Former Nokia exec: Elop is pretty rubbish

Former Nokia exec: Elop is pretty rubbishI doubt anyone would argue that Nokia is doing very well at the moment. Much like the ailing RIM, I’m struggling to think of a time in recent memory that we've had an emphatically positive story about the manufacturer.

Now former Nokia guy Lee Williams has been sticking the boot in, quite openly criticising the Elopian era. It has been completely ****, to be fair.

In an interview with CNET UK, Williams has well and truly let rip. And just who the heck is he? Williams was SVP of Series 60 software from 2006 to 2009, before moving on to become Executive Director of the Symbian Foundation. He now works for some dudes in San Fran.

"As an armchair quarterback, it is clear to me that [Nokia CEO Stephen] Elop is struggling,” begins Williams. “The results speak for themselves.” Yeah, Q1 2012 was prettaaay pretty rubbish.

"Elop hasn't delivered a roadmap,” continues Lee. “He's been there for two to three years and there's really no roadmap. There's no overarching vision for this company. Before Elop, Nokia would never give up that leadership position and role in the marketplace, would always talk about the future." Oh dear.

"Elop is operating like a CFO - CFOs are very practical, always looking at costs, always internally focused. I don't think he's really projecting anything forward or sitting around with his team imagining what the future looks like. I think it's 's**t how do I get rid of a third of this overhead in R&D?'."

Williams isn't convinced that backing Windows Phone as its "primary smartphone platform" was a wise choice either. Not that the "less capable" Android was the answer either; it's all about variety; a few Windows Phones here, some MeeGo there.

"One size does not fit all, and I think technology religion is dangerous in a good products company. You cannot marry yourself to any one technology or way of doing something."

To read the (incredibly lengthy) interview in full, head over to CNET UK.

Read more about: MeeGoSymbianWindows Phone

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9 comments

Pondlife  Apr. 27, 2012 at 18:41

The comments section on there is quite interesting, this guy isn't that popular. With him saying things like this it's understandable

"When I was at Nokia and we shipped a Symbian product and it was bad, in its worst incarnation we knew that if we just flipped the switch, we could move 2.5 to three million units -- overnight, no matter how bad the product," he tells me. "That was Nokia. That was Nokia's brand, we knew we could count on that.

JanSt / MOD  Apr. 27, 2012 at 20:17

The comments section on there is quite interesting, this guy isn't that popular. With him saying things like this it's understandable

"When I was at Nokia and we shipped a Symbian product and it was bad, in its worst incarnation we knew that if we just flipped the switch, we could move 2.5 to three million units -- overnight, no matter how bad the product," he tells me. "That was Nokia. That was Nokia's brand, we knew we could count on that.


Hahaha... #oops

He is right about Elop though - he is a CFO; a glorified accountant - who is unaccountable.
Like those 80s sh*ts who took over Hollywood after a year or two of messing with other people's money on Wall St. No idea about movies; no idea about people... so now we have 200 mil $$$ movies that make 10 mill on opening weekends and then go to DVD...
Just like Nokrosoft through money and free handsets around; hit the Amazon charts for a weekend, to then lose 30% ...

Pondlife  Apr. 27, 2012 at 20:28

Yeah but as one of the guys in charge of s60 on Nokias 2006-9 must be partly responsible for this decline, as Nokia largely did nothing to stop Apple walking in and pushing them aside.
Those were the years that made symbian the laughing stock that everyone still thinks of it as despite it recovering somewhat and Belle being decent enough from what you've said.

JanSt / MOD  Apr. 27, 2012 at 21:00

Yeah but as one of the guys in charge of s60 on Nokias 2006-9 must be partly responsible for this decline, as Nokia largely did nothing to stop Apple walking in and pushing them aside.
Those were the years that made symbian the laughing stock that everyone still thinks of it as despite it recovering somewhat and Belle being decent enough from what you've said.


Well, yes, and no...
Symbian did need a big overhaul, but: in Q4 Nokia's N8 was the best selling smartphone behind the iPhone. And that without the US market.
In the Elop "revolution" in Feb 2011 and the following hoooohaaaa people keep forgetting that. Yes, they had to urgently catch up, but they were holding their ground.
Then MeeGo was to bridge them over to the "new ground", while the E7 was to repeat the success of the E-series.... Elop single-handedly put MeeGo in the bin (we always say MeeGo, but the N9 does not actually run MeeGo; it runs Maemo with a hastily assembled Harmattan on top. )! Deciding to commit to WP by "end of year" meant a severely delayed overpriced buggy E7, and a delayed and eventually unfinished N9.
And while Belle delivered massive improvements, it was delivered in underwhelming hardware - 3.something screens etc... Again: Elop's 2nd mistake: while iOS and Android were catching up in Asia, Elop talked about a commitment to Asia and about the success in India and China. But it seems he believed "those 3rd worldlers" wouldn't find out about 3.5, or 4in+ screens and all that... So, now iDevices are flying off the shelves in China and India loves Android...

