Hello my reader. I don’t know if you’re new here or a regular reader but welcome nevertheless. If you’re lucky, you are a journalist that is planning to use Tomi Ahonen as a source for a story. If you’re even more lucky, you plan to interview him. And – with ultimate luck – you are someone who plans to hire him as a speaker.
Why you would be lucky if any of the previous is true?
Because this blog post is something you HAVE TO read. Don’t worry, this is free. It may take short while but there is enormous ROI (as anything divided by zero is). This post exists so that you could read it and ask yourself: “Why should I trust this guy?” Even better, you can ask same about me as I will provide references to publicly available sources whenever I make a statement you might consider invalid or not true.
THE BASE CASE
Tomi Ahonen (according to himself a bestselling author whose twelve books on mobile have already been referenced in over 100 books by his peers and who speaks regularly at conferences doing about 20 public speakerships annually) wrote a 10 000 word blog post to point out why Microsoft will fail in mobile.
That is fine. I can also say with enough confidence that Microsoft (with its Windows Phone OS) won’t see global market share of 10% or above in next three years and during that time their handsets unit will by all expectation be loss-making in the attempt to get the ~4% market share they are more likely to get.
Now if this would be all there is, you would not be here, I would not have written this and everything would be “normal”. However this is NOT all. Of those 10 000 words Tomi Ahonen uses, about 8500 words are used to present misinformation, fabrications or – frankly speaking – lies. The full list of misinformation from him follows. (I hope you have time. Take a cup of coffee.)
Before I start, I need to point one thing out: Every single misinformation I’m about to list from his very latest blog post has been written in public by Tomi Ahonen before. Each and every one of them. These are not sudden accidental slips but deliberately repeated misinformation. And now I start:
The mad CEO
Tomi Ahonen begins his blog post with the theory of “mad CEO paid to sell Nokia” (yes, Tomi Ahonen uses the M-word about half a dozen times).
In this blog post Tomi Ahonen implies that CEO Stephen Elop had a clause in his contract that paid Elop 25 million dollars in case he managed to destroy Nokia value and sell it to Microsoft. However Tomi Ahonen fails to mention that the story – albeit not originally written by him – has been pointed out to be greatly exaggerated. The best coverage that I know of is in Unwired View. In that article the bonus sum has been sliced down to its parts and (including the dates when they were assigned). Two main points are:
- Of this 25 million bonus roughly 80% come from bonus packages assigned to CEO Elop AFTER the Nokia strategy change of February 11th 2011 and therefore cannot possibly be the motive of his actions.
- The claim is odd as CEO Elop would have gained even bigger bonus by just keeping Nokia as it was.
The theory of “bonus for destroying Nokia” has been pointed out ot be invalid over 6 months ago. One would assume Tomi Ahonen by now would know about this, no? Especially as it has been commented to his blog too at the time of the story broke out. Still he insists the original story is true.
I would expect man of his position being a little more up to date.
Year 2010 Nokia that bested its competition
Then we have Nokia’s size and growth rate from year 2010. This is a number-twisting that tries to hide the real change in relative sizes of the players in the industry prior to Nokia strategy change. By using a well-chosen take of 12 month period we see Nokia indeed growing more than its competition. If you drop the first 3 months of that period, you get exactly the opposite result.
Now question is: which is the most important metric?
- Performance over last 3 quarters?
- performance of the quarter that preceded those three quarters?
I say the more up-to-date 3-quarter period wins.
Tomi Ahonen on the other hand refuses to use any other period of time when talking about Nokia’s growth in 2010 as compared to competition (or about Nokia’s market share) because he has in his agenda to prove the Nokia was “winning”.
(All the numbers from big analyst houses etc. are in my previous blog post about the story. It can be found here.)
