back to article Farewell then, Mr Elop: It wasn't actually your fault

The leadership of Nokia phones shuffled out of Microsoft yesterday, with phones VP Jo Harlow joining former CEO and Microsoft devices VP Stephen Elop in the taxi queue. The traffic wasn’t all one way: Meego UX guy Peter Skillman has joined Microsoft from Nokia’s HERE division. The moves are a result of a corporate reshuffle …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Megaphone

    Elop dropped after failed phone flopped

    Cutting deep dooms failed Veep, future of Nokia getting rockier, the final moan of Windows phone?

    Platform burned, no lessons learned, Windows spurned.

    1. gazthejourno (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Elop dropped after failed phone flopped

      You pitching for my job?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Elop dropped after failed phone flopped

        Sounds more like adding insult to injury

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Elop dropped after failed phone flopped

        ...and winning so far...

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't burn the platform you're standing on

    Since when does the MBA handbook advise you to denigrate your current products, when the next-generation products are years away? The Burning Platform memo may have been a true assessment of Nokia's situation, but owning up to this publicly meant that they drastically lost sales of current products, with no alternatives to offer.

    It generally isn't a good idea to publicly parade your shortcomings; and in doing so, Elop inevitably raises the suspicion that he deliberately trashed Nokia's sales, in order to make it a better takeover target - the lower the sales, the cheaper the price, and Microsoft only wanted Nokia's hardware expertise, not their software.

    1. LucreLout Silver badge

      Re: Don't burn the platform you're standing on

      Since when does the MBA handbook advise you to....

      Since when did any successful business do whatever the MBA handbook suggested?

      The biggest problem facing large corporates is sending execs off to do MBAs. They come back with a head full of simplistic and idealistic theory, which they then begin the process of learning to apply. Usually by blowing up their company or division.

      Name one other qualification where you would put a box fresh graduate in charge of ... well, anything? You wouldn't. And the MBA is no different just because the students are older.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. dogged

      Re: Don't burn the platform you're standing on

      It wasn't a public memo. He didn't issue a press release. It got leaked.

      1. Andy Nugent

        Re: Don't burn the platform you're standing on

        Wasn't it sent to everyone in the company? If he couldn't work out that it'd leak...

        1. Paul Shirley

          "If he couldn't work out that it'd leak..."

          ...or that quite a few employees would realise they wouldn't have a job much longer or any reason not to leak it...

    4. Sean Timarco Baggaley

      Re: Don't burn the platform you're standing on

      Elop didn't leak that memo himself.

      It is worth reading the memo, if only to clarify exactly what it was he wrote. This wasn't an "Osborne" moment; it's clear from the content that Nokia were *already* in serious trouble. (The full text can be found in this article. I assume El Reg also has it somewhere, but I can't find it with their search engine.)

      Although it's fair to say the writing was on the wall long before Elop turned up, it was the idiot who leaked that memo who doomed his colleagues and destroyed any future the mobile division might have had up until that point. The memo was posted to an internal intranet, not to the media at large.

      1. Roo

        Re: Don't burn the platform you're standing on

        "Although it's fair to say the writing was on the wall long before Elop turned up, it was the idiot who leaked that memo who doomed his colleagues and destroyed any future the mobile division might have had up until that point."

        I think that's putting it a bit strong, I'd say the memo was just another nail in the coffin. ;)

        Any punter could see Nokia weren't interested in selling anything they wanted to buy *before* the memo was leaked, and that was the problem that Elop inherited and he failed to fix it.

  3. Hans 1 Silver badge
    Coffee/keyboard

    >Elop was actually a pretty good CEO – I’ve no doubt he will be again. ®

    Thanks, made my day!

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge
      Mushroom

      His CV reads like a car crash, whilst he might have got away with it before Nokia I can't think of any company which would want to hire him based on what he's achieved after Nokia.

      1. Midnight

        "I can't think of any company which would want to hire him based on what he's achieved after Nokia."

        I don't know about that. I can picture a conversation like this playing out.

        "Sooo... Our current product line is crap, we've gotten rid of all of our engineers and replaced them with extra layers of middle management, and our previous CEO ran off with everything of value including that sweet rolly-chair from my office. What do we do now?"

        "There's only one thing we can do. We hire Elop. What's left of the company will burn so brightly that everything will look like it was his fault and we can slip away unnoticed."

        It's all about playing to your strengths, whatever they happen to be.

    2. getHandle

      Sounds like Andrew didn't talk to any engineers. Oh right, the minions don't actually matter in big companies. Think there might be whole towns in Finland that might have an issue with that.

  4. Paul Shirley

    hard to believe

    Hard to believe Elop had no awareness of the true state of Windows Phone at the time (or the related internal feedback about all things Metro - which we now know was overwhelmingly negative).

    But let's pretend all he had was what his ex-employer told Nokia. Why the hell did he believe it? He had to know how MS operates, how they promise but deliver late or not at all, how they have no scruples about wrecking partners business. So why walk the company off a cliff on a Microsoft promise? That's not 'pretty good' by any reckoning.

    I also fail to understand how putting out Android devices is a one way abandonment of control. Every other major phone producer is happy to ship with multiple OSes, including WP even if the Winphone offerings are more about appeasing Microsofts lawyers than sales. Dropping everything for a single bought in OS was never necessary, although I'll agree they would never have finished an OS competitive with Android given how they got into this mess.

    When faced with an 'impossible choice' it helps to pick the least worst option, not the worst as Elop did.

  5. Frank Long

    The key problem was that they chucked the existing assets overboard while Windows wasn't ready.

    Maemo/Meego was pretty much ready, the N700 was a decent tablet before the iPad was a twinkle in Job's eyes. I replaced my stolen iPod and Macbook with an N800 and a Bluetooth keyboard back in 2008, with 24GB of storage. Was perfectly serviceable, and would just have needed a bit of TLC to get up to the standards of Android tablets.

