Nokia CEO and board need to go, Jean Louis Gassée says

July 4, 2012
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Nokia is a fallen giant that’s trying to get back atop the mobile business, a position it held for years before the smartphone revolution caught it unprepared. Apple initiated the revolution, by introducing a touchscreen-only device that impressed the crowds and started selling like hot cakes. And then Android came out of hiding, and OEMs launched a variety of Android-based devices, also touchscreen based and capable to run various apps like the iPhone, that fitted any budget.

Nokia was not able to properly fight either rival OS. The company tried to make a comeback a bunch of times and ultimately decided to stick with Microsoft and create Windows Phone handsets, a move that’s yet to prove profitable for the Finnish handset maker.

Except for Windows Phone devices, Nokia doesn’t have any viable products right now, and maybe a plan B is needed for the company. Jean Louis Gassée certainly seems to thing so, and he’s not afraid to say it.

Before we take a look at the Nokia-related statements he made, we’ll remind you who Gassée is, because, in case you don’t know the guy, he’s quite famous. In the 70s he built HP in Europe and then joined Apple where he acted as a senior executive from 1981 to 1990. In fact, he was at some point considered to take over the CEO position of Apple, but that never happened. One could say the guy knows his business and is quite versed in what’s happening in the smart device business, whether it’s smartphones, tablets or computers.

Gassée, now a partner at venture capital company Allegis Capital, believes that Elop, and the entire Nokia board, should be fired and replaced. A few years ago he made a similar call when Nokia asked him for advise regarding the path it should follow in this continously changing mobile environment. At the time, Gasse said it was time for Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, the former CEO of Nokia, to go and for Nokia to embrace Android as a viable alternative for the future:

“I told them to drop everything and go Android. Do it in secret and let the rumours fly… I would have used Nokia’s design flare to make very nice phones. I would integrate Ovi [Nokia's app store] into Android and people would say that Nokia sided with the winner.

“It would have been tough fighting Samsung, though, because Samsung takes no prisoners. They don’t brush their teeth in the morning – they file them.”

However, Nokia fired Kallasvuo, hired Elop and then decided to partner up with Microsoft and launch Windows Phone handsets instead of making Android smartphones with Google.

Now the same Gassée is saying that Elop needs to be replaced, for making bad business choices, and the board too, for letting him do it. Elop is basically “accused” of having unwillingly torpedoed the company, first by releasing an internal memo to the company in which it compared Symbian to a burning oil rig in the North Sea that Nokia needed to escape from – not necessarily a bad argument at the time, but one that harmed Nokia once the memo was leaked. Symbian had no future, and everyone knew it, but Elop said it all too soon.

The partnership with Microsoft should have helped Nokia get back on the horse, but that didn’t really happen. The Lumia family of Windows Phones are probably the best Windows Phones devices out there, but they won’t be upgradeable to Windows Phone 8 this fall, which already makes them obsolete. This is Elop’s second mistake according to Gassée.

On the other hand we see plenty of analysts, pundits and fans of one platform of the other make all sorts of accusations and speculate on what it could have been if certain things were to happen. Sure, Gassée’s arguments are probably more than valid, but that doesn’t mean that Elop will be fired as a result, or that Nokia would make Android devices. Or that Nokia’s future Windows Phone business will not become a very profitable venture.

Would you buy a Nokia Android smartphone rather than a Nokia Windows Phone handset?

Comments

  • sara

    IF pureview were android and the core processor at least as good as the s3 and the screen as good and as big as the s3 and the memory card up to 64giga and with jellybean, i’d pay 700 euros without any problem (factory not tel company)…. but it isn’t and i won’t pay 500 euros for (all of the great lines were taken about jurassokia and that primitive heiroglyphic symbian)

  • http://twitter.com/tulioleal Túlio Leal

    I can’t understand why so many people say that if Nokia embrace Android it would lack any competitive edge against Samsung and the others. Gosh! They have a camera which is simply the Godzilla camera against pitiful opponents. They have a wider reputation of solid durable devices, that commands good reception and strong sound. If they launch an android pureview, with a dual or quad core, HDMI output, solid bluetooth, I can’t see anything different than an instant killer phone in the market, buoying to the top 3 sellers. Samsung would be certainly very very hard hit by such a move.

    • http://trapchan.blogspot.com trapchan

      Last time I check, any Nokia’s camera (except the PureView) are inferior compared to iPhone, HTC, and Samsung. Time’s moving dude (maybe, except in Nokia’s building, or your place).

      • http://twitter.com/tulioleal Túlio Leal

        My N8 has 12 MP and real xenon flash. Neither Iphone nor galaxies have better specs than this. Also, at my next purchase I’m supposed to upgrade the camera, not downgrade it…

        • http://www.facebook.com/dasiths Dasith Sean Wijesiriwardena

          The number of mega pixels don’t tell you how good a camera is. It is one of many facts, While I like the Nokia phones their camera’s aren’t that better than the competition.

