Former Nokia exec: "I did not see a good reason to change course so frantically"

Former Nokia exec: "I did not see a good reason to change course so frantically"
Nokia is in its worse shape right now, undergoing what seems to be the toughest times of its transition to Windows Phone for its main platform, but what scares former Nokia executive Lee Williams is the lack of any strategy besides WP, and current Nokia head Stephen Elop acting more like a financial director rather than the CEO that will lead the Finns out of the gutter. 

Williams who ran the Symbian Series 60 platform between 2006 and 2009, gave a detailed interview for CNET. He was also the executive director of the Symbian Foundation.

"As an arm chair quarterback, it is clear to me that Elop is struggling. The results speak for themselves," Williams said. And the latest credit rating downgrades only confirm that - Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s and Fitch have all downgraded the Finnish company, and most recently Fitch gave its stock a junk rating.


But what’s most troubling in the former Nokia exec view is that Stephen Elop, the current CEO, is not taking the position of an inspirational leader. Instead, he’s acting more towards cutting cost and optimizing workforce, and what we see on the surface seems to confirm those observations: 


"I did not see a good reason to change course so frantically," Williams summed up Nokia’s transformation to Windows Phone. 


He nails his point by comparing current struggling Windows Phone sales to sales of Symbian. 


The former executive realizes that Symbian couldn’t carry Nokia through these very competitive times, but he points out it fares better in battery life and imaging than Nokia’s Lumia lineup. Nokia’s handset revenues are still hugely dependant on Symbian, and last quarter’s decline in Symbian sales had an immediate devastating effect for Nokia with revenues from devices taking an unprecedented plunge.

Former Nokia executive Williams has a couple of ideas of how the Finns can get out of the gutter, and interesting ideas about Android and other options that were open to Espoo. Check out the interview below for a full picture of what could save the Finns, and let us know whether you agree or not in the comments below.

source: CNET

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45 Comments

41. Altair

Posts: 367; Member since: Feb 02, 2012

Lee Williams is useless whiner. He is just stupid enough not seeing whole picture here. He blames Elop, while Nokia's problem was caused earlier, in Williams period. Williams himself is one of those who should be blamed as he was unable to deliver user friendly Symbian. iPhone was released at 2007 when Williams was in Nokia. He and others in time didin't see the future. He and others did bad mistakes and should be kicked in arse. Stephen Elop is there trying to fix all those stupid moves, maded after 2007. GTFO Lee Williams

39. microsoftnokiawin

Posts: 1268; Member since: Mar 30, 2012

it's all steven ellop's fault he killed meeGo

35. SemperFiV12

Posts: 949; Member since: Nov 09, 2010

Here's something Victor H. conveniently forgot to mention in his article... "Android is a less capable offering than a few options that still exist within Nokia," argues Williams. "It's certainly not what I would refer to as an open system. More than that, I think that Nokia has little opportunity to differentiate here in the near term, and the Android platform is so highly fragmented that returns on investment become difficult at best for an ecosystem participant. "The 'in house' software and expertise Nokia had and in some cases still have, created differentiators, and features that needed better market presence, and they needed to realise the benefits of a true ecosystem of software and service providers. Android is not and I do not believe will be the answer to this situation for Nokia." Funny how one can manipulate an article any which way he/she chooses. If you don't like Windows Phone, then don't go writing about it. Your articles are terribly misleading most times, if not swaying from facts, then HIGHLY subjective.

44. Altair

Posts: 367; Member since: Feb 02, 2012

Yeah, it's known fact that Victor H. is Apple fun and have always been writing negative articles about Microsoft & Nokia.

