The Nokia transformation continues


With Nokia dropping executives like flies recently, it’s tempting to think the company has descended into total disarray. (Today, the chap who ran MeeGo has exited stage right).

Fortunately this is not the case.

Nokia has been through the Perfect Storm and is slowly drifting out of the resulting fog, powered by a whisper of wind and the powerful rowing of a few smart people.

It’s important to recognise that whilst most of the Western media reckons Nokia is completely screwed, this is also not the case.

The company continues to ship a million handsets a day (or thereabouts) and each one of those devices contributes a tiny bit of profit along with a heck of a lot of cash throughput that keeps bankers smiling very, very widely.

Believe it or not, folk actually queued for the N8. Just not in San Francisco or London. So it might as well not have happened as far as the West is concerned.

Sadly the reality is that… well… perception is reality. It’s 0% reality and 100% perception in the case of Nokia from the point of view of the West.

Since Nokia’s reputation has been shot to shreds by exceedingly poor devices (in the context of the competition) and characteristically slow lumbering movements (just look at the struggle some of the management team had trying to fix Ovi Store), combined with numbskull thinking from many senior executives, it’s been rather difficult to imagine Nokia as anything other than doomed.

I’m pleased to see changes happening.

I understand that there’s a heck of a lot of other senior executives in the departure lounge. Good. I have sat in front of many executives and asked straight forward questions only to be met with total and complete ‘numbskullarity’ bordering on neolithic incompetence.

Witness, for example, me sitting in a meeting with one chap about 6 months ago explaining that Silicon Valley developers think the company is FU*KED. And they use that language. I attempted to explain why this was a problem, how it had come about and how precisely to deal with it. The arse of an executive responded that ‘there isn’t a problem’ and that he ‘couldn’t understand my viewpoint’. He even went on to explain that, ‘all the developers I speak to are delighted with Nokia.’ Utter tripe. The other executive — the smart one — who’d recognised the issue and asked me (and another chap) to propose a solution, had to sit in the corner with a pained look on his face, whilst this debacle ensued.

I had to laugh. I actually thanked the chap — after a meeting of perhaps 5 minutes — and admitted to him that he was right, ‘there is no problem.’ If he didn’t see a problem and wasn’t able to entertain my (and the rest of the market’s viewpoint), so be it. I did have to laugh. Because I knew — precisely — that I’d be able to write this text. And look like I’m a total flipping genius.

Which I am — it’s not difficult to look like a genius when you’re dealing with Nokia executives, is it?

Of course they’re not all dullards. The problem is a lot of the arses have been in side positions or haven’t had the authority to do anything beyond try and make their senior bosses understand just how bad the company’s reputation was — and what the substantial implications of this were — and were going to be.

But we’re getting there. Nokia is getting there. The more idiots who are exited from the company, the better. Shake up the management team. Shake up the operations. Shake up the status quo. Empower the smart people.

Goodness me the company is getting there. Back in April 2009, I wrote this post (“ Me: “What about the 400m Ovi compatible handsets by Dec 2010?” iPhone Dev Rockstar: “Uhhh?” “) describing the Valley’s ambivalent (or frankly, negative) response to Nokia and Ovi.

At the time, Ovi and Ovi Store was the pits. Buggy, rubbish content, difficult to love.

Fast forward to today and there are now 140 million Ovi service users. It’s not quite the 400m ‘estimate’ in my post, but it’s substantial. It’s only going to get bigger and bigger and bigger. I wouldn’t be surprised to see 300m Ovi service users by this time next year. That’s 300m folk who could, reasonably, afford $0.99 to spunk on your game or app. And do so on impulse through Ovi’s extensive carrier billing setup.

Now and again this week I’ve let myself believe that the company is on the up.

So, Nokia, please continue to jettison anyone who isn’t equipped or ready to move Nokia into the future, properly.

[And if you can do Hebrew, here’s do check out this post by Didi Chanoch.]

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