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back to article Nokia’s new CEO needs to change the message

Nokia held its annual Nokia World event in London this week, with the usual series of handset launches, developer love-ins and promises to address its weaknesses in high end smartphones and north America. But all this was overshadowed by the ousting, just the week before, of CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, quickly followed by his …

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How's this for a message

Bring back the 6310i!

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Re: How's this for a message

You are Ned Ludd and ICMFP.

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FAIL

Ovi out of sync

I think that one reason Nokia is losing market share on smartphones is that if your read their support forums, and from my own experience, the Ovi sync software is causing many users major problems which Nokia are simply not responding to anwhere near adequately or quickly enough. I would love to see the return rates and cancelled contracts - companies with thousands of users have allegedly stated via the forums that they are finished with Nokia because of loss of productivity due to these issues. So whilst everyone focuses on the phones, which I have to say are superb and better than apple, the real deal killer is the crap supporting software.

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Developers, developers, developers, developers!

Developers, developers, developers, developers! Developers, developers, developers, developers!

With Ballmer doing so well for Microsoft how could stealing his clone not be a good idea for Nokia?

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Yes yes yes yes

Ovi is pants and the phones are difficult to develop for compared to Droid and iOS. They have to address this.

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New CEO should dump baggage and strike a new path!

Where are most of the successful smartphone manufacturers based? (Asia) What is a major component common to their cultures? (Losing 'face') What else in common do the smarthone manufacturers have in common? (They are not too proud to use either their own or Third Party OS)

Let's consider automotive purchases. The manufacturer or the style often come first in deciding a sale, then accessories, fuel type and maybe engine technology.

IMO, Nokia's new path should be to abandon the Intel IDF initiative; adopt Android OS and continue with Sybian OR Meego. Nokia knows RF (no Death Grips) hardware and human interfaces which would put them in a position to bang out new models with minimum tinkering with the OS yet maintaining Nokia 'characteristics'.

The Asians have proved their is no loss of pride in using their own in-house OS as well as Android. No one will knock Nokia for this. This also allows Nokia to maintain the Nokia name in hardware and the human interface.

Adopting Android OS would provide access to the Google App store solving the immediate 'accessories' challenge whilst developers could continue efforts for Apps using the alternate Nokia OS.

This would place Nokia firmly in the winning camp: HTC, LG and Samsung. RIM and Apple could continue along their chosen paths, both of which are or soon will be facing falling market share.

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Nokia’s new CEO needs to change the message

You are correct that Nokia shouldn't be focussed on the US-market which they (still) haven't penetrated enough (for their liking). On the other hand users should also stop focussing on fashionable items like UI's and redundant featuresets (like Facebook integration which is already passé in Europe). Indeed Nokia has a solid featureset in their curent line of products and should at least partially stress that to their customers.

What I find interesting is your undertone. It seems as if you don't believe mr. Elop is the man for the job. That he's a lame excuse as a successor to Kallasvuo especially since he's giving the excact same message. Perhaps mr. Elop hasn't got time enough to think over his own strategy or message and hence simple forwarded Kallasvuo's this year. We could hear (in some future press-release) an intirely other Nokia. Or he's indeed just another shareholder-puppet like obviously Mr. Kallasvuo seems to be.

You do have some points. I thinks those corporations should stop exchanging CEO's from other industries. They should start using real ppl with knowledge perhaps even from lower regions inside their own company. As it is big corporations are acting more and more like politics. Keeping it all in the family. Always the same faces you see on the merry-go-round. Filling their pockets and using big words to please the crowd. :-(

I hope at least that Nokia in their coming "wisdom" don't start lobotomizing their products like Samsung, HTC and all those other do and delivering less productivity with more useless gimmicks. As a consumer I want a REAL way forward.

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Same old, same old

Comment on comment, self-sustaining circular analysis on the blogosphere (hate the word)...

What's all this nonsense about the "spell" and the "message"? If the N8 had been shipping months ago without too many bugs I'd be happy as punch and I bet many others would be too.

Execution is the problem, and a good manager with a software background (as opposed to a lawyer) might do the trick, who knows? Not certainly the self-appointed industry "analysts" whose colleagues in the financial world were more than happy to peddle all the ponzi schemes devised by the investment banks...

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Anonymous Coward

The trick for Nokia is to grow outside of the US

But at the same time, stay in the US. So, concentrate on emerging markets and those markets where Nokia remains strong but at the same time, have the infrastructure for the US (selling the odd smartphone, ensuring all applicable apps in Ovi can be priced and bought in US dollars etc). I think the time will come when Nokia comes up with handsets that the US carriers and their customers like and they need to ensure any growth there is without pain (perhaps the N8 is one such phone that can fuel such growth given its competitive pricing and feature set).

In the near term, it's better to concentrate on becoming the biggest maker of Smartphones and seller of apps in the world while remaining small potatoes in the US IMHO (as GSM itself was for a long time).

