Nokia is toast, and here's why

After its torrid year (share price of $2.64 down 60% in 12 months, and down over 90% from its $40 high in 2007), Nokia are rolling out their first reasonable stabs at Windows Phone model (the Lumia series) and the world has responded with a wide yawn. As Andrew Orlowski in The Reg opines:

A Windows Phone is somehow seen as a risky choice, despite (or perhaps even because of) its radical design. The ODMs (original device manufacturers) haven't yet shown us a Windows Phone with a killer feature. WP has sold on the basis of the People Hub, and perhaps this has been oversold a little.
Thing is, Nokia has always made pretty decent hardware. It tended to lead the edge with cameras in the early 2000's, and the Lumias follow in that tradition. Apple's iPhone cameras, to be honest, have been pretty "blah" - it's been the OS and applications built around them which have made the iPhone such a phenomenally successful camera phone. The Androids, tied in well with Google Plus which offers better photo quality than Facebook, and having better cameras, are more of a benchmark for the Lumia. It's a shame that Nokia's staggeringly inept PR department completely messed up the Lumia launch by giving the press a scandal to latch on to, rather than letting them talk about what looks like quite a good image stabilisation system.

Nokia's problem is the Finnish problem - "Not Invented Here" syndrome was invented in Finland. See, for instance, Linus Torvalds and Linux; the difference was that Linus was smart enough to realise when the product became too big for just him, and smart enough not to reinvent everything about an operating system. Nokia, by contrast, wrote its own phone OS (a diabolical mish-mash of C with a plethora of #defines to build a semi-OO message-passing system that caused the phone to lock up and reboot if any app received any message for which it didn't have a registered handler) and firmly resisted any alternatives. I think they only accepted Symbian when it a) became clear that Nokia OS was disappearing up its own backside and b) no-one else was really using Symbian any more. Adopting Windows Phone must have been an extremely bitter pill for them to swallow, and I'm sure their good software guys left in droves.

What Nokia should have done, once iPhone and Android appeared on the scene, was build some serious attempts at mass-market Android phones with Nokia hardware. Throw away most of the Nokia software, start re-pointing their medium-term software dev effort at Android system applications, and complement what they were good at (low-to-medium-end phone hardware) with a decent next-generation phone OS. Instead, they fell like a brick and had to be bailed out in effect by Microsoft, becoming MS's Great White Hope for Windows Phone. No prizes for guessing who's pulling the strings in Nokia's strategic direction.

Eventually they're going to end up a glorified phone hardware manufacturer, just uploading the latest Windows Phone images into their devices. Oh, how the mighty are fallen.

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