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Nokia Chief Elop Is Top Gambling Pick to Be Next Microsoft CEO (businessweek.com)
23 points by dkoch 1571 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 63 comments

I can imagine the Elop-to-all-employees memo as MS CEO: Windows 8 is a disaster. Windows 9 is not ready yet and won't be ready for years. We're on a burning oil platform in the middle of the night. The only way to survive is to jump into the icy cold waters of the Puget Sound.

We're announcing a platform shift to Symbian, which we'll be licensing from Accenture Consulting at $15/pop. But they're our strategic partners so they're going to give us marketing money to market the new Microsoft Symbian 800, so it's almost like it's free.

In order to take advantage of the synergic benefits of outsourcing our core business, I'm going to sell the Microsoft headquarters, fire all the obsoleted software engineers along with 50000 employees who cost too much to employ in our new revenue structure. We will also be EOLing Windows, Xbox, Windows Live, Hotmail and Office and focus on rocking the world with Bing and the Microsoft Symbian range of products, supported by the amazing Accenture Symbian App Store.

Our exclusive partnership with Lenovo to sell Microsoft Symbian in countries where we have traditionally done badly is going to form the cornerstone of our new strategy. The new $1999 Lenovo Symbian smart tablets are industrial-strength products designed to make a massive impact from Sichuan to Gansu.

Problem is, if MS hires Elop, the new Nokia CEO may embrace Android, as well as some of the other alternatives (Firefox, Ubuntu, etc.).

Microsoft needs Elop running Nokia as part of a bigger strategy.

I doubt it.

Why would Nokia want to be another Android pusher with no competitive advantage? Value-adds on Android are all shit (crappy launchers and bundled shitware) and the platform is fragmented to fuck. Firefox OS isn't even off the ground and Ubuntu is dead as well.

Nokia hit the spot with windows phone. People will realise that in time.

The platform is worth it just for Nokia Here+ for a lot of people (myself included) and the fact that the hardware is decent.

>>Nokia hit the spot with windows phone. People will realise that in time.


That's some great comedy material you have there. How many years before this happens do you think? They've already had several. Elop has been an MS stooge since the word go and nokia has paid the price for it.

Haters will be haters.

In 2016 I reckon the market will look like the following:

   25% - iOS     - Luxury/fashion sector.
   25% - WP      - business/teenage/student sector.
   40% - Android - Mainly generic landfill sector + Samsung
   10% - Everything else (probably still mostly S40)
Plenty of room for growth and a sensible return.

People used to take the piss out of me when I decided to invest in ARM Holdings, Microsoft, Apple and Raytheon. Who's laughing now?

I don't know why people would take the piss out of those fairly sensible investments, MS has been solid for decades, Apples rise has been unstoppable since the original iPod and ARM has been on the rise for decades too.

But your predictions for winphone are hopelessly optimistic, and MS has already lost the business sector for phones. They had a strong position a few years ago and threw it all away