Nokia's end times, a different perspective

The Nokia CEO ended his speech saying this “we didn’t do anything wrong, but somehow, we lost”.

During the press conference to announce NOKIA being acquired by Microsoft, the Nokia CEO ended his speech by saying “We didn’t do anything wrong, but somehow, we lost”. Upon saying that, all his management team, himself included, teared sadly.

What a heartwarming, inspirational story, seen so many times on LinkedIn stories with people sharing sage advice on business growth and the need to change. And.... it is total fiction, the press conference doesn't show anyone crying or breaking down after admitting defeat. And the picture that keeps circulating isn’t even Nokia’s CEO… it’s Steve Ballmer nor is it from 2013! 

Whilst it never happened, maybe it should have? 

I worked at Nokia from 2005 until the end of 2012. I loved the brand as a consumer prior to joining and it was just a dream to work at a brand you love. I would like to give my own view from the inside as to why Nokia is no longer around as one of the Top 10 consumers brands that it was for years.

The key success factors behind the universal Nokia miracle from 1997 until 2011 were: Products, Brand and Demand-Supply - as laid out in the strategy of NMP of the late 90's. Simplistic, yes, but true. Equally important were a genuine, shared mission (Connecting People), a bold and inspiring Vision (Mobile Information Society) and the unique value-based Culture.

The reasons for Nokia's fall are numerous, but in my opinion they include: rise of arrogance (despite apparent efforts to avoid it), dilution of values (originally Customer Satisfaction, Respect, Achievement and Continuous Learning), loss of consumer focus (which led to extremely confusing product offering), neglecting the American market and hero ego's stifling innovation being allowed to come to market. 

And thus Nokia lost the opportunity at hand to continue to make it big, but importantly lost the chance of survival. 

But that is the headline view, let's break it down.... But much like an investigation into an air crash, it's rarely one thing that contributes to a failure, but rather a sequence of smaller compounding issues that result in a catastrophic event.

  • Neglect of the USA carrier and their ability to influence purchasing decisions
  • Ignoring the USA market as a follower because of CDMA and the rest of the world was GSM
  • Google acquiring Android followed by January 2007 (iPhone launch)
  • Not anticipating move to Apps and user experience trumped voice quality as a USP
  • Internal Kings - there was innovation, it just was not allowed to be launched
  • The desire to put a Nokia logo on everything (Intellisync, NavTeq, MixRadio etc etc)
  • Finish Culture - no need to dominate and allowing competitors a place under the sun
  • OVI - an blackhole sucking cash
  • My turn to lead - OPK
  • The Death knell (resistance to displace Symbian and subsequent EOL of Symbian)

In the coming weeks, I am going to flesh out some detail on each of these points!

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Headline image created with Microsoft Designer