This is a “top ten most obscene spread of misinformation” by Tomi Ahonen, the consultant, author and motivational speaker. All of these statements have been stated by him multiple times, usually over time span of over a year, best ones go for three years in a row. So none of them are one-time mistakes. And none of them are true either.
So what’s the point? I recently made an open letter of recommendation to give some first-hand evaluation on reliability and professionality of Tomi Ahonen. However, it is long and boring read which is difficult to use as a quick response to someone who asks why I say he’s unrealiable (or even a liar).
This post is better suited for that.

#10 Ovi Store as the second largest app store behind only Apple

Tomi Ahonen has been talking about Nokia prior to the strategy change of February 11th 2011. What comes to Ovi Store he has explained at the time of the “Burning Platform Memo”, i.e. February 2011, Ovi Store was in a healthy state. This is Mr. Ahonen talking about Ovi Store size:
In ‘applications’ Nokia’s app store (Ovi) had the second most apps behind only Apple at the time.” [1]

That is from February 2012. For a more recent we have Tomi’s statement from August 2014 – over two years later – where he has not changed his stand:
Ovi was still world’s 2nd biggest app store in 2011” [2]

I have no idea why he does this as anyone can check how Ovi store ranked at the time Nokia switched to Windows Phone. Here are the app counts from March 2011 [3]:
app_store_app_counts_march_2011
The top of the list is:
333 thousand apps: Apple App Store (iPhone)
206 thousand apps: Android Market
76 thousand apps: Apple App Store (iPad)
30 thousand apps: Nokia Ovi Store

Which means that Android Market has seven times as many apps as Ovi Store and yet consultant Ahonen insists that Ovi store was the second in the line, behind Apple!

I have addressed this subject also in a more thorough blog post which can be found here: (visit link) You can see that this is not just cherry-picking two quotes as he has insisted on this several times over the years. And you can also note that the fabrication does not even end here, we also get to hear that Ovi Store was supposed to bypass Apple “in the next year or so”.

<EDIT>
The statement #10 now (February 10th 2016) is not the same as original one. The original was about return rates of Lumia phones. It is a difficult topic as on the other hand we can agree the Lumia line has had noticeable return rates due to unfamiliarity of the UI etc. but on the other hand consultant Ahonen says the return rates were “worst in Nokia history”, which is something he would need to prove. This is a classic example of Russel’s Teapot and not suitable for this list so I had to replace it with something more concrete and Ovi Store app counts can be proven with ease.
</EDIT>

#9 Nokia 801T

This is the thing that has never made any sense. It’s Tomi’s view on Nokia 801T smartphone. I’ll quote:
China Mobile went so far they actually said, we’ll take this Lumia phone but give it to me without the Windows, put Symbian on it instead.
Honest! China Mobile looked at the early specs of the Lumia 800, refused it, and said put these same specs to a Symbian device, and don’t leave out the good stuff we get standard nowadays on Symbian either.. Look at the Nokia 801T and compare to 800 Lumia. China mobile essentially forced Nokia to go back and reverse engineer the Lumia to take Windows out and put Symbian in.
” [4]

This makes no sense at all. Here are Lumia 800 and Nokia 801T compared side by side, both in pictures and specs:

lumia800vsnokia801T

Lumia 800 Nokia 801T
Polycarbonate case Steel&plastic case
Available in bright colors Available in shades of steel
flat back Camera hump
Curved glass Flat glass
480×800 resolution display 360×640 resolution display
3.7″ screen 4″ screen
116mm x 61mm x 12.1mm 125mm x 65mm x 12.8mm
Qualcomm chipset for GSM networks Texas Instruments Chipset for TD-SCDMA networks
Non-expandable memory MicroSD card slot
No additional antennas TV-tuner and antenna which can be pulled out
Windows Phone OS Symbian OS

I could continue with Processor MHz, MB of memory, and so on but what’s the point? Only thing that those two phones share are 8 and 0 in the beginning of their model number.
What amazes me is the time span: He has insisted on this story already in January 2012 [5], at least as late as September 2013 [6] and hasn’t given any correction to his statement to date.

