Just in case you thought Nokia had turned a corner... it hasn't

Jul 19, 2013

Does anyone still believe, in their heart of hearts, that the once great company is going to pull out of its nose-dive? Despite all the confident predictions by Nokia, Microsoft and sundry consultants, quarter seems to follow quarter with very little change in the trajectory of Windows Phone and the entire Nokia mobile business, despite the frantic spin-doctoring.

Nokia reports unit sales were up 32 per cent to 7.4 million. So was the average handset selling price - this time last year it was €151, this year €157. But wait... the average selling price between last quarter and this is down. And (fairly crucially) sales (measured by money) is down by 24 per cent because of the continuing collapse of Nokia's feature phone lines. Nokia has therefore reduced its quarterly loss to just €115 million.

Nokia's share price has dived 3 per cent on its latest financial news (how much deeper can it dive before mouth to mouth will be required?).

But fear not. Nokia CEO Stephen Elop has been telling The Guardian newspaper that Nokia took the Windows Phone/Microsoft route as a Samsung avoidance strategy. The analysis was that one company was likely to dominate the Android platform and Samsung's substantial vertical integration put it in pole position. Elop therefore reckoned Nokia had a better chance with operators by building a 'third' ecosystem.

There's a few problems with this version of events - most obviously that, true, many operators weren't and aren't THAT keen on Android because of Google, but boy they aren't that trusting of the intentions of Microsoft either, the owner, let's not forget, of Skype.

Meanwhile, Android is open enough to enable any vendor to customise should they choose to. Amazon, for instance, doesn't seem to have a problem with differentiation after its adoption of Android.

But the killer is: in early 2011 any team of execs with the insight to identify Samsung as the most likely winner in the smartphone stakes two years ahead (Samsung didn't become no 1 phone manufacturer until first quarter of 2012) would surely have identified Windows Phone as the likely loser. Sorry Stephen, you can't have it both ways.

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