Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 9th Oct 2013 23:22 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

This is quite possibly one of the most beautiful articles you'll ever read about Nokia's demise. Five years ago, in 2008, a journalist wrote a letter to Nokia, on his own behalf, as a regular person (so not as a journalist). In it, he detailed how Nokia phones used to be easy to use by everyone. However, the Nokia E51 he was using now was a complete mess, insanely hard to use. He ended the letter with prescient words: "This will cause problems for Nokia".

The letter made its way to Nokia, and apparently caused waves inside the company, up to the highest levels. Company executives wanted to explain the company's strategy to him, and eventually, one executive even met up with him on a personal note. After first parroting the usual corporate speak, the executive eventually broke.

"I agree completely with everything that you wrote in your letter and what you have said now."

I was astounded.

"I completely agree with you and I want to apologise on behalf of Nokia for producing a bad telephone for you."

Then he started to tell about how a top-secret project had been launched at Nokia, in which a completely new operating system was being designed. It would result in new kinds of telephones. They would be easy to use and they would change everything.

I met the director again a few years later.

Then it turns out that he had been talking about the Meego. However, the project moved forward slowly, and finally the new CEO Stephen Elop shelved it completely.

This same Nokia executive took one of the many original iPhones Nokia bought home right after it was released.

As an experiment, he gave the telephone to his daughter, and she learned to use it immediately.

In the evening as the parents were going to bed, the drowsy four-year-old appeared at their bedroom door with a question: "Can I take that magic telephone and put it under my pillow tonight?"

That was the moment when the Nokia executive understood that his company was in trouble.

Heart-breaking.

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tomz
Member since:
2010-05-06

So the N9 comes out in limited quantity and is rated BETTER than the iPhone, and there is the N950 with a Qwerty slide-out but limited to developers, and both are killed. They had the existing Ovi app store and the rest including fairly easy development frameworks. These were replaced with .. nothing for several months while the not-upgradable-to-win-8 first Lumias were engineered, which bombed.

Exactly as planned and Elop gets a $25M bonus for the assassination.

Reply Score: 19

WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

Nokia isn't dead.


No, it isn't. But it is pretty much gutted. Nokia came to power and prominence through its mobile phones, starting all the way with the luggable NMT-ones, and now that they sold that part of their business to Microsoft there's very little anything of interest left, there's little to no charisma or anything to identify them as a company left. It's disheartening.

The existence of the N9 that was so damnably good doesn't help the situation at all; it's just a bitter reminder of what could've been.

Reply Score: 8

WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

Nokia is dead by imaginary OSNews voodoo logic.


I never claimed them to be dead.

Reply Score: 4

Nelson Member since:
2005-11-29

I don't think I said you did, but you did go off on a tangent about how they're "gutted" (despite being flush with cash, have a 10 year patent license, and an imperviousness to patent counter suits) and something as similarly irrelevant about the N9 as the parent poster.

N9, MeeGo, and Symbian are dead. The board, the CEO, and the company have moved on. Jolla exists because Nokia was generous enough to accelerate it via their Bridge program. They're happy. Let it go from Nokia's perspective. I don't see how else they could've handled this to please some of the obsessive types here short of killing themselves on a bad bet.

This ridiculous love affair some of you have would probably be better spent advocating for Jolla which by all accounts is excellent, rather than lamenting a future that never was and never will be.

The N9 reviewed well, got awards, and was a nice piece of kit, but that does not an ecosystem make.

Reply Score: 0

manjabes Member since:
2005-08-27

The N9 reviewed well, got awards, and was a nice piece of kit, but that does not an ecosystem make.


The replacement hasn't achieved much of an ecosystem as well. Just a bunch of "apps" which are comparable with a random Android fart-app regarding quality and usefulness. And nobody seems to care, not even its creator.
I still look at Android 2.3 phones and sigh in envy. And looking at what Paul Thurrott "leaked" about 8.1, it won't be getting that much better in a meaningful way.

Reply Score: 2

Fergy Member since:
2006-04-10

Nokia has no debt, 10 billion dollars, and own a complete stake in a profitable venture. Nokia is dead by imaginary OSNews voodoo logic.

Can it make phones that are different from Samsung, HTC, LG etc?
Because I thought that Nokia just sold the part of Nokia that makes it Nokia. They already destroyed the software side of Nokia.

Reply Score: 6

Nelson Member since:
2005-11-29

And Nokia just bought the other half of NSN. Nokia has never been purely about phones. They're not HTC. Which is why they fared better than say BBRY, they are not a one trick pony.