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Anonymous Coward

It's not just about the marketing

The author makes the common mistake to believe that Apple is the most profitable mobile phone company simply because of clever marketing. It's hardly a surprise though, that's what their competitors want you to believe.

However, the reality is that Apple succeeds simply by concentrating on one big factor – in fact the most important factor – the user experience.

While Apple's phones don't have all the *hardware* bells and whistles of many Nokia phones, they make using the *software* simple and elegant, so much so that the missing features aren't missed so much.

All the bells and whistles make little difference if your users can't figure out how to use them.

(Does Symbian still make you decide what WiFi or 3G connection to use, rather than just picking the best at the time?)

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Dead Vulture

WW is in denial

From this article, it seems everything is going so well for Nokia, they just need to keep on doing as well as they have.

"Nokia's almost undisputed heartland of the mass market smartphone"

- Which doesn't make any profits...

"for prepaid, budget and emerging markets."

- Which don't have any money.

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"Which don't have any money"

It doesn't matter if your customers "don't have any money" as long as there are a billion of them (yes, count them) and you can make a even a tiny profit on each sale.

To put the margin vs. volume equation in another context: Jaguar or Tata? I'm sure you'd buy a Jaguar but which company bought which?

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Bollocks

Nokia replaced a Lawyer by and Engineer. That's abosultely the correct decision. Phones are becoming small, but feature-rich computers and we will see 100-Euro-Class phones with all iPhone features in less than five years.

The Nokia Board apparently realized that their old CEO was asleep at the wheel and did exactly the right thing. Hopefully this change is not too late.

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Don't Blame the Messenger

This article is very interesting, but I disagree with several of its premises.

Nokia’s current problems do not “lie in listening to the market too hard”, in fact I would suggest they may lie in not listening hard enough. Because they didn’t listen very well, Nokia misallocated billions of R&D spend over the past few years (spend which by the way dwarfed that of Apple and Google in their mobile divisions) and allowed iPhone, and now Android, operating systems to emerge to capture not only the fancy of technologists, mobile operators, and investors, but of actual consumers of mobile phones.

Moreover, Nokia didn’t “run off to get” a new CEO after being told to do so by the investment community. Nokia in fact has heard suggestions from investors that they should become a little less Finnish for quite some time now. The signal that likely tipped the scales against Mr. Kallasvuo was from former customers. Customers who replaced their Nokia handsets with those of other vendors, particularly at the high end. Consequently, Nokia’s market share, particularly in “smart” devices, plummeted drastically, and in short order.

Also, point of fact, the appointment of Elop did not “boost Nokia’s share price”. The stock indeed tried to rally sharply on the announcement, but closed the day up less than a percent; and by the end of last week was down 1.5% since the appointment was made. Mr. Market isn’t interested in superficial pandering, he is interested in results.

I agree that the debate about whether or not Nokia requires a significant US presence is arguable from either side. However, I would suggest that Motorola’s lack of penetration in Europe is not a blueprint for potential long-term global success at Nokia. Believe you me, Nokia doesn’t want to end up like Motorola. In just three years since Motorola stopped selling the original RAZR – when Motorola’s was the number two handset vendor globally – they have practically fallen off the map. Motorola should be no one’s poster child.

Nokia’s head has been in the sand during this period too, and they ceded share in “smartphones” in dramatic fashion. The concern today, of course, as that the “low-end” phones of today (where Nokia still has significant share) will become “smart” devices tomorrow, and thus Nokia will suffer a fate similar to Motorola’s.

Contrary to the title of this article, Elop must listen to the market very carefully, and learn from it. Otherwise the potential consumers of Nokia’s phones or investors in their shares will stay way.

He must swiftly and correctly determine which platforms will attract developers (and thus, the US presence might be a little more important than suggested in this article). Apple and Android are clearly attracting attention from the development community, and thus iPhone and Android apps are better than those on Nokia phones. That’s simple mathematics. Meanwhile, Microsoft isn’t going to sit idly by either, and the early line on Microsoft’s latest offering is that it is even easier to develop for than iPhone (and maybe Android too). So, there is competition for Nokia from Android, iPhone, Windows Phone 7, and don’t forget Blackberry. Does anyone really think that developers will write code for five different mobile operating systems? If not, where will that leave Nokia? Perhaps Nokia’s customers and investors have already figured that one out.

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Avoid carrier limitations

"Apple and Android are clearly attracting attention from the development community, and thus iPhone and Android apps are better than those on Nokia phones."

If Nokia wants to succeed, they need to take control of applications away from carriers, as Apple has done. Consumer choice over carrier limitations is the differentiator that Apple is exploiting and to which consumers are responding favorably.

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Amen ...

Best article I have seen on Nokia and the whole smartphone war for a long time. (Warning long brain dump post as a result of my eyegasms from reading this post)

"For a start, Nokia should stop trying to pretend it wants to be Apple, and talk up its own strengths and plans."

