Being ahead of time 'caused Nokia's failure': Ex-CEO

Oct 17, 2013
Jorma Ollila, former Nokia chairman and CEO, speaks at the launch of his biography in Helsinki, Finland on October 17, 2013

Nokia realised the significance of smart phones "too early", the Finnish company's former chief executive says in a new book, countering the view that the brand's failure to remain a world leader was due to it being late to spot the market shift.

In "Mahdoton menestys", or "The Impossible Success", an autobiography published in Finland on Thursday, Jorma Ollila rejected the idea that Nokia failed to foresee the popularity of phones connected to the Internet.

"We believed in the arrival of . We believed in it so strongly that we even created a new organisational unit focusing on smart phones," 63-year-old Ollila wrote in the book.

Nokia launched a reorganisation in 2004 to "reflect over what was about to happen on the phone market," according to Ollila.

The former chief executive recalled that the companies didn't have much to offer the early before the withering success of Apple's iPhone.

"It later turned out that we had invested in the right idea, but far too early... It wasn't until much later that the operators were ready to offer services that accelerated the rise of the smart phones," he wrote.

When the iPhone arrived on the market in 2007, Nokia presented the successful N95—without a . But the follow-up, the N97—with a touch screen, wasn't launched until 2009, becoming "a total failure, just when Nokia needed to succeed and change its direction," wrote Ollila.

A mantalks on his mobile phone outside a Nokia store in New Delhi on October 1, 2013

"We did the right things, but the results were still weak. We tried to do exactly the same things as what Apple, Google and Microsoft already would do later," he wrote.

Nokia will hand over its mobile phone handset division to US giant Microsoft in early 2014 for 5.44 billion euros ($7.4 billion), ending the Finnish company's in the segment in which it was long a global leader.

Ollila also regretted having missed out on software design, especially the development of the operating system Meego. "Even though 1,800 employees" worked on Meego, the results were "very poor", Ollila told media in Helsinki.

Finally, Nokia went for Microsoft's new Windows mobile operating system, after "exceptionally careful" planning.

The ex- also noted achievements, like the decision not to buy American telecommunications equipment company Lucent in 2005.

Nokia concluded the company had "too high fixed costs and too much staff," and that it needed a worldwide reorganisation. In 2006, it was bought by French Alcatel, since then with shaky results.

"It was clear pretty soon that Alcatel didn't get the expected benefits. Like in many business acquisitions, the synergies didn't show," said Ollila.

Explore further: Former CEO concedes mistakes in Nokia's downturn (Update)

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User comments : 2

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2 / 5 (1) Oct 17, 2013
Going with Microsoft and allowing Stephen Elop in was the failure.

Going from being the world leader in phones by a very wide margin and having a market value of over 300 Billion is something that should never have been lost like this. An enormous failure in leadership.

Nokia lost because it didn`t offer android from the start but first went with it`s own Meego and then went with a massively under developed phone platform in windows. You should always offer more platforms just to be sure you can jump on it further if the market takes off. It took years for Windows to catch up and it`s still not there by a wide margin. Those years lots cost it so much in sales it collapsed their market share. Not to mention not offering competing phones to successful Samsung models.

You have to follow new trends. Also Nokia with it`s enormous size back then was big enough to buy almost any company. Google was much smaller back then. NOKIA could have actually bought it. Create diversification.
not rated yet Oct 17, 2013
What a load of honk.

Nokia couldn't compete against the Apple IFad./IFoney

The rest is history.

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