Feeds

back to article Former Nokia boss Ollila: Stephen Elop was second-choice CEO

Former Nokia boss Jorma Ollila, who made the Finnish company the global leader in mobile phones for a decade, has published his memoirs: Mahdoton menestys ("An Impossible Success"). Ollila stepped down as CEO in 2006 to become non-exec chairman - but now wishes he'd stuck his oar in more. He writes that Nokia had become …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.
FAIL

So, some big boys did it an ran away?

2
1
Anonymous Coward

Second Choice

but third rate

0
0
Trollface

Where is he!?

I'm sure JPZR would have something to say about this!

0
0
Flame

Elop was Second Choice?

What staggered me the most was Ollila's admission that Elop was that high on the list!

Second? It surely must have been a short list of two!

And as for the rest, it's such a tragic shame that despite foreseeing the market and preparing for it, Nokia completely f***ed it up.

10
1
JC_
Bronze badge

Re: Elop was Second Choice?

"Nokia had actually prepared for years... and released the first tablet in 2005. By 2009 the tablet could perform telephony"

Four years for Nokia - Nokia!!! - to add telephony to a tablet? Yup, they completely fucked it up.

Regardless of whether going with WP was the right decision, one can understand why Elop had little faith in Nokia's ability to deliver a competitive OS before it would be too late.

2
1
Anonymous Coward

Re: Elop was Second Choice?

When you put someone in charge of running such a big company you go for someone who has experience in a large company. So the "talent" pool is rather small.

0
3
Silver badge

Re: Elop was Second Choice?

First on the list was some guy from HP who had a plan to use Itaniums in the phones

4
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Elop was Second Choice?

And what experience did Elop have? Look at his resume, either the companies filed bankruptcy or they were bought. Not qualities you want in a CEO that you want to turn things around.

2
0
Bronze badge
WTF?

Re: Elop was Second Choice?

The already overpaid execs somewhere else "talent" pool.

There fixed it for you....

P.

1
0
Silver badge

Re: Elop was Second Choice?

I'm glad you put "talent" in inverted commas (well, dumb quotes really). In this context, having no talent for anything seems to be the key talent required.

Seriously, I'm absolutely sure that randomly picking people from the shop floor to act as CEO would be as effective at finding someone who can do the job well. You might even get someone with integrity, and not someone who has shown that they can cheat, lie, and back-stab for a living. It is no coincidence that so many companies that started small and were nurtured to success by the people that were there from the beginning, possibly working their way through the ranks, go tits-up when they bring in a professional chiseller to head things up.

2
0
Anonymous Coward

Imagine where they would have been today.

Rather than searching the floor for scraps left by clueless punters tricked into buying Windows Phone, they would surely be running Android in some form and competing with Samsung for top dog.

12
2
Bronze badge

Re: Imagine where they would have been today.

I think they could have been doing that with Windows Phone to be honest - there's nothing really wrong with it and their high-end phones with the good cameras might even tempt some people to switch.

They were just a bit late to join in, that's all.

1
7
Bronze badge

Re: Imagine where they would have been today.

>they would surely be running Android in some form

Jolla - A possible phoenix rising from the ashes?

http://techcrunch.com/2013/09/16/jolla-android-compatibility/

3
0

Re: Imagine where they would have been today.

no kidding. They could have had phones running Android much quicker than it took to get Windows Phone going since it was late. And then that thing Elop said about going with Android and being just one of many.... well it sure looks like the only thing Nokia phones are pushing are their hardware specs. They are not pushing any great innovation that Windows Phone brings. Nope, it's the hardware so had they gone with Android they would have been in the market quicker and their hardware expertise would mean something. Instead they get people looking at the display and saying Windows makes phone software? Where are the iPhones and Android phones?

2
1
Bronze badge

"Mahdoton menestys"...

...sounds like some long-extinct, peaceful dinosaur-like huge, slow-moving animal that couldn't adapt to the changing environment...

...oh, wait.

2
0
Silver badge

I wonder

If he will ever admit he made a lot of grave mistakes himself.

3
0
Silver badge

scape goat

Stephen Elop was a symptom not the disease that brought Nokia down. The true diagnosis was Finnish Bureaucracy.

3
2
Bronze badge

Re: scape goat

The true diagnosis was Finnish Bureaucracy.

As a fin, i can testify to that, and the company i work for now have former Nokia bosses. Bureaucracy is huge, and development has stopped. While used to have a new product each year to show our customers, it's now years since we had a new product to show.

We used to be number one in our field, the competition was years behind. Now they scramble to take our position. Our brand is still strong in our field, but have been fading a lot during the last years.

