Nokia – Iceberg, right ahead.

Nokia   Iceberg, right ahead.

This morning, like you, I read about the Nokia cuts. Nokia appear, in my opinion, to be hitting the same issue that Microsoft and Windows Mobile tackled four or five years ago.


There was far too much washing about. Nokia were the undisputed king of the mobile ring and they, like Microsoft and Windows Mobile, rubbed their hands together as the money trucks backed into the car-park.

But, just look at the release Nokia put out today…

Competitive industry dynamics are negatively affecting the Smart Devices business unit to a somewhat greater extent than previously expected. Nokia expects (this) to continue … in the third quarter of 2012.

Translated, this basically sounds like Nokia are saying “Our competitors are doing way better than we are. We expected to throw the Lumia range out there and watch the money trucks, but it hasn’t happened”. Now, with another 10,000 staff pushed out, they’re telling investors to expect a downward line until at least October. Will less staff mean that those stronger competitors will go away? Can Nokia continue to moan that, “We’re not doing well because others are doing better and selling more. That’s not fair!”


During 2007 I sat and watched Microsoft dismiss the iPhone. I watched the iPhone gobble up market share like a hungy hippo. Nothing seemed to happen with Windows Mobile and, as Microsoft dragged their heels, it vanished from consumer and business pockets. This happened quickly. Fast forward to today and Blackberry are facing similar issues with Directors and Managers switching to iPads, iPhones or a “BYOD” (Bring Your Own Device) policy as spending takes a back seat in a economic downturn.

All this happened with immense speed. The mobile industry is changing faster than ever. Who’d have thought that Samsung would dominate the Android scene so quickly and HTC would be changing the number of handsets in their portfolio so rapidly?

Speed is key, and being able to adapt on an almost monthly basis is essential.


Getting a brand which is trusted is difficult. When your brand is on the rise a tiny issue can instantly send it tumbling. Samsung have achieved a strong brand and are known for producing quality products with great designs. Nokia, on the other hand, have seen their brand become less well known as their devices disappear from shelves and get replaced with other brands. Now even my nan knows about HTC phones and, for her next handset, she wants one of those instead of the Nokia featurephone she has now.

Those millions of people using Nokia featurephones are transitioning to cheap Android smartphones. Featurephones are dead and Nokia knows it – they’re knocking out cut-price Lumia devices (like the 610 and 710) in the hope of regaining those lost featurephone customers but, from what I can see, it’s too little, too late. An army of cheap Android phones are available from the likes of ZTE, HTC, Huawei, Alcatel, LG, Samsung, Sony Mobile and others. Can Nokia, with a couple of cheaper Lumia devices lacking the app catalogue of their Android competitors, grab those customers back?


Will Microsoft buy out Nokia when the “time is right”? It’s a question many in the media are too afraid to mention, but with the Nokia share price tumbling it could prove to be a fire sale bargain. Not only that, but the semingly cosy relationship with the two is implanting the belief that only Nokia make Windows Phone devices. It’s not true of course, but it’s what customers can mistakingly believe.

Will Nokia become a Zune? Or will Microsoft continue piling cash on the embers until – like the XBox – the numbers begin to climb?

Let us know what you think below or in our forums.

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  • Martin

    It’s a shame, Nokia can make cracking phones, I had a N95 back in the day, lovely phone. My works phone is a C2 (I know cheapskates!) but it does exactly what it says on the tin.
    They really shot themselves in the foot by not going Android, if they don’t go under it will take a long time to climb that rockface back to profitability.

  • Mikwarner

    For Nokia to succeed it now requires Microsoft to deliver on the promise of Windows Phone software, namely the Apollo version needs to be everything we’ve read about and that little bit more.  This would allow Nokia to produce the hardware that supports the more fashionable tech requirements (i.e. dual core or more processors, memory cards, larger RAM, etc…) as well as continuing differentiation through software applications.

    Will Microsoft deliver?  They need to for Nokia’s sake but also to stop the nay-sayers on WPs back. They also need to drive more money into the brand and get the eco-system working.

    All in all I’m not sure if too late or great business.  Nokia could become the next subsidiary of Microsoft which could be a very interesting coup as we’d then have Google/Moto, Apple/their own phone, Microsoft/Nokia and a new horizon of phone makers/software developers.

  • Vince

    I agree, Nokia have made some great hardware, I’m just not sure what made them think betting the farm on Windows was a good idea compared to Android….MS aren’t exactly known as being the quickest to market with software, and these days the turn round time for devices is astonishing compared to the days of my old Nokia phones when they seemed to announce something one year and release it the next!
    I’m not sure I’ve seen a nokia windows phone ‘in the wild’ and given I commute into central London every day on train and tube, I see a LOT of phones being used (people texting, facebook etc.). I’d hazard at LEAST 50% are iphones, 30% to 40% are Android and the rest are ‘old skool’ Nokia etc.

  • Hmmmm, I do not like Android so Windows Phone devices are just amazing

  • the_prof

    I can actually quite understand how Nokia became complacent.  They dominated the mobile phone market for so long (in consumer electronics terms) that their entire business model was based around gradually improving a solid product (i.e. the classic Nokia feature phone).  I had a feeling Nokia wouldn’t adapt well when the original iPhone was released. 

    Sure, at that time the iPhone was just a 2G device, had poor bluetooth support, and kind of lacked in all the areas in which Nokia excelled.  But somehow that suddenly didn’t matter quite so much.  You use an iPhone 2G next to Nokia’s equivalent top-end device of the time (the N95), and it’s a hugely different user experience.  The Nokia feels pretty clunky in comparison. 

    Now, remember when you picked up your first Nokia phone, and compared it to other phones of the time.  Nokia’s interface was streets ahead.  All the others felt a bit clunky in comparison.  Remember the old Motorolas, Siemens, etc.?  Horrible to do pretty much anything on. 

    So, when the iPhone released, and the general public started to realise how useful a smartphone could be, Nokia were suddenly out of their comfort zone, and never really got their groove, despite a couple of really good devices (N900 and Maemo in particular, IMHO). 

    Windows Mobile was ok – I do remember wishing, with every single one I bought (and I had the lot), that it could be sooo much better than it was.  When the iPhone was released, and Android followed shortly after, they blew Windows Mobile out of the water. 

    So, the two losing teams join together and expect to become a major player again overnight?  Who are they kidding!

  • Anonymous

    I think that complacency must have had something to do with it. Don’t forget that up until 2010 Nokia were the leading seller of smartphones, even if Symbian is often seen as the poor relation in the mobile OS world. But for some reason they couldn’t see what everyone else could, that Symbian just wasn’t good enough and that it was only a matter of time before their sales dropped off a cliff.

    I remember when they missed the trend towards clamshells and sliders because they were stubbornly sticking to candybars. That caused a temporary dip which they overcame by moving forward. It’s just surprising that with all their R&D and success they don’t seem to spot coming trends and instead find themselves playing catch up.

    With their complete dominance they had every opportunity to set the agenda but they just tried to maintain the status quo and let others come in and completely disrupt the industry. It seems to echo RIM who were also happy with their corporate email, BBM, BES and hardware keyboards.

    In this industry you have to adapt or die.