    Jolla's Sailfish platform show what Nokia could have had, an independent platform that was good enough at the time which now runs android apps.

    Basically, if Nokia had put the effort into Meego that they put into WM , I'm certain it would have turned out differently.

    Then there's the fact that in Symbian , they had the most power efficient OS out there, which still has a certain caché.

    Elop burned the platforms, he took on a company that was the biggest phone company (and smartphone...) and ended up as a small appendage of Microsoft .

    That is not a successful outcome by any standard . The equivalent would be the CEO of Toyota running it into the ground so badly that it becomes a local subsidiary of GM

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      "Jolla's Sailfish platform show what Nokia could have had, an independent platform that was good enough at the time which now runs android apps. Basically, if Nokia had put the effort into Meego that they put into WM, I'm certain it would have turned out differently."

      If Meego had been as slick as it was in the N9 but two or three year earlier, then I'd agree. By 2011 nobody else wanted Meego and Nokia didn't think it could build an ecosystem on its own. The board agreed.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Stop

        Not true. The N9 was delayed by the Symbian camp and even by the board. The next board, with Elop as a CEO dragged it as well.

      2. Christian Berger Silver badge

        "If Meego had been as slick as it was in the N9 but two or three year earlier, then I'd agree. By 2011 nobody else wanted Meego and Nokia didn't think it could build an ecosystem on its own. The board agreed."

        Actually Maemo had _no_ adversisement and even the N9, which was probably one of the worst Maemo/Meego handsets (no keyboard!) outsold all of their Windows handsets at that time.

        Sure there's the iPhone/Android/WindowsPhone crowd who just want some "slick" device to display ads on, Maemo cannot complete with that but why should it? There are people who want to actually _do_ something with a mobile device. People who don't want some cut down "smart"-phone, but a mobile computer which in principle can do everything their laptop of desktop can do. Even the N810 was closer to that than all Android/iOS/WindowsPhone devices you can buy today.

      3. Frank Long

        While Windows Phone 7 arguably looked better (reception was mixed...), it certainly was not ready for the big-time.

        Elop really should have led the charge for developing its own ecosystem. It had all the components, just poorly connected (Ovi Store, Comes With Music, etc...).

        It needed leadership he didn't provide. Microsoft have failed to provide an ecosystem too

        1. LucreLout Silver badge

          While Windows Phone 7 arguably looked better (reception was mixed...), it certainly was not ready for the big-time.

          I'm off to Android next, as that's what I'm developing hobby apps for just now, so don't mistake this as a full on fan boy post. However, I've had Win Phone 7 since it was released on the Nokia 910, and I've had absolutely no problems with it. Win Phone 6, sure, that crashed a lot, but 7 doesn't. It just works.

          1. Squander Two

            > I've had Win Phone 7 since it was released on the Nokia 910, and I've had absolutely no problems with it. Win Phone 6, sure, that crashed a lot, but 7 doesn't. It just works.

            Couldn't agree more. 7 was an incredibly stable and useful platform.

            8 has all sorts of improvements, but I sometimes miss 7's streamlininess.

            I used to be a big fan of the Communicators: had a 9500 (still one of my favourite gadgets ever), then an E9. Also had an N810 and and N900. I don't agree with those saying how brilliant Maemo/Meego was. It was fun for geeks. It was unfinished. It wasn't ready for mainstream consumers. It didn't stand a chance against iOS. It wasn't as good as WP7. I loved my N900, but sorry, it wasn't good enough.

          2. nkuk

            The problem was that WP7 was missing huge amounts of features that competing platforms/phones had at the time, and had (and still has) no "ecosystem" and wide range of apps. I guess that is what the OP was referring to, WP7 definitely was not ready for the big time.

            It was an adequate replacement for a Nokia dumbphone at the time if you liked the horrendous metro UI, but it in no way competed with other smartphones IMO.

            1. LucreLout Silver badge

              wide range of apps

              Not this garbage again, surely.

              I've had the phone for years and have never needed or even wanted an app I couldn't get for it. Not one. Lack of apps is simply a myth - there's only so many fart noise apps an OS needs.

              1. Zane

                Sure

                Sounds as if you never found out how to switch it on.

                Maybe you would like to see a picture from yesterday's Taylor Swift show to see what other people do with their mobiles once they are switched on.

                /Zane

  6. Mage Silver badge
    Coat

    Nokia

    Also unlike RIM, Nokia had been many other things, paper, boots, TVs, Computers, Set Boxes and Infrastructure.

    Nokia are still a big company apart from the Name and IP, none of which Microsoft acquired.

    Nokia went wrong due to internal politics in 2002 and burnt many platforms before Elop. He helped them get a lot of money from Microsoft for essentially something that had become worthless and was beyond help (the phone division).

    Microsoft's Windows Phone that Nokia adopted is really their third attempt in that space. It and xBox are maybe more about selling the brand and other services (azure, Office 365, etc) than making money on the hardware.

  7. Arctic fox
    Windows

    "Windows Phone loyalists today haven’t seen a flagship for 18 months"

    Agreed. It is all the same a touch too early to imply MS is about to bury its phone division. However, if there is no genuine flagship phone accompanying the launch of Windows 10 Mobile some time in the Autumn then you can send flowers.

    1. Squander Two

      Re: "Windows Phone loyalists today haven’t seen a flagship for 18 months"

      I for one will be very disappointed if they choose not to continue the great camera work. I know the 1020 hardly became ubiquitous, but it wasn't really supposed to, and those of us who did buy them are happy and loyal.

  8. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Hindsight

    It's OK with hindsight to say that Android vendors aren't making money in 2015. But Nokia's problem wasn't 2015, it was "right now" back in 2010-11 and the only "right now" option seems to have been Android. An Android line back then would have bought them time and time would have given them chance to decide what to do - finish Meego, wait for Windows to mature or even continue with Android - and do it. It's the facts that he eschewed that option, made the long term choice in the short term, made the long term choice that he did and also the Ratnerish way in which he did it all that laid the foundation for the conspiracy theory.

