the position of zero viable strategy. Would you have done Android, Windows or died slowly?

  34. a_goedde February 15, 2011 at 9:14 pm #

    What have we lost? Well, the transit from Symbian to MeeGo was planned as non-disruptive regarding apps through Qt on both platforms. Developers would have had a reason to stay with Symbian as it was being phased out because work done there could have been re-used for the new high-end platform. MeeGo would have profited from a large established developer community, and Symbian could have been held viable for the migration down to low and ultra-low end devices for years to come.
    Now there’s no little reason for the developers to stay, and no reason for new developers to come. The transition from Symbian to WP7 is not mediated by anything, and Symbian will decline much faster than it otherwise would have, with nothing there to pick up the losses for the next 12 months.
    This is not to say that Nokia would have executed well on the original plan, and I think it’s entirely possible the investors were pressuring for radical change. I’m just saying that from a purely strategical perspective, divorced of the pitfalls of execution, this is a disaster.

  35. Rascal01 February 15, 2011 at 9:47 pm #

    Well put.

    Pushing tin is not what it used to be. The Nokia strategy of 2007 ( phones are just empty vessels waiting to be filled with services) is the right one – the Microsoft deal simply accelerates the commoditization of the phone.

    What most ignore is the services integration that Nokiasoft will do. First – consider why Google made Android. Google is an advertising media company that uses search (and mail, map, speech, video, photo) heuristics to serve ads. Location-based ad serving is infinitely more valuable than any of those. So Google creates a platform for serving ads (Android) and then slowly starts bringing the features in. Watch Android create some advertising legs in 2011/2012. Hardware-only Android companies will get a basic sliver of the profit pie – probably won’t go as sour as white goods margins, but it’s not going to be in the roaring forties – but Android will reserve the right to most of the ad revenue, as the platform is already commoditized to players like ZTE who are happy with a 5% operational profit margin, so no other player (Moto, SEMC) will have a leg to stand when demanding Google to shell out major money for ad revenue based on ‘creating the market’. Googloid just laughs all the way to Foxconn who start churning out Android phones at 3% margin.

    Consider Microsoft, with aptitude and a will to move to the cloud, and to enter the ad space – i.e. access to advertisers – but no real access to users, as WP7 isn’t growing. It’s only half of the equation, and MSFT will fall flat on its face without major uptake of WP7. Remember: it’s hard to compete with free, especially if said free is already growing like crazy.

    Enter Nokia, major promise of volume, brand, and aptitude in both phone and services (well, ok, maps, maybe) – the negotiation is now one of equals. MSFT has advertisers, Nokia can offer their real-time location, but will not give the GPS coordinates for free; rather, any ad revenue made on the partnership will be split in a way that will benefit Nokia on a different scale than any other hardware manufacturer out there.

    Yeah, MSFT may still be the winner of the partnership if the ad ecosystem around WP7 flies. But if it flies, Nokia will be the best positioned to maintain a higher margin business, save for Apple who has their own ecosystem and service portfolio. Moto, SEMC, HTC… Will compete with ZTE and other Chinese borgs.

  36. Rascal01 February 15, 2011 at 9:47 pm #

    Well put.

    Pushing tin is not what it used to be. The Nokia strategy of 2007 ( phones are just empty vessels waiting to be filled with services) is the right one – the Microsoft deal simply accelerates the commoditization of the phone.

    What most ignore is the services integration that Nokiasoft will do. First – consider why Google made Android. Google is an advertising media company that uses search (and mail, map, speech, video, photo) heuristics to serve ads. Location-based ad serving is infinitely more valuable than any of those. So Google creates a platform for serving ads (Android) and then slowly starts bringing the features in. Watch Android create some advertising legs in 2011/2012. Hardware-only Android companies will get a basic sliver of the profit pie – probably won’t go as sour as white goods margins, but it’s not going to be in the roaring forties – but Android will reserve the right to most of the ad revenue, as the platform is already commoditized to players like ZTE who are happy with a 5% operational profit margin, so no other player (Moto, SEMC) will have a leg to stand when demanding Google to shell out major money for ad revenue based on ‘creating the market’. Googloid just laughs all the way to Foxconn who start churning out Android phones at 3% margin.

