Video: 23 minutes with Elop: Nearly going Android, Nokia now moving at fastest speed, on par with any other.

| March 16, 2011 | 55 Replies

  • Elop talks about content changing to suit the new unique mediums. Not just old content from one medium stacked on the new medium
  • On “dropping” Symbian and going MS: Symbian is the world’s most successful operating system platform. We have huge reach with that platform….HOWEVER…from analysis we could move faster, reach more customers, generate more value by entering into that partnership with MS/WP (than Symbian) ????????????? I really wanted nitty gritty. Though he possibly couldn’t say downsides of MeeGo/Symbian as it might hurt sales.
  • Elops Three Questions to All Nokia Staff – What do you want changing; What don’t you want changing; What do you think I might miss in my analysis
  • Nokia would have gone with Android if developers only developed on Android and iPhone. Study showed it was more 2.8-3 platforms.
  • Last question is most promising – Elop talks about Nokia’s old slow lumbering ways in decision making. He says that Nokia is now moving faster than ever, and on par with Any other (even Apple). Read it or watch the video to get a better sense than this summary.


Recent stuff on the media describes a man standing on a burning platform – but this is a company that sells 111 million handsets last year? Last QUARTER. That doesn’t sound like much of a burning platform to me.

Let’s start of with the big vision – trying to work with how content fits with the mobility story and how ultimately we see what we get on our handsets change and evolve – where are we going at the moment.

That’s a great question. I think what’s important to recognize – in the mobility journey, we are in the very beginning. It has just begun. So its helpful to look back historically when we have gone through similar fundamental transitions in the mediums that are being used to serve content.

E.G. radio to TV – what we saw was radio programmes but people talking. Only with a period of time TV showing unique capabilities, expression, non verbal cues, things that didn’t work in radio but unique in TV. See this pattern, the same thing moving from on stage plays to very first movie production. Very much taking old content on new platform without innovation.

If you think about mobility today, in most cases, you see content, you see media, you see applications which are re-purposing the things which have traditionally been done either classic media environments (tv/radio so forth) even on old internet as we know it. What we really have to think about is what are the unique properties of mobility that change how we interact, create, participate with content. e.g. that mobile device in every pocket, knows where you are, what you’ve been doing a while, sensors in acceleration, around photography – content in the future of mobility will change rapidly because of the unique capabilities of mobility.

e.g. foursquare. WE’re just in very early days of that.

Can you describe some of the trendsyou’re seeing  in content, social networking where it’s involving handsets and use of tech you create.

Same theme I’ve discribed works in this area as well where the application, e.g. facebook on many mobile platforms – we’re just beginning to see implementation of places  where location is important. But the trend extends well beyond that. One of the unique attributes of mobility is that it empowers billions of people to more actively take content (receive) and create it. Nokia is in one of the most unique position because of market reach. So much of our business is in emerging markets, China, INdia, I’m visiting here in the middle east and Africa. People are having their first digital experience – never mind internet, tv, telephone – the very first experience with techonolgoy is the mobile phone. So as it relates with social media it’s things in developed markets, we’re changing people’s lives, as through a bit of social interaction – disposable interaction goes up 50c a week. Those types of patterns are fundamentally going to change the economics of the world and the livelihood of many people.

In my world, analysts have been looking at Nokia, scratching their heads and looked at the dominance you have at the low end and say “it’s a liabilty – the company hasn’t moved upscaled quickly enough”. From what you are saying it’s like there’s a way you can use that install base of customers in emerging world that have perhaps less sophisticated handsets to move them along that you can generate revenue and provide opportunity for content creators. How do you turn what financial communities sees in risk in owming your stock into a virtue.

I think the financial community as we have gone through our recent strategy announcements have come to recognize that a key aspect of our strategy (we have three pillars) the second pillar of our strategy is increase investment in the next billion. Helping people in these emerging markets have that first experience.

The reasons for that is quite simple. It’s good for business – it’s a very profitable and growing aspect of our business. So from a business perspective it makes a great deal of sense. If you think about what’s happening in the industry those early first adopters of technology are the people who are going to be using devices that are just a bit further up the price scale with a bit more technogly . So as smartphone technology comes down the price curve, what we expect to see is some of those early adopters even at the very low end, we can help them cross that divide.

Clearly we want people engaged in the Nokia Experience accross what ever point they find themselves in the economic continuum. So we see it as a critically important part of our business. I think people have come to understand the relationships of those markets.

The dynamics are different – in the low end of pricing portfolio – it’s about massive volumes, supply efficiency and delivering great services that attract consumers.

