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back to article Nokia after the purge: It's so unfair

Last week Nokia did exactly what analysts have been begging it to do for years - it took an axe to the company's bureaucracy and purged the leadership. The latest 10,000 redundancies leave the company with its smallest workforce since 1998. Nokia's reward was a further 18 per cent fall in its share price. Thanks, markets. The …

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Megaphone

History shows that nobody ever got anywhere by being totally dependent on Microsoft

That is all.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: History shows that nobody ever got anywhere by being totally dependent on Microsoft

True, particularly with hardware providers. Microsoft sucks all of the margin out of their "partners" and leaves them. Witness IBM now Lenovo, HP, Dellapart in PCs. Best case for Nokia was that WinPhone would be a huge hit. In which case MS would turn around and sell the OS to all of their competitors with locked down features. There would be no choice but to compete on price and you have a pure commodity market in WinPhone hardware. Worst case is what is currently happening.

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Anonymous Coward

Nokia are not like Apple

That's the problem.

They don't have alot to go on. They don't have featurephones now, they don't have smartphones that people want either. Windows Phone is a unmitigated disaster. It doesn't matter how many people you lay off, it changes neither of these things. THATS why the markets responded negatively, that the layoff wasn't the correct response.

There is only on thing that will turn that frown around. It begins with A, and it's never going to happen.... Not whilst Elop is running the show. He would rather run Nokia into the ground than do that, as he is under strict orders from Balmer not to let than happen.

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Devil

Nokia is dependent on Microsoft

Microsoft would probably like to acquire Nokia

Where's the incentive for Microsoft to deliver something decent? Surely if they delay a bit, they'll be able to buy it all cheaper?

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"Where's the incentive for Microsoft to deliver something decent?"

Because if they are not decent, people will buy Android and iOS products instead?

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Why does MS need to try?

Mobile space is all working pretty nicely for MS. They're gouging enough Android vendors enough to be making a pretty tidy profit.

But to play this game effectively, MS need to show damages. That is best achieved by having an offering, even a token offering, in the phone marketplace so that they can demonstrate damages.

Change only comes from motivation. The current scene is making money far better than WinPhone/MoPho versions 1..6. have over the last 12 or so years.

Hunting is harder than farming. Much easier to keep shaking down the other vendors than it is to make a real product and compete for customers.

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Anonymous Coward

The axe swung in the wrong place

Elop must go. He's a MS zealot and his everything he does has the benefit of Redmond in mind.

MeeGo was the solution to their smartphone woes and, just when it was ready to go, just when they'd completed all the expensive R&D, they dumped it and took on the inferior WindowsPhone OS. That's right, they (or, Elop) thought that paying license fees to MS was the right way of making a tidy profit.

They might have had problems before but they're 1000 times worse with a MSFT zealot in charge.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The axe swung in the wrong place

Nokia with it's approach to open source software was a massive threat to Microsoft, with MeeGo (best mobile Linux available), Qt and even Symbian (at the mid-to-low end, running Qt apps) all making sense and likely to be way more popular than Windows Phone.

MeeGo/Qt/Linux would have had a tablet ecosystem before Microsoft, and it could have been very good with big name support (Intel, plus the biggest Chinese mobile operator with 650mn subscribers being fully on board).

Microsoft have now convinced Nokia to dump it all, eliminating this entire threat, for a paltry $1bn. Genius move by Balmer. And as a bonus they now have a pet manufacturer of Windows Phone, addicted to Microsoft software and and currently rattling around and in need of a fix before the money runs out.

It's hard to believe this has all been achieved legally - so few of the decisions seem to make sense. Nokia had some very good stuff that could, would and did challenge Microsoft - no surprise therefore that ALL of it has been excised with the utmost urgency since the ex-Microsoft guy started running the show. He has to go.

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FAIL

Re: The axe swung in the wrong place

>MeeGo was the solution to their smartphone woes

Did you ever get to see or use a N900 with Meego? There was a reason they didn't bring Meego to the smartphone market. It wasn't ready when they needed it. It would probably only now be ready if they stayed with it. Plus the branding on it sucked. It looked like the Linux distribution built for tween girls. A mercy killing really.

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Devil

@asdf

Hate to split hairs, but the N900 never ran MeeGo (except for unofficial builds), it runs Maemo.

And the difference between the Maemo UI on the N900, and the Swype UI on the MeeGo-Harmattan N9 is like night and day. While the N900 is/was a usable piece of kit, it was not a polished product that could compete with the best available smartphne (Nokia basically knew and acknowledged this).

