Here we go again! Joining the evergreen list of smartphone debates that includes such greats as “Android vs iOS,” “Apple vs Samsung,” and recently, “plastic vs metal,” is the question of whether Nokia should have gone the Android way, and if it isn’t too late, maybe still should. This debate makes it to the forefront every time Nokia releases its quarterly financial results, and while things may ever so slightly be looking up, not surprisingly, a lot of shareholders are looking for better results.
For most of us, a Nokia device was our first phone, and while the mobile landscape has changed a lot with the emergence of the smartphone, there is always a nostalgic twinge behind all the “only cockroaches and the Nokia 3310 can survive a nuclear explosion”-type jokes. When asked the question of whether I’d buy a Nokia smartphone running Android, I, without any hesitation, said yes. Granted, Nokia does have to catch up to the hardware specs offered by current Android devices, but I’m sure for a lot of people, Nokia and Android would be a match made in heaven.
But will that actually ever happen, and even if it does, it is already too late? Let’s take a look!
Since signing a deal with Microsoft back in February 2011, Nokia took up the cause for the Windows Phone OS, and things have been far from easy. 2012 hasn’t been a good year for the Finnish company, with estimated losses of around $3 billion for the period, but still managed to end the year with an ever-so-small glimmer of hope with a profitable Q4 2012.
Nokia reported a Q4 profit of $585 million (on total revenue of $10.73 billion). Granted, a lot of credit goes to the company’s Nokia-Siemens Networks division, but the Devices and Services department posted a (less) profitable quarter as well, in part due to the well-received Windows Phone 8-running Lumia 820 and Lumia 920 smartphones. The numbers aren’t crazy of course, with Nokia selling 4.4 million Lumia smartphones, with only 700,000 units in North America. But, it was a start.
Nokia delivered a preliminary Q1 earnings report last month, with good news as far as the Lumia lineup of smartphones is concerned. While only 400,000 Lumia units were sold in North America, overall sales were up to 5.6 million, beating the number from the previous quarter. But, while this number has gone up, Nokia managed to sell 55.8 million handsets overall, which includes all devices offered by the company, down a whopping 30% from the previous year. The report also mentioned an even worse Q2, with margins expected to fall by 2%.
Nokia promised a turnaround of 2 years, and with that time period passing, things haven’t gone as smoothly as expected.
Needless to say, the overall poor performance of the company, which once promised to be able to compete successfully against the likes of Apple and Samsung, has left shareholders unhappy. These shareholders were given the opportunity to express their dissatisfaction during Nokia’s Annual General Meeting held in Helsinki, and they certainly didn’t pull their punches. As reported by Reuters, nothing sums up the past couple of years Nokia has been having, than a statement made to Stephen Elop by Nokia shareholder Hannu Virtanen:
You're a nice guy.....and the leadership team is doing its best. but clearly, it's not enough. Are you aware that results are what matter? The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Please find a new road.
And while many may agree, Elop reiterated his commitment to Windows Phone, stating that WP is what will help the company compete with Samsung and Apple. But the comment about finding “a new road” raises, once again, the two-year old question of, should Nokia have switched to Android, and is it too late to do so now.