Why do I have to hold your hand through basic shit?

Reply Score: 2

moondevil Member since:
2005-07-08

As former employee, Nokia is no longer Nokia.

Reply Score: 6

Nelson Member since:
2005-11-29

Of course Nokia is no longer the Nokia you worked for at the time you worked for them, but trying to attribute a singular identity to a company that has had many doesn't make sense, former employee or not.

This equivocation with death or even something remotely negative is disgusting and should be beneath others here.

I shouldn't really expect more from card carrying members of the always wrong club though.

Reply Score: 1

zima Member since:
2005-07-06

Software side of Nokia was destroying itself whenever it released smth.

Reply Score: 2

jared_wilkes Member since:
2011-04-25

At worst, it's as dead as Palm is. At best, it's as alive as Palm is.

It's time for you to let go.

Reply Score: 14

Nelson Member since:
2005-11-29

And you base the palm comparison on what exactly? This reduction to absurdity is beneath you, I'm sure you can think critically.

I think BBRY is more analogous to Palm given who they're being sold to, the amount of influence they'd carry in their parent company, and the fact that the entire company has been sold, not just one division which didn't make up a majority of the company any way.

But by all means, please elucidate on how a company which has no parallels to what Palm has done is just as dead or alive as Palm.

Reply Score: 0

WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

Both were shitty phones, that nobody wanted.


Oh, really? Based on... what, exactly? Go ahead, try and google "Nokia N9 review" and you'll see plenty of praise for it and lots of people wanting it. Even my lil' sis' who is definitely not a geek or nerd owns one and she totally loves it.

I'd say there's someone here who is delusional and it certainly isn't me or the OP.

Reply Score: 7

WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

And none of that has nothing to do with what you said. You claimed the phones were shitty and no one wanted them and even a surface scratch on Google results refutes your claim completely. The lack of future support and the likes was rather obvious, considering that Elop had already announced that there won't be any more development on MeeGo, and yet the phone still managed to be highly sought-after!

As for your "It's not even a contest when you look at the future roadmaps and even the current programming models." -- well, of course. MeeGo was discontinued, so obviously there were no future roadmaps or anything! You're basically saying that WP8 is superior to MeeGo because it wasn't discontinued -- well, no shit Sherlock.

Edited 2013-10-10 03:35 UTC

Reply Score: 4

WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

It was cancelled because it was not good enough.


Yeah, sure. Developers loved it, reviewers loved it, users loved it, but nooo, it wasn't good enough.

How is Nokia gutted? They still make great hardware.


There's nothing original to them anymore and they can't even make any hardware that Microsoft doesn't tell them to.

The N950...flip out hardware keyboards are so '2000


And speaking out loud is so tens of thousands of year ago -- and yet it still manages to be plenty useful.

Reply Score: 13

Dano Member since:
2006-01-22


Yeah, sure. Developers loved it, reviewers loved it, users loved it, but nooo, it wasn't good enough.


YOU ARE MISSING THE POINT. It may be good but you can't build a business off of it for external reasons.


There's nothing original to them anymore and they can't even make any hardware that Microsoft doesn't tell them to.


You don't know that. Mostly all of the talent at Nokia is still in place working on the next cycle of phones. Nokia has a 6" model coming out and I want it! I just bought my 925 a month ago!



And speaking out loud is so tens of thousands of year ago -- and yet it still manages to be plenty useful.


If anyone I saw flipped that keyboard out I would be like...damn this guy is a dinosaur. And I myself am old. LOL

Edited 2013-10-10 04:06 UTC

Reply Score: 0

Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

First of all the N9 *was* awesome by all accounts.

However after reading about the demise of Blackberry, I think Nokia's thinking makes a little more sense.

I think Nokia ( Elop) saw the vast delays on Mameo/Meego and realized the amount of money and time it would take to make it successful would exceed the amount of money it and symbian would produce. He found someone that would reduce the software risks and provide the funding/marketing to keep them afloat.

I totally understand the conspiratorial aspect that people think Elop went into the job thinking that he would gut it and sell out to MS. I do think he actually set out to do that as well. But, I also understand how he can sleep at night thinking what he was going to do was best for all parties.

Its really a question of risk. Going alone with Meego would have had a higher Risk/Reward. Going with MS reduced the risk and the reward. Given this, I think its a shoe in that Elop becomes CEO of microsoft. As a large company, they hate risk.

MS's life story is one of waiting for other companies to prove concepts, then try to follow producing an inferior product that they just continue improving over time.