0
0
Bronze badge

N97 - the beginning of the end

I always went for Nokia phones from my very first mobile phone. Admittedly it wasn't really a choice I thought about a lot but they were usually quite solid phones and my last was the sturdy N95. I briefly considered getting an N96 and then even an N97 but dodged he latter by getting my first phone with a keyboard - the HTC Dream / T-Mobile G1.

I've often wondered what would have happened if they'd gone through the Maego / Maemo / Mee...... whatever.... earlier and pushed it with the N97. The phone looked ok but running a horribly mashed together Symbian + touchscreen interface it was, from what I've read, a truly awful experience with sluggishness being a generous term for it. By the time Nokia announced and had the 5800 XpressMusic handsets available I think most people had lost faith in them. The N8 had promise but was too late to matter as the iPhone had been out a few years and Android was starting to look very good.

Oh Nokia.. if only you'd been less obsessed with keeping your steady income with incremental advances (N85, N95, N95 8GB, N96...) and taken the risks a few times maybe the N8 would have been the device to wow crowds in response to the original iPhone, especially with its camera.

4
0

Re: N97 - the beginning of the end

Their mistake was clinging for the resistive variety of touchscreen for far too long.

0
0

Re: N97 - the beginning of the end

... again... Series 60 was the culprit, not Symbian.

Symbian had an elegant touch screen UI and API right from 1998 (see Psion 5 / Revo) Nokia buried that with its S60 crap.

In around 2005/6 when I was at Nokia, I was asked to help a team "adding" touch support to S60. I simply pointed them to some Symbian touch-API header files that they'd smothered in bloat and rendered unusable.

1
0
Silver badge

Who is in charge ?

"mobile operators....preferred to have a range of cheaper phones to offer their customers".

Didn't we just hear about another pioneering, market leading cell phone company who was destroyed because the operators told them what to build?

1
0
Silver badge

Re: Who is in charge ?

This is a major point - the mistake was always to let carriers dictate what was coming to the market. The manufacturers should have taken note, but not allowed it to be the be-all-and-end-all of their strategy.

0
0
Facepalm

Re: Ollila says there were several reasons for Nokia's spectacular decline

"in a choice between the Microsoft OS and Android, Windows Phone had been a unanimous choice" - no wonder they've lost.

7
1

Re: Ollila says there were several reasons for Nokia's spectacular decline

Some things are difficult to call...

When the iPhone was released people really didn't know if it was going to be successful and a lot of industry experts got it wrong.

But I think most register readers correctly predicted the outcome of the burning bridges strategy.

Only the board of Nokia couldn't see a problem.

2
0
Silver badge
Facepalm

Re: Ollila says there were several reasons for Nokia's spectacular decline

To be honest, Android would've been a bad choice as well. Had they pushed Meego a bit further, they might have done it well. Even Symbian Belle was looking pretty good, and that platform had a lot of developers before the Elopocalypse.

Hell, they had more options, going for a third-party OS was a last resort. MS should have always been a NO choice, especially if you've read how Symbian came into existence. Nokia had risen an alliance to counter MS in the mobile space, years before MS even digged the smartphone market!

1
1
Bronze badge

Re: Ollila says there were several reasons for Nokia's spectacular decline

People like I, used Nokia phones, and were looking at Apple, asking will they release a phone, as they were the only company with the guts to actually make it happen.

And then suddenly they did. Before iPhone the best web browser was found on a Nokia, it was based on Webkit, and was made in collaboration with Apple. However 4 years later I got an update to my work Nokia, and nothing had got better. It was just a new shell on the same crappy software. Calender sync to Exchange worked at best for a week, and to resolve it you had to wipe the phone and reinstall. Mail worked for maybe a month before you had to fiddle with the settings on and off to get the sync to work with exchange.

At that time the company I work for did not have iPhones to choose from, so I went to buy my own. Bought one for my wife when they came out with the 3g to our country. So I had the reference to compare with.

Exchange connection worked flawlessly, mail, calendar and contacts, no problem what so ever.

People who had some tech interest where following the news and looked closely at Apple if they would release a phone.

Just as a reference, this was my first phone. Note every model could send sms, but all could receive, can't remember exactly which one I had.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nokia_1610

0
0
Bronze badge
FAIL

RE: Ollila says there were several reasons for Nokia's spectacular decline

No, there was only one:

'The hiring of a former Microsoft executive who turned out to be Ballmer's Trojan Horse."

'nuff said.

6
1
Bronze badge

Re: RE: Ollila says there were several reasons for Nokia's spectacular decline

"The hiring of a former Microsoft executive who turned out to be Ballmer's Trojan Horse."

'nuff said.

Or, then he did exactly what the board members had given him as a task to do.