The N9 with MeeGo-Harmattan, however, *is* a polished product, and would have competed quite comfortably with its premium smartphone peers had it not been given a premature death.

So if you want to criticise the N900 go right ahead, but if you want to criticise MeeGo-Harmattan you're talking out of your arse.

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WTF?

Re: The axe swung in the wrong place

Err, the N900 is a few years old now.

Have you tried the N9?

Neither of these handsets were shipped with Meego either, they're both Maemo. I'm not sure what you mean by a linux distro for tween girls either. It looked fine to me, better than the alternatives when the 900 came out.

I did switch away recently, because the 900 is dated and the 9 was on last-year's hardware when it came out, which is a year ago now. Nokia had dropped the ball on competitive hardware even before Elop's folly.

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Symbian open source never took off

I spent many hours dabbling in, or at least attempting to dabble in, Symbian.

Yes, in theory it was open source in that you could download the code, well most of it, and build it. But in practice this was not effective.

It only built on Windows (yes there was a sub-project to try to also support Linux building).

Building was very arcane and needed two or three different toolchains that worked in different ways.

There was no real online community.

The only people that ever really got engaged in this were phone vendors. General hackers, the real backbone of open source, might have sniffed the tyres but then walked away and went back to Linux, *BSD, whatever where it is far easier to get involved and be productive.

Basically, nobody at Symbian really seemed to take on board that there is more to open source than just making a server public. Effective open source requires input and mentoring.

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Anonymous Coward

You Missed the Fitch & Moody Downgrade

"Baa3 to Ba1 with a negative outlook" i.e junk status, just like their Windows phones.

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Unhappy

N900

There are many things that Nokia got wrong, but in my mind the worst of them was what happened with the Nokia N900 launch and product development after that. When the N900 was announced Nokia still had a chance to shape the smartphone market the way they wanted it. It was a competitive device, Android was still finding its feet, the iPhone was still restricted on carrier exclusive deals and Nokia customers were looking for an upgrade.

But Nokia effectively killed off the N900 at launch by indicating that there was another, better, phone coming. And then shortly after the phone came to market, Nokia killed off the N900's Maemo OS to merge it with Intel's Moblin, a decision that was utterly catastrophic as it meant there was no further development of the Maemo line of devices.

Customers waited. And waited. And waited. But once you got past the 24 month contract barrier, they simply went elsewhere, and by and large Symbian owners just switched to Android. Yes, eventually Nokia came out with the N9 which was a contractual obligation almost. A good phone, but two years too late.

Nokia aren't the only company in a mess. RIM is where Nokia were a couple of years ago, but appear to be blinkered to their upcoming extinction. Sony is haemorrhaging money at an alarming rate. Motorola looks like it is being asset stripped of patents. HTC and LG are struggling too. Only Samsung and Apple are doing well out of the big players. At least Nokia seem to have some sort of plan..

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Unhappy

Re: N900

Indeed... and to know that Nokia already had the devices for many years (N770/800/810) that were just lacking the phone bit but already had the smart bit. I remember calling with my N810 while travelling, using wifi+VOIP. Android didn't even exist yet. But the nice little devices never got the attention from Nokia they needed, and this is how they missed the whole smartphone market.

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Re: N900

Nokia's actions between 2007 and 2010 amounted to self-defilement. For example, the premium priced N97 in 2009 had the same cheap hardware as the mid-priced 5800 from 2008. This was jaw-droppingly arrogant and suggested Nokia thought their customers were fools.

They had the time and the money to either tart up Symbian and get Maemo up to speed. They could have had the N9 and the later versions of Symbian out by 2010, certainly. They didn't. Customers and developers moved on.

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Re: N900

Add another digit

Sometime around the N9120 or so Nokia lost the GUI plot.

They bought Trolltech too late and destroyed it.

Maemo was years too late (and didn't actually drive a phone!) and was destroyed by Meego.

If ever a company destroyed its world leader position itself by bad management it was Nokia. They make Kodak and Polariod look competent and face the same future.

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Re: N900

Yep. maemo was good, the N900 wasn't (and isn't). But there was quite a buzz, around the time it was released: I recollect it as a true Hot Topic at FOSDEM. Dumping maemo for meego effectively ceded the whole of that market to the Androids. Hindsight not required: it was perfectly clear at the time.

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Anonymous Coward

margin of...error?

perhaps?

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Fingers crossed.