    1. Snowman

      Re: Hindsight

      Actually not much has changed on Android profitability, Samsung was the only one that ever had a long run of respectable profitability with it. There was plenty of articles before and around the time of the memo showing how bad profitability for all the other Android venders were at the time, so it should have been well known by someone in the industry it was not an easy path to money, though it was also clear by that point that Android would be an easier sell to customers at the time due to the base user experience and app availability at the time, the only major change of opinion I can think of since then was more people thought MS might be able to catch up on market share in the mobile space with iOS & Android given their history and possibility to leverage corporate entrenchment in MS products.

  9. sorry, what?
    Facepalm

    Platform Reform Norm

    I just don't get why Elop felt he couldn't do as the likes of Samsung and support different mobile platforms (Android, Meego, Windows Phone etc.), especially if they could all be made to run on the same hardware.

    1. dogged

      Re: Platform Reform Norm

      I agree. I was expecting WP and Meego/Symbian (via QT) but not the "let's burn everything" approach.

      I still say that was a mistake.

  10. Captain Underpants

    He may have been handed a turd-filled chalice, but as far as I could tell his actions were basically to try and piss into it anyway (predictably ending up with little but dirty hands to show for his efforts).

    Nokia appears to have had internal culture problems for years, but Elop didn't exactly do much to help things. Trashing the existing platform (including the long-in-development in-house product that was realistically their best chance of any kind of future) to instead latch onto an external platform that was itself busily being defecated upon by its parent company was a foolish idea.

    I thought Windows CE was actually reasonably good for its intended purpose way back in the days of the XDA, and I know several folks using Windows Phone 8 now who like it a great deal, but the transition between the two has been fumbled in that the app marketplace is vital for such devices and the Windows platforms have generally poor app stores compared to Android or iOS.

    1. Squander Two

      I find the Windows Phone app store perfectly good. It's got some amazing imaging stuff on there (largely thanks to the 1020 making it a popular platform for photographers), some great games, map apps that utilise the platform's ability to store maps on the phone itself rather than streaming and add extra bells and whistles (GMaps+ gives you maps built into your phone but integrates them with Google Streetview, for instance), and various tools for most things I need. The one glaring exception for me is an Amazon Music client, but that's become much less of an issue since they integrated the Music app with Onedrive.

      There's plenty of dross in there, but then the same is true of the Apple and Android app stores.

  11. Gordon 10 Silver badge

    I tend to think

    I do feel some sympathy for Elop - there were definitely no good choices left when he arrived.

    Having said that history shows us of all the options he had - he chose the worst, everyone else from Blackberry to Sony are bleeding red ink but still in the game - unlike Nokia.

    Maybe time will show that the survival of Nokia the parent company was far more important than Nokia phone company - but the jury is still out on that one. Sony's fate in particular is worth watching.

    Burning platforms was a cockup of Gerald Ratner proportions though.

  12. Sean Timarco Baggaley

    Excellent article.

    Elop leaving Microsoft is no big surprise: Microsoft did not want to buy Nokia's bloated and (obviously) underperforming mobile phone division! Elop pushed it through regardless, giving Nokia's shareholders a decent chunk of money. (Anyone should have seen the axe of job cuts coming a mile away. Seriously, how is that a surprise?)

    A business is a machine that makes money for its owners. How that money is made is a mere detail. Nokia have been active in logging, rubber products, and more. Mobile telephony is still a key sector; they just prefer making the infrastructure now, rather than the client devices.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Holmes

    "Elop was actually a pretty good CEO – I’ve no doubt he will be again. ®"

    Because he pushed for WP?

  14. DougS Silver badge

    Samsung is not bleeding red ink

    This is the second time I've seen a similar assertion in a Reg article. True, they are much less profitable than they were, but they're still making money hand over fist on smartphones. The point is still valid though since they're the only ones (aside from Google, of course) making much of anything off Android.

  15. Graham Cobb

    Metro was the failed gamble

    I am no fan of Elop (I was a fairly well-known developer in the Maemo community and I use a Jolla phone today) but, with hindsight, I think it is clearer to understand what went wrong.

    First, as Andrew points out, Nokia had become dysfunctional long before Elop. Eventually the board recognised this and they made the decision to go with Microsoft: that is the reason they hired Elop. You can certainly argue, with hindsight, that that was the wrong decision -- they should have gone with Android -- but it seemed a reasonable decision at the time.

    Even at the time, everyone in the business knew that it was almost impossible to create a viable third platform (after Apple and Android) no matter how good it was. The problem, as everyone recognised, was apps: app developers would not develop for a new platform unless it had massive numbers of users, and the users would not come unless there were lots of apps. Maemo/Meego/N9 had proved this. [This is just a repeat, of course, of the VCR industry -- except in that case the three platforms were reduced to just one -- but it was also content availability which forced that].

    However, Microsoft thought they could use their massive power, and deep pockets, to prove everyone wrong. And they came up with an interesting idea to make it happen. One which actually seemed to have a chance of working: Metro.

    Metro was an attempt to create a platform which would work for the PC, tablets and phones. The idea was that a large proportion of the massive number of Windows PC apps would become available for tablets and phones, which would kickstart the takeup of Windows Phones. The large number of users of Windows Phones would then attract IOS and Android app developers to port to the platform (also making those apps available to desktop users as well, as a side effect).

    I can still see why that was attractive. It is the only sensible idea anyone has ever come up with for breaking the IOS/Android duopoly. And I can see why it was attractive to the Nokia board: Microsoft was about the only company which could make a strategy like that successful. I expect the Microsoft board told the Nokia board that they saw this strategy as the only future for Microsoft -- something they may still be right about.