This is all very compressed, but they could have held ground with Symbian, while either making a decent couple of actuall MeeGo, or actual Maemo, or, indeed Android devices... Instead they jumped on board the SS M$ that came with an inflatable albatross to a speedboat race..., practically outsourced Symbian to disgruntled soon-to-be Exes, and screwed with the N9/950 for no particular reason, other than, I suspect to not outshine the new BFF MicroSoft...

Pondlife  Apr. 27, 2012 at 21:18

If they'd done more with symbian 2006-9 maybe they wouldn't have had to get this turnip in though.

satchef1  Apr. 27, 2012 at 21:29

Partly responsible? It's the 2005-2010 era that killed Nokia. Guys like Lee Williams trashed the Nokia brand, putting short-term sales ahead of long-term development. Handsets like the 5800, N97 and X6 did a lot to hurt Nokia's brand, services like 'Comes With Music' wasted an awful lot of money while generating barely any revenue. The one great handset that they actually got out during that era, the N900, could have been the start of something positive for the company. Instead they diverted most of the marketing budget to the X6 and wrote the N900 off as being a niche device. Nokia wasted an obscene amount of money on Maemo and Meego development given their reluctance to actually put devices from either platform in to the market and push them to consumers.

Stephen Elop gets a lot of stick on the blogosphere, but sometimes it's good to remember that his predecessors had already put Nokia in the toilet before he arrived. He's doing a crap job of saving the company, but had the right decisions been made in the first place, back when Nokia was still Nokia and not Microsoft's hardware division, none of this would have happened.

Pondlife  Apr. 27, 2012 at 21:31

yeah partly responsible, which is similar to what you said "Guys like Lee Williams trashed the Nokia brand" so they would be another part.

JanSt / MOD  Apr. 28, 2012 at 07:15

satchef,
you are wrong.
Your conclusions, ironically, are based on the posts on blogs, and by hired guns such as Gartners etc...
Until Christmas 2010 Nokia were doing okay. Not growing, but well enough to not panic.
When Elop committed to WP, the first batch of WP devices was already in the bargain bins - 30 to 50 % pricedrops in 3 months.It was MS who "urgently" needed Nokia. Nokia could have focussed on updateing Symbian, and looking for alternatives. Elop said: nah, let's drop everything and make a bunch of WP devices in 7 months....

Research Nokia's ACTUAL performance until February 2011. Or don't...

satchef1  Apr. 29, 2012 at 20:59

Nokia's competitors have proven that they can develop their platforms faster than Nokia. The rise of tablets and other devices exasperated this further, it's no longer just a out smartphones. How are Nokia supposed to catch up when their competitors are advancing faster? Staying still was leading to a slowly declining marketshare (and yes, while sales were up in 2010, marketshare was down. Their competitors sales were increasing a lot faster in a growing market), waiting on another catastrophe to hit them like it did when the iPhone launched. The collapse of the Asian market was inevitable for Nokia. It was certainly accelerated by that 'burning platform' speech, but it would have happened anyway. An influx of OEMs putting out handsets that are more capable than Nokia's Symbian offering, at a similar price point? That was never going to end well.

On your point about pre-2011, I'm curious as to how you figure things were going well. Sales were up 10% in 2010, but that was in a rapidly expanding market. Competitors' sales increased faster, resulting in an overall marketshare drop. There was also the question over how solid the feature phone market actually was/is due to the numbers upgrading to smartphones (where Nokia was losing ground fastest) and the threat that increasingly cheap smartphones presented. They also gave their encumbent CEO the boot and replaced him with someone from outside the company, with less emotional ties to the Nokia legacy, in the hope that that could fix the company. What does that tell you about Nokia's own confidence in their performance pre-2011? Share price at the end of 2010 was $3 down on the start of the year. The high was $15.62 and the low was $8.25. Funnily enough, it was the appointment of a new CEO that caused the share price to rise, giving it further to plummet in 2011. Before this buffer, Nokia were on course to lose over $5 per share that year, around a third of their value. So, in conclusion, Nokia were in a pretty poor state going in to 2011. They didn't have a very good 2010, and due to external factors (mainly their competitors, both on a platform level and on a manufacturing level) were likely to have an even worse 2011.

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