One could possibly believe this fairy tale story if he/she was completely clueless about everything related to handset development and manufacturing. This is so insane this should rank higher but I rank it as #9 as it could be dismissed as an unfortunate mistake. A massive mistake that needs incredible incompetence in mobile, far below the competence expected from someone who is supposed to be “expert on mobile”.

#8 China Mobile default OS selection from year 2010

Now that we talk about China Mobile, there is another claim that should not be heard from someone who should be seriously taken analyst. It all starts soon after Nokia announced the N9 – Nokia’s first and only MeeGo phone.

  • In July 2011 Tomi Ahonen claims that before Nokia abandoned MeeGo in favor of Windows Phone, China Mobile the world’s largest carrier had said their preferred smartphone OS is MeeGo. [7]
  • By April 2012 he is not only telling us that China Mobile’s smartphone OS platform of the time was Symbian and the OS platform of the future would have been MeeGo but also that China Mobile had been promised developer partner status on MeeGo by Intel and Nokia (whatever that is supposed to mean) and that China Mobile was the only carrier with that status. [8]
  • By June 2013 Tomi Ahonen tells us that prior to February 11th 2011 China Mobile had “already selected” MeeGo as their default smartphone OS. [9]

This story is of course not true. I want to make this clear: there are no public announcements – not a single one – where China Mobile would be announcing MeeGo as their default OS. Not from Nokia, not from China Mobile, not from Intel. Neither are there any press releases or alike where China Mobile would have any special treatment over other carriers. In fact, China Mobile first time became even remotely connected to MeeGo as late as November 2010 when it joined Linux Foundation. Even the Wikipedia article about MeeGo lacks China Mobile from the list of companies supporting the project.

I have written about this before. More about this can be read here: (visit link)

Unless world’s largest carrier and world’s largest smartphone vendor made the deal of the century and forget to tell the world about it, this is nothing but a bedtime story suffering from serious disconnection with reality. As such it earns position #8 with ease.

#7 Lumia launch turning Nokia to biggest spender of money on marketing phones

This chapter is short. Very short.

Nokia spent less money on marketing phones in 2011 than it did in 2010. Both as yearly total and individual quarters compared YoY. And less in 2012 than in 2011 (with both comparisons). This is reported in Nokia’s quarterly report. It’s a fact.

Tomi Ahonen version:
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 (today that is Samsung obviously).” [10]

(Okay, I’m not ending this chapter here, there’s a bit more):
This statement should not exist from anyone who wants to sound even a bit credible.
As said in the beginning of this chapter, by all numbers Nokia was even bigger spender BEFORE Elop took helm. The idea of “over doubling” the marketing budget does not fit to any of Nokia’s fiscal reports.
Also: Samsung marketing budget has been a multiple of Nokia’s marketing budget, both in 2011 and 2012. There is no way Nokia was in 2011 or 2012 the “world’s largest spender on marketing phones”.

What makes this even more amazing is the time span: He has made this claim about Nokia’s extraordinary marketing budget for Lumia as early as January 2012 [11], also as late as April 2014 [10] and has not fixed it to date.

You can guess it – I have written about this before. The text can be found here: (visit link)

Ridiculous statement that is against Nokia & Samsung fiscal reports and also against common sense. Solid #7.

#6 Nokia N9 unit sales

Nokia does not hand out sales figures of individual handsets. Therefore sales of N9 are a mystery. The closest thing to N9 sales numbers we have is from Nokia AGM meeting where CEO of the time Stephen Elop said that original Lumia line outsold the N9 within weeks from the launch. Since we know original Lumia line roughly sold somewhere between 600 000 and a million units on the launch quarter, we have all the reason to assume N9 sold less or equal to that. Fair enough? Here are N9 sales from Tomi Ahonen:

I calculated here on this blog, that for the first few months when they were sold side-by-side, the sole sold MeeGo handset, the N9, outsold the cheaper set of Lumia smartphones, even as the Lumia set was sold in Nokia’s biggest markets and the N9 only in mostly Nokia’s tiniest markets.” [6]

Wait… How is this supposed to be possible if Lumia outsold N9 few weeks from the launch? Tomi has handed us exact numbers, too. By his book N9 has sold 1.75 million units in fourth quarter of 2011, 2.2 million in first quarter of 2012 and 1.2 million in second quarter of 2012. He has this in his quarterly reported sales numbers which he says are average of the numbers published by Gartner, IDC, Strategy Analytics and Canalys.