    In the end, even Microsoft couldn't do it. Even with hindsight it is hard to say whether the delays and compromises in Metro were the cause or whether the idea was never going to work. For whatever, reason, it was a gamble which failed. Nadella's challenge is to salvage a future for Microsoft with it knocked back to just being a desktop PC platform vendor and business software vendor.

    1. Decade
      WTF?

      Re: Metro was the failed gamble

      …users would not come unless there were lots of apps. Maemo/Meego/N9 had proved this.

      N9 proved that there will not be a platform if it is not advertised, it is launched with extremely limited availability, and its CEO says it’s a dead-end product no matter how well it sells. And it still sold better than Windows Phone 7.

      I thought the Qt strategy was sound. When Qt was put on a Burning Platform, businesses that had been tooling up for it angrily dumped Nokia and went all-in with Android and/or iOS.

      Metro was an attempt to create a platform which would work for the PC, tablets and phones.

      That was not a happy time for Microsoft. Bill Gates promoted .NET as a way to write dependable, cross-platform software (but he tried to be all vaguely visionary about it, and Marketing then confused the hell out of everybody). Metro was built on .NET, so it should have been cross-platform. Instead, Microsoft kept jumping from one .NET GUI to another, so you couldn’t be sure your program wouldn’t need to be rewritten next year, and even Windows Metro and Windows Phone Metro were different. Apple and Google offered relative stability. People who like jumping were switching to platforms they could control, like webapps on Node.js on Linux.

      Even now, 4 years later, you can only share some of the code between desktop and phone Metro, and One Windows is a promise for later this year. I’m not sure how alarming it is that Microsoft Skype, for one, has switched from Metro back to classic desktop Windows.

      Elop could not have known that this would happen, but it’s the utmost foolishness to drop what was working before letting Microsoft’s new platform prove itself.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Metro was the failed gamble

      I whole heartedly agree with Mr Cobb. After being a PC person for over 20+ years, I switched over to Mac 6 years ago and haven't looked back. In the last year, I had the fortune of working with some Windows phones & PCs for tradeshows (Ignite anyone?) and realized how ass backwards Metro was -- especially for mobile devices. I don't know what design principals and validation they applied, but it was bad compared to Apple and Android UX and eco-systems. I'll argue that even the faux-droid experience is superior to Windows.

      Yes, Nokia has invested in the photography/imaging side, but they could apply the same expertise on the Android platform or better yet a combo Windows/Android play. From what I read here and elsewhere, the biggest costs in the mobile space has been marketing (ahead of development). It seems nonsensical to be the only brave souls to bet the farm on Windows phones. Yes, it worked out well that Microsoft bought the company. But what if they didn't. This would be a different story.

      Here are my recommendations for Microsoft ..

      1. Focus on the enterprise app space vs. whining about app vendors not continuing to support the platform (ex: Google maps).

      2. For whiny consumers build compatibility for Android apps (it's an OSS core -- use that to your advantage like Amazon) -- I am sure you want work out some awesome licensing deal

      3. Come up with good devices (645 XL is very decent was the 1020?) and subsidize the $#¡† out of it. You are Microsoft ! Spend some of that hard earned money wisely. Take the 6xx and put it at the 5xx price point.

      4. Improve the UX. Hire better HCI folks and move them into the XBOX division away from the desktop/laptop/server/Windows10 team. Heck hire some HOLLYWOOD talent to design some good $#¡† (learn from the auto industry and I don't mean GM or pre-Fiat 90's Chrysler)

      5. Build a community -- IT'S A DAMN SHAME no one can channel the Balmer & Jobs of old. Bribe cool game developers. Steal great talent. Borrow interesting concepts.

      6. Build out more killer apps (Skype is very cool, but how does it compare to Facetime).

      7. Did I say channel Balmer & Jobs!

  16. something

    Come on, I hardly believe what you write

    I seriously cannot believe what you write. Even if Elop payed you, you wouldn't have written that I think. Elop got a company that I agree had serious competitive problems. But to make it almost obsolete (and for sure just a shell of itself) so incredibly fast, requires skill at stupidness or there is something fishy going on. I am sorry but that is how I see it.

    The burning platforms memo is something that you do not share with noone else but a handful of people that you are sure that they wont leak it outside the room and certainly you dont have it written. Sending it to its employees was the stupidest idea ever no matter if he didn't intend to have it leaked (but come on, how stupid can you be not to realize that sending such a memo would result in a leak FOR SURE!! I dont believe that he is so stupid, so I can only think that this was done on purpose).

    Elop's actions made sure that Nokia had no hope competing again with any of the likes of Apple, Samsung, Google etc. Companies with a small percentage of the presence of Nokia (be it sales, intellectual property, R&D, manufacturing etc etc) are still here around, managing to stay afloat, no matter if they are in red. Nokia died too fast. Too fast for a company with such resources, no matter what you say that it was a giant that moved slowly. Remember that a giant moves slowly but its steps are equally big to compensate ;)

    1. getHandle

      Re: Come on, I hardly believe what you write

      It does seem to be a Nokia trait at the time. cf Jo Harlow's presentation to the Symbian Cambridge office's guys, reassuring them that they weren't going to be let go, with a folder on her desktop labeled something like "Cambridge site closure". WTF? With management of this calibre, who needs enemies??

  17. Dave559 Bronze badge
    Unhappy

    Back in 2011, I had a Nokia E7. It was a really, really, nice phone: a good, solid, tactile and attractive casing, nice and vivid (if slightly low-resolution for a smartphone) screen, an indispensible physical slide-out keyboard, excellent full-featured Bluetooth support, not bad battery life (it's tragic that 2 days counts as "good" nowadays), a reasonably polished Symbian OS (compared with the state of iOS and Android at that point in time) which was really only just starting to show its age, and not forgetting the genuinely well-done offline mapping. It really was the last of the well-loved late, great, Psion organiser family tree.