Nokia handsets unit marketing expenses
Tomi Ahonen mentions several times in his blog post the marketing push of Nokia’s Lumia line, stating that it was “literally the largest marketing push of any smartphone series in history”. This goes so far he concludes it (exact quote): “Elop more than doubled the total marketing spending for Lumia than Nokia had ever spent before – and Nokia was then the world’s largest spender on marketing phones“. Now this is supposed to take place in year 2011. In that year Samsung spent four times the amount of money on marketing compared to Nokia handsets unit! His text is totally baseless. Also: Nokia’s handsets unit selling and marketing expenses in year 2011 were LESS than in 2010, which means that the “over doubled” implied by Mr. Ahonen is an impossibility. This applies also to year-on-year comparison of individual quarters. (More detailed text and references to Nokia interim reports etc. can be found here.)
This kind of text is the reason why you are reading my post (and I am writing it at the very first place). Why does consultant Ahonen write stuff like that? In terms of Samsung vs. Nokia it is clearly invalid data. Even worse, it’s in total contradiction to Nokia official numbers. (Public numbers if I may add.) He could do it on purpose but then I have to ask why would anyone trust him and use him as a speaker? On the other hand he could be that incompetent but then again: why would anyone hire him as a consultant? Nevertheless there is no way his claim could be true.
Nokia market share history
And then there is the Nokia market share development. According to this most recent blog post from Tomi Ahonen, Nokia’s market share was evolving “naturally” and “collapsed” after Nokia announced Windows Phone strategy. Would you believe if I told you that Tomi Ahonen (the same person) in year 2010 – before the Windows Phone strategy – reported Nokia’s market share collapsing so bad that (in his words) he has been a close follower of global business for over thirty years and honestly did not remember any such instance in any industry where any major global brand lost a quarter of its total customer base in a period of only six months. (Which Nokia did in year 2010). He continued: Even airlines with air crashes or devastating strikes do not suffer this badly. Cars with “unintended acceleration” (ie “killer cars”) like Audi experiences in 1995 did not destroy a quarter of their customer base globally in six months.
Sounds incredible? That’s what he said back then and today he tells the opposite. Full coverage (with source of course) is here.
Nokia smartphone market share as a graph
Tomi Ahonen has also made really provocative graph about Nokia’s market share. It’s this (click for larger image):
Now as bad as it looks, I’d like to point out that there is a clear problem with this graph. It’s made of quarterly results reported by IDC & al (averaged by Tomi Ahonen), but the actual graph he has only shows annual figures. Why is that?
Well… Here’s the same data put into “per quarter” form (also click for larger image):
(Source of data: IDC)
See the date where the decline starts?
Is it February 11th 2011 like Tomi Ahonen says?
Is it per any chance Q3 2010 – over two quarters before Nokia even changed their strategy?
Tomi says (and I quote) “Yes, the Nokia market share had been gradually declining before Elop came along. That is natural as Nokia invented the smartphone and started with 100% market share.”
Yes, there is a decline preceding this graph but then Nokia had fairly stable market share from Q3 2008 to Q2 2010 – 8 quarters in a row. For two years. After that we see a decline that indeed loses over a quarter of Nokia’s market share in 6 months. And this Tomi Ahonen says “is natural”?
So why did Tomi Ahonen use full year numbers? Well, it’s because of his agenda where (and I quote again)
“Nokia was doing fine, reporting industry’s second biggest profits. Then in February 11, 2011, came the Elop Effect and as we can see from the graph, Nokia ‘fell off the cliff’ in mobile. Total collapse.”
…which is utter rubbish. Stephen Elop took the helm at end of Q3 2010 (when decline had already started). He did not change Nokia strategy at all in Q4 2010 (when decline continued). He announced the new strategy at mid-point of Q1 2011 (too late to significantly affect results of that quarter) and suddenly that drop of 14 points of percentage (37% of Nokia’s original market share) is because of him?
Why should anyone trust a single number coming from this guy? In light of what we have just seen he is either unreliable or incompetent.
At this point, thank you for the patience to read through this long list. I know this is not easy read. Now remember I used the word “lies” in the beginning? While trying to be careful with the word I am now at point where the text of Mr. Ahonen cannot be explained by incompetence or carelessness; this is a deliberate lie.