Problem in these numbers is that even if ALL phones that were reported under “other OS” by those four would be Nokia N9’s, the space left couldn’t house the numbers Tomi uses. So in fact Tomi lies when he says his numbers are average of Gartner, IDC, Strategy Analytics and Canalys. Nothing less, nothing more. From a man whose income depends on his capability to provide reliable numbers I would expect more.

I have written about this before. My text with links to stats of those analyst houses and numbers of Tomi Ahonen can be found here: (visit link)

This statement falsifies numbers of big analyst houses for three quarters in a row. Makes a solid #6 but could as well get to top three had there not been:

#5 Nokia market share history rewrite

Tomi Ahonen himself said (before Nokia changed its strategy to Windows Phone) that
Nokia’s market share is in death-spiral, crashed from 39% to 28% in just six months and warnings from management suggest Q1 will continue the bad news, so it may end somewhere near 24% by end of March and who knows where the bottom is. Motorola was in a similar position in 2006. They had 21% market share. The crash-dive started, Motorola went from very profitable to very unprofitable, and lost customers everywhere, and the blood-letting ended in 2010 when they managed to stop the decline – and found themselves with 2% of the market.” [12]

This is excellent summary. The numbers are what Tomi Ahonen had reported as an average of the numbers of four big analyst houses (drop from 39% to 28.5%) and Nokia indeed had lost over a quarter of its market share (10.5 points of percentage) in mere 6 months. That could not be described as a decline, it is a dive. Nokia management was not promising a fix for that either, forecast of 24% for the first quarter of 2011 is not only reflecting Nokia’s outlook but also spot on what happened as Nokia indeed fell to exact 24% in 2011 Q1.

Please note that this text, the events that lead to this analysis, the forecast of 24% for 2011 Q1 and comparison to Motorola going unprofitable and falling to 2% – ALL of this took place before February 11th 2011. That was analysis of Nokia’s past, present and future based on continuing with Symbian/MeeGo strategy from Tomi Ahonen, dated January 2011.

This is Tomi Ahonen two years later:
Nokia’s market share decline matched its historical average. You cannot take one quarter and compare to annual sales because of various fluctuations, the iPhone is launching only one phone per year, so it sees a huge jump with the new iPhone model and that quarter is artificially high (compared to the annual average rate) and there usually is one quarter Apple actual sales decline Quarter-on-Quarter, not to mention huge swings in its market share per quarter. As to Nokia, it saw decreases – and increases – in is market share in the quarters just before the Elop Effect.
As I clearly indicate using Nokia’s own shipment numbers, that Nokia 2009 market share was 39% and in 2010 that declined the normal level to 34%, there was no ‘collapse’ happening during 2010.
” [13]

Declined to 34%? What happened to 28%? And “no collapse” when two years ago it was a “death-spiral”? And as if this forgery of numbers is not enough, why does he insist that Nokia saw decreases – and increases – in is market share in the quarters just before February 11th 2011? We can check that too! Here’s Nokia’s market share up to end of 2010.

by-manufacturer-shareThe numbers come from reports of IDC – which Tomi uses as source of his reports too. The collapse of 11 points of percentage (which starts in the middle of year 2010) is visible. So is the size of it compared to previous fluctuation – Nokia’s market share is practically flat for 8 full quarters before the decline.

Please do understand: Tomi has been promoting the “at the end of Q4 of 2010, Nokia’s market share was 29% but now it has crashed” idea since late 2011. [14] That means he has for over two years insisted on something that is not just against all publicly reported numbers but also against his own reporting. Definitely deserves to be #5.

