Conspiracies: Stumbling Nokia – tripped by Apple saboteur?

| January 20, 2011 | 28 Replies

We received a link from reader Enyi to an interesting article which kinda made me write this odd, overly long post at 3am. I fell asleep before publishing and probably shouldn’t publish this long winded rant but ah well:

As a reader of a Nokia blog, it may be safe to presume that you have some interest in Nokia. A fan even. And as a fan you may like/love their products, but equally so experience annoyances with the company. Sometimes, these annoyances are so frequent, it’s quite frustrating.

To us Nokia fans, it might seem like there are plainly obvious things that this multi-billion dollar company should do, yet refuse to do so. It appears as if they’ve pulled out a check-list of obvious common sense solutions and have avoided each and every single one purposely. How on earth could the world’s number one phone manufacturer of such clout give the competition such an easy ride when amongst their ranks, have the best single features in phones that if they weren’t diluted into countless different models, could have produced time and time again, the most powerful smartphone…. in the world. How could such a company that has led the mobile industry by being first into mobile gaming, the first with a gaming phone, the first with an application store, the first to realise the power of the internet on your phone have all this forgotten and now appear to be always playing “catchup” in exactly the places they were leading? What’s with the constant reinvention of the wheel with cubes? There appears one blindingly obvious but catastrophic mistake one after the other, not just in hardware but in services too. Take the recently rested Ovi Music Unlimited, previously Comes With Music that has been reported as another Nokia failure by the media. Great service, but lack of brand awareness, lack of marketing, no open subscription to any user (but via limited select phones) – pretty much seemed destined to fail.

How? Why? Who?

A popular conclusion we joke about is that there’s a saboteur inside Nokia. A mole from another company that sees Nokia as a threat and like a biological pathogen, once infiltrated to high executive status (or at any level of influence/sufficient access), it must compromise the defences internally, leaving the target extremely vulnerable to any additional outside attack.

Who could it be? Whilst there’s many we can point fingers at, the one we like to accuse the most is of course, Apple. Right now, in the media (and worse, the public’s eye), they can do no wrong with their miraculous messiah phone. For conspiracy lovers amongst you, there’s a very interesting article by Rob Enderle from technewsworld about such activities he believes Apple has committed. Perhaps not to Nokia, but to other perceived threats. They’re quite shocking practices were any to be true. Rob himself had been a victim of Industrial Espionage whilst working for IBM, being accused of being saboteur by the saboteur and almost loosing his job until he was able to out the real spy.

Rob’s argument for Apple Sabotage. Note I have not checked out these details.

  • Apple killed HP’s iPod Killer. How? Apple got word of a product from HP that could have outsold the iPod (an actual threat vs every iKiller that has been named and failed). Somehow, despite this being known to only a few within HP, Jobs apparently managed to call the then HP CEO, Carly Fiorina to offer and licence the iPod to HP. In exchange, HP were to kill their own iPod Killing product. Rob says Jobs tried to stop the HP iPod in many ways, such as blocking coloured iPods (first HP iPod was Blue)  , eventually the product never came to market. But how did Steve Jobs know about it? Given the clear disadvantage to HP, how did Fiorina’s advisers let this deal go through?
  • Dell was also supposed to have had an iPod Killer in 2008, but Dell was forced to talk about it long before it was ready after being leaked on WSJ, a very Apple friendly publication says Rob. In the end, this was never released.
  • The Palm Pre – was heralded as the first real challenger to the slick touch UI that Apple had introduced to the world. Rob says the Palm team seemed to have followed a checklist of textbook mistakes that would ensure that the Pre should fail, until eventually having to be bought by HP. Poor ad strategies that drained money from a company already dry in finances, favouring supporters of iProducts and alientating initial consumers, pairing up with Sprint as the initial carrier – Rob says this is the only US network more disliked than AT&T.
  • Finally, the Motorola ROKR. The what now? Remember the Apple Partnership with Motorola to produce an iPod-iTunes friendly phone, back when iPod was just a music player and Apple had no foot in the mobile industry? (I also said that if Apple were to ever produce a phone, the biggest advantage would be the touch input system after experiencing the 3rd gen iPod.) Rob says the ROKR was killed at launch by Apple. Apparently, upon realising the risk to the iPod, Jobs approached Motorola and partnered with it to make the ROKR. But how did they kill it? By possibly undercutting it with the release of the iPod Nano
  • The actual point of the article was a warning of of possible sabotage for his new found love, the Motorola XOOM.