-> I agree 100% - and if anyone had been listening over the past few years, they HAVE been. But that is not easy while (i) you, the PRESS, wants them to be like Apple, and everything is compared to Apple. After the release this week of the Symbian 3 devices, I saw many reports talking about how rubbish they were? But not a sinlge bit of substantive example? (ii) every market analyst and investor wants them to be like Apple overnight. Nobody wants to see Nokia run a marathon - they all treat this like a sprint!

"It has consistently beaten Apple, and most Android products, handsdown in terms of features."

-> Point proven. There seem to be only 2 things that the technical press are interested in: UI and Apps. Personally I belive that anybody can learn to us a phones UI regardless of friendliness - but if the functionality aint there then it aint. Why does no review of an Android or Apple handset then ever highlight what is *missing*? Instead we get assinine comments in nokia reviews about no innovation which is patently untures given the list of first in the tech sheets that Nokai HAVE bought to the market.

"Nokia is often accused of arrogance, but its current problems sometimes lie in listening to the markets too hard, especially US players, who have little perception or understanding of the firm. When Nokia is told it is a smartphone failure, it accepts that, rather than pointing out that it has maintained its smartphone market share de spite the torrent of new competitors"

-> I read a blog about Nokia from a well known US 'geek' site over the weekend. Frankly, the fundamental premise was that everything US was good - non-US bad. Apple and RIM were brilliant (depsite not even having the same market share as Nokia combined) ... and everything else that was foreign (e.g. HTC and Saumsung) were neatly wrapped in the Android mantle (despite different skins of varying success and almost no native Andorid UIs) as the proof. Nokia would do well to not worry too much and sell a 'world friendly' message regardless of the US market.

"but it has very different go-to market strategies and target user bases to those of Apple."

-> Best comment of all. Nokia has traditionally been driven by the business segment of the market. However, with things like smartphones (and laptops/tablets) coming done in price and no longer being the preserve of business - the features are now driven by the consumer market. Both Apple and 'Android' have been churning out 'consumption' (infotainment) devices ... yet the key business requirement is 'creation' (productivity). I have seen WPM comparisons of touch vs. mechanical keyboard and on *avergae*, typing speed halves on touch screen (and I don't mean the Jo Soaps personal blog, but mutiple subjects using multiple devices). Likewise, I know many colleagues who bought an iPhone, but now are back to aslo carryign their (gasp) Nokia or Blackberry. In most cases, the iPhone has been relegated to being an iPod Touch for entertainment on flights - because you cannot travel and be worrying about running out of power continually and you cannot last out the office for a long time using just an on-screen keyboard. If Apple had bought out an offering with a mechanical keyboard, I would probably have taken the plunge and got an iPhone -- but then I recognise that Apple are producing consumer media conbsumption devices and NOT productivity devices for business. The reality, however, is that almost everybody works, and in Apples target market segment (Yuppies in services dominated markets), there is a need for mobile content creation devices for productivity. Personally I think the segmentation will evolve into a far clearer one with time as the consumer market features feed back into being innovation for the business user, and that is when I think players like Nokia will benefit most with its strong established enterprise relationships.

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Anonymous Coward

Vanjoki is no great loss

Some of us at Nokia, although a bit shocked, are not sorry to see Vanjoki go.

This was the man who said Nokia would never make a clamshell phone - just months before Motorola released the RAZR and swept the board with it. Nokia's clamshell effort was pathetic.

This was the man who presided over the ovi debacle, which is still playing out like a really slow-slow-motion car crash - just ask the poor people who try to use ovi.

He may have been a visionary, but he should have gone to Specsavers.

Anonymous for obvious reasons.

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Nokia might listen to their end-users

The Nokia support forums are full of posts like "help my phone has an XYZ design fault what can I do?" Often XYZ is a nasty show-stopper not just the screensaver being the wrong shade of pink. Of course there is no answer to the majority of these problems and people end up just living with a phone which doesn't meet their needs and working around its failings if they can. I know because I'm one. Does Nokia think those people are just loyally going to buy another one?

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ELOP = FLASH

I'm surprised at the lack of press attention made of Elop's success popularizing Flash. In many ways, the new 10.1 player is the fruition of wheels he set in motion years ago. At Macromedia and Adobe, he established "Flash Platform". He started the migration to the new AS3 language that allowed Flash to become a competent stand-alone run-time (Air) and mobile platform. It would seem marrying the Flash app development ecosystem (on the open Internet) with Nokia's hardware and network, would punch a hole through a certain walled app store. Given Froyo and Gingerbread commitment to Flash and its existing desktop market penetration, there's little question where developers would go. Desktop + Android + Palm + RIM + Nokia. ...Remind me why someone would build a web app that could only run on iOS? (...Other than maybe the most demanding games) A modern "app store" should (only) provide developers with platform services that apps can connect to. (distribution, telco payment gateways, etc.) If Nokia leverages its carrier network by providing a "mobile GAE" services platform for Flash apps, the mobile game will change in all markets.

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