#4 Expert analyst consensus on Symbian market share for years 2011-2015

I want to start this with a picture:

IDC_Gartner_consensus

So what’s the deal here? It’s Tomi’s statement that big analyst houses expected Symbian to continue as the world’s biggest smartphone OS into the future, as far as end of 2015. (And therefore Nokia to remain the world’s biggest smartphone vendor.) [15]

Since Tomi states that analysts forecasted Symbian (and Nokia) to remain the biggest up to year 2015, he must have sources, right? Turns out he has: He refers to Abi Research, Gartner, IDC, iSupply and Canalys who all did forecasts in 2010. These were mainly short outlook statements like “we expect Nokia to be largest smartphone vendor in 2011 too”, but two of those – Gartner and IDC – actually gave numbers that reach as far as 2015. Both of them gave forecasts about Symbian market share, pictured in the graph above (the red and green lines). I have also added to the graph the Symbian market share as it has been reported during years 2010-2012 (the blue line). As we can see, both Gartner and IDC forecasts were massively invalid already by the end of 2010.

Now the purple line is Symbian market share Tomi Ahonen insists would have taken place if Nokia had been using the old strategy in 2011. In his (verbatim) words the Symbian market share described with the purple line is “what ‘any monkey’ could have done by simply continuing Nokia’s existing strategy in 2011“. [15]

Let’s remember that both IDC and Gartner gave forecasts on how long Symbian will remain the largest smartphone operating system. Selling more than others.
The bottom line of Tomi Ahonen is that the strategy change Nokia made in February 2011 stopped Symbian from being the largest smartphone OS.
Fine.
These are Symbian and Android market shares, as reported by Tomi Ahonen himself.

android_bypasses_symbian

Can you see ANY indication that those two lines would not have crossed without the events in February? Any at all?
Thought not.

Tomi Ahonen has used this mock-up multiple times over past two years and when doing so, he usually has said it is not his view but consensus of big analyst houses on expected Nokia performance or something alike. As said, for two years. He first introduced this ridicule in June 2012. [15] By then he has obviously already known that both IDC and Gartner predictions had failed by end of 2010 and could not be used to forecast Nokia’s development for year 2011. Yet he did so.
Tomi has kept with this. He made full blog post based on it in January 2013 [16] and although he has last time used the term “total consensus” in September 2013 [6], he sticks with the “nobody saw Nokia to fall” statement to date.

This can not go as incompetence, it can only pass as intentional spread of misinformation. This one would be in top three but unfortunately it remains as #4 since we have stronger candidates left still:

#3 Nokia selling their HQ building and the divide of income resulted

Let’s start with one fact: Nokia’s handset unit (Devices&Services) made profit in fourth quarter of 2012. Slim profit, but profit nevertheless. And this was the case also AFTER all one-time profits and losses were excluded. This is analysis from Tomi Ahonen and I have no clue how he can find employment with such a zero understanding on how large corporations like Nokia work:

The only reason the handset unit ‘generated a profit’ in Q4 was because Elop sold the HQ building and then attributed all its revenues to the handset unit, rather than accross all Nokia divisions evenly.” [17]

This statement breaks down in so many ways but let me list few of them:

  • Nokia excluded one-time profits from its quarterly reported numbers. Among the excluded profits from D&S unit was (as stated in their Q4 interim report) “EUR 79 million net gain on sale of real estate“.
  • Then second problem, the spread. The same quarterly report says that for the Nokia HQ building “selling price was EUR 170 million“. Handsets only got 79 million. The sum is divided between the units.
  • Third (and IMHO biggest) problem: how is CEO supposed to alter the fiscal report? I have understood that as a standard procedure CEO office exactly cannot alter the fiscal reports, it merely accepts or rejects it.

And I wish this was a one-time mishap, but no. Tomi has used this punch line repeatedly, latest at least in September 2013 [6] but there may be more fresh too as he has not corrected it to date.