31. Bluedroid

Posts: 57; Member since: Sep 12, 2011

Mark Anderson and other delusional people. WP is a failure already. It has never succeeded and never will. (And I don't wonder at all. Metro is the ugliest and most annoying UI ever created, and the OS is missing so much it's a real stretch to call it a smartphone OS.) The sales stats speak for themselves. It doesn't sell in Europe, Asia or South America. Right now even the dead Symbian sells 5 times more than Lumia! Even in its best market North America, it's selling poorly. And even if it somehow miraculously sold many millions in NA, it would not cover the losses Nokia gets from the rest of the world. In an attempt to appease the North American market by picking WP, Nokia sacrificed the rest of the world, its strong markets like Asia (esp. China and India) and Europe Symbian had only one problem (not putting enough RAM or fast CPU in to Nokia phones were not Symbian's fault), it's S60 UI that was not good for touch phones. Apart from UI, Symbian is by far the most advanced OS. It still has many features that other OS are totally missing or have implemented poorly. Even though Symbian is feature rich, it's light weight and highly efficient. And now with Belle FP1, its UI comparable with Android's. There's really nothing wrong with Symbian any more. Only problems it now has are because of Elop. Elop ruined Symbian like he ruined Nokia. By 2013 Nokia will be bought. The share price is so low and will only get lower, that Nokia's valuable patent portfolio just becomes too good a deal. Nokia should have never employed Elop. That was the first mistake. They should have picked Vanjoki as the CEO. Them Nokia should have continued with their original strategy, moving gradually to MeeGo (starting with N9 and N950) while still selling the renewed Symbian Belle or Symbian 4 or whatever it would be called. In addition to the original strategy, they should have added Android as a third OS and brought Nokia Android phones to North American market. They should have stayed a long away from anything related to Microsoft, like the WP. As a plus with going with this strategy, WP would be dead by now as Nokia hadn't been keeping it afloat like it has done now. Farewell Nokia. It was great while it lasted. Sad to see you go. Who's now going to make all those revolutionary high quality camera phones? Luckily I can still get the 808 before you go...

32. gwuhua1984

Posts: 1237; Member since: Mar 06, 2012

Completely agreed on your view on focusing on Meego and everything else, but I think they should diversify their nest egg on both Android and WP to trying to stay in competition before Meego is completely integrated.

30. gwuhua1984

Posts: 1237; Member since: Mar 06, 2012

I think Nokia signing up with WP alone was a mistake. If I was Elop, I would go into Android with Nokia also. First of all WP7 is a reboot of the WP OS, who knows how well it'll do. With Android taking up so much market share, it'll be a while for WP to build up it's share in the market. If Nokia was thinking about getting out of it's current mess, their best choice should of been to go into both Android and WP, while working hard on Meego. Once they get out of the mess, the could make Android and WP their secondary concern and focusing primarily on their own OS.

28. Sangeet

Posts: 232; Member since: Apr 21, 2012

It now feels more like that Nokia is slowly becoming a part of Microsoft and i think there would be someday even desktops made by Nokia if things like this goes on. Elop is just a person who is trying to make Nokia and Microsoft one company with different brands..

24. sadaivadai

Posts: 156; Member since: Nov 22, 2011

"I did not see a good reason to change course so frantically" You did not change Symbian , You did not improve Symbian and You did not develop Symbian is the reason behind Nokia's decline . But now its too late to do all those with Symbian . Windows is the best option now . So just shut up and go through the change . At the end there will surely be success for Nokia .

27. ilia1986 unregistered

Actually the best option is Android.. or WebOS. It's never too late..

21. weirdfisher

Posts: 51; Member since: Mar 31, 2011

Windows Phone is good but what I feel about it is that it's not natural. And it is not really way better than iOS or Android. Symbian is better now but if you compare it with android ICS, it is way behind MeeGo WAS the future. Very unlucky ending for this magical OS I dont think symbian and Meego had to be killed. Then Nokia wouldnt have such embarrassing situation

