When Nokia’s executives meet with members of the press there’s always at least one person who builds up the courage to get out of their chair, grab the microphone, and ask the question that dare not be asked: “What happens if the Windows Phone strategy fails?” Stephen Elop, Nokia’s CEO, has repeatedly said: “Plan B is to make sure that Plan A is very successful.”
Last Thursday, during a television interview that aired in Finland, Nokia’s Chairman, Risto Siilasmaa, said something that was probably not meant to leave the company’s cigar smoke filled boardroom. He told the Finnish broadcaster YLE that Nokia definitely has a contingency plan, though he stressed that there’s a lot of confidence in Windows Phone 8.
Does Risto detail what this “contingency plan” is? No, he doesn’t, which means everyone and their mother is going to publish an article postulating what’s going to happen at some point in 2013 if and when Windows Phone fails to break 5% smartphone market share. Speculating never hurt anyone, so let’s dish out our own predictions.
First, Nokia is going to sell their feature phone unit to a rising Chinese handset company. Said Chinese company will be free to use the Nokia brand for a limited time. IBM made the same sort of deal with Lenovo way back in 2004. Second, Nokia Siemens Networks is going to get acquired, probably by Ericsson. Third, we don’t think Microsoft is going to buy Nokia. Microsoft, with Surface, has shown the world that they frankly don’t give a damn about their hardware partners. Instead, Samsung is best positioned to buy Nokia, not just for their design skills, but also for their patents. How many Samsung products have been banned in the United States because of Apple? Exactly.
We’d like to remind you that Nokia posts their Q2 2012 financial results on July 19th. Expect to hear analysts try and squeeze out what this “plan B” is during the conference call. Nokia will fail to provide a definitive answer, but listening to them struggle to say something coherent is always the most fun part of the Q&A session.