Jason Hiner suggests that Elop is not the frontrunner for Ballmer’s replacement. Why? First, he failed disastrously at Nokia losing billions and laying off 20,000. Second, Hiner says that the next CEO should be all about the enterprise.
Jason Hiner, The case against Stephen Elop as Microsoft CEO
Two Wall Street analysts — Ben Thompson and Benedict Evans — are already questioning whether Microsoft actually bought Nokia because Nokia was threatening to stop making Windows Phones, and not because Microsoft wanted Elop.
Just a quibble: If Elop and the Nokia board pulled that off, hats off to them. And don’t forget the remaining Nokia still has the right to make phones, so maybe they’ll start building Android phones now.
Another factor that works against Elop as CEO is that about 10 of Microsoft’s 16 separate billion dollar businesses are now enterprise businesses. The company needs an enterprise leader, as I wrote in the Monday Morning Opener. Elop has limited enterprise experience, other than a stint as a CIO earlier in his career and a one-year tour at Juniper Networks. He has mostly worked with end user applications at Lotus, Macromedia, and Microsoft, where he primarily oversaw Microsoft Office. Elop technically ran “business” software at Microsoft, but it was not the kind of back-end cloud infrastructure that is destined to dominate Microsoft’s future, mostly centered around Azure.
Officially, Microsoft announced Elop will now run the company’s Devices and Studios business unit, which will be beefed up with the addition of 32,000 Nokia employees. The question we should be asking is whether this move indicates that there is another shoe still waiting drop.
Yes, the other shoe would be making Elop CEO of Microsoft (or maybe President for a year, then CEO). That may be the board’s plan.
Is Microsoft planning to put its healthy, high-margin enterprise businesses at the center of the company and spin off its low-margin consumer businesses into a new venture? Making Elop the CEO of that spin-off (which would likely include phones, tablets, and Xbox) would at least make more sense than Elop as the CEO of the enterprise-heavy Microsoft as we know it today.
I think that the Azure cloud computing business at Microsoft is *not* the future for the business. That is a battleground with a bunch of other lumbering dinosaurs — HP, IBM, Cisco — chasing Amazon and never getting close. At present Azure is principally the platform used by Microsoft for its own cloud efforts, like Office 365.
The future of Microsoft is exactly the “end user” oriented enterprise software that Elop has experience with. I’m not arguing he is the best candidate, but wondering what the board is likely to do.
I maintain that spinning off the low margin consumer business would be a smart move, but I doubt the board is headed there. They are going to give another big push on the current devices and services business plan, and perhaps lose another $20B before whoever the new CEO is gets fired. Say it’s Elop, just as a strawman. Mid 2014, the board finally decides to give up on the consumer market after another year of mounting losses on Surface tablets and Nokia phones. That’s when they will finally become an enterprise software company, and spin off and shut down the rest.
Email yesterday from Plazes (Nokia, now), announcing they’re shutting down the service, one of the pioneers in the geomobile check-in arena. Just another example of a big company trying to buy into a new market, and screwing it up. Of course, the Plazes guys really stalled the company’s trajectory in 2007 with a terrible redesign, but — like Dopplr — a bunch of interesting ideas and smart designers were scooped up by Nokia, who failed to do anything with them at all.
Nokia’s declining fortunes lead to it’s bonds being rated as junk, after falling to No 2 mobile phone maker, behind Samsung:
S.&P. Downgrades Nokia’s Bonds to Junk - Brian X Chen via NYTimes.com
S.& P.’s announcement came as Samsung dethroned Nokia as the world’s No. 1 maker of mobile phones, which includes traditional cellphones and smartphones. Samsung sold 92 million phones over the last quarter, and Nokia sold 83 million, according to estimates by IHS iSuppli, the research firm. It is the first time since 1998 that Nokia is not the No. 1 phone maker in the world.
In the smartphone category, Nokia slips to third place behind Apple, the leader with 35 million phones shipped, and Samsung, with 32 million devices, according to iSuppli. In that category, Nokia is slipping faster than Research in Motion, the maker of the BlackBerry. The smartphone segment is the only part of the handset market that is showing any growth.
Nokia’s long-term rating was dropped to a noninvestment rating, BB+, from the investment-grade rating BBB–, with a negative outlook, S.& P. said. Its short-term rating dropped to B from A-3, S.& P. said.
Nokia has been struggling to reverse its declining fortunes with its Lumia smartphones, which include Microsoft’s newer operating system, Windows Phone 7. In the United States, AT&T and Nokia have been aggressively promoting the Lumia 900, a $100 smartphone that has been a strong seller on Amazon.com.
Trying to be the world’s leading maker of Windows mobile phones is like being the world’s tallest midget.
Matt Brian, Microsoft Paid Nokia $250m for Windows Phone Use via TNW
Looks like Nokia won’t hit the bottom and bounce, but will become part of Samsung. Why didn’t Elop sell to Microsoft to begin with, when Nokia was worth something?
