Nokia has no plan B after Windows Phone 7

The Nokia Widnows Phone 7 deal made headlines on all major blogs when it was announced. It’s been a few months, and CNBC interviewed CEO Stephen Elop on TV late last week for an update. The interview talked about everything from how long until we see a Windows Phone from them, in what numbers will we see them, and what they might look like.

The CEO answered every question confidently and when asked about alternatives if Windows Phone doesn’t pan out, Elop went so far to say “Plan B is to make sure that Plan A is very successful.” That’s what true dedication is, and it seems Nokia feels that they will either succeed with Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 or die trying.

Nokia’s market share once was a force to be reckoned with. They once controlled 40% of all phones in circulation, and a greater percentage in the smartphone market. Now their market share is quickly falling behind companies like Apple and HTC, who make high-selling and extremely popular devices. Market share is not the only thing that’s falling behind; sales for Nokia devices have reached an all time low. They’ve been experiencing a loss in profits since iPhone and Android-based devices came onto the scene in late 2007. Now they’re making a last stand with Windows Phone.

With all that said, Nokia has had many meetings with Microsoft’s CEO and the Windows Phone 7 development team, so they most likely know where this is going. The company has condemned Android on many occasions, and so if this plan A fails, Android is certainly not going to be their plan B, unless Mr. Elop wants to lose all credibility or get replaced.

Here’s a short snippet from the interview:

Griffeth: Here’s the question I have, Mr. Elop. As you transition from the Symbian platform – the operating system you’ve had for so many years there – to the Windows operating system, you are already scaling back research and development. Trying to cut costs as you make this transition. But you’re making the transition to an operating system that’s been used for handsets for ten years and has failed to gain traction at this point against the likes of an Apple or Android. I guess my first question to is, you know what if it doesn’t gain traction? These new Windows phones that you’re going to bring to market later this year? You’re already abandoning Symbian for down the road? What’s Plan B if this doesn’t work?

Elop: Plan B is to make sure that Plan A is very successful. The critical ingredient for success are there, consumers are saying the Windows brand operating system is very good. Better in terms of their satisfaction than the competing platforms, but Microsoft hasn’t had a partner doing its best work for Windows Phone. That’s the commitment Nokia made through this processor. By bringing together our hardware, software and services assets with the strengths that Microsoft brings, we have a formula we believe will drive great success.

Anyone looking forward to buying a Nokia phone that runs Windows Phone 7 when it’s released? Do you think they are going to have the same quality as their previous phones?
[via CNBC]

  • Why should Nokia have a Plan B?

    Did Apple have a Plan B when they launched the iPhone? Did Google have a Plan B when they launched Android?

    Having a Plan B smacks of failure and shows a lack of conviction – something I don’t think Stephen Elop’s harshest critics could accuse him of.

    A Plan B tells the world you are preparing to fail because you failed to prepare – again, something no-one can accuse Nokia of doing; they’ve had more than enough time to prepare for this…

    • Anonymous

      Well stated!

    • Wen

      Actually Google and Apple did have plan B’s. If they failed, it wouldn’t change the fact that Apple is wrecking the computer market with their premium computers. If Google failed, they would still have their other growing software market and so they both have plan B’s. Nokia, not so much because the dumb phone market is shrinking as smartphones take the lead.

      • Those aren’t plan Bs

        • Wen

          sorry, they are plan A and their phone involvements was just plan them throwing their sausage in the ring and seeing what happens.

          • Disagree.

            Apple and Google knew that they had to engage in Mobile to survive as tech companies. Throwing their hat in the ring (or sausage, for that matter!) was never an option.

            They had to go into this to Win Big. They had their plans for at least the next ten years mapped out well in advance because they knew computing was ‘going mobile’. They had to do more than compete to survive – they had to dominate.

            If Apple or Google had failed in Mobile they would’ve failed in the computing industry – because computing is going Mobile in a big way. In future, far less people will be dependent on desktop or even laptop-type devices.

            So I ask again: what were Apple’s or Googles alternatives to iOS or Android – what were there ‘Plan B’s?

            The answer is that there were none.

      • Those are not Plan B’s in relation to their mobile policy. Nokia also have other business interests away from smartphone revenue – that doesn’t make falling back on those products & services a Plan B – it would make it a failure.

        All sorts of tech ventures fail for all sorts of reasons- see my post above.

        If Apple’s iOS or hardware had failed they had no Plan B to enable them to succeed in Mobile, and neither did Google with Android – unless you know something about alternative OS’s they never released..?

        It could be argued that Nokia have had too many Plan B’s in the past and that has been part of their recent fall; If one phone model didn’t gain traction, it’s close sister might well succeed. If Maemo (and then Meego) didn’t succeed, they could fall back on good old Symbian. The trouble is, they failed to maintain Symbian as a competitive and compelling User Experience so when they needed it the most it was not in good shape at all…

        Nokia have had to work like crazy to bring Symbian up to a standard where it can compete with iOS and Android in terms of usability and enjoyability; the Anna update will go a long way toward this, but we won’t see Symbian in really good shape until Bella arrives.

