Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Nokia shows some spunk! Down but not out!

Attaboy, Nokia!  I was really disappointed in the rhetoric that Stephen Elop, Nokia's new CEO, presented when he was the new guy.  Nothing about the future, nothing bold, and a distinct feeling of lack of commitment.  It felt like listening to a defeated leader before the war had even begun.  You don't want to follow a guy like that into battle, methinks?

Well, maybe Elop is strictly a behind-the-scenes kind of guy.  Now that would be a little odd, because you want your CEO to be your leader on the frontlines both taking fire and giving commands.  It's why it's a good idea for Roberto Luongo to give up his position as captain of the Vancouver Canucks, so he doesn't need to deal with the public so much, and can instead focus on being a good goalie.  Usually, it's the COO behind the scenes keeping the wheel steady as the ship forges ahead.  But that doesn't mean that the CEO can't be a behind-the-scenes guy.  There are a bunch of examples out there of CEOs content to stay in the background and drive strategy while others have the spotlight.  Often, the CEO is even grooming those people to take his place one day.  Or maybe Elop just wanted to actually get settled at his new gig before he makes any rousing statements he feels he can't back up without first getting a feel of the company and the trust of his employees.  That's possible too.  Perhaps I was too quick to be disappointed (although his executive track record doesn't exactly show him to be an inspiring visionary of visionaries).

Well, who knows.  But I like what I'm hearing from Nokia right now.  At Nokia World 2010, their annual shindig, they seem to have come out firing on all cylinders.  It seems like their Markets EVP, Niklas Savander, was on fire.  Here are the quotes from this particular article I love the best:

"We're not going to apologise for the fact that we're not Apple or Google or anybody else - we're Nokia and we're unique," markets EVP Niklas Savander said.

On location sharing, Savander said over 800 million people will use GPS-enabled phones by 2013. "Soon, everything on the internet will have a location coordinate - 
it is a space that we intend to OWN."

"I recognise that we haven't been as competitive as we want to be in smartphones. Well, that's about to change. Today, we shift in to high gear in Nokia's fightback in smartphone leadership." Nevermind the past, Savander said: "Today is about the here and now, about three words. NOKIA IS BACK."

Dude, them's fighting words.  That's a vision I would follow into battle.  Because this is war.

As for all the fancy stats Savander presented?  Pshaw.  Horse buggies were an amazing business too back in the day.  And horse buggy companies would have had no problem getting capital from banks to expand their business, even shortly after Henry Ford introduced the horseless carriage.  Of course, the music suddenly stopped, and look where horse carriages went.  Current stats mean nothing; trends are far more important, especially market share trends and long-term profitability in business.  Symbian gross sales have been growing, simply due to the growth of the mobile phone market in general, but their overall market share and profits have been dropping.  Never a good sign.  It means their margins are shrinking, especially for the low-end phones, and as I've noted with the Dell example, it's really hard to fight the low-tech, low-margin, high-volume game in the high tech business.

As for the quitting Anssi Vanjoki's comments on how Nokia invented the smartphone?  Give me a break.  Canada invented basketball.  See how much that helps us win the gold medal in basketball at every Summer Olympics, eh?

But I'm still a bit more excited now.  'Cause them's fighting words.  I see a picture in my head of Savander riding a horse waving a sword as he and  remaining troops attempt to assault the Black Gate:

Sons of Gondor, of Rohan, my brothers! 
I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me. 
A day may come when the courage of Men fails 
When we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship 
But it is not this day 
An hour of wolves and shattered shields when the Age of Man comes crashing down 
But it is not this day! 
This day we fight! 
By all that you hold dear on this good earth 
I bid you stand, Men of the West!

As for me, I might ironically end up buying a Nokia phone.  Eventually, I'm going to need a phone to replace this brick I have from the 90s (ironically, also a Nokia), and as I was browsing, I saw a dirt cheap Nokia N95.  Dang, some people still sell those?  Well, it was an awesome phone back in the day.  Here's hoping that Nokia returns to that former glory.  We could always use more competition in the marketplace.

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