    Unfortunately I never did get around to updating the OS to Symbian Anna, as, in the end, it required a Windows computer to do so, rather than being an OTA update, but demos showed that Nokia had somehow managed to squeeze a final rejuvenation out of Symbian that would have kept Symbian reasonably competitive for perhaps another 12 - 18 months while MeeGo reached maturity and became its replacement - had it not been for those bridges being burned and the N9 made almost unpurchaseable and doomed from the start..

    I used the E7 as my main phone until last year, although the understandable decline of the Symbian developer community meant that I was never able to use it to its full potential. Not wishing to take the poisoned candy of the Ministry of Google, nor willing to part with the pennies for Apple, I chose to give "the old Nokia" a final chance, and am currently using a Jolla phone. It is quite a nice OS, but given the gang-hut scale of the company, it is unfortunately still lacking in some polish in important areas, although they are improving it gradually. Hopefully the imminent Jolla tablet will give them the boost that they need to upscale their income and operations, but I'm not sure if I can really give them more than another 9 - 12 months to try catch up with the others (including supporting a proper app store), otherwise I am afraid that I will probably have to submit to assimilation along with everybody else..

    It's a very sad end to an area of technology where Europe (including substantial input and effort from the UK) was once far ahead of the rest of the world (and thanks are certainly due to everybody who helped to create that lead, before Nokia sat on their laurels and started their infighting and disorganisation). I really do hope that Jolla (or Ubuntu, or Firefox) can make a growing niche for themselves, but, sadly, as each quarter passes, that now looks less likely..

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      >started their infighting and disorganisation

      ie the EU way. Microsoft too should move their headquarters to Brussels.

    2. Belardi

      Sorry Dave, but I'm afraid you won't like the answer.

      There is a history of failures and some of us are old enough to know what they look like. I ask that you do a bit of research on something called AMIGA. (I'll try to be brief)

      back in the mid 80s, when a typical personal computer was an 8bit AppleII or Commodore 64, maybe the slightly more powerful Atari 800... The original Mac was a year on the market at about $3000, the 8bit company known as Commodore bought, developed and released the Amiga 1000. This computer was a 16/32 bit system for $1200 (256k / 880k floppy drive - 640x480 / 16 out of 4096 colors) - it was state of the Art in 1985. Mac was already more advanced than MS-DOS, the Amiga - had color, higher resolution, stereo sound and multi-tasking. Something MS wouldn't have until Windows 95 and Apple with OS-X in 2000. The games on the Amiga were top notch. It was cheaper than typical PC clones. Over the course of 5 years, the company moved slowly to update the Amiga platform.

      Even Windows 3.0/3.1 was a joke compared to AmigaOS 2.0. A 7Mhz 68000 Amiga with 1mb of RAM could out-perform the more expensive 25mhz 386 w/4mb. (In those days, you paid about $200 per MB). I paid $125 per floppy drive. The original 2MB ram expander for my A1000 was about $1000 new (I got it used). Hell, I used to run a Mac emulator (software), that allowed me to run pretty much 99.9% Mac software (there was nothing that failed for me). I even had the more advanced Amiga 3000 as my last model. But by 1992, some of us saw the writing on the wall.

      The company never matured from a 70's~80s computer company to a 90s+ computer company. Hell, they were STILL making 8bit Commodore 64s for some markets! The Amiga line at 1992 still included the 1987 Amiga 500, actually in production... with an out-dated OS. Really, you could walk into an Amiga PC shop, look at the various models that came with OS version 1.3 / 2.0 / 2.1 / 3.0. I even ran 3.0 on my 1985 Amiga 500, it was that good of a hardware design.

      Macs were not as expensive ($1500, rather than $5000+), the PCs were selling by the millions... SVGA was standard, of course the $100 Soundblaster card was still a joke compared to Amiga.

      Games were growing on the PC side. Doom came out, which was beyond the abilities of the latest Amigas... Commodore went bankrupt... took almost 2 years to find a buyer, as they TRIED to get the best deal - their technology was rapidly becoming "old" and was losing value why they haggled. A German/Euro store bought the company - then failed. Then another company... then Gateway 2000 (yep, Gateway USED to own Commodore/Amiga for a year or so) - then was owned by a cable company... on and on.

      I think Amiga hit about 3~4 million at its peak... maybe 10, I don't know. But I went to PC with Windows95 (which was crap compared to AmigaOS... but it kind of worked. Windows XP finally surpassed AmigaOS in most ways) and my Amigas started collecting dust, but they still work.

      I watched as Amiga Fans waited, worked, spent money keeping the tech alive... making THEIR own technology, dealing with legal issues of the trademark that really has no value, anymore. I told a group - their best best was to make a Linux fork, with a heavy Amiga inspired UI. (AmigaOS is based off of Unix, but easier to use) and to go with cheap standard PC hardware. But they re-engineered their stuff with Motorola PPC CPUs (same used in Mac computers back then) - because to go Intel or even AMD is like sleeping with the enemy.

      How stupid is that? Rather than using low-cost motherboards (off shelf) with $100~400 CPUS, they went with custom motherboards with modified PSU to use more expensive PPC CPUs. By mid 2000s, I think the G4 was the last PPC... before Apple went **gasp** intel. Oh, a customized ATI card for non-standard Amiga "modern" hardware in 2006 was about $300, yet its GPU was classed for the PC side as a $75 card. UGH?!

      The Amiga fans were in trouble of course... PPC CPUs dried up... but have no fear, they make the AmigaOne or some wack thing, that uses a CUSTOM CPU (HST? I'm not going to look it up) - anyway, its a PPC CPU lic. design chip which is made for military / spacecraft uses... cheap? no. But its PPC compatible! Apple buys out that company (not to hurt the tiny Amiga community, but for its IP for various reasons).