Elop gets a lot of flack for taking Nokia into the Microsoft camp, but the blame for Nokia's lack of investment in Symbian lies entirely with Elop's predecessors: they had their chances and blew it. Repeatedly.

I still have a soft spot for Nokia and it's sad just how badly they managed to shoot themselves in the foot.

Elop might still be able to pull a rabbit out of the hat, but it's hard to see how Nokia can make a comeback at this stage. I suspect their mobile phone division's future may well be similar to that of Motorola Mobile: a buyout by Microsoft.

Buying Nokia's mobile phone business would give Microsoft the ability to take fight directly to Apple on their own terms by owning the whole widget, instead of relying on a shower of indifferent products from a cloud of third parties. The right hand—the software—really does need to know what the left hand—the hardware—is doing. That's the only way to do holistic design. And Microsoft know this now: they've got their own experiences working on their XBox platform as an example of what they can achieve if they nail it.

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Thumb Down

Re: Fingers crossed.

Yet it was Elop who farmed out Symbian 3 to Accenture, canned Maemo, and dropped QT. It was finally all ready to go and WP could have even complemented Symbian and Maemo should he have chose, but he chose not to.

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Unhappy

Re: Fingers crossed.

Totally agree, the Symbian platform was and still is the only real platform developed entirely for smartphones. It is a robust and extremely secure platform which cannot be said for others especially Android.

The greatest downfall of the Symbian platform was the UI that was employed by Nokia and the bulk of the so called "tech press" could not see this they just bagged the whole OS and a lot of the idiot analysts believed them.

Elop had his chance with Meego, the N900 is a beautiful device but sadly we can only wonder what the outcome would have been if that OS had been allowed to develop.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Fingers crossed.

Elop probably doesn't care what he pulls out of the hat. He's being paid a lot of money now, and, should he ride Nokia into dust, a high ranking job at Microsoft beckons; and if he sells Nokia to Microsoft... he'll get a high ranking job at Microsoft by default. Why should he worry?

As fir the rest of us: we have Android or iPhone.

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Stop

Re: Fingers crossed.

You mean a high ranking, well paid job at Microsoft - just like the one he had?

Let me get this straight:

1. Elop destroys Nokia.

2. Some shit to do with short selling, patents, or open source.

3. Profit!

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Anonymous Coward

Won't succeed with cuts

No high tech company succeeds by eliminating R&D, which is what Elop has just done.

Elop has turned Nokia into an OEM, that's all they are now. If he was smart he'd be touting for the same business along with the Chinese OEMs, that would keep the factories he's so keen to close busy, particularly as he's outsourced WP manufacture to Compal, and nobody is buying those.

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FAIL

Sad

Shame, feel sorry for the thousands of very talented people losing their jobs due to totally useless management.

Anyone holding shares now is nuts.

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Re: Sad

"Anyone holding shares now is nuts."

Dunno. If Nokia nail it with new Windows 8 devices that share price will multiply. The shares can be compared to lottery tickets now.

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Go

Re: Sad

It's tough on people in the short term (been there, done that, got the dole cheque) but those thousands of very talented people have had their bureaucratic shackles removed.

There must be a pile of open-source code that Nokia's engineers, freed from Nokia, can leverage into a very bright future.

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Re: Sad

>The shares can be compared to lottery tickets now.

except lottery tickets generally have a chance of paying millions of times the initial investment. Even if WP8 is a hit (hahahahah yeah right) I would be amazed to see Nokia stock price increase by more than 5 to 10x.

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Re: Sad

'The shares can be compared to lottery tickets now.'

By which of course you mean a tax on stupidity.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Sad

" Nokia nail it with new Windows 8 devices "

Because I see people all the time buying them.. (not...)

The harsh reality is, that the only people I have EVER seen with a Lumia, got it for free. They even have trouble giving them away. They are plauged with problems and boast a featureset from 2008.

I would live to know sale numbers, I mean REAL sales, not $0 gifts, and not shipped numbers. That would REALLY scare shareholders...

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FAIL

Re: Sad

Working for free doesn't feed a family!

Some of my engineering friends have lost their jobs, none of them are looking to donate their time to an open source project to feed their family.

Christ their are some morois in here!

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FAIL

Re: Sad

> none of them are looking to donate their time to an open source project to feed their family.

The moron is you. You do realize a large portion of open source code is written by people on salary right? People who work for companies like Red Hat, Oracle, Google, etc. Even Microsoft has jumped on the Hadoop open source bandwagon. Companies have realized in some things it makes more sense to work together than reinvent the wheel in non core software over and over. Divide and conquer and the rich most own everything might fit your world but it doesn't always in the real world.