    Consider Microsoft, with aptitude and a will to move to the cloud, and to enter the ad space – i.e. access to advertisers – but no real access to users, as WP7 isn’t growing. It’s only half of the equation, and MSFT will fall flat on its face without major uptake of WP7. Remember: it’s hard to compete with free, especially if said free is already growing like crazy.

    Enter Nokia, major promise of volume, brand, and aptitude in both phone and services (well, ok, maps, maybe) – the negotiation is now one of equals. MSFT has advertisers, Nokia can offer their real-time location, but will not give the GPS coordinates for free; rather, any ad revenue made on the partnership will be split in a way that will benefit Nokia on a different scale than any other hardware manufacturer out there.

    Yeah, MSFT may still be the winner of the partnership if the ad ecosystem around WP7 flies. But if it flies, Nokia will be the best positioned to maintain a higher margin business, save for Apple who has their own ecosystem and service portfolio. Moto, SEMC, HTC… Will compete with ZTE and other Chinese borgs.

  37. Ewan February 15, 2011 at 10:12 pm #

    Super analysis

  38. Ewan February 15, 2011 at 10:12 pm #

    Super analysis

  39. SpaceDude February 15, 2011 at 10:27 pm #

    No, you’re right – no need to be afraid – just completely ticked off…

  40. Ewan February 15, 2011 at 10:31 pm #

    Indeed

  41. SpaceDude February 15, 2011 at 10:33 pm #

    Only a bean-counter can think of this as a super analysis. Just a quick wake-up call for you, Ewan: It’s not the phone, stupid, it’s the content!

    And guess what, who makes the content? And who got ticked off by that idiotic move, which makes any transition from Symbian^3 to a new platform (keyword Qt) impossible?

    Quick hint: It’s the same people! The difference between a dumb phone and a smart phone are the developers who create the content! So, all this bean-counting, Microsoft here, ROI there, Nokia will only be one of many, nothing special any longer. Which is too bad, they really had something going…

    Anyway, let me guess your reply: “No need to be afraid” – it’s getting boring, Ewan…

  42. SpaceDude February 15, 2011 at 10:37 pm #

    Gee, Ewan, did you not learn in school: You shouldn’t compare apples with oranges with chicken with fish with …

    Nokia was the ONLY company out there with a plan to move from a decent 3rd generation platform to the 4th – nobody else had it, not Apple, not Google not HP/Palm. Nobody.

    But then again, a (market) leader has to act as a leader, not as a follower. If they got tired to lead, so be it, time for a new one…

  43. Ewan February 15, 2011 at 10:38 pm #

    And we move on

  44. Ewan February 15, 2011 at 10:39 pm #

    Agreed

  45. SpaceDude February 15, 2011 at 10:39 pm #

    It’s never too late trying to stop insanity – I hope for Plan B.

  46. Ewan February 15, 2011 at 10:41 pm #

    Hope?

  47. Jacks February 15, 2011 at 11:25 pm #

    I think the real Plan B for the Nokia shareholders can be found from this address: http://nokiaplanb.info

  48. rascal01 February 15, 2011 at 11:34 pm #

    Tomi has an opinion he is supporting with choice facts. It’s the whole point of blogs. Reality doesn’t need to enter the discussion too heavily.

  49. Ewan February 15, 2011 at 11:49 pm #

    Heh!

  50. Shashank February 16, 2011 at 11:11 am #

    Acceptable Symbian^3? i thought that was a dead concept years ago! That route led to a point where even the loyal Nokia users would have finally left camp! It is important to realize that Symbian was never going to keep Nokia in the game – I agree that Meego could have been given a more serious and focused shot. But then, Who is John Galt?

  51. Shashank February 16, 2011 at 11:17 am #

    AT & T had rejected X7 and withdrawn all marketing support to it based on a consumer demo test it carried on the phone.

  52. Bye bye Nokia February 16, 2011 at 11:26 am #

    You are correct that Nokia needs a new bold move, but dumping Meego and Symbian and going blindly to Windows 7 is not an answer.
    Windows 7 phones are not interesting to developers because the coding for those is pain in the ass and the development tools are extremely costly. And because platform has not enough developers there won’t be interesting applications and the whole platform will fail.
    Windows mobile has total of 1000 application in the store. Apple has over 300 000 applications in the store and Android has at least over 200 000 applications. Also the Ovi has good selection of applications, I could not find the figure how much. So the Windows 7 phones will take few years to be competitive in applications or then it won’t never happen.