Some of the people in this room will probably be creators of content whether that’s news material, movies, or something else entirely around social networking. What opportunities are there in the world that you’re describing as a handset maker.

I think a couple of things – first of all, it is the case that as we, along with some of the partnerships we announced like with Microsoft, as we establish this sense of an ecosystem, of the ability of taking content, application, what ever it may be, widely available to markets around the world  – for a content creator sitting in NA, Europe, Kenya, India, whatever the case may be the potential for a global market delivered – so that content can be distributed, enjoyed, monetized, that oportunity is blossoming.

That is part of the rationale of our strategic decisions as we saw an opportunity to take our strength particularly in broad world markets (not so much in North American markets – clearly an area of continued focus) but there’s broad footprints we have that for content creators that we can present a market place that reaches corners of the world people can’t even imagine.

As I travel the world, even in the last week visiting places like Moscow or here, you realise the reach and penetration we have is UNPARALELLED. If we can bring that reach to content creators, we create a whole new opportunity for them to improve their business and financial outlook.

You brought up the Microsoft deal – there are still doubters and sceptics in the field who say “Why would Nokia walk away from a platform that has worked so well (Symbian) and adopt the Microsoft alternative which has less penetration in the market palce. How does that fit in to the three pillars that you have described.

Some of the fundamental reason for the strategy we annouced is that the world has changed. The dynamics of the world has changed as I described from a battle of devices to a war of ecosystem. And we recognize the need to bring the best hardware, software and services capabilities we had together with the corresponding elements from microsoft that would change the dynamics of the industry. We clearly recognize that Apple has a certain degree of strength and is well respected, and there’s this android phenomena that is growing. You can see the numbers and so forth.

You see the whole market pivoting. We said from a leadership position, it was time to exert a leadership point of view in terms of how to proceed and how to proceed rapidly. Our assessment was that that could most effectively be done through a partnership with Microsoft. And that’s therefore what we announed.

When you look at that in regards to your question – Symbian is the world’s most successful operating system platform. We have huge reach with that platform. And yet at the same time with our assessment, we could move faster, reach more customers, generate more value by entering into that partnership. That’s why we’ve begun that transition. (This sounds rather ridiculous to me.)

OK, well let’s open up the conversation…(Q&A time):

How do you see the future of satellite to mobile?

Hmm..that’s an interesting question. Because in a variety of markets, there are satellite related specturm (in India/North America) where satellite available spetrum is being leveraged to give new operators to participate in the market.  I think it’s too early to say whether fundametally satellite has enough critical mass in terms of incremental reach to make a difference.

I say this because today 80% of the population is within cellphone reach – close enough to a tower to get signal.  Only 20% of the world’s population has had internet experience. There’s a big gulf there. Question is – does satellite help you extend beyond  or are there enough high paying customers to allow into reach into regions where cellphones will never go. I think the jury is very much out on that.  Through our own work and with NSN – it’s early days for that.

You’ve changed recently from long time working for an American company to a company in the far North of Europe. I’ve been wondering – the cultural experience between working with a company like Microsoft to working with Nokia – how difficult was it for you coming from a different type of company, different geographical area and different “ethnic” background to integrate into a new company.

Very, very good question. One other part of the story that’s relevant is that while I’ve worked for an American company for many years, I’ve grown up in the far North of North America as well. That’s actually not insignificant in my personal journey, because it is the case that as a Canadian going to Finland with American experience creates some different dynamics.

A couple of things observed though; there are certain elements of the culture in the technology that transcend every country, every culture that exists. And that is, LOVE of great products, of innovation of engineering dscipline, the passion for the creation of great experience and that’s as much the same at Nokia as it was at Microsoft and other places where I’ve had the opportunity to function (man he’s got a good way with words. Like a politician)

Now at the same time, from a cultural perspective, as I was considering joining Nokia I looked about the research that talked about the different cultures of the world and which cultures were clsoe and which ones were further apart – country by country of many countries on the planet. Interestingly enough, two countries shown the most similar – FINLAND AND CANADA. Side by side on a graphical representation of the cultures of the world. And there’s a lot of reasons for that. Part of the reason for that is that it’s cold and dark for a lot of the year. Sun appearing again in Finland lifts all of our spirits. But it’s also the case that from a geographic perspective – growing up in the shaddow of large neighbours – Russia/USA – all of these thigns tend to affect the culture,so there are many similarities.

Coming into Nokia, the Nokia organization and indeed the people of Finland who care deeply about Nokia have been remarbly welcoming. There was a sense of clear recognition that there was change required, there were some issues that need to be addressed and having someone to help through that is something people have appreciated. Some of the decisions we are making are very hard for employees, have negative impact on their lives and their families. The degree of support I have received all the way through has made it a much smoother transition than I had anticipated before joining.