The credit ratings
So we have Tomi Ahonen talking about Nokia’s carrier relations. Exact quote: “The issue with carrier relations and retail got so bad, that EVERY TIME there was a credit ratings downgrade of Nokia it was the reason. (Nokia was near perfect rating when Elop started and crashed all the way to junk status by the time he was removed from CEO.) The three ratings agencies, Fitch, Moody’s or S&P – every when they downgraded Nokia, they they mentioned bad carrier relations/retail support being the main reason – often the ONLY reason for the latest downgrade of Nokia’s credit worthiness.”
Carrier relations are the reason every time.
That’s said twice.
And “often” it was only reason.
This from Tomi Ahonen, who remembers to market his expertise on Nokia.
Would you believe that not a single one of those downgrades mention Nokia’s carrier relations – at all?
They don’t. Full story (with links to actual downgrade statements) is here.
As said, this cannot be a mistake, this is deliberate feeding of misinformation.
Is this a man to use as source for a news article?
Is this a man to have as a speaker in ANY credible event?
I say no.
And now comes the ugly thing: So far we have covered only two third of this monster blog post!
Luckily, Tomi makes it easy for us (both me as a writer and you as a reader) from now on as he has only two topics to discuss. Let me continue:
The miracle of MeeGo
First of the two remaining topics we have Tomi talking about Nokia’s award-winning N9 that ran MeeGo. In this particular blog post he is surprisingly quiet about N9, considering his track record. He merely mentions that N9 was Nokia’s most praised smartphone of all time but Elop refused to let it be sold in any major Nokia markets. That of course is not true, I have done some coverage about the topic. First of all the reviews can be seen here, including multiple claims from Tomi (including his statement that N9 was rated better than iPhone). What comes to this “not sold in any major Nokia markets, I recommend to read another post here. N9 was sold in all of the BRIICA markets, save India. Sure, N9 was not sold in UK or Germany, but still… “not sold in any major Nokia markets”? Give me a break.
I would also like to include a sneak peek to the long-lasting “ultimate proof” of N9 success from Tomi Ahonen, i.e. article from Der Stern, which was covered here. To my surprise he this time does NOT fabricate any additional stories like his older claim on China Mobile deal; a deal which – if I may add – has never even existed. Coverage for that is here.
As a last story we next enter the world of carrier boycott. Of the 10 000 words Tomi Ahonen wrote about Microsoft future on mobile, he spends over 2900 words on this topic. It may be better to start with this statement: “The Skype issue is not a figment of my fantasy. An immediate anti-Microsoft boycott was reported on from Boston to San Francisco in 2011, right after the Skype purchase, by numerous US media. Shortly thereafter similar sales boycotts found globally from the UK to France to China to Australia.”
It is interesting that Tomi Ahonen is not giving us any reference to these “numerous US media”, far less to reports from UK, China, France or Australia.
The reason is – unfortunately – that he can’t as there is nothing like that. There are three newspapers from US, two of them copying the third and all three starting from biased agenda to begin with. Full breakdown used to be in blog of author of Unwired View, but that blog seems to be offline. Luckily The Internet Archive has a copy here.
Other half of this farce is the very famous Skype – originated boycott introduced by Mr. Ahonen. Not only does its logic break down bad but there are other services bigger and worse than Skype. The obsession Mr. Ahonen has towards Skype is not healthy. (I recently made a summary about this topic. It is here.)
(Tomi Ahonen is by the way pretty much only person on the planet who claims that Stephen Elop admitted the Skype originated boycott back in 2012. It may be because CEO Elop never did that. I wrote about it almost two years ago here.)
As said, last third of the post was all about the operator boycott theory so we have reached the end and I’m calling it a day here. As the final part (and entire consensus) of Tomi’s blog post stands on the foundation of the unbased conspiracy theory, I feel little interest to comment on the validity of his conclusion.
One additional point: Tomi Ahonen also lists in the very same blog post that he has counted the value of damage caused to Nokia by Feb 11th actions. I have also coverage of that, but it is as long of a blog post as this, so you may want to read it some other time. It can be found here.