    The correct choice would have been to continue Meego and Symbian with the QT support.
    And with these make also some Android phones which can support also QT as a coding language to get to the US market. This way Nokia would have combined all these mobile platforms to one and the applications and the phones would have sold enourmous amounts of phones and applications via Ovi ecosystem.
    With Android Nokia would have been able to get to US market without forgetting the rest of the world.

    It’s intresting to see what companies like Intel and ZTE will be able to bring in the table with Meego platform. It could be that the big three will have totally new player in this year.

  53. Andy Nugent February 16, 2011 at 3:24 pm #

    “I think Nokia could deliver us the next generation of mobile interface based around always-on, uber-connected network-aware seamless mobile computing.”

    Ewan, if Nokia can deliver that, they can deliver it on top of Symbian (presuming MeeGo is as far from market ready as people are saying), and still keep ownership of the OS on their phones.

    The question is, can Nokia adapt to efficiently provide the software and services (complemented by their hardware) that would differentiate them from their competitors? If they can, then they don’t need Microsoft. If they can’t, then they’re just another OEM.

    And this, in my opinion, is peoples concerns about the deal. I don’t doubt Nokia will bring out a great phone based on WP7, but have they just surrendered in any fight to stay a tier 1 manufacturer, competing with Apple, Google, RIM, etc. and voluntarilly stepped down to competing with HTC, LGE, etc.?

  54. stoli89 February 16, 2011 at 3:42 pm #

    As much as I am pi$$ed off about the abrupt shift in strategy and lack of clarity over the next 9 months, as the emotions have died down I too see some upside. It’s certainly a huge and risky bet, but if Nokia succeeds, the rewards will be great. In any event, the burning memo seemed rash to me at first and, frankly, a bit Cheney-esque in its yelling “fire” in a crowded theater. However, upon closer consideration, it may very well be a General Cortez moment for Elop. As Cortex burned his ships upon arrival at Vera Cruz, the burning memo has clearly left Nokia with little option but a clear path forward. There’s no turning back. Of course, if Nokia and M$ cannot execute according to plan, then Nokia is really doomed. I suppose this is onje way to motivate a workforce..or what’s left of it.

  55. cmk011 February 16, 2011 at 4:55 pm #

    Wow! I am amazed by the total lack of awareness and complete disregard for accepting reality in these comments.

    First off, Tomi Ahonen is not an industry expert nor is he the end all be all voice for Nokia. No offense to Tomi, but his ideas are a full generation behind the marketplace (focus on sms and bring back an old HW design). The only reason the Finns love his work is becuase he is as deluded as they are with regards to Nokia.

    Second, S^3 stinks! And I say that as a Nokia employee who has to sell that dog! It is not even close to Apple, WP7, Android, WebOS, RIM, etc. It is light years behind!! And the biggest challenge is the weak R&D and engineering teams Nokia has. Nokians love to say we have the “best and brightest” in the world – well guess what… we DON’T. The best and brightest SW talent does not work for Nokia. It works for Apple, Google, MSFT, Amazon, Ebay, etc. We have a bunch of Electrical Engineers trying to be SW gurus, when they aren’t. And by the way, not only does the R&D and Engineering talent lack, they are always late and trim requirements – yet it is never their fault!! Sheez!

    Third, MeeGo was good… but still WAY behind. I have seen MeeGo SW. It looks great – for NOKIA. But it is still quite a bit behind the other top OEMs (except RIM). It was never going to lead the marketplace as desired. Sorry, but that is the truth!

    So quite your bitching about the MSFT decision and Elop. Because if we would have kept OPK and Symbian… we all would be out of a job very soon!

  56. Ewan February 16, 2011 at 6:48 pm #

    I think they had no choice!

  57. Alex Kerr February 16, 2011 at 7:22 pm #

    OK, so care to prove why Tomi’s blog is not based in reality and this one is?

