I enjoyed reading Anssi Vanjoki's blog post on Nokia's fightback. Nokia does need to fight back - once they were the kings of the mobile phone business - the sort of company where senior executives made world headlines by receiving the largest ever speeding fine
Since then things have gone down hill, in fact if we look at stock price performance from January 2002 (when Anssi got his record fine) Nokia's share price has dropped by 64% - over the same period the Dow Jones index is down just 5%, and Nokia have even underperformed Motorola (who are only down 55% in that time)
It's not just financial performance - consumer perception amongst the mass market for smartphones in Europe has shifted to Apple being the premium brand, technical early adopters are keen on Android devices while competition in the feature phone space from Samsung and LG is very strong - IDC are predicting Nokia will lose their number 1 status in western europe in 2010. This pattern is repeated at a consumer level too - I attended an event yesterday, and for the first time ever noticed that there was not a single Nokia device in the room. 4 years ago this would have been unthinkable - it would have been Nokia phones + corporate provided blackberries. Today it's more blackberries, iPhones and the odd Android phone - a spectacular fall from grace for the once trusted king of the pocket.
So what are Nokia doing about this?In 13 paragraphs Anssi sets out his vision for bringing Nokia back to a leadership position in smartphones.
7 of these paragraphs - that's half of the post discusses Symbian and MeeGo. In just one paragraph does Anssi address the consumer - he says
For consumers, it will mean true computing power in your pocket. Something that can deliver everything you want, but be with you all the time.
As a consumer I wonder what does that mean? What can I _do_ with these devices? In what way will a Nokia device be better, cheaper, faster, longer lasting than a competitor's device?
Nokia seems to have fallen for the engineer's trap of adding features to the platform because they can - rather than focussing on what consumers can do, and repeatedly asking the question "are we doing the best that we possibly could here?"
A year ago I set out a roadmap for Nokia on this blog - I challenged them to create three areas of focus where Nokia have a strategic opportunity to WIN.
Nokia continue to execute around these areas - Text messaging is led by the E series devices, Web is led by the N series devices and Mass market are led by their mobile phones and Ovi services.
As I measure their progress 1 year on, they seem to be falling behind in two of the three areas - the only area that they are being successful in is the Mass market.
To fight back Nokia needs to be brave - and to resist the temptation to add too many features, creating products that are swiss army knives - lots of small, useful tools, when the competitors are wielding specialised, focussed modern that look like lightsabres - you will lose the fight.
Could Nokia recover? Sure - they have the scale, marketing expertise and R&D capacity to win back their position.
Will Nokia recover? I'm less confident here - a cultural change is needed, and they need leadership that is prepared to knock heads together, and upset people, with a clear vision that can be communicated to consumers. This means taking greater risks with their core business, in the recognition that continuing to do what has got them into the position they are today, won't get them out - they need new focus, and clear execution.
Good luck to my Finnish friends.