Reply Score: 4

zima Member since:
2005-07-06

First of all the N9 *was* awesome by all accounts.

Not by all accounts - for example, look at conclusions of this review: http://www.mobile-review.com/review/nokia-n9-2-en.shtml

Reply Score: 2

tylerdurden Member since:
2009-03-17

programming models.



LOL.

Edited 2013-10-10 03:51 UTC

Reply Score: 2

The123king Member since:
2009-05-28

Windows Phone might be well supported and well funded, but that's still pretty pointless if no-one wants to buy it.

Reply Score: 3

Dano Member since:
2006-01-22

But people are buying it and sales for Nokia/WP8 handsets are going UP, not down...

Reply Score: 1

zima Member since:
2005-07-06

Go ahead, try and google "Nokia N9 review" and you'll see plenty of praise for it

It also returns this review... http://www.mobile-review.com/review/nokia-n9-2-en.shtml (look at least at conclusions)

Reply Score: 2

bassbeast Member since:
2007-11-11

Oh Please! Nokia was dead before Elop set foot in the door, he was just brought in to throw a Hail Mary and it failed.

The precious Maemo/Meego? It was being sabotaged on TWO fronts, within by Team Symbian, and without by their "partner" Intel. When you have a culture that has gotten that toxic? give it up. I'll just leave this here for your education..

http://taskumuro.com/artikkelit/the-story-of-nokia-meego

Reply Score: 7

Dano Member since:
2006-01-22

I'm just glad that the fan boys on OS News don't run my company!

Reply Score: 1

Dano Member since:
2006-01-22

That is a damn interesting article. Sounds like OS development was a mess and that the product pipeline was dry before Elop.

Another interesting quote from the article:

In addition to tens of their own people they hired consultants from outside of Nokia. As a result a decision was made that the combination of Symbian and MeeGo was not sufficient for a succesful long term strategy.

Reply Score: 3

drcoldfoot Member since:
2006-08-25

I believe Elop and the rest of the executive team should be arrested for the obvious scuttling of a company that had an obvious fighting chance in the mobile market. I believe this was a backroom deal from the minute that they announced that they scrapped Meego for WP. The only people that had a gain from this is Microsoft for the patent portfolio and indemnifications, and those few top execs.

Reply Score: 6

Dano Member since:
2006-01-22

Not true. Nokia would face the same uphill battle...developing an ecosystem for a new OS...but they would have to do it alone without injections of cash from Microsoft. I just don't see why detractors are caught up in this business reality distortion field.

Reply Score: 2

drcoldfoot Member since:
2006-08-25

Dano,
There was another company that received cash injections from Microsoft to their doom. Remember SCO? The fact is, no company receives cash injections w/o paying a price in the longrun. That's business. SCO was a patsy for the patent wars, Nokia is the next chapter in the same, also, there's that HUGE patent deal in favor of Microsoft. Microsoft needed their patent portfolio in their battle with Google. Microsoft could care less if they sold phones on their OS. I bet they make more money from their shady patent licensing shakedowns than phone OS sales from OEMS.

Reply Score: 2

Dano Member since:
2006-01-22

Could be. Things are different in this example though. SCO was being made obsolete by Linux and other Server products. The only value there was patent trolling. With Nokia, there are patents, but there is also value in the hardware product line and expertise. Windows Phone 8 is a very strategic product from Microsoft at this time and if it extends to tablets, the Nokia staff is the one to design the hardware. Microsoft's current hardware design before Nokia has been...let's say...less than Stellar? (i.e. Surface)

Reply Score: 3

v Here we go again...
by Dano on Thu 10th Oct 2013 00:16 UTC
RE: Here we go again...
by bhtooefr on Thu 10th Oct 2013 01:23 UTC in reply to "Here we go again..."
bhtooefr Member since:
2009-02-19

Except it isn't Nokia's handset business.

It's Microsoft's, and it stopped being Nokia's the moment the burning platform memo came out.

Reply Score: 14

RE: Here we go again...
by galvanash on Thu 10th Oct 2013 01:23 UTC in reply to "Here we go again..."
galvanash Member since:
2006-01-25

...more conjecture that Nokia's older models and platforms would have saved Nokia's handset business.


Fair enough if you are responding to some of the comments on this thread - but that article and the small write up about it is nothing more than a little bit of storytelling - one person getting a rare chance to tell a company bigwig whats wrong with their product up close and in person. There is no conjecture in it at all, other than the hopes of one executive 5 years ago.