I was part of the Nokia Bloggers program for several years, and I am unsurprised that Nokia has shed 75 percent of its market value in the past 4 years. I was in Barcelona at the World Mobile Congress in ‘08 when Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo gave a lackluster talk about Nokia’s plans, and his contempt for the iPhone was evident. I knew then they were doomed.
Peter Burrowes, Stephen Elop’s Nokia Adventure*
Nokia’s initial reaction to the iPhone is the most embarrassing example of what went wrong. When Steve Jobs unveiled the device in January 2007, “it was widely disregarded,” says former manager Dave Grannan, who now runs Burlington (Mass.)-based voice recognition company Vlingo. “The attitude was that we’d tried touchscreens before, and people didn’t like them.” It had no multimedia messaging (MMS) capability. The reception and sound quality were poor. It couldn’t be used with one hand. There was nothing to fear.
As iPhone sales took off, Nokia remained strangely detached, say a dozen current and former executives. The company didn’t sit still, exactly. It opened its own app store, Ovi—but never put marketing muscle behind it. With no runaway hit like the iPhone, app developers largely ignored it. When Elop euthanized the Ovi brand name on May 16, it had 50,000 apps; Apple had 500,000. “It was an ignorant complacency, not an arrogant complacency,” says Nokia human resources head Juha Akras.
Whichever variety, complacency was rampant, and it left Nokia particularly vulnerable to Android. While Apple cleaned up the high end of the market, Google flooded the low and middle by giving away its sophisticated software to all of Nokia’s handset rivals. Nokia executives seemed content trumpeting their success selling marginally profitable low-end phones in Asia, until Android’s smartphone share flew from 4 percent to 23 percent in 2010. Says Elop: “It’s often hard to see a challenger when you’re dominant, but what happened with Android was faster than anything we’ve ever seen.”
This is going to be the biggest train wreck ever. Compares with Google fumbling the ball on social, but that hasn’t actually driven Google out of business, which is what Kallasvuo and Elop have done.
A year ago I wrote this about Nokia:
Stowe Boyd, Nokia: The General Motors Of Phones?
They are the leading producer of cell phones in the world, but at one point GM was the largest producer of automobiles. Like GM, they are confronted with a span and scope issue: should they pour their time and money into a few niches and build highly differentiated products? Or should they continue to have many product lines, leveraging production scale and common platform components?
GM is going to be down to Cadillac, Chevrolet, and GMC Trucks before too long, selling off or closing down a long list of brands.
Could Nokia specialize at the high end, like the very best camera phones? (I talked to them about a line with interchangeable high quality lenses, but they haven’t gone there.) There is certainly a growth area there, and they have invested heavily in services for social sharing of images and videos.
Or should they focus on the low-end, and become the Toyota or Honda?
Or develop breakthroughs in modular phones, where people can roll their own, upgrading different elements of the phone independently of the others?
At any rate, I think they need to pick and focus, or they will find their future defined by the choices that others make.
A rumor, but one that makes sense. I suggested at the time that Nokia announced it was dropping Symbian that it should be acquired by Microsoft if it was going that way. Actually could increase the value of the Skype deal, and vice versa.
Note that Microsoft is retrenching into a (enterprise) mobile communications business, since it lost its way in so many other places. Why doesn’t it buy RIM, too?
The Canadian technology icon has bet a lot on its new device – the PlayBook tablet. Failure could make the company a historical footnote.
The PlayBook is a part of the blueprint for taking RIM deeper into the consumer market, as well as finding growth in its traditional base of government and corporate clients. It’s an audacious strategy. If it succeeds, RIM just might regain the ground it has lost in the smart phone market, while finding new sources of revenue. And one day the PlayBook may come to replace the universal remote control, as the tablet already has done in Mr. Lazaridis’s own living room.
But if the strategy fails, then arguably so does RIM. At the very least, it would relegate it to No. 3 status for a long time to come, a poor cousin to Apple and Google – two companies that five years ago were not even in RIM’s business of wireless communications. It would also damage Canada’s prospects for a more innovative economy.
I am betting that RIM’s PlayBook will be a huge bomb, and will crater the company’s future as an independent. I could see Microsoft buying them for a nickel afterward, and making RIM just some software that works on Microsoft — and Mokia — phones.
Considering that Nokia has basically handed over its future to Microsoft, why didn’t they actually sell themselves? Instead, they have become a "puppet state" as MG Siegler calls it.
The rumors of Microsoft wanting to acquire Nokia has been going on for a long while, and the recent crash of the stock in the market suggests that analysts and investors see this capitulation as a negative for Nokia. Would the stock have fallen in a buyout? I don’t think so. So, at least in the short term, Elop’s plan is a disaster for Nokia shareholders, and a free gift to Microsoft.