The Finnish mobile device manufacturer is drifting majestically down the Swannee nailed to its perch and squawking "the strategy is sound, I will not be moved" as it flushes itself down the U-bend to Cloud-Cuckoo Land. By Martyn Warwick.
So here we have it, a few columns of figures that chart the almost certainly irrevocable demise of Nokia. Where can it go from here? Never mind the CEO's "burning platform" metaphor, the entire ocean is ablaze now and while an Elop belly-flop to immolation might delight shareholders and the Finnish public, it's a terrible shame to see the mess the company has got itself into with no apparent way out of it.
Look at the evidence. Sales down 25 per cent, an operating loss of perilously close to half a billion euros, shipments of smartphones down by 33 per cent and a management so blind to reality that it comes across as almost wilful complicity in the destruction of a once great company.
And we're not talking about annual performance here, this is just Q2, 2011. Quarters 3 and 4 will equally dire. Believe it or not, the Q2 figures, desperately bad though they are, would have been even worse were it not for the fact that Apple paid Nokia a one-off €430 million to settle a long drawn-out patent spat.
Nokia is betting its continued existence on the Windows Phone operating system. When finally, it actually manages to produce such a handset, I suggest they call it the 'Thanatos' range because this company surely has a death wish. Since when did putting all your eggs in a Microsoft basket guarantee success? Answer? Never.
And while the company turns in on itself and spends the majority of its time and resources on a strategy that makes little, if any, sense, Nokia's competitors are taking market share and producing state-of-the art handsets that people actually want to use.
Stephen Elop, Nokia's current alpha male, says the challenges and problems facing the company as "greater than expected." No shit, Sherlock? The entire company is in freefall but Elop actually has the brass neck to claim that he is having "a positive effect on the underlying health of the business". Once can but presume that this is irony. The fact is that the CEO is the Typhoid Mary of Telecoms.
Here's the reality. Nokia's Devices and Services division, the main driver of the company's profit, reported a Q2 loss of sales of 20 per cent. Handset sales in China and the greater Asian market fell by 30 per cent.
In Europe they dropped by 23 per cent and in North America by a staggering 61 per cent! In terms of unit shipments, smartphones were down by 34 per cent from the same quarter a year ago while feature phones were down by 16 per cent. It can't go on.
In China, where Nokia had built up "too much inventory" handset prices were cut to the bone but outlets literally couldn't give them away.
Stephen Elop says the results are "clearly disappointing". The man is a master of the art of understatement and also seemingly in complete denial. How else can you explain this? “We are making better-than-expected progress towards our strategic goals. I am optimistic about the Windows Phone potential in the long term”. He must be the only person on the planet who is.
Nokia has painted itself into a corner by abandoning Symbian (a genuine differentiator) and ignoring the power and potential of Android. If it could design and manufacture a smartphone that could genuinely rival the iPhone whilst doing away with all the restrictive little bits and pieces that effectively make iPhone users subservient to the to the dictatorial whims of that nice Mr. Jobs, it could be on to a winner - but that's not going to happen.
The decline in Nokia's share price accelerated when Mr. Elop was parachuted into the company and announced the 'partnership' with Microsoft (the company he'd just left). They are now worth half what they were in February this year.
Nokia used to command a 40 per cent share of the mobile handsets market. Next week Samsung will reveal its latest figures. They will be rather better than Nokia's. Indeed, it is confidently expected that the South Korean manufacturer will leapfrog over Apple to take first place in the global ratings and Nokia, (already well behind Apple) will be pushed down to third place in the pecking order with nowhere else to go from there but backwards. What a mess.
And what does CEO Elop say? That his new strategy for destruction has "introduced ambiguity".
Oh, I don't know about that. if the real strategy is for Microsoft to get a mole into a position of power at Nokia, then abandon tried and tested platforms in favour of WP7 resulting in a huge crash in confidence, decimated sales and loss of investor value - it's playing out pretty darned well.
Next it could be a forced sale of Nokia IPR and patents to Microsoft, the complete collapse of the Finnish company and Mr. Elop's triumphant return to the mothership parked up in Redmond. Mission accomplished.
Far-fetched? I don't think so.
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