        That’s what you get from having too many Plan B’s – and that’s why big Tech companies don’t usually have them.

    • Guest

      Apple’s Plan B: Keep doing the same business you’ve been doing for the previous 20+ years, and continue their positive growth tangent. 

      Google’s Plan B: Keep doing search/advertising which provides more than 95% of profit, I doubt Android even makes a direct profit.

      Nokia’s Plan B:?

      When companies change their core revenue strategy they need a hedging strategy (Plan B). Samsung sells phones with WP7/Android/Bada, LG sells phones with WP7/Android, HTC sells phones with WP7/Android, Dell sells phones with WP7/Android, are you noticing a trend here? Also for a company to adopt a mobile platform with roughly 1.6% marketshare last quarter, a Plan B is probably a good idea.

      So why wouldn’t they just sell a WP7 and an Android phone? Common people is it really that hard to see, obviously Elop is trying to save WP7 for Microsoft. If Nokia sold an Android phone and a WP7 phone obviously the Android phone would kill the WP7 phone in sales and WP7 would effectively be dead, duh.

      • Those examples are not ‘Plan B’s;

        A ‘Plan A’ for Apple could read: ‘We will develop and market our own brand-exclusive device and OS and it will be successful’ A Plan B would be something like: ‘If Plan A does not succeed we will adopt an existing OS or sell/licence our OS to manufacturers for their devices’ Of course this fictitious Plan B could never exist – certainly not for Apple…

        A ‘Plan B’ looks to salvage something out of a venture or provide an alternative to achieve the same goal.

        When you take the family out on a sunny day your goal – your own ‘Plan A’ is to have a good time, not necessarily to go to the beach or the country park – those secondary goals are  subservient to your prime mission; your ‘Plan A’. If it rains, you could take the family to the cinema – now THAT’s a Plan B to your secondary goals, but not to your prime mission. There can be no Plan B to having a good day – the alternative is failure.

        If you jack your job in to open your own store with limited resources you HAVE to have a Plan B because you need to feed the family and pay the mortgage – you NEED the safety net of a ‘Plan B’. As individuals we are concerned with safety and security. This is the reason so few of us excel – we frequently are too scared to take the risk (and rightly so for much of the time).

        When Apple and Google decided to enter Mobile, there were no Plan B’s. When companies this big embark on a course of action, success is pretty much guaranteed – they throw all the necessary resources at it to ensure it WILL be a success. Usually. The only uncertainties are how big and how successful it will become – that is down to the market to decide.

        Of course, not all ventures succeed; Microsoft had a recent failure with Kin and Nokia failed to develop Meego fast enough to get it to market. Sometimes the effort is not enough, the resources are insufficient, the implementation is wrong, competition too fierce or the timing is just wrong. But there are no Plan B’s in big business.

        Nokia also have business interests outside of smartphones (for example Nokia Siemens networks – reportedly soon to be sold) They are the world’s biggest manufacturer of dumb and featurephones – by a long, long way. If Nokia’s move to Windows Phone fails it might take down the whole company – but I doubt it.

        By teaming up with Microsoft and synergising with other smartphone manufacturers Nokia have a far better chance in the market place than if they persisted in developing their own home-cooked OS’s – something they have demonstrably not excelled at for quite some time. They have a wealth of experience in building the highly successful Ovi services suite and they have mapping, location, radio and technology assets that will bring added value to Windows Phone.

        I remember reading somewhere that Nokia even makes a few dollars from every iPhone sold because of the technology licensed out to Apple! 

        These assets are what distinguish Nokia from Motorola, HTC and Samsung. That’s why adopting Android was always the lesser option for Nokia – their assets would compete with existing technologies within Android and ultimately be rejected. Can you really see Google allowing Nokia to sell Nokia Maps on Android Market??

  • Rikki77

    Plan B: Bought by M$ 🙂

  • i would hate to see Nokia fail. they are like GM in the car industry, an iconic brand that have been there very very long. Nokia needs to reinvent themselves and i thought MeeGo would have been it, but they chose Windows Phone 7. hope they can pull it off

  • Anonymous

    Think its well known by now that they have a plan B and C.

    Not that you would expect Elop to state that publicly, plus Elop is not the board, who may have different ideas in the pipeline. And they say journalism is dead..

  • savy

    Why nokia is so blind and deaf until now, second best is a good path to fail. Hope they can see their problem. I’m used to be a big fan of nokia but they are just doing badly recently. I lost my patient. 

  • Anonymous

    I truly hate Elop and Windows Phone. Nokia lost its soul.

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