      Amiga really died when Commodore went bankrupt, its doors closed at its corp office with no buyers to quickly buy out the IP, talent and products. Their talented employees burning effigy of their ex-boss/CEOs. outside as they close shop and look for new work. Thats around 1993~1994... and its been a rotting zombie since then.

      I love my Amigas... they were AMAZING technology, at the time. Since then, I don't care if its AMD, intel, Nvidia, MC, Samsung or even Apple. If it does what I need for the price I can afford, I buy with no loyalty to that company. I *DO* like Windows7, only MS OS I care about. I love my ThinkPads because of their quality... thats about it.

      WindowsMobile/Metro 7~8 was supposed to work... and I think WP8 would have been a success if Windows8 Desktop wasn't such a complete failure (along with Office 2013 / xboxOne debacles). As an app developer now, I only look at Android and iOS. Blackberry - nope, its a zombie... WP? unless something changes - doubtful. But more likely than Blackberry. Firefox? Why? Enough things to do, dealing with Android and iOS.

      Your phone, that you love so much... is a zombie. So, go out, play with handsets and find something that you REALLY like. I very much like the Motorola X (even the G) phones... they fit well in the hand, the feel good, the UI is minimal changes from default Android. Its clock/alarm UI easily blows away EVERYONE. Apple, samsung - them too. Its camera is avg at best, thou. Needs more software tweaks. LG makes nice phones. HTC makes a nice looking phone - but it has issues IMHO. Its shocking that SONY isn't able to make any market headway - considering how many phone designs they used to make! They made some of the best feature phones you could buy. Samsung finally did up their game with the S6. (the S3 / S4 / S5 look identical, other than size).

      Good luck!

      1. Dave559 Bronze badge

        You don't need to tell me all about the Amiga, Belardi, I had an Amiga 500 and then an Amiga 1200! It wasn't until the end of 1997 that I finally conceded that, regrettably, I just wasn't enough of a die-hard fanboy to be able to justify any further expenditure to keep adding to my by-then orphaned Amiga (adding a CD-ROM and ethernet would have been eye-wateringly expensive) and that x86 PCs had finally started to catch up in terms of sound and graphics and come down to a more affordable price. So I sadly switched to FreeBSD (I had friends who were happy to help and advise) and then to Linux (and, much later, to OS X as well).

        There must be a parallel universe out there somewhere where Amiga (with MUI), Apple and Archimedes are still chasing each other for top spot (possibly having swapped and cross-bred some OS features and code between themselves and from the unix world, to sustain innovation, and having co-operatively developed shared compatible file formats, for sanity), with M$-DOG/Windoze [1] having stuttered out of existence at the end of 1995 as Microsoft were unable to deliver a working version of Windows Chicago before they were left completely behind by the obviously superior alternatives.. It may seem strange from today's perspective, but in the early/mid 1990s there were many of us wondering just how on earth those far inferior and user-unfriendly "IBM PCs" ever managed to sell in any numbers at all..

        I still miss Deluxe Paint to this day.. :-(

        [1] Before the flames start, those are historically-appropriate terms.. ;-)

        1. Belardi

          Ah, a former ally! :) And I'm from the States too. I had a good VGA monitor attached to my Amiga 3000. The De-interlacer in the A1200/4000 was substandard with its slight "bars" effect running down the screen... also, you needed a more expensive special monitor to use that mode - rather than the A3000's simpler dual VGA / RGB output. Once I saw the A1200, I bought the A3000 and hoped someone will save C=/Amiga. I preferred the detached keyboard of the A1000 & 3000, having grown up with Apple II and Commodore VIC and C128. The A1200 was a decent price, but the A3000 was discounted to the same $800 USD price on closeout + it included more memory. The A4000 was priced out of my price range and was butt-ugly. White and brown? Really?

          But yeah, many of us were shaking our heads... WHY! WHY were people buying MS-DOS and crappy Windows 3 PCs when for a cheaper price, the Amigas kicked their ass?!

          Software and business networking. C= wasn't willing to pay and work like a business. Apple paid for development of software conversions. C= counted on US, their customers to grow their business.

          They couldn't keep up with rapidly better technology because they didn't get their heads out of their butt. Still counting the quarters they made from making C=64s in 1992!

          They were on the right path when they introduced the Amiga 1000. No C= logo. New styling. Then they threw it away with the replacements. They had the low-cost A500 and the way-to expensive A2000 without a replacement in between for the A1000. They Should of made an A1200 too. For $1000, basic like the A500 with 1 or 2 internal slots (ZorroII) and space for a single HD.

          Commodore never should never have bothered with the damn PC-slots/compatibility on the A2000. (unless it could actually make use of those PC cards in Amiga mode). It really added about a year of down time making the Bridge work between the ZorroII and PC compatibility. Then the A2000 would have been smaller overall with only 6 slots instead of 8/9 (depending on how you look at it) and a smaller and lighter PSU... and of course a lower-cost computer too.

          How many Amiga users ACTUALLY used those PC-slots with PC emulation? I'd bet less than 1%.

          People voted me down on my previous post. Sorry, but MS-DOS was pure crap. If you actually used AmigaOS back in 1986~1992, you'd know these things. It's like comparing Windows7 to Windows3.0.

          - AmigaOS had multitasking in 1986. Which felt natural, it was awesome. Then going to a MAC or DOS was horribly counter-productive.

          - AmigaOS/Hardware had PNP since 1986. For which MS didn't have it until late 1995 with Windows95 - and it was horrible.

          Amiga had stereo audio sine 1986. In which the PC didn't catch up until the 1994 version of Soundblaster, which was a $125 audio-card add-on. Otherwise, you had a buzzer. oh-wow!

          It really did take MS 15 years to equal the Amiga, with WindowsXP... and in some ways, it was still sub-standard to AmigaOS. When you first install the OS on an Amiga with an HD, you had a GUI panel to format your HD, name it, partition, etc. With XP, you boot into a DOS-type screen with very rudimentary tools.