You mentioned earlier regarding content – you wanted to monetize content from NA, Canada, europe and the rest of the world. What about content produced in rest of the world whether it’s local markets or international markets – especially when we look from a social responsibility for your consumers regarding growth of entries. The last thing, catering for international audience – localization – local markets interested in local production not just north american production.

Absolutely. Very good question. WE happen to use the example of a developer in a developed world having developed market. But if you look at just raw numbers of content creators, there are far more in those emerging markets than there are in those American markets. You can imagine the shift of content, moving out of emerging markets into rest of the world. That’s part of what we’re fostering. You made a point of local production. A great part of the strentgh of Nokia developed over the years is focusing on local aspects , local content, local applications.

e.g. The price of crops at markets in rural india – very simple form of content. What we have in india is a service called Life Tools, that allows a farmer in India  to look at his/her mobile device early in the morning to decide where to carry their crops that day to make that little bit more money. Local content, locally consumed, improving the lives of people.

You used the words, social responsibility,  I want to focus on that just a second.

When I joined Nokia, I sent an email to every employee around the world and I asked three Questions:

1) What do you think needs to be changed?

2) What do you think should NOT be changed at Nokia? (What do you think I might change that I shouldn’t)

3) What are you afraid I might miss in my examination and consultations?

The second question – thousands of Nokia employees said continue social responsibilities – helping that farmer, helping to deliver neo/prenatal information to disadvantaged women around the world/China. All of these things that when you think about it – it’s good for business because if you think about it, that Nokia experience stands for a life changing experience. It’s good for business, it’s good for people and strongly supports social responsibility.

I’m a Developer. As you know, as a start up with limited resources  they have to write a mobile app – they have to decide iPhone/Android and mostly there’s no room for a third platform. What are your Concrete plans to get developers on your platform?

When we consider developers, there’s a series of things which must be true in order to attract developers to that platform.

Certainly there has to be reach. You have to believe that if you build an application on that platform, you can get it to tens of millions of people. Clearly that’s part of the Nokia-Microsoft partnership as we can bring reach to tens of millions of people. Last quarter alone we shipped nearly 30 million smartphone devices around the world. So huge volume opportunity.

You have to believe that you can monetize – that there’s a valid way that you can collect money. Nokia, again, we have 100 direct operator billing relationships. So in regions and countries all over the world you can collect money, which is simply NOT true for the other ecosystems.

3rd – you have to believe you have a valid development platform on which you can build applications. There’s something from microsoft perspective with the platform they’ve built around Windows Phone is ther and of course

4th piece -great developer tools needs to be there.

Interesting enough you say people only have rooms for two platforms. We’ve studied this and asked a lot of developers all over the world, the far majoirty view is that it’s different than that. It’s about 2.8 to 3 platforms. Seriously. This was a critical question for us as has been well documented as we also considered Android. If what you said was absolutely true, that would have influenced the decision. We came to the conclusion that it was NOT true that in fact it’s something more than that.

I have some friends at Nokia at very senior positions inside Nokia – very creative people, who get very frustrated at what they see as very slow and lumbering decision making process because of the structure of the company. You need to get a consensus to make a decision. How are you ever going to compete against a very centralized company like Apple, that can innovate in real time?

The way we address that is changing how we operate. So when we presented our strategy, and what we were doing going forward which was three pillars – smartphone, next billion and future disruptions.

We talked about differentiators, but then the press didn’t spend a lot of time talking about this, fundamentally changing the way we operate.

Look at what’s happening in the last four months. We are moving at a speed that is unparalleled for our company and I would argue that is on par with anyone else in the industry.

And of course, that’s partially my job is to make sure we’re setting a pace and operating differently

So the comments and the frustrations that I ask, by far the number one issue that people talked to me about is improve accountability in this organization, drive faster decision making by those people who are held accountable and move this company forward quickly.  And the number of processes, of committees, agencies and boards, agencies and commissions – all these people spending time contemplating instead of aggressively moving forward is something we are already fundamentally changing. Just point to the February 11th announcements, as a first exaple of how quickly we can move.

What’s the next thing that we in the media are going to get really excited about when it comes to Nokia? What sort of annoucement should we be looking out for? A new tablet? A new smartphone?

Hopefully you won’t have to work too hard to keep your ears atuned to the success that Nokia has in implementing its new strategy, aggressively executing, moving the abiguity around if that exists and driving the company forward. That is the story that we want to see written.



Category: Nokia, Windows Phone

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