Nokia on the Road to Hell?

Shareholders are asking the Windows Phone maker to choose a different road, but none are paved with gold

Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms

May 7, 2013

2 Min Read
Nokia on the Road to Hell?

Nokia shareholders are politely asking the Windows Phone maker to pick a new path, not the road to hell it's currently on.

On Tuesday, shareholder Hannu Virtanen told the hell-bound company's CEO Stephen Elop, "You're a nice guy ... and the leadership team is doing its best, but clearly, it's not enough," according to Reuters. He then asked, "Are you aware that results are what matter? The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Please switch to another road."

I think Elop is well aware of the importance of results, but I have to admit that it's easy to wonder if he's lost his way. I was thinking the other day that I hadn't heard a peep from Nokia in quite some time when I saw Microsoft's latest Lumia 920 commercial making fun of the fanboy war between Apple and Samsung. The problem was that I didn't realize it was a Lumia commercial until the very end. All the attention was on Apple and Android.

That's how the market is, too. It seems that Nokia's big Windows Phone push hasn't really been that big at all. The Finnish company sold 5.6 million Lumia handsets in its first quarter, up from 4.4 million in the previous quarter, but only giving it 5 percent market share. (See Euronews: Nokia Devices Still on the Slide.)

The problem is, it's going to be quite hard to "switch to another road" at this point. I do think Nokia is smart to stay on the sidelines of the Apple and Android fight, but it has to find its niche elsewhere. Crawling back to Android is a lost cause -- it's too little, too late. At this point, its options may be to either focus on taking down BlackBerry, a tricky proposition given their relative enterprise offerings, or to become the champion of the cheap phone.

If it can capture the first-time buyers and emerging markets, where it already has inroads, Nokia may have a chance of escaping purgatory. It seems to realize this, as it's holding an event in India on Thursday where it will unveil a low-cost smartphone targeted at emerging markets. It also just appointed a new general manager for China, Erik Bertman, who takes over June 1.

At the same time, Nokia is not giving up on the high end. Its oft-rumored Lumia 928 is expected to come soon to Verizon. (See Nokia Flagship to Sail Onto Verizon in May?)

I don't know if the emerging markets will be enough to save Nokia, but just staying the course doesn't seem like the best move. I wouldn't be as dramatic as Virtanen to say Nokia is headed to hell, but things will certainly get heated where it's going.

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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About the Author(s)

Sarah Thomas

Director, Women in Comms

Sarah Thomas's love affair with communications began in 2003 when she bought her first cellphone, a pink RAZR, which she duly "bedazzled" with the help of superglue and her dad.

She joined the editorial staff at Light Reading in 2010 and has been covering mobile technologies ever since. Sarah got her start covering telecom in 2007 at Telephony, later Connected Planet, may it rest in peace. Her non-telecom work experience includes a brief foray into public relations at Fleishman-Hillard (her cussin' upset the clients) and a hodge-podge of internships, including spells at Ingram's (Kansas City's business magazine), American Spa magazine (where she was Chief Hot-Tub Correspondent), and the tweens' quiz bible, QuizFest, in NYC.

As Editorial Operations Director, a role she took on in January 2015, Sarah is responsible for the day-to-day management of the non-news content elements on Light Reading.

Sarah received her Bachelor's in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She lives in Chicago with her 3DTV, her iPad and a drawer full of smartphone cords.

Away from the world of telecom journalism, Sarah likes to dabble in monster truck racing, becoming part of Team Bigfoot in 2009.

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