And I have written about this before. Full story is here: (visit link)

So we have a claim that CEO could alter (and would have altered) the fiscal reports and a claim that Nokia has committed a fraud in their quarterly reports. Being (once again) against reported numbers this won’t pass as incompetence but is a deliberate lie and therefore makes a good #3.
And as #2 we have…

#2 Promised 1:1 transition from Symbian to Windows Phone

In February 2011 Nokia announced their strategy change where Windows Phone OS was going to replace Symbian. What we get to hear from Tomi Ahonen is that this was described in more details. In his words: “When Stephen Elop announced his surprising Windows strategy on February 11, 2011, he promised a 1 to 1 transition from Symbian, and that Windows would also start to take sales from featurephones.” [18] [19]

This, naturally, is not true. Symbian was – according to CEO of the time Stephen Elop – undeniably on a downward trajectory and was being rejected by more and more markets in their assessment before February 11th. At the same time Nokia did not have a single Windows Phone device for sale. How could Nokia promise to keep their sales levels of the time?
Answer is that they didn’t. Quite the contrary in March 2011 Nokia filed “Form 20-F” that contained their assessment of risks for the transition strategy. In chapter 3D: Risk Factors Nokia warned (verbatim): “Our mobile operator and distributor customers and consumers may no longer see our Symbian smart phones as attractive investments during the transition to Windows Phone. This would result in a loss of market share, which could be substantial, during the transition and which we may not be able to regain when quantities of Nokia Windows Phone smart phones are commercially available.” followed by “We may not succeed in transitioning over time our installed base of Symbian owners to our Windows Phone smart phones“.

As that was the official Nokia risk assessment, it should not come as a surprise that 1:1 transition from Symbian to Windows Phone was not promised. Now one may ask what does Tomi Ahonen base his claim on? Not any news articles or Nokia press releases as there are none to use, no. He bases it on this graph:

symbian_wp_transition_ahonen

Which, as you may notice, is his own production.
The whole 1:1 transition statement relies on this being Nokia’s strategy promise, in words of Tomi Ahonen:
What Nokia told us in February 2011, is that the growth in revenues will stall, that Nokia sales revenues would be roughly flat in this transition period. Nokia also told us of the scale of the light blue part, Symbian, that there would be a transition period sales of about 150 million Symbian sales, which if Symbian was flat for the year, and Nokia sold 100 million Symbian smartphones in 2010, suggested roughly, that the total transition to Windows Phone would be done perhaps at the end of 2012, or very early 2013.

That is your 3 leg strategy, as articulated by CEO Stephen Elop and shown by Nokia to investors and all interested parties. The Featurephones unit would retain current levels of sales until Windows Phone would come along, and even after that only very modestly see a decline in its revenues, shifted fully to Windows Phone. The Symbian unit would retain current levels of sales until Windows Phone launches, then there would be a 1 to 1 transition from Symbian to Windows Phone. And Windows Phone was not ready to launch now, but when it would launch, it would take all of Symbian sales and even take some featurephone sales revenues, over time.
” [20]

That’s quite some reading between the lines from a graph he has made himself. Where did Tomi Ahonen get this graph then? He took this graph from Nokia materials:

symbian_wp_transition [21]

And removed some small details, such as “For illustrative purposes only; Not a forecast” and the fact that this graph shows percentile split between the units, not absolute sales numbers as he insists.

I have written before about this statement that is based on nothing but fabrication. More thorough analysis with links to actual sources is here: (visit link)

Tomi Ahonen has nerve to insist on statement that redefines the strategy of a global corporation, statement that never took place and for which the only proof he has is a graph he has mutilated himself. Due to sheer outrageous nature and continuous repetition this one really raced for #1 position and got second place just because the pole position keeping statement is putting fake words to mouths of three globally respected authorities. So on to #1:

#1 Credit rating downgrades of Nokia

Credit Rating of Nokia was downgraded by S&P, Moody’s and Fitch during years 2011 to 2013 for a total of 12 downgrades. Every time there was a public statement given about the reasons of downgrade.

Of these 12 downgrades Tomi Ahonen has reported (and insisted this for over a year now) that
it was because there was no carrier support, the retail support was lacking. The ratings agencies listed this problem as the reason at EVERY downgrade, often as their only reason or the biggest reason.” [10] [22]

This repeated story is nothing but a lie. Of those 12 downgrade statements NONE mentions Nokia’s retail or carrier support as the reason at all.
Not a single one.
Far from being mentioned every time and even further from being “the only reason”.