0
0
Bronze badge
Devil

Re: RE: Ollila says there were several reasons for Nokia's spectacular decline

Naaah, a Trojan Horse implies at least some sort of attempt at concealing true intentions. What Elop did sounds instead rather more like a bunch of Trojan soldiers simply turning up at the gate charging it straight on yelling "we'll be coming in now, conquering you for your own good!!!"

1
0
Headmaster

Re: RE: Ollila says there were several reasons for Nokia's spectacular decline

Greek soldiers. Like those classic Greek ones hiding inside a big wooden nag.

0
0

I still wish my phone was a Nokia

And judging by these comments I don't think I'm alone.

2
0

Uhhh... and even now he doesn't get it.

There is no room for a handset maker in the smart phone market. Never was.

Samsung is a strange bird because so far as I know, they have absolute control over every component in the telephone. They make flash, ram, CPU, batteries, screens, etc... This means that unlike other handset sellers, they can make a huge profit per handset. But even then, Samsung is pretty much THE Android phone. Even though Google bought out Motorola's phone division, it seems that Google is happy letting Samsung make the initial profit from the phone.

Apple sells their phone as an accessory to their more profitable streams of apps and media. They are making fantastic amounts of money off of add ons. I'd love to find out what percentage of Mac sales and accessories they make just from selling PCs to developers of iPhone and iPad apps. What about the tons of money made from licensing chargers and accessories?

Google makes money from search, the store and more. Not the phone.

So, how does a handset maker with a handset maker mindset compete against companies who just don't care how many phones you buy as long as you buy from the stores?

The only place for a handset maker today is in selling feature phones to the non-smart phone people. Things like tossers and plan freebies.

Could Nokia have developed a competing platform to take on Apple and Google? I highly doubt it. They always come out strong and get cold feet if it doesn't show returns on day one. They have never had any proper long term foresight. They always made it about the phone, not the platform.

The Windows Phone cock-up is probably more about Nokia's inability to establish an image. Their "coolest" advertisements seem to focus on a demographic of people who watch stock tickers. Even their release of phones have the two fats Steves on stage wearing ties. Then when they should be targeting teenagers and young adults and American welfare/food stamp recipients who have iPhones, they talk about selling the budget model to developing nations.

It's amazing how they never once understood that it simply wasn't about the phone anymore.

0
0
Bronze badge

Re: Uhhh... and even now he doesn't get it.

While Samsung _can_ make everything, they don't. They use a lot of Qualcomm CPUs and have even got into Atom-based tablets. They make (or at least made) Windows Phone handsets as well. Samsung's Galaxy SII just happened to be just right for a lot of people, who then went on to the SIII or their friends got an SIII because of the SII experience. HTC, while in early, never had quite the brand presence of Samsung who made a lot of other things people have around the house and LG has never had quite that je ne sais quoi that Samsung seemed to have.

Nokia could certainly have built a competing platform. They have a very mature maps infrastructure so there's no reason they couldn't have extended that into cloud storage or partnered with DropBox. But all these things are hard. Remember, Sony (as Sony Ericsson) was also a Symbian licensee and it had a few mis-steps until only now getting to a mature Android range.

Apple, while brilliant at many things has no divine right to do so well in the phone/tablet space. They don't yet make everything themselves. They rely on Samsung for CPU manufacture. Siri's functionality depends to a large degree on a partnership with Nuance.

Samsung has options if it ever falls out with Google, but they can't yet simply use Tizen and their S-branded services as a drop-in replacement.

0
0
Bronze badge
FAIL

Tired already

I can't stand Nokia stories anymore, to much bitterness now. Its to sad see great engineering f*cked by ego-management. In the end, its the beancounters who destroy a company.

I suspect that the other option for CEO was Bill Gates...I recall the rumours about a angry Bill when Nokia did everything to stop Microsoft to enter the mobile phone market. Later, the same Nokia accepted to be on bed with Microsoft just to not give Google more power. We know which decision proved to be more successful. Tiresome.

2
0
Bronze badge
FAIL

LTE

And from the Taskumuro's article, Elop's vision that the US market was more important than the rest of the world and that the MeeGo team had no N9 sucessor with LTE support, thats a non argument. Which model from Apple supported LTE? iPhone 5, released in 2012, September. Which was the first Lumia to support LTE? The 820, relesead in 2012, November. Elop saying that the N9 was inferior to the 2007's iPhone its an infamy and a utter lie.

0
0

This article is ridiculous

I'll summarize it: Former CEO couldn't make a better job, then criticizes the CEO that came after him.

"We were not successful in using Microsoft's operating system" - according to who I ask? They got double-digit market share of WP right now. Nokia is the top WP brand.

0
1
Anonymous Coward

Second choice?

Was Elop #2 on the shit list?

0
0
This topic is closed for new posts.