Microsoft did today its last step to extinguish Nokia as we knew it forever. What the company did was to dismiss the two last surviving members of Nokia’s leadership team to retain positions following Microsoft’s takeover. Of course I am talking about the former CEO of Nokia (and most controversial person in Finland), Stephen Elop and Jo Harlow. They both had turned into Microsoft’s VPs after Nokia was bought out by Microsoft and this relationship came to an end today.
Elop, who was a former Microsoft employee before being set as the new Nokia’s CEO, has been considered by the Finnish people as the trojan horse of Microsoft which was desperately looking for a company to buy knowledge and experience in mobile technology in order to compete straight with Apple and Google, and there was no better target than Nokia.
That was so, not only because Nokia had that great amount of experience and patents in mobile technology, but also because it was the most vulnerable company with this size in the market.
Two fates joined in one
When the iPhone hit the market back in 2007, the whole mobile industry had to catch up with the new leader, Apple. Nokia did all the wrong steps to become from the indisputable leader of the market for decades, into the last company of the market in just a couple of years after the memorable presentation of the first iPhone by Steve Jobs.
I will never forget the reaction of the former Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer, laughing hard when a journalist asked him about the first iPhone a few days after its announcement. He said that this phone would never beat Microsoft’s mobile software dominance and that he was not worried at all.
A few years later he has looking to acquire another ignorant company which was still producing phones with plastic keyboards, years after touch screens were the «new black» of the market. Not to mention the old fashioned, low powered Symbian OS that Nokia seemed unwilling to drop behind its back and adopt a newer, most competitive OS, like Android.
The unwillingness of Nokia and the arrogance of Microsoft suddenly brought them together, despite their differences as company models. Like a marriage which had to be done even though the two partners didn’t match or even like each other.
Three years after the acquisition none of the two companies achieved their goals (so far). Nokia never made it with its android os based tablet comeback and nowadays is considered as a local company of Finland, with its chief designer now playing in a band, and Microsoft is so far behind its goals about creating great high-end smartphones that will be able to compete with Apple and Google flagship phones, feeling like it has also acquire the «unwillingness for change» of Nokia apart from the knowledge.
The other way
Should have ended this way for Nokia? My answer is no, and I can support my argument on a single word and that is: Motorola.The american company was acquired by Google which followed a completely different model of ownership. Google refreshed and rebranded Motorola by changing its logo and launching a flagship high-end smartphone (Moto X) and a mid-end model (Moto G) followed by Moto E later on with a very low cost, setting new standards of expectation for what a good Android phone could do at a given price and size. For a brief moment in time, we saw what a hardware company could do when it had the financial muscle of a caring yet permissive parent. So who knows how the things would have evolve for Nokia if Microsoft had followed a Google-like strategy.
Adaptation is the magic word for a market like that. We saw before our eyes a great company like Nokia, which was a leader for years in the mobile phones market, and that created unforgettable phones, such as the 3310 and N97 to be sold into a competitor and be completely vanished today. So if I could describe each company with a different word, that would be «memories» for Nokia and «expectations» for Microsoft.
The war in technology is on the rise. Those who will chose the best weapons and adapt to the conditions will be the only winners.