Yes, I’ve written about this before. More thorough analysis with links to actual credit rating downgrade statements is here: (visit link)

So… Falsifying content of 12 reports from all three major credit rating agencies? Definite #1!

There. Thank you for reading and I hope everyone now understands why I say Tomi Ahonen can’t be trusted. I rest my case.

REFERENCES:

[1] http://communities-dominate.blogs.com/brands/2012/02/the-truth-the-whole-truth-and-nothing-but-the-burning-platforms-memo-is-1-year-old.html

[2] https://twitter.com/tomiahonen/status/495149044491382784

[3] http://www.technotell.com/apple/android-market-bypass-apple-app-store-in-free-apps.html

[4] http://communities-dominate.blogs.com/brands/2012/07/the-sun-tzu-of-nokisoftian-microkia-mirror-mirror-on-the-wall-whose-the-baddest-of-them-all-waterloo.html

[5] http://communities-dominate.blogs.com/brands/2012/01/smartphone-form-book-2012-part-3-for-nokia-it-is-elopwatch.html

[6] http://communities-dominate.blogs.com/brands/2013/09/now-we-know-why-nokias-elop-had-a-25m-personal-bonus-clause-from-the-nokia-board-if-he-was-able-to-s.html

[7] http://communities-dominate.blogs.com/brands/2011/07/bloodbath-update-smartphone-market-at-end-of-june-before-the-q2-results.html

[8] http://communities-dominate.blogs.com/brands/2012/04/these-steps-or-nokia-is-no-more-the-way-back-to-profits-and-growth.html

[9] http://communities-dominate.blogs.com/brands/2013/06/sherlock-holmes-and-the-hounds-of-the-basket-case-clues-on-the-trail-of-elop-ballmer-and-nokias-boar.html

[10] http://communities-dominate.blogs.com/brands/2014/04/the-microsoft-handset-opportunity-with-nokia-the-full-analysis-of-potential-its-not-looking-good.html

[11] http://communities-dominate.blogs.com/brands/2012/01/how-many-lumia-sales-as-nokia-and-microsoft-ashamed-to-reveal-number-lets-count-and-compare-to-n9-me.html

[12] http://communities-dominate.blogs.com/brands/2011/01/return-of-the-jedi-nokia-can-be-saved-here-is-the-how.html

[13] http://communities-dominate.blogs.com/brands/2013/01/the-seven-biggest-collapses-in-mobile-handset-or-smartphone-history-this-is-part-3-in-the-nokia-disa/comments/page/2/#comments

[14] http://communities-dominate.blogs.com/brands/2011/12/calculating-the-elop-effect-hes-already-destroyed-a-company-the-size-of-oracle-and-profits-the-size-.html

[15] http://communities-dominate.blogs.com/brands/2012/06/the-final-reckoning-of-burning-platforms-memo-damaged-nokia-by-wiping-out-13b-in-revenues-and-destro.html

[16] http://communities-dominate.blogs.com/brands/2013/01/picture-tells-it-better-first-in-series-of-nokia-strategy-analysis-diagrams-how-nokia-smartphone-sal.html

[17] http://communities-dominate.blogs.com/brands/2013/02/lg-buys-palm-firefox-spreads-tizen-phones-in-july-and-other-observations-in-smartphone-bloodbath-yea.html

[18] http://communities-dominate.blogs.com/brands/2012/10/nokia-q3-results-what-can-i-say-we-knew-it-would-be-misery-all-around.html

[19] http://communities-dominate.blogs.com/brands/2013/11/nokia-under-elop-his-3-years-performance-review-worst-ceo-of-all-time-all-the-facts-in-pictures.html

[20] http://communities-dominate.blogs.com/brands/2012/10/the-there-pillars-of-nokia-strategy-have-all-failed-why-nokia-must-fire-ceo-elop-now.html

[21] http://www.slashgear.com/windows-phone-kills-symbian-as-nokia-strategy-shifts-11132802/

[22] http://communities-dominate.blogs.com/brands/2013/04/when-no-means-no-what-part-of-no-does-nokia-and-microsoft-not-understand-us-consumers-reject-lumia-a.html

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