Now that Microsoft owns Nokia's handset business we should rejoice because it isn't going anywhere.


It isn't going anywhere now because it already went somewhere... Its gone. Dead. Finished. Nokia as a mobile phone company no longer exists. What most of us considered Nokia is now a select group of Microsoft employees who's job has become peddling Windows Phone OS...

You guys talk like it's Nokia's funeral.


R.I.P. - you guys made one hell of a phone back when people wanted phones...

Reply Score: 14

RE: Here we go again...
by japh on Fri 11th Oct 2013 09:17 UTC in reply to "Here we go again..."
japh Member since:
2005-11-11

...more conjecture that Nokia's older models and platforms would have saved Nokia's handset business. Now that Microsoft owns Nokia's handset business we should rejoice because it isn't going anywhere. You guys talk like it's Nokia's funeral.


Well, Nokia's newer models didn't save Nokia's handset business either. It IS the funeral of Nokias handsets.
They're Microsoft's handset business now. That part of Nokia IS dead.

But I am afraid you are right that the old Nokia handset business isn't going anywhere now that Microsoft bought it. We'll see if they manage to pump enough funds into it to make it sustainable.

Reply Score: 3

Could replace Nokia by BlackBerry
by BlueofRainbow on Thu 10th Oct 2013 01:23 UTC
BlueofRainbow
Member since:
2009-01-06

Beautifully written letter.

Being a journalist by profession, he was likely more adept at conveying the mixture emotions about a beloved company apparently on a path to self-destruction than most.

Maybe in a few years, a strangely similar letter written by a Canadian journalist to a BlackBerry executive will surface. And there could also be a follow-up conversation/diner with a hidden vision of doom.

It takes more than one difficult to use/poorly designed product to kill a company. It is however nearly fatal when this occur at the same time another company comes in with a product everyone dreamed of to have and much easier to use than anything existing at that time.

It also takes great leadership to realize this, and not only to correct the situation, but also to sustain the redirection of the necessary resources long enough for success. The quick fix of overly ambitious goals with an aggressive timeline to market fails more often than it succeeds.

Reply Score: 5

tylerdurden Member since:
2009-03-17

There is also the issue that Nokia is over 6 times the size of Blackberry (currently, it was larger in the past), while Canada has over 6 times the population of Finland. Thus the impact of Nokia on the overall Finnish economy is far more significant than Blackberry has on Canada's, which explains the emotional aspect of the article.


I doubt the Finnish members of Nokia's board are a very popular bunch in their home country right now.

Edited 2013-10-11 17:46 UTC

Reply Score: 5

Dano Member since:
2006-01-22

If the board is not popular with the Finnish people, it's mainly because people make up romantic fantasies about the company's business environment. The market for regular phones is stagnant or dying, and Nokia's in-house OS development was spread over two platforms with no direction. I think that Elop made the best decision that could be made considering the choices. Nokia did lay people off, but the company is still in Finland, not Redmond. They have a product pipeline and some strong offerings, and are on good financial footing. What else could be done?

Edited 2013-10-12 13:57 UTC

Reply Score: 3

no no no
by ari-free on Thu 10th Oct 2013 01:30 UTC
ari-free
Member since:
2007-01-22

Android didn't take over because it was easier to use than iPhone. The internet didn't replace AOL's proprietary service because it was easier. They won because they were most adaptable.

Reply Score: 6

Comment by Gone fishing
by Gone fishing on Thu 10th Oct 2013 04:06 UTC
Gone fishing
Member since:
2006-02-22

...was using now was a complete mess, insanely hard to use...


It is amazing how common this is - why is it that most microwave ovens, washing machines etc are so complicated they make me want to kill the designer in a horribly medieval manner and make the UNIX command-line seem friendly and intuitive?

I might even buy an iMircowave.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Comment by Gone fishing
by Fergy on Thu 10th Oct 2013 06:15 UTC in reply to "Comment by Gone fishing"
Fergy Member since:
2006-04-10

"...was using now was a complete mess, insanely hard to use...


It is amazing how common this is - why is it that most microwave ovens, washing machines etc are so complicated they make me want to kill the designer in a horribly medieval manner and make the UNIX command-line seem friendly and intuitive?

I might even buy an iMircowave.
"


Because of guys like ari-free:
Android didn't take over because it was easier to use than iPhone. The internet didn't replace AOL's proprietary service because it was easier. They won because they were most adaptable.


Edited 2013-10-10 06:15 UTC

Reply Score: 2