20. nat_frost

Posts: 4; Member since: Dec 30, 2011

Williams is right to an extent. But what caused the problem was the Burning Platforms Memo - where Elop killed Symbian and Meego and announced WP strategy The major problem was that they had no WP phones to show to the world (Lumia phones only arrived late 2011) and that they were still releasing Symbian phones throughout 2011. But because he osborned his own products, nobody was going to buy them - so sales crashed. People say that Nokia was doomed because of the rise of the iPhone and Android phones. No doubt they were a contributing factor to the gradual decline, but even in 2010, Nokia still had a massive worldwide presence. Before the Elop effect (combo of the Osborne and the Ratner effect) in Q4 2010, Nokia was at top with 33%, 75% in China, 70% in India, 60% in Singapore. In fact it was the market leader in every market apart from USA. They already had a migration strategy from Symbian to Meego with Qt, and they had a contract with China Mobile (the biggest network carrier in the world) that they will use Meego so in effect Nokia could have had 12% of the world's mobile phone market share. Also NTT DoCoMo had agreed to use Symbian on their smartphones. (Since Nokia's annoucement, both have moved to Andriod) So really overall, things were looking good. There was no real need to move to WP. To put it into context, Nokia was selling twice as much smartphones than Apple in 2010 having sold 100.3M units compared to 47.5M units. Apple's worldwide smartphone sales market share was 15.9 with Nokia's 33%, with RIM at 16%, Samsung at 8%. Worldwide smartphone OS market share in 2010 was; Symbian - 39% Android - 18% iOS- 16% Blackberry -16% Worldwide smartphone install base 2010: Symbian - 49% Blackberry - 17% iOS - 11% Android - 9% To say that Nokia's presence in 2010 had diminished to the point that they had to move to WP would be factually incorrect. Even if Nokia had to go to WP, the Burning Platforms Memo was a terrible terrible idea, wiping huge amounts of profit and market share and destroying carrier and consumer trust in the Nokia brand. If Elop was sensible, he would have announced it much later, like when he has a WP phone to show to the world. Of course, now, it is impossible to go back to Symbian/Meego because Elop destroyed it.

22. Veigald

Posts: 290; Member since: Jan 13, 2012

What you're saying doesn't make much sense. It is very naive to assume that one person has the power to by himself make decisions like adopting WP as the main platform, regardless of him being the CEO. This fancy Elop effect mumbo jumbo is a result of some MBA wannabe reading on Wikipedia without understanding the realities of business. Not only does it assume that Elop broke the news that Nokia's platform was behind competitors before consumers knew themselves, it also pre-empts the conclusion to Nokia's fate. That said, the infamous memo could absolutely have been handled better and does give the impression that Elop wanted to be seen as an action guy. Turning a company around that has fallen so badly behind due to complacency and management short-sightedness as Nokia did, takes time. Elop has been in charge for a year and a half, and it's gonna take at least another half a year to see how good a job he's doing.

23. DigitalJedi_X2

Posts: 346; Member since: Jan 30, 2012

I don't mean to be rude... But you have absolutely no idea what you're talking about. Elop did in fact destroy consumer and carrier confidence in the Nokia brand by putting out that foolish burning platform memo. Symbian was actually growing sales before then. And the Elop Effect, a combination of the Osbourne and Ratner Effects wasn't coined by some MBA. It was actually coined by the world famous mobile analyst Tomi Ahonen. Why don't you take a gander at his site,www.commuties-dominatebrands.com for the full story. That is, if you're not afraid of looking even more foolish. Do I think iPhonearena needs to quit it with the WP and Nokia bashing articles? Yes. The iPhone isn't even a real smartphone. It's an app launcher with telephony. Do I think Nokia can make a comeback with WP? I sure do. But to survive in the meantime they'll need Symbian and they should've kept Meego running. Let's give it until 4th Quarter 2013. Then we'll see if Elop is the total moron he's portraying himself to be.

25. Veigald

Posts: 290; Member since: Jan 13, 2012

The term Elop effect is completely irrelevant and misleading. Most people agree that the burning platform memo was too radical, but probably the only reason Ahonen came up with the Elop effect was that he's Finnish and has a particular passion for Nokia. And before criticizing what I'm saying, make sure you know what the Osborne and Ratner effects are about. If you don't want to look even more foolish :)

36. DigitalJedi_X2

Posts: 346; Member since: Jan 30, 2012

I know EXACTLY what the terms mean. Perhaps it's you who should look them up. And only the North American media said agree on the burning platform memo. Nokia and Symbian were quite profitable outside of NA and didn't need to be successful in it to survive. Numbers don't lie. And the numbers state that BEFORE Elop went ahead with that ridiculously dangerous irresponsible memo, Symbian was GROWING in sales. Did Nokia still need to migrate to Meego( and maybe even WP) if they wanted to survive in the mobile business long term? Yes. But they could have easily pushed Symbian down to replace S40 and use both Meego and WP. And they would have been far more successful and still generating profits. Samsung uses a three OS strategy and is successful at it. Very successful. Perhaps if you did a little research in Nokia and Elop, and didn't just take whatever the ridiculously biased and Apple ass kissing NA media said at face value and as Gospel(iPhonearena is right there in the Apple ass kissing part. Biased too.)then you would know this.