  58. Alex Kerr February 16, 2011 at 7:30 pm #

    Being a Nokia employee does not automatically make your opinion right. In fact you support that notion yourself in your last sentence 🙂

    So…I say you’re wrong. I also say, just to give a couple of a whole bunch of stats I could give, that Symbian^3 phones outsold WinPho 5m to 1.5m in the last quarter despite higher availability of the latter.

    And Symbian was growing sales (shall we say until Friday’s announcement as we have no idea what effect that will actually have) at a rate of 37%/year.

    And leaked non-final MeeGo interfaces were getting the fans raving as being much better than the competition. The point being, these are different opinions. Who’s right? Well, I reckon the customer’s right, and I point back to the growth in Symbian sales each year.

    Again, so what if you’re a Nokia employee? At least 1000 Nokia employees disagree with you as that many walked out after the announcement.

    What do you say to the cold hard fact that WinPho is considerably inferior to Symbian: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_phone#Features_removed_from_Windows_Mobile

  59. Maikkelii February 16, 2011 at 9:38 pm #

    Comparing Symbian3 sales to Windows Phone in the last quarter is irrelevant. The other one is slowly ramping up, the other one being forced down the channel with Nokia’s super-efficient, in some countries almost monopolistic, distribution. With the same logic of comparing run-rates, one could have argued that Android would never take off as Symbian was outselling it 50 to 1 in the early days of G1.

  60. Alex Kerr February 17, 2011 at 4:21 pm #

    Well a.) that maybe the case (and it may not be, we only have your opinion on the matter) but sales are sales, and sales are growing. Are you next going to tell me that Nokia is forcibly extracting money from people’s wallets in all areas of the world, and handing over one of their handsets in return? 🙂

    b.) You’ve done nothing to undermine or disagree with my other points.

    Therefore I say that your original post is not credible, and just (yet another) random opinion.

  61. Ar15dcm February 17, 2011 at 6:38 pm #

    Ah the wisdom of youth… not. Nokia is far behind the competition and should have done this two, possibly three years ago. Instead they followed down the path of two non-competitive operating systems of which one of them, Symbian, is going away and the other, Meego, is moving towards insignifigance like Novell did with open source.

    The company needed a significant wake up and Elop is doing just that. It has been long overdue and it has come time for the people inside Nokia to wake up and take some responsibility for the situation the company is in. They have been far too lax in their attitudes and in some cases work ethic.

    Let’s talk tablet. Where is a Nokia tablet? Even the new HTC competitor is releasing a Tablet device. When it came to the last market innovation a couple years ago the Netbook, Nokia’s attempt failed misrably with an under powered and overheated device that was taken off of the market because of dismal sales and support issues. They design was so poor that it could not be upgraded without a technician unsoldering the RAM and resoldering the upgrade into it. Now that is typical of what has caused the companies current dilema, innovation that isnt because someone has their blinders on and doesn’t have the vision to see what is not only coming in the future, but what it compeitors are doing currently.

  62. Anonymous February 17, 2011 at 7:18 pm #

    At least take the time to actually explain what you are trying to say here. I am afraid, I did not understand it.

  63. Rascal01 February 19, 2011 at 6:50 am #

    He speaks with authority but fails to convince it’s based on actual understanding. Just like the 100000s of fans criticizing Nokia’s strategy shift, I get the sense from his ramblings that he really hasn’t done the actual numbers on the situation and the reasons behind the strategy shift.

    As an example – an analysis of the future of S^3 E-series phones – details how big business buyers are immediately dropping Symbian due to poor outlook. Intuitively this may seem like a sensible guess – but is it really true? Based on what insight?

    All I’m saying is – when reading his work, keep an eye out for information that he’s quoting or has a reference to, and treat everything else as opinion. And you know what they say about opinions… 😉

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Tweets that mention Nokia Plan B is far too late, but there’s hope for Plan A | Mobile Industry Review -- Topsy.com - February 14, 2011

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by AJ, Timo Koola, Dom Pannell, Alltop Mobile, Lewis Parker and others. Lewis Parker said: Nokia Plan B is far too late, but there’s hope for Plan A: I saw a re-tweet of the Nokia Plan B open letter to N… http://bit.ly/gbkxp3 […]

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