          The past is a fact. MS won the PC war with brute business force. Congratulations! But not with talent. Amiga lost because they had NO business sense whatsoever.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I upvoted it becaue of your effort to create a logical argument. I am glad you ended the way you did - ack'ing the reality.

        Amiga as a company was stuck in the 80s. You think their UX was awesome, but it wasn't innovative enough. People in UK had money and grew up on Amigas. The rest of the world was poor and Win 3.1 was good enough.

        The same way OS/2 kicked butt, but Windows 95 and 2000 was sufficient (and cheaper).

    3. Dave559 Bronze badge

      Flattr support enabled in Jolla Harbour and Jolla Store

      Sorry to follow-up my own post, but Jolla have just announced that they have now enabled Flattr payment support in their app store. It's not really the same as having a proper paid app store, but it is a small step in the right direction..

      https://together.jolla.com/question/96545/

  18. oldtaku
    Trollface

    Conspiracy theory

    MS hasn't really fired him... they've just sent him out to destroy yet another company for them to buy for pennies on the dollar. Shall we see where he goes?

  19. W. Anderson

    There should be no tears for Stephen Elop, since, as was poignantly predicted, he received gobs of money even while running Nokia into the ground so that Microsoft could purchase the company (the division that mattered) for a song.

    One commenter indicating that Elop was a "good manager" is certainly brain dead, since under Elop's tenure, Nokia went from marginally profitable to a complete financial basket case. All the while Elop is laughing all the way from his Nokia destruction plan bank account, probably to some beach .

    I sincerely hope that credible and innovative Free/Open Source Software (FOSS) commercial ventures avoids Elop like the plague, since he is sure to get paid tens, if not hundreds of $$millions again by Microsoft to ruin any FOSS company's prospects, for his former heroine's benefit

  20. gryff

    Seriously...?

    "This really is a bit of chauvinistic nonsense, which seeks to transfer blame away from years of complacency and mismanagement at Nokia"

    Nope, year long complacency was not the culture at the time. I was there. Mismanagement? Nope. The major issue was software engineering. Getting the stuff out the door fast enough in a good enough shape. For example, The N97 omnishambles was Nokia's software engineering at its *worst*.

    "What Elop’s critics forget is that he had an impossible choice in front of him when he arrived in late 2010."

    No. he didn't. He could have fixed the organisational issues and software engineering and snoozed on for another five years. Instead he decided it was product range and cost. After his MS alliance media event, Symbian volumes dropped off a cliff. The closures in 2012 took the guts out of the mid range €50-€125 business where the volumes and profit still were after the destruction of the smartphone business in 2011. Little known fact, the N9 outsold the windows phones.

    Seriously, read the quarterly reports about volumes and profits from 2007 to 2013. It's all there. Volumes were rising until Stephen started speaking. The more he spoke, the worse things got, in my opinion.

    "Elop’s choice was really to go with Android or risk going with the brand new Windows Phone platform. ... The Android option would also have been too much of a culture shock for Nokia"

    No. We were gagging for it. Android was seen as a way to jump forward. "You have the software, Google, but we have the brand." was one line of thought. The Nokia X series with Android was done later and regrettably strangled at birth, several projects were cancelled close to ramp-up as Nokia sold the business to MS.

    "by choosing to retain more independence than he would have under Android, Elop ran into two problems, as David Wood’s epic insider account of the smartphone wars reminds us, and armchair pundits forget"

    I'm not an armchair pundit. I worked in and with all parts of Nokia except Venture Fund and Research Centre for well over a decade.

    "Talking to dozens of former Nokians, I'm struck by how well-respected Elop was amongst his colleagues."

    This is a joke, right? Ten of thousands of former Nokia employees think differently. I guess we skipped the Kool-Aid.

    "Elop chose the right technologies to promote"

    No. He picked one camera project.

    He ignored the UI design skills that produced S40 refresh, two Symbian UI refreshs (Anna and Belle), Meego, Meltemi to name but 4 that happened in the first two years of his tenure. (I've tried Android, iOS, BB10, WinPho... too often they represent a step backwards from what Nokia learnt and implemented with respect to UI design) He trod an already trodden path in audio. He didn't focus on materials technology or mechanical design....for example. He didn't understand the Qt path - which would have enabled Nokia to bin all the discussions about which OS to take with, "Who cares? The UI and apps are on Qt, use whatever works best underneath."

    He dumped Meego because "LTE wouldn't be there quick enough for the North American market." Nokia was always best when it was second to market: Watch everyone else, do it as well or better. His push into North America reduced Nokia's already miniscule volumes there and destroyed the rest of the business too.

    "Elop was actually a pretty good CEO"

    No. He. Was. Not.

    He focused on the North America market and getting LTE smartphones to the US. His assumption that this route was the future, laid waste to everything else.

    He didn't fix NSN - that was largely some smart and ruthless finance guys in Munich and Finland. He didn't fix Smartphones. He didn't need to fix Mobile Phones, but decided to. In his "farewell" speech at a Nokia launch event, he seemed to say he'd fixed HERE and the patents business, forgetting that (a) FRAND and other patent licensing had been occuring for years, (b) HERE was a re-branding, the business numbers went from very poor to poor.

    End Of.

  21. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Must disagree

    "Elop himself divides opinion, with some Finns blaming him for the demise of Europe’s biggest technology company and the former number one phone maker in the world. This really is a bit of chauvinistic nonsense, which seeks to transfer blame away from years of complacency and mismanagement at Nokia. What Elop’s critics forget is that he had an impossible choice in front of him when he arrived in late 2010."

    Sorry, but I must disagree, this is not nonsense in any way, chauvinistic or otherwise.

