First of all: Thank you Tekniikka & Talous – the Finnish journal! By making article of Tomi Ahonen you reminded me why I keep this blog. Also thanks to Tietoviikko for not checking the data when they copied it and additional thanks go to Finnish magazine MicroPC for continuing the series.
How convenient, I was already half-done with this text but somehow I got some additional kick from their works.

You see, we received Q3 results of Nokia and they are depressing beyond belief. Makes you just want to drop the whole blog. Naturally, it means Tomi Ahonen had “close enough” prediction on Lumia sales. He willl say (and already did say) he was right all this time. Naturally being right now does not magically alter the past and definitely does not make forgery of history necessary. At this point we could expect him to stop using his time on the modified truth and stick with the truth alone.

What modified truth, you ask? The unit sales graph, of course.


It’s a long time since I made a post about the famous graph of Tomi Ahonen (and explained why it is not valid in displaying the crash of Nokia). I feel he has so many additional arguments that a revisit would be appropriate. First of all, Tomi’s graph (one of the older versions that had full explanations):


Then his arguments (and my responses):

That is Nokia when Elop took over. Specifically Nokia’s smartphone unit vs Apple’s iPhone in red and Samsung’s smartphone unit in green. You know how big Nokia’s lead was in 2010? Nokia was TWICE AS BIG as its nearest competitor !!!!” [1]

Nokia was so utterly dominant in smartphones (globally, by unit sales) that it was more than twice the size of its nearest competitor – and growing more than that!” [2]

Ummm.. Tomi?
Are you okay?
I think you haven’t slept enough (again).
Are we looking the same picture?

I’m just picking up your numbers (clearly in the graph) and since Elop took charge just a bit before end of Q3 2010 I start from there:
Q3 2010: Apple sales 14.1 million, Nokia sales 26.5 million. [3]
Q4 2010: Apple sales 16.2 million, Nokia sales 28.3 million. [4]
In either quarter, Nokia is not “over twice the size of its nearest competitor”. Two Apples would be larger than nokia by 1.7 million and 4.1 million phones, respectively. Which brings me to:

Yes, durning 2010, Nokia added more new smartphone customers than Apple’s iPhone, so Apple was not catching up to Nokia, Nokia was pulling away from Apple!” [2]

That’s a plain lie. It’s clearly visible in his own graph that both Apple and Samsung grew faster than Nokia in Q3. It’s perhaps not as clearly visible in Q4, but even then Samsung added 2.6 million customers and Apple added 2.1 million customers (whereas Nokia added only 1.8 million).

Fact is that for the later half of 2010 Nokia was not growing even near as fast as rest of the market. Nokia was leaking market share while Nokia’s competitors were gaining it.
Sure, Nokia was doing better for the beginning of the year, but if a company loses over one quarter of its market share in the last six months of that year, you can hardly say it is “pulling away” from its rivals.


Back to those three magazines: They refered to Tomi’s new graph:


It’s the same graph, we just have more timeline towards the future (and less note texts).
And the story around it?
Same, except more fouled-up data involved:

When Elop took over, Nokia was literally twice as big as Apple and four times bigger than Samsung. After he announced his strategy (the peak in Nokia’s line) ie at the so-called ‘Elop Effect’ this is what happened to the three” [5]

Twice as big as Apple? (I think we did this already). And four times bigger than Samsung? So… Once again, Elop took over at end of Q3…

Q3 2010: Samsung sales 7.9 million, Nokia sales 26.5 million. [3]
Q4 2010: Samsung sales 10.5 million, Nokia sales 28.3 million. [4]

On third quarter Nokia was a bit over three times bigger than Samsung. On fourth quarter – not even thrice as big. Sorry Tomi, but you have hard time to blame Elop for everything that happens in your graph. Especially since you hide the full picture.


So what full picture? Well let’s start with “two nearest competitors” that Tomi Ahonen mentions so often. You see – they are not in the picture. Tomi has Apple and Samsung included, but Apple and Samsung were not Nokia’s two nearest competitors. Since Tomi Ahonen likes to hide some relevant facts from the graph, I’m using Asymco’s graph to show the full picture (see it yourself, it matches to Tomi’s picture):

(Image copyright [6]

From 2007, all  the way to Q3 2010 RIM (the Blackberry maker) was the largest rival of Nokia and kept its head to Apple for all but one quarter. During Q3 and Q4 2010 (where Apple and Samsung were catching Nokia up despite Tomi’s writings) Apple bypassed RIM. During same period Samsung took a HUGE leap to be fourth largest manufacturer. No other manufacturer so far had such a jump. Samsung more than tripled its sales in half-year period. (And all this before any “Elop-effect” of Nokia.) Still, by the end of year Apple and RIM were Nokia’s closest competitors. 

So why is this so important? It’s not about where Apple and Samsung are, but where RIM is. RIM did not do Windows Phone strategy, so one may only ask why Tomi Ahonen makes a graph starting from 2009, but excludes the smartphone maker that was next largest after Nokia through both 2009 and 2010? (Yes, if we stick on full year numbers, RIM was second largest manufacturer, larger than Apple.) Isn’t it kind of odd, since RIM indeed was larger than Apple and Samsung – combined – in 2009?

Reason is of course the fact that RIM collapsed without help from Elop. And if we look a bit closer, we note the time for that too: RIM fiscal year quarter that is “Q1 2011” in this graph is for time period of December, January and February, not January-March as for others. Anything that happens mid-February is not in those results, it’s in Q2 results. Therefore if Nokia’s Q1 2011 results were destroyed by Mid-february “Elop Effect”, it means that “Elop effect” was so strong it immediately crashed Nokia, RIM and Motorola – first, third and fifth largest manufacturers at the time!
(I guess it really pays off to use 1st, 2nd and 4th largest in your graph if you’re Tomi Ahonen.)
Wait, it gets better: At the point where Nokia unit sales go briefly up again – “N9 MeeGo Bounce” as Tomi describes it in the older version of the graph – RIM and Motorola increase sales too! So N9 was so good product it brought back to game not only Nokia, but also RIM and Motorola!! (who did not participate to MeeGo OS or N9 in any manner and should have lost sales to N9 instead.)

Problem with this graph is – if we assume that all the trouble of Nokia is coming from choices made inside Nokia – why did those Nokia’s internal choices destroy the market so utterly that 6 out of 10 smartphone makers now are having decreasing sales and market is basically dominated by the two skyrockets – Samsung and Apple?
Was Elop really that good in his speech?
Was N9 really magical (as it seems from sales numbers Tomi Ahonen gives us)?
How come Tomi Ahonen is so sure that all the trouble comes from Nokia CEO alone?

Nokia’s Q1 2011 performance could not have been destroyed by Elop’s burning platforms memo or Nokia-Microsoft alliance (once again something that Tomi eagerly ignores).
The first quarter where we actually see this “Elop effect” is Q2 2011. (And yes, it is visible there and from that point on.) But that means Nokia’s unit sales fell from growth of 7% to decline of 14% – without any effect from the strategy change so far.

Hasted strategy change and leaked memo did a lot of damage, but considering how many companies have taken equal hits, it’s plain silly to put everything that has happened to Nokia under that same cause.