Tag: Nokia

Ralf HallerRalf Haller February 13, 2011

“Europe cannot do high-tech” and other tales from the NOKIA story

Europa kann kein High-Tech, glauben Investoren, das hätten die vergangenen Jahre gezeigt.

writes the FAZ about the Nokia “merger” with Microsoft is what analysts say. Since the German newspaper FAZ does not publish comments in case you criticize anything they write ( I tried 3-4 times and they never published my comments :-) ) I write a little bit about this here. If that simplified statement would be true question is will that deficiency influence other non-high-tech industries sooner or later as well when these industries will become more competitive, faster moving and overall less predictable? I think so.

“Nokia is the victim of its own success” is another tale people tell and you can read about in the FAZ article. I don’t think that describes either the situation. What really has happened is that Nokia like many Western European companies are trapped in a state somewhere in between a very hierarchical (Apple, yes, even if it does not appear from the outside), process-oriented and a very open (Google) environment. As it turns out this state is inferior to these two other setups leading to long decision-making and at the end not better but only soso products coming out late even. It is easier to focus on process optimization and live the illusion that this would be all that is needed to be successful. Process optimization is something anybody can do nowadays and is doing (also Chinese firms). Being able to move fast and use the input of many smart people to find new ideas and implement these ideas first in the market is more difficult to do though also because it requires management that understands this and supports such environments. Which company can truly say that they are in a position to quickly collect the accumulated ideas from employees, customers and partners? Most companies still have the idea box based on false principles that originated from 1880. Putting an idea box into a web portal does not make it a more effective though and changes anything. It remains an unused “tool”.

I tried to sell to NOKIA a few times technology and visited them in Espoo. What I experienced there was an environment where people were scared to take new approaches and rather did not pursue new ideas at all. Also I always had the feeling there is a Finnish group of guys that hardly communicate with each other and even have a harder time to communicate to outsiders – like myself.

To me the Nokia case should be a last warning for many many complacent other companies showing them that things will turn bad for them quickly too if they only focus on process optimization and don’t think in idea and inovation management.

What happens to Nokia will now be determined in the next 2 years or so. I think they have a chance even if this first step was maybe not something the majority of bloggers and pundits consider as a smart move. Once again a few people were asked in Nokia (the new CEO and his peers) and made a decision. When is Nokia starting to ask its employees, customers and partners what it would take to change and be successful again? I hope for them they do that finally NOW.

BTW, I think also the FAZ should change their attitudes and let people voice their thoughts freely and comment on their site even if these thoughts are not in line with their content. This would help them write better articles that more people read, can take serious and probably more people are willing to pay for too.

Ralf HallerRalf Haller March 18, 2010

NOKIA asks everyone to help design a better phone

When I read this in a Twitter post I thought, “Wow, finally they get it and try to do something good and different to fight back.” Well, big was the disappointment then when I checked out their blog and Design by Community announcement. Very disappointing, very. This community campaign once more lacks any thought and preparation. Simply bad. I can’t believe that a company the size of NOKIA constantly screws things up so badly. They need help urgently but I fear for them that they won’t admit it.

Ralf HallerRalf Haller December 22, 2009

Biggest corporate R&D investors

I was quite surprised when I saw this chart today as there are a few companies in this top ten list of biggest corporate R&D investors that I would not have expected. I expected Toyota there, the Swiss pharmaceutical companies Roche and Novartis but for sure not GM and Ford. Guess they kept it a secret what they all do with this huge amount of R&D money. Also surprising was Nokia being ranked second even. Also here the pure amount of the investments says nothing about its quality and success.

Ralf HallerRalf Haller February 2, 2009

NOKIA to protect itself against espionage with e-mail screening?

Looks like ever since Nokia closed down its mobile phone manufacturing plant in Bochum, Germany, whatever the Finnish company does that looks only slightly controversial, the German public jumps at it vigorously.

This just happened once again in German’s IT portal Heise Online (where comments on news articles are well known for being quite direct and often aggressive, using vulgar language as well). A news article saying that Nokia was pushing the Finnish government to pass a law that would allow it to screen e-mails of its employees generated 400 — mostly hate — comments on Heise Online.

While Nokia won’t make the masses in Germany their friends anymore, also due to the way they handled the closure of the mobile phone plant, I think they should have the right to screen e-mails for suspicious recipients such as competitors’. Espionage by Chinese companies is big. Huawei in particular is known to have copied Cisco routers one-to-one, incl. all its manuals and of course bugs as well. They also copied Ericsson’s GSM network elements and are now only replacing SW parts with their own developments as I heard from some insider sources.

