BusinessWeek – Stephen Elop’s Nokia Adventure

| June 2, 2011 | 20 Replies

Tip of the hat to the team of individuals responsible for what is the most comprehensive summary of events leading up to and surrounding Nokia’s fall from grace in the smartphone space and what their current CEO is hoping to do about it.

As many of you have tipped to us, there is a fantastic article over at BusinessWeek detailing the history of Elop. It’s over 7 pages so you might want to get something to drink while you mull over it.

Some of it we’ve heard about before, such as the events that led up to Nokia choosing Windows Phone over Android.

Some bits of interest:

  • Elop wants Nokia employees to know what they’re up against. He asked how many were using iPhones, and a few put their hands up. This upset him as he felt this was no where near enough. “I’d rather people have the intellectual curiosity to understand what we’re up against.” – Elop
  • Elop has Windows Phone devices already from Nokia. Just waiting for Mango? “I’ve got a working Windows Phone in my pocket now, and it’s been less than three months since we began working with Microsoft. We’re moving at a speed that’s faster than Nokia has ever moved before” – Elop
  • Amazing, innovative technology is bountiful at Nokia. (We’ve heard before from ex-Nokians of this – and their concern that none of it ever gets to market). Examples were demosntrated to Elop, such as a phone built with nanoscale – preventing water from disrupting the electronics, thus making it waterproof (Elop was given the phone in water tank demo).
  • New Disruptions team has been given the task to create the next big thing to blow away not just Apple and Android but also EVERYTHING Nokia is doing with Windows Phone. Windows Phone thus isn’t the end all and be all for Nokia. We are all still looking ahead. Windows Phone seems just to be something to buy time for Nokia to remain relevant whilst working behind the scenes to turn the tables in the mobile world again.
  • Not sure many would buy this, even if Jo Harlow herself said it was easier to go WP instead of Symbian. Symbian apparently here is dumped to cut costs. 1.4B yearly. (Is that total loss? What does Symbian bring back IN to Nokia huh?) More will be invested instead in the low end. (Emerging markets really is a market not to be taken lightly just because we’re all concerned with high end devices.)
  • “Under OPK, you could work on something for four years”…before a decision was made  to halt it apparently said by ex Nokian Tuomas Artman
  • Touch screen wasn’t taken seriously. Nokia had done them before and it didn’t take off. The iPhone was seen as a non threat. It was NOT a smartphone, it didn’t do apps, you couldn’t use it one handed, it didn’t have bountiful features that Nokia’s handsets had (Excellent sound quality, 3G/Front camera, 5MP camera with flash,  video recording, blah blah blah 2006 stuff that bit by bit, Steve Magic Jobs introduced into iPhone that made all iUsers faint from ecstasy overload. Can you believe a phone manufacturer would produce a 700 Dollar+ phone that didn’t even have 3G in 2007?)
  • Ovi was opened but never got the marketing push (When has any Nokia – device or service – received the relevant and sufficient marketing push?)
  • This bit might angry the Symbian fans. Read the article to gain the full context “Most of these problems could be traced back to Symbian. Never beloved by users, it became hopelessly buggy as Nokia tried to make the 10-year-old dog pull off iPhone-like tricks”. Ollila, Nokia Charman apparently saw problems at Nokia’s Symbian. Instead of replacing OPK – trained lawyer – with someone internal, Ollila felt they had to chose someone from the outside with expertise in software to lead Nokia.
  • What about MeeGo? This is a kick in the mouth if it’s true. MeeGo was no where near ready. At the rate of development there’d only be 3 MeeGo devices released before 2014 . As you may have seen plastered around, Kai Oistämö, Chief Development Officer said, “It was truly an oh-s–t moment—and really, really painful to realize where we were”. Supposedly struggling to hold back the tears, months later “MeeGo had been the collective hope of the company, and we’d come to the conclusion that the emperor had no clothes. It’s not a nice thing.”. (Question: What about Harmattan? What about Maemo 5? Had any of them actually used it to see how fantastic that N900 they had was? Did they think about possibly making it slimmer? Update hardware? Refine it some more? The mistake I see was going MeeGo with Intel)
  • Carriers want an alternative. Although you have millions of manufaturers and their grandmothers spewing out Android handsets, it’s essentially, Apple vs Android. An alternative is beneficial for the carriers. It’s good for consumers too as we always hear, competition makes our choices better.
  • Again, there’s denial of a Microsoft acquisition.
  • When asked whether he doubted his choice in coming to this challenged company, Elop said”I’m right where I should be, and I’m going to lead this company through this.”

I hope Elop is the Nokia saviour he presents himself to be and not Ballmer’s Trojan Horse which some of the media and sceptics believe him to be.

I’d like to write a separate piece about the outlook for Nokia not being as bleak as it seems. But that will be for another time. In the meanwhile, have a look at this piece from the Guardian. I’ve read a few of Charles’ work before and he doesn’t seem to be the Pro Microsoft type. In fact he’s often slated for being an iFanboy.

Thanks to everyone who mailed/tipped/tweeted us about this story!


Category: Nokia

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