40. Veigald

Posts: 290; Member since: Jan 13, 2012

Numbers don't lie? Guess you're not familiar with the phrase "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."? Don't take everything Ahonen says for granted. He's been jeopardizing his credibility on his latest Nokia/Elop crusade with selectivity in which figures he uses, which has been thoroughly demonstrated even on his own site. If anyone seriously believes Symbian was growing market share in 2011 they need to get a reality check. Next time you reply to a post, please read it more carefully before you do so. I said that most people agree that the burning platform memo was too radical. And I'm not sure why I bother to indulge you with this, but here goes: the Osborne effect has some bearing indeed, but the Ratner effect not, unless one believes Symbian was still great and that users had not already started migrating away from it. If however you believe that users already started moving away from Symbian due to it falling behind competitors thanks to guys like Williams, then you would understand that the Ratner effect has little bearing on this and that it was used by Ahonen on his personal crusade only to come up with something catchy for the "Elop effect" and to demonstrate that Elop must be the worst CEO in the history of mankind. Something we'll still have to wait and see to conclude.

18. ron1niro

Posts: 54; Member since: Mar 28, 2012

Many people have been predicting the end of nokia for a long time now, most of those predictions have not come to pass. I would love to see these tech sites write an article whenever nokia beats the odds like when some analyst predicted that they wouldn't be able to sell 1 million lumia 710's and 800's, they have so far sold more than 1.5 million of those and they have only been available in few places.

17. snowgator

Posts: 3630; Member since: Jan 19, 2011

Boy, the anti-WP articles are popping up a ton, huh? Look, I felt Nokia would have been smart to keep a line of Symbian devices going until their WP devices were established, not just outsource the support for it. But, really folks, why is everyone so excited to see Nokia and WP fail? The 800 and 710 have been out since about November, and the 900 has just been released. None of those are in all markets, and their Tango offerings haven't even been launched yet. Nokia can easily become a top flight company again and have a much better profit per handset by not having to fight to keep up R&D on software. Give a year, maybe a year and a half. If they bomb, than kick them. I am sure we can find an ex-Google employee back in 2005 or so that said how dumb they were trying to launch Android when BlackBerry and the iPhone were king, Palm was a force to be reckoned with, and Microsoft had Windows Mobile on a ton of devices. How smart would he look right now?

26. ZEUS.the.thunder.god unregistered

agree with you bro.

33. Victor.H

Posts: 1117; Member since: May 27, 2011

It's true that there's a lot of strong feelings around Nokia and some opinions seem to be escalating that even further. Now many of you in the comments have rightly noticed how polarizing and extreme some opinions seem, down to the point that they're conceived as anti-Nokia. And indeed they are if you accept Stephen Elop as the face of Nokia. But let me take a moment to explain why Nokia is different than Google, where is much of that sentiment coming from and why for many Nokia and Elop represent different values. First of all, it's the facts that are particularly troubling. Not many people would have cared deeply if Google failed Android in its infancy. The thing is Google had no experience in mobile, it was a beginner and it got the free pass a beginner deserves. On the other hand, there is Nokia, which is in a totally different position - it's the company that invented the smartphone, and led the market for 14 years. 14 years! Just imagine how long that is in a place that's changing from the ground up every year or so. Next come the numbers. Nokia sales have plunged and fallen so hard (from the top, remember) that it's shocking. And it's particularly sad for all those people that cared for Nokia and Symbian. You'd notice that many of the loudest voices urging Nokia to fire Elop and take a strategy where Windows Phone is not the one and only platform, are exactly ex-Nokians or people specializing on the company: Tomi Ahonen, Lee Williams, Russian long-time Nokia insider Eldar Murtazin, the list goes on. Those people have a clear vision of the core values Nokia stands for in their minds - innovation in mobile platforms, support for open standards and technologies like Symbian and QT, features like universal Bluetooth support, expandable memory, removable batteries (mostly lacking in iPhone, WP). Stephen Elop devaluates all those achievements by writing off Symbian pre-maturely, and that's where it all starts to get emotional. That's where there is a disconnect between the "old Finnish Nokia" and the new US-centric Nokia. Finally, I'll wrap this up by saying that we (me in particular) are analyzing and propagating sentiment voiced by those people mostly because the numbers support it. I feel that ex-Nokians deserve to have their voice heard in the midst of brand devaluation and some catastrophic financial results for the Finns. Of course, we're equally open to reporting Nokia's official position, but it's just a matter of representing both sides of an argument.

