Nokia Ex-CEO Admits Failing To Match Apple

Nokia 8Hermann / Pixabay

Nokia Corporation (NYSE:NOK) (BIT:NOK1V) (HEL:NOK1V)’s former chief executive Jorma Ollila is known for making the Finnish company one of the world’s most respectable and most popular brands. But in his autobiography published last week, Ollila talks about what led to the humiliating decline of Nokia Corporation. Jorma Ollila served as Nokia Corporation (NYSE:NOK) (BIT:NOK1V) (HEL:NOK1V)’s CEO from 1992 to 2006. He also acted as chairman of the company between 1999 and 2012.

Nokia Ex-CEO Admits Failing To Match Apple

Nokia failed to identify popular trends

In his book Mahdoton Menestys, or An Impossible Success, Jorma Ollila acknowledged that his company couldn’t match Apple Inc. and failed to compete against dirt-cheap Asian competitors on price. The emergence of iPhones was the biggest threat to Nokia Corporation (NYSE:NOK) (BIT:NOK1V) (HEL:NOK1V). His company failed to identify popular trends including touchscreen and mobile computing. Jorma Ollila also expressed his anger at U.S. telecom operators. He said U.S. telecom companies told Nokia Corporation (NYSE:NOK) (BIT:NOK1V) (HEL:NOK1V) that people were unlikely to buy smartphones with a price tag of more than $300. Later, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) came up with iPhones at much higher price.

Jorma Ollila recognized that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) had launched something entirely new that offered great user experience. It also built an ecosystem of applications and services around customer needs. Nokia Corporation (NYSE:NOK) (BIT:NOK1V) (HEL:NOK1V) failed to build its own ecosystem. In the same book, Ollila also revealed that Stephen Elop was not the first choice of Nokia Corporation (NYSE:NOK) (BIT:NOK1V) (HEL:NOK1V)’s board to become the company’s chief executive.

Nokia ruined plans to build its own ecosystem

However, Forbes contributor Haydn Shaughnessy believes that Nokia Corporation (NYSE:NOK) (BIT:NOK1V) (HEL:NOK1V) did have capabilities to challenge Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL). It was more about arrogance and reluctance. Mr. Shaughnessy interviewed Lee Williams in 2008-09. Lee Williams was given the responsibility to revitalize Nokia Corporation (NYSE:NOK) (BIT:NOK1V) (HEL:NOK1V)’s Symbian operating system. Williams had plans to open source its OS to create Symbian Foundation. The Finnish company had planned to create an ecosystem of leading manufacturers using Symbian Foundation to challenge Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG).

But Nokia Corporation (NYSE:NOK) (BIT:NOK1V) (HEL:NOK1V) management didn’t support the Symbian Foundation and its ecosystem. That sent a negative signal to other participants of the Foundation’s ecosystem including AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T), Vodafone Group Plc (NASDAQ:VOD) (LON:VOD), Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (LON:BC94) (KRX:005930), Motorola Mobility Holdings LLC (NYSE:MMI) and many others. Nokia Corporation (NYSE:NOK) (BIT:NOK1V) (HEL:NOK1V) called a Group Executive Board meeting to work out the future platform strategy. The company ignored Williams’ inputs about the ecosystem. Lee Williams said there were people in the company who thought they had the power to make decisions on behalf of all the participants of the ecosystem. According to Williams, those key decision makers were determined to reject the Symbian ecosystem.

Nokia Corporation (NYSE:NOK) (BIT:NOK1V) (HEL:NOK1V) shares tanked 2.10% to $7 at 10:50 AM EDT.

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About the Author

Vikas Shukla
Vikas Shukla has a strong interest in business, finance, and technology. He writes regularly on these topics. - He can be contacted by email at or on Twitter @VikShukla10

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