          • http://twitter.com/tulioleal Túlio Leal

            more megapixels is better than not, but I agree that it is not an end on itself. You also need other things, like a good optics (Carl Zeiss in Nokias) and real flash, both of them are better in N8.
            Honestly I looked for Iphone and GS2 (didn’t try GS3 tough) pictures and wasn’t impressed at all. At best they are comparable at sunlight with N8′s. Indoors, the xenon flash beats them hands down.
            In any case, as I said, at my next purchase, I’m supposed to upgrade my camera, and in this case, a pureview device (running WP8) is probably my choice. If any other contender puts a camera which is at least nearly as good as the pureview I certainly would consider it.

  • arwen

    Imagine the Nokia N9 is a high end android smartphone. And imagine Nokia producing a wide variety of low to high end android handsets. Samsung would be worried. Apple would have had nightmares. And we consumers would have a wide smile on our faces. Now my handsets are made by Samsung. I would buy an android smartphone made by Nokia even if the reason is only nostalgic. Firstly, iOS came and shook Nokia like an erthquake. Then Android came like a tornado and levelled Nokia. Windows phone 7 entered like a Tsunami and almost buried the company.

  • http://twitter.com/RubenA181 Ruben

    Yes I would! Or a Nokia Tizen phone. But Samsung is already on that boat.

    • NG

      Not too late… if they can even afford membership ;)
      Bottom line …. Nokia’s stubbornness and pride has been a major problem hampering its progress. It was said that moving to Android would be like …a Finnish schoolboy peeing in his pants for warmth in the winter… ie. short term benefit.
      Don’t you think short term gain would be good while you work on other long term ideas ?

  • Hear Us Out

    I certainly would buy a Nokia Android device. All my past phones where Nokias and they delivered quite well, in their own levels.

    Nokia knows how to make good phones. I don’t understand why they would not embrace such move of going to Android OR creating a line of high end Android smartphones (with AOSP ROM, if possible). It [Android] is where the profit is in the market now. Perhaps there see some unusual phenomena to happen and wouldn’t embrace it (at least, they have the chance before Elop took over).

    They had a good reputation (for 15 years!), and they would simply throw it away for such a hipster OS (pardon my subjectivity) as WP7 or WP8.

    Perhaps they could make another Linux OS if Android didn’t satisfy their needs and just customize it to their own specifications. OH WAIT. That was Meego/Harmattan. And now, they fired the dev team (or the dev team left) of that OS.

    Nokia, please hear the cry of the public! :)

  • NG

    Well I certainly would buy a Nokia Android device. Android would be a natural fit for any ex-Symbian user, especially anyone who has gotten used to Belle. I just ditched my trusty Nokia N8 for a Samsung Galaxy S3 and apart from losing the better camera of the N8, it’s a joy to use…and feels like a familiar joy. Android 4.1 will add features already found in Nokia Belle such as swappable widgets on home screen. If Nokia actually compared what they had to Android, they might have realized it would benefit them to adopt a platform where: a) They could differentiate themselves with a customizable UI skin along with their maps and Drive apps, b) Probably find it easier and less restrictive to incorporate their Pureview technology into it and release a phone that would genuinely excite people and, c) provide its current user base with a platform they would feel comfortable migrating too thus maintaining brand loyalty.
    As it is, they have merely pushed many Nokia fans over to Samsung.

  • Gene_nyc

    The problem was not just picking the wrong OS – Nokia is just plain cheap and stingy on their smartphone HW as well. They still use the old Cortex A8 on their best smartphone, and only decided to use 1GB recently. They still try their best to sell overpriced gear based on glitz and armor, instead of performance and stability.

  • columbia

    I bought my Nokia N97 because i wanted to have a physical keyboard and all the phones I’ve ever owned were Nokia. Unfortunately, Symbian just doesn’t perform as well as I’d like it to. A Nokia Android lovechild would be a dream come true for me. All the functionality and customizability of an Android phone with a physical keyboard for me to write e-mails and notes with, and the durability to sustain several falls in the few months I’ve owned this phone. It would have been perfect.

  • angpsi

    Jellybean seems just about the best os experience to date (I almost got a Nexus instead of a Galaxy S3 because of it), with iOS looking oh-sooo-old at the same time! Imho, having Nokia designed phones on jellybean is basically an eathquake on top of a tsunami, on top of a tornado! (and yes, up till now all my phones were Nokias, except my beloved Sony CMD-Z1!)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Steven-Zahl/1670371040 Steven Zahl

    NOKIA is TOAST