37. DigitalJedi_X2

Posts: 346; Member since: Jan 30, 2012

Vic, when you write an unbiased article about Nokia and WP, please let us know. Because this ain't it! You're one of the worst offenders here at iPhonearena. All you do is BASH everything else except for that app launcher with telephony that pretends to be a smartphone.

38. ilia1986 unregistered

As much as I agree with those standards, for someone who had to own the HORRIBLE Nokia 5800 XpressMusic for a year and a half - even APPLE for me is better than that when it comes to releasing a usiable product. Yes, Symbian had all these open standards I - and many others cherish so much - but they were delivered in such a horrible package (resistive screen. UGH), and in such an underwhelming UI (lot's of menus, lagging software, lack of basic elegance, etc), that I prefered to have an iPhone, which is of course significantly less usable, but at least is comfortable to use. That's why I love Android. It has all the open standards Symbian had (BT file transfer, SD card support, customization, total control, etc) while combining all that in a good hardware package (with a capacitive multi-touch screen and a strong enough-processor), all the while giving the user a slick and comfortable UI. Yes, there are some menus but nowhere near what Symbian used to have. Nokia fans should see Android as the evolution of symbian - it has all the same good features, while getting rid of all the bad ones as well.

42. microsoftnokiawin

Posts: 1268; Member since: Mar 30, 2012

still that was no reason for Steven Elop to kill meeGO it was beautiful OS made almost as much sales as Lumia despised being released in half the countries Lumia did and had no where as much advertisement as Lumia still made so much sales it had a bright future but NO Steven Elop decides to come and kill for WP I'm not hating on WP it's a wonderful OS even convinced some of my friends to get it but if you would've seen the n9 intro on youtube after it was announced that meeGO was killed you should've seen the amount of raged people and the video of Steven Elop making a deal with Steve balmer making a deal with Microsoft and saying his killing Symbian the amount of people saying android here i come and swearing at seven Elop and saying this comment was from Nokia ..... MY LAST NOKIA phone was huge that's why I think it wasn't a good move

45. snowgator

Posts: 3630; Member since: Jan 19, 2011

I have not had the privilege of trying MeeGo, so I am going on the glowing support of those like you. The reviews I read and the online videos of it did indeed look promising. So I understand. But MeeGo had the same problem in the eyes of the Nokia board as Symbian when they hired Elop- the development of it was all on them. Their R&D was a huge, profit draining burden. None of the apps or tools for Symbian would work, and all that had to be done. Meanwhile, all the Symbian handsets had to be supported. Sometimes people forget that the people who hired Stephen Elop wanted change. If they had gone Android, I am sure it would have been a sure thing. But, Nokia wanted to be different, and wanted a partner willing to invest in them. Microsoft was it.

34. SemperFiV12

Posts: 949; Member since: Nov 09, 2010

Gotta love Victor H., no doubt he'll find negative articles towards WP and post up an article.

16. Bluesky02

Posts: 1439; Member since: Dec 05, 2011

@eaxvac Agree with you

15. Bluesky02

Posts: 1439; Member since: Dec 05, 2011

During Symbian days, i was doing beta testing of some symbian apps. So i had very close communication with developers. I realised that iOS, Android and Windows Phone are the future of smartphone, as Symbian framework is stuck with the part. It is like symbian has been fully used up and it was difficult to implement new stuff without sacrificing some. This guy is targeting Elop performance, but it was this guy who was also responsible for keeping for turning blind eyes on other competitors OS. Look how long Meego was taking, now Tinzen. Symbian started improving until Belle update came out, this under Elops management. I'm glad Nokia chose Windows Phone, Best phone manufacturer in partnership with an Experience OS company. Though it will take years to catch up.

13. eaxvac

Posts: 328; Member since: Jan 15, 2012

The fact that he's an Ex-CEO makes his statement uncredible, its full of jealousy.

12. sonisoe

Posts: 440; Member since: May 06, 2009

its one of those decisions that can turn out to be genius or plain stupid to switch to wp. wp is a fantastic os but still needs some ironing out to compete w/ ios or android (i've a lumia 800, sgs2, and iphone4). i do think nokia and wp is an ideally perfect marriage, a beautiful slick os on a stunning looking hardware, but realistically, nokia shouldve gone w android to stop them from bleeding...

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