The more things change, the more they stay the same it seems. Despite seismic changes at just about every level of Nokia's operation, the prospect today isn't appreciably different than 18 months ago.
Then, as now, the company faced increased investor and shareholder wrath due to worse-than-expected results, with large-scale cuts seemingly the only change certain to make a real difference.
Today the company announced a total of 10,000 positions to be cut by the end of next year, mainly from the Devices and Services division, while facilities in Germany and Canada will close their doors for good.
Various other “streamlining” measures will cut costs across IT, corporate and support divisions, and won't be restricted to low-level structures either: chief marketing officer Jerri DeVard, executive vice president of mobile phones Mary McDowell and executive vice president of markets Niklas Savander will be leaving the company at the end of the month.
Meanwhile, luxury handset brand Vertu, which has been in the shop window for a while now, has been sold to private equity firm EQT – all but 10% of it, anyway – while Nokia has snapped up Swedish digital imaging firm Scalado to boost its already strong hand in the imaging arena.
The latest wave of job cuts will take the total number of positions shed since mid-2010 to 40,000, as Nokia seeks to reduce its overall spend to around €3bn from previous levels of around €5.25bn.
All this takes place against the backdrop of Nokia lowering its outlook for the current quarter – troubling news considering two of the three global credit rating firms have already downgraded its stocks to junk status.
The excuses will make for familiar reading to anyone who's been following developments at Nokia for a while: “during the second quarter 2012, competitive industry dynamics are negatively affecting the Smart Devices business unit to a somewhat greater extent than previously expected. Furthermore, while visibility remains limited, Nokia expects competitive industry dynamics to continue to negatively impact Devices & Services in the third quarter 2012.”
For anyone who didn't quite understand that, “competitive industry dynamics” can be loosely defined as “the quality of the opposition”. To be fair, the change is a marginal one – Nokia now expects its operating margins to be “below” the previous quarter's 3% loss, rather than “similar to or below”. But it's certainly not positive news, is it?
Needless to say, Nokia's lengthy press release made sure to set aside some space for CEO Stephen Elop's now-familiar blend of troop-rallying and corporate-speak.
“We are increasing our focus on the products and services that our consumers value most while continuing to invest in the innovation that has always defined Nokia,” Elop says.
“We intend to pursue an even more focused effort on Lumia, continued innovation around our feature phones, while placing increased emphasis on our location-based services. However, we must re-shape our operating model and ensure that we create a structure that can support our competitive ambitions.”
Don't forget those competitive industry dynamics, Stephen...