Very much the old Cliché of keep your friends close but your enemies closer. Build a trust and then abuse it to your advantage; either publicly with bogus partnerships, or under the radar with covert, undercover executives feeding sensitive information back to “the competition”. Is there any possibility that through AT&T apple killed the X7 launch? Is this too much of a stretch and grasping at straws? Was the X7 even a possible threat?


One of the things worth considering is that on the flip side, companies, even huge ones can make mistakes, albeit frightening if it’s done repeatedly. Though Rob tries to associate Motorola as being successful due to the iconic RAZR V3, the top phone before iPhone and so unlikely to fail with ROKR unless of course sabotaged by Apple. Let us not forget that Nokias were coming out left right and centre. Despite not immediately grasping on to the clamshell craze introduced by RAZR, Nokia had Smartphones which could do so much more than your silly little flippy dumbphones. And oddly, Nokia’s dumbphones were praised for their sleekness and super easy UI in comparison to the competition. Sound familiar? Whilst Nokia produced better, sleeker more powerful phones, Motorola tried to reinvent the RAZR in one hopeless shell after another. Motorola disappeared into nothingness and would have been joined by a few others such as Sony Ericsson were they not revived by Android. Do you seriously see Motorola coming back without it? i.e. Competition at the top can get very strong.

Furthermore, in such big companies, only a few are privy to the entire strategy. i.e. What we see on the outside may only be a chapter of Nokia’s story, perhaps merely a collection of random pages. We might not be aware of what else they have lined up and so what they do with our limited perception on their actions may not make complete sense (possible public communication issue?). Sometimes we might feel that it’s odd that Nokia might not have considered certain ideas because they haven’t implemented them. Most, and maybe every time, they have already thought about it, but are still trying to iron out any issues to make sure they get it right. e.g. recent example discussed by @Phonedaz/Damien Dining on twitter on “what folks would like to see in Nokia, imaging wise” theme: the return of optical zoom to Nokia phones. The challenge is not only to just have optical zoom, but for it to blend in with the device and look great.

There are so many more facets to discuss that I’m recalling now (e.g. importance of perception vs reality of your products/services), but such things I cannot tackle at the moment or ever. This post is already getting too long, it’s already very late and I have more revision to carry out tomorrow morning/AKA in a few hours. Most importantly, I’m clearly not an analyst – just a student that enjoys procrastinating by blogging. :p So my crazy ramblings might just be that. Crazy. For actual reasoned mobile analyst stuff, look no further than Tomi Ahonen. The best we can do in future is condense his epicly proportioned insights into shorter blogposts – in future posts perhaps.

Before I Go:

As a hopeful blogger about Nokia: One of the things mentioned many times before is that Nokia is in a transition stage. From Hardware to Software and Services. When we take a snapshot of Nokia during this “metamorphosis” all we see is hopeless chunks of what appears to be nonsense. But beyond these narrow short term view is the full long term perspective. As enyi comments; possible tortoise vs hare (turtle vs rabbit) scenario. We are somewhat starting to see some fruits from the investment sowed. Ovi Store is gaining traction, Symbian will soon get the new look UI to match the great OS that lies underneath, Intel Partnership with MeeGo will soon mature and all held together by Qt.

As with many “conspiracy theories”, it’s easy to join dots on a paper full of random dots and make a picture. Hopefulness? Ignorance? Paranoia?

But then again, some pictures are already immediately clear as day.

Check out this article, “Nokia Cancels US launch of X7″, and lookie, it’s from WSJ who again calls Symbian “cumbersome and outdated”.

Comment from Alex68, “It was not cancelled by Nokia but Nokia were forced to release this phone to other markets! ATT in the last moment made a decision not to subsidize X7 as it got a good offer from Apple for IPhone. Yes, it can be understood that Apple subverted the deal…”



Category: Nokia, Rant

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Hey, thanks for reading my post. My name is Jay and I'm a medical student at the University of Manchester. When I can, I blog here at and tweet now and again @jaymontano. We also have a twitter and facebook accounts @mynokiablog and Check out the tips, guides and rules for commenting >>click<< Contact us at tips(@) or email me directly on jay[at]