    Was Elop given a huge mess? Yes. Was it an impossible choice? Possibly, of course there's no way to know for sure, and Nokia really was (not to repeat myself) a huge mess. But.... I think Elop made the worst possible choices.

    First, Nokia had a bit of a mess in that they had Meego (as people have mentioned) as well as several other parallel projects to make a modern smartphone platform. It would have made sense to pick one (probably Meego) and throw in bits and pieces of the other projects into it if it made sense to. What *didn't* make sense (and is what Elop did) is to cancel all of them (even though Meego for instance was complete enough to have shipping products) and decide to try to modernize S60 a bit instead. This of course wasn't going to go that well, because S60 had a very unusual programming model and basically very few of the facilities of a modern operating system.

    Second, the memo. You simply do not say your current products are crap, and the ones that are coming out sometime in the future will be so much better. It's common sense. Up until this memo, Nokia was in fact muddling along actually selling a surprisingly large number of S60 phones still -- the low hardware requirements of S60 was allowing them to sell below the price of any competitor. After the memo, who wants to buy a product the CEO has said is crap and that they are no longer interested in? Sales dropped like a rock, with no replacement yet.

    The last few steps, I don't place any blame for. When Nokia picked Windows Phone, since Elop had already cancelled Nokia's in-house development, the choice was down to Windows Phone and Android. Android phones are typically low profit margin, and running Windows Phone would make Nokia's phones stand out. I would have picked Android... I know Microsoft feels free to "burn" their partners when it suits them, but perhaps Elop did not. (In this case, I feel like Microsoft burned Nokia by refusing to make any OS changes to suit Nokia, when Nokia was literally the only licensee.. even trivial changes like increasing the maximum photo size to match the size of images Nokia's camera actually took.)

    Finally, when Nokia sold to Microsoft --- by that point, I would have done the same. They were seriously on the ropes, and Microsoft made a fair offer.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Andrew,

    you looking for a new job ?

    http://qz.com/428935/apple-inc-is-hiring-journalists-who-want-to-work-a-40-hour-a-week-gig/

  23. W Donelson

    After Ballmer's insanity....

    Not really Elop's fault.

    How Ballmer completely wrecked Microsoft:

    http://www.vanityfair.com/online/daily/2012/07/microsoft-downfall-emails-steve-ballmer

    1. asdf Silver badge

      Re: After Ballmer's insanity....

      >How Ballmer completely wrecked Microsoft:

      And yet Billie Bob Gates left the company in such an amazing spot even after more than a decade of assclown Ballmer's antics they are still profitable. They can't afford too many more fails though.

  24. Barbarian At the Gates

    Given the €18.8m payout to Elop when Nokia sold to Microsoft

    He'll be okay if he doesn't get another CEO job. He has enough to get by for the rest of his life. Unless he's not fiscally responsible enough to get by on 18.8m, and in that case, he isn't fiscally responsible enough to be a CEO in the first place.

    So it's sorted either way.

    1. Mikel

      Re: Given the €18.8m payout to Elop when Nokia sold to Microsoft

      His ex wife got half.

  25. Lars Silver badge

    Pretty good - pretty bad

    Pretty useless at Nokia and at Microsoft too, perhaps.

  26. Flashdunce

    Would you want to work for him?

    I've worked for CEOs such as he. Someone responsible for an organization making technical products needs to understand not only how to manage an enterprise, a board, people, teamwork, morale, and communications, but how to conceive, design, build and market the offerings, and especially how to really engage the consumer. I just don't see it Andrew. I don't see the point of this piece, if it is meant as a farewell assessment of the aftermath within the Nokia and Microsoft mobile devices groups. Whatever the problems that were laid at his feet, the fellow you laud so seems to have demonstrated lack of ability in many of these areas. I'm not sure what confidence he could inspire.

  27. Conrad Longmore
    Coat

    The mistake was.. Symbian

    I pretty much agree with the article 100% - Elop found Nokia in an impossible situation that was not of his making. He tried a high-risk high-reward strategy with Windows which didn't really work out. Android would have been a low-risk but low-reward approach, as the article says.. Android manufacturers are hardly raking in the cash. Sticking with MeeGo looked very much like a high-risk low-reward approach, so dumping it was probably the best decision. So the choice was really between Android and Windows. Choose one.

    I think the crucial mistake was how Elop dealt with Symbian. When he become CEO, I believe that Symbian was still the best-selling smartphone platform in the work. While it lacked the capabilities of main rivals iOS and Android, it was still a very capable and lightweight OS with a ton of applications available for it.

    Prior to Elop, the idea was that Symbian would move downmarket into Series 40 territory with Maemo/MeeGo taking the high end. Insteal, Elop announced that Symbian would be phased out which had the Osborne Effect on Symbian sales which collapsed, leaving a huge hole in Nokia's sales book. Then, crazily, they tried to add more features into Series 40 to make it more Symbian-like.. for example the Asha series of devices. That was a lot of effort to re-create something they already had.

    Symbian certainly has its detractors, but the final Nokia Belle handsets were really rather good.

  28. Richard Neill

    N900 - so close, but not properly open-sourced

    I really wanted to love the N900 - and to develop for it - among other things, it was the first phone that properly ran X11. It was so tantalisingly close. What killed it was a combination of slightly weak hardware (not enough CPU, and a resistive touchscreen), and being incompletely open-source. For example, we needed to write an app that could take and upload photos during an active voice (cellular or IP) call. But the N900 couldn't: the camera application needed a unique lock on the soundcard in order to make the shutter-click noise, and so the call had to be ended. So, easy to fix: just take the open-source distribution, and re-compile without the shutter click effect. BUT, it wasn't all there: if you built the OSS release of the code, you could use the camera, but without the autofocus library! Totally useless.

    What Nokia should have done was made Maemo fully open-source, and then promised that all their current generation of phones would be software-updatable to run it. They could even have offered a choice of Windows (officially) and Android (cyanogenmod with official driver support).

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