That Nokia seems to have similar issues with Huawei is not surprising. To think though that they could protect themself by screening e-mails I think is a bit naive. Someone stealing design insights would hardly use company e-mails to do so.

Ralf HallerRalf Haller January 21, 2009

No News: Nokia and Securitas to offer security services on mobiles

This announcement two days ago could be interesting.  Still this news has not really triggered any comments at all on the tech blogs, everybody from Engadget, Phone Scoop, phone Arena, Unwired View, ZDET etc. only repeated the press release content and all you can read as a “comment” was, “do you feel saver already?” or “Nokia has not announced any pricing yet”.

On Securitas‘ website I could not find anything at all. The last press release is from Dec 29, which looks like that they are still on vacation.

This is a classical example of how to NOT do a press release. If you have nothing to say then you should not try to say something in a press release and waste money and time. How much more powerful could this have been by showing a practical use case, having quoted a client, show some pictures or videos that go along with it etc. etc. and of course use online marketing and PR as well.

Nokia is in the tech market quite an old-style company with not much sex or any appeal. If they continue with this it will be easy for the Apple’s of the world to beat such a company who excels in one only: producing the world’s lowest COGS mobile phones.

If you meet them tell them please, as someone needs to wake them up I think. :-)

Ralf HallerRalf Haller December 31, 2008

Opinion: Time to reboot Europe too?

While America reflects currently intensely on what went wrong and coverages can be found like Bits of Destruction, Time to Reboot America, that talk about what needs to be done in the U.S. and what should not be done (e.g. bail out old style industries such as GM etc.), I asked myself if Europe should also be rebooted or if we are in better shape? In general we are in better shape (sorry to be so direct, friends and family in the US). Although health care, pension funds and general education systems have big issues too, we are not in the same disastrous situation as the US. But we do face some serious problems, too, and what worries me is that I do not see much happening right now to counteract it.

While Europe excelled in old style industries such as automobiles (which are now facing lots of problems), it seems to be a much smaller player in IT, Internet and – data-communications. So is that perception based on reality or just what we read and see every day? Let’s first look at what I experience daily – and I might not be so untypical, I would think.

Lenovo laptop used. OK, this is a shared China-US domain. Now Lenovo is a China-based company, manufacturing is done in China but I think still designed in the US. Lots of components are from US companies like Intel CPU, NVIDIA video processor and the Windows operating system. The software I am using is mainly a US domain too: Mozilla Firefox, Seamonkey e-mail client, Microsoft Office, online calendar, web collaboration, VoIP (Skype is US owned now), web presentation, photo sharing, online CRM; Ok I think you’ve got the picture (for the record: my security software is from Europe).

Now let’s look at my mobile connectivity: Apple iPhone, Samsung D600. Sorry, Opera guys, but you do not show up, although you need to be mentioned here as the number one mobile browser vendor. Noteworthy is one of the biggest success stories here though: ARM, the Intel of mobile phones and of course Nokia – who will face quite some challenges from Apple mainly.

Things look a little bit different, though, behind the scenes. While my Swisscom last-mile provider is definitely a Cisco shop, they work with Nokia Siemens and Alcatel-Lucent I think for the mobile infrastructure. OK, here we are still present but Chinese guys are on our heels (Huawei and ZTE).

So overall, a mostly lost game, although things look a bit more friendly in business software with many local “no-name” players and SAP as a powerhouse even now. Of course Oracle, HP and IBM are rolling up the little players here, too, and will do so more in 2009.

Looking at the above, while we do not have the same problems with basic infrastructure such as airports, railway systems or mobile and fixed line telecom systems, I think we also will need a reboot for the IT, Internet and datacom industries.

I therefore call for a bail out plan for the IT industries in Europe. Use the money to catch up again and set ambitious goals. Along the same lines are recent calls for supporting the space programs in Germany with a plan to fly to the moon. At first I had a good laugh, asking myself “when was it again that they first landed on the moon? -) Why would hundred of millions spent to do something that is the same as others did nearly 40 years ago be any good for general competitiveness? But the good thing is that for once they are trying to come up with a general plan for high-tech too (and not only for the bank and automobile vendors)- Even if the first ideas seem a joke maybe it could lead in the right direction once they start thinking some more?

One thing I can say for sure: If the US. thinks they can reboot from their total current mess, then it should be possible to have a reboot of the IT industry in Europe and come back as well.