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FAIL

Re: Sad

Really? I collect a salary, I don't donate my time to FOSS projects because they don't pay the bills. The fact that Oracle, HP and the rest actively support and pay people to code for FOSS projects is completely fucking irrelevant for an unemployed electronics engineer specialising in low power electronic circuitry. No FOSS project is going to feed his family.

Your comment is illogical and moronic. In fact I cannot see that it contains any content whatsoever other then the sandard "FOSS will take over the world, give and get rich" bullshit which bears no relation to reality, or the point made in my post.

Reality check: Food costs money. Money must be (a) earned, (b) won, (c) borrowed, (d) otherwise acquired. Therefore in order to eat, it is unlikely giving away the one resource an individual has to sell (his time, energy and skill) is likely to be a viable strategy.

Moron = you.

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Re: Sad

All those TI 74 series books which show the inner workings

Microchip PIC books

Sony product repair guides

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FAIL

Re: Sad

Damn don't bother replying I will withdraw comment when shows up in 3 days. F__k articles where posts doesn't show up almost immediately. I am going to start downvoting the shit out of them.

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Windows

Re: Sad

Well I bought a Lumia 710 for my daughter. She was after a phone for her 12th birthday and looking at what was available it was about the best device for the money. Granted it's not got an SD card slot (although I gather this could be a limitation with WP rather than the Lumias in general) but it's got 8GB of storage (I think about 6GB is actually usable) and the interface isn't too bad when you get used to it.

For about the £130 I paid for it I was fairly impressed and it keeps her quiet. Of course when I come to upgrade my phone I'll probably go for another Android (Galaxy S3 if I can get one, otherwise maybe a Galaxy S2 to replace my 18 month old Galaxy S) but for what my daughter needs (a phone for making/reciving calls and texts) and wants (music/video player, Facebook, Camera, Spotify and Angry Birds) it does the job pretty well. I just wish I didn't have to use that god awful Zune software! :-s

Rob

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Anonymous Coward

What 'tech' remains?

Quote: "Nokia is by some distance the most important and accomplished European technology company – and it still remains so today"

Now that Nokia's platforms have all been 'burned' and the only route forward is in Microsoft's hands, I can't see what opportunities for tech excellence remain. Although hardware is important, I believe software has a bigger impact on consumers. The first iPhone, for example, didn't have any ground-breaking hardware (I think). Although the form was well-executed, it was a minimalist approach intended to bring the interface and content to the fore. It was the software that made it really stand out.

With the software entirely in the hands of MS (and the hardware spec to some extent), what is left for Nokia to differentiate itself from any number of other manufactures who will make Windows Phones?

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Meh

Eulogy for the monster that was.

Les etres humaines continue to progress throughout the centuries, companies rise and fall as once did the roman empire, innovation explodes and then calms down as a new cycle beings.

Unfortunately, Elop was given the shitty end of the stick and is having problems cleansing his fingers.

There are no lessons to be learnt, there are no mistakes which can be gleaned over. There remains just a reminder that the infallible are definately not infallible.

When you are ( were) number one, you can only fall and Nokia fell.

RIP.......

( Sheds a tear, not )

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Win Pho

Well, we'll find out on the 20th (I think that's the date) if Nokia is going to die or not. If WinPho 8 isn't an upgrade path for people using 2nd gen WinPho 7.5 handsets (Lumia 800/900) then Nokia will have lost possible future sales of 8/900 users who are left with a dead-end platform from Nokia.... again, and who will jump ship to players who continue to support their (not very old) phones with the latest OS.

This wouldn't be Nokia's fault, it'll be at the door of Microsoft which will of course harm the Windows Phone brand itself. If however it is possible to upgrade from 7.5 to 8.0 then people will stick with the Windows Phone system and when their contract runs out be more likely to purchase another Nokia.

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Re: Win Pho

I really hope the N9 or that 808 pureview is available when my contract expires on my Lumia 800 next year.

I like Nokia products,the 800 is well made, looks good and, as usual with a Nokia, built like a brick spithouse*.

Regardless of whether the Lumia 800 can upgrade to Win8 or not, I'm going elsewhere.

Comparing my phone to a Galaxy SII when I was on holiday with a mate a few weeks back was painful.

*http://www.sickipedia.org/search/1/?q=nokia+smashed

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Holmes

Bye bye Nokia...

