Hi all and my late season’s greetings.
During the holidays I read through Jorma Ollila’s book “Mahdoton menestys”, which also covers Nokia history from 90’s all the way to 2010 when Stephen Elop started (press criticized a lot the fact that book does not cover events post-Elop). I thought I should share some of my thoughts about it:

Long time ago I gathered together T&T articles where ex-Nokia employees were interviewed. I though it gives nice image on how everything was not rosy inside Nokia prior to 2010. It is interesting to see how much there are similarities in Ollila’s book.

  • Ollila mentions clamshell phones where Nokia came late and reluctantly. He says Anssi Vanjoki thought clamshells are “just a trend that will pass soon”. Perhaps so, but nevertheless competitors took both market share and profits from Nokia that did not offer them when there was increasing demand. (p.493-494)
  • Ollila also mentions Nokia values and value based management as one of the things that made Nokia what it was at best (unsurprisingly as he was the one that introduced the idea). (p.232-234)
  • Nokia made right things but too early and did not understand their value. When talking about year 2004 Ollila mentions powerful and expensive high-end phones that did not have market demand until Apple introduced iPhone in 2007. (p.417)
  • Apple introduced ecosystem that Nokia had not been able to create. The ideas between past projects like Club Nokia were right but they were never implemented properly. (p.449)
  • He has entire chapter called “Could Nokia have been SW company?” Ollila says that in 2004-2007 Nokia was aware they need to shift from devices to services and that requires SW experience. He says that Nokia management did not have experienced SW professionals with deep knowledge and that there may not have been people matching the criteria within the Europe at all. (p.420-422) Later Ollila states that Nokia could not find a person that would have reformed it into a SW company. (p.458)
  • Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo’s reorganization from 2007 caused lots of delegation and could leave issues floating around in workgroups or internal conflicts. At the time when Nokia should have been moving fast, it could not focus on improving the usability of Symbian. (p.455-458)

The book also mentions some other topics that have been visited in this blog:

  • Ollila mentions that already in year 2001 it was easy to see Nokia had not given enough focus on CDMA standard used in US and Japan, which caused them to lose market share there. (p.410)
  • Year 2003 relations towards carriers got worse as operators wanted customised phones but Nokia’s strategy was to optimise their production by offering same model to every carrier. (p.390)
  • When Apple introduced the iPhone, Ollila asked 12 central managers of Nokia if they think that iPhone will be a threat to Nokia. Only two said no. Ten said that with iPhone Apple is going to be severe competitor that cannot be taken lightly. Some used words so strong he does not wish to print them on paper. (p.448-449)
  • In 2010 when Anssi Vanjoki was one of the candidates to be CEO, MeeGo was already seen more of a failure. Anssi had a project of almost 2000 people working on MeeGo that was not producing the wanted results and meanwhile Google built Android with 400-500 employees. (p.463)
  • In the closing chapter Ollila says that during years 2007 to 2010 Nokia got beaten by Apple and Google that were backed by Silicon Valley expertise. Both brought world of computers into the smartphones, not smartphones to the world of computers. Ollila says it was like the strike Nokia gave to Motorola in the 90’s.(p.470-471)

If you happen to find the book from local library, it is definitely worth reading.
My interest is in the fact that so far both Ollila and Kallasvuo have been publicly talking how Nokia was in trouble already before Nokia switched to Windows Phone.

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