I wonder if it would now be possible to sue Elop for malicious destruction of value? At least those fired should be able to sue him (and his boss Balmer) asking as indemnification to be divided by all the total value that Nokia has lost since the "Burning Platforms" memo.

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Re: Bye bye Nokia...

Last year there were claims from people claiming to be insiders that at least some of the board and investors knew exactly what they were doing when Elop was hired. Since Elop could not have just surprised them with the whole 'burning platform' and move to WinPhone - the board at least must have approved this, so perhaps not a completely paranoid conspiracy theory.

If true there's a much more interesting story (and lawsuit) waiting to be revealed.

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Windows

You could have seen it coming...

As to the market share; that should hardly come as a surprise. Investors are sometimes just little kids; as soon as something drastic happens, no matter how much you tried to comfort them and explain your decisions, they will still have one thing in mind and that's their own income. Very few stock holders are willing to take risks. And once the share is in a downward spiral its also not uncommon when a 'snowball' effect happens.

Still, many people talk about how the Windows phone is the big disaster for Nokia but quite frankly I don't agree. Especially if you look at the figures; most of the phones sold by Nokia aren't Windows phones, as such its a little silly to think that it would have such a major impact. It doesn't. In fact; when looking at it you'll see that the platform as a whole is expanding. Windows phone has found its way into several "best sold phone" or "most popular" (of the week / month)" stats., one of them being those of Amazon. Sure; its by far comparable to Android and/or iOS, don't get me wrong. But it is growing nonetheless.

Even AT&T has stated that the sale figures of the Windows phone have exceeded their expectations.

Which I think is the main issue here. Its not so much the Windows phone; its how much faith you put in it. If you keep low (or reasonable) expectations, as AT&T seems to have done, you may end up pleasantly surprised. If otoh. you set your standards too high...

But is that the fault of the platform or bad leadership ?

If AT&T can get surprising results, then why couldn't Nokia ?

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Re: You could have seen it coming...

You've forgotten that Nokia have been priced squeezed everywhere. They do sell a lot of feature and simple phones but there own financial statements reveal they make very little profit on any of those. The entire low and midrange market has been commoditised and Nokia failed to move quickly enough to hold their share of the high end while it remains profitable.

Looking at the Lumia pricing they've already conceded the smartphone highend, the 710 and 800 are virtually being given away (street prices).

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Facepalm

"If AT&T can get surprising results, then why couldn't Nokia"

Because we are talking of completely different scales here.

Nokia Lumias still haven't captured 5% of the market (and probably never will). And while that might be good results to AT&T, with its low expectations for the unwanted phones, it is a terrible result for Nokia, which had 60% of the market with the OS Elop destroyed, Symbian, and which had managed to sell more Meego phones than WP7.5 ones despite the complete lack of marketing of the Meego ones. As you aptly write, "most of the phones sold by Nokia aren't Windows phones", but this won't last, as Elop has managed to fire the last remains of R&D and has killed all platforms left. Nokia is being left with WP only, and that doesn't sell.

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FAIL

Re: You could have seen it coming...

Most of what you are believing to be truth is spin.

Amazon and AT&T are being pushed to say these things. I you really believe Windows Phones are genuinely making it in the best sold phone list, then I have some magic beans for sale...

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Anonymous Coward

hmm..

Ex microsoftie somehow ends up in charge of other company. Said other company dumps it's own products and concentrates on Microsoft product. Said company flushes itself down the toilet. Future possibilities are Microsoft buys company or buys its patents for its war against other companies.

Sounds like industrial espionage to me.

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Meh

Well... not quite...

Andrew I understand the analogy between Jobs' moves and Elop's but there is a fundamental difference:

What Jobs did not do is intimately connect the performance of Apple's toys to the performance of another company - he instead chose to control all the things that made the Apple toys tick (even while the OSes - old and new - were creaking).

The comparison would have been apt if Elop junked everything but Meego, or bought another OS and slotted it in (though that last part would have been madness given that Meego was at-least good-enough). He lost Nokia's loyal supporters by not doing so (imagine Jobs putting Windows on the Macs and skinning them) and failed to capture the imagination of everyone else, who is left then to champion the devices in circles where it matters?

As you suggest, given the economics of mobile refresh cycles Nokia simply doesn't have enough runway left to give their products enough 'Nokia' personality (if it is even possible in the agreement they have with Microsoft).

Let's hope that Apple stumbles and Windows Phone 8 has a killer innovation beyond anyone's expectations and the timeline is there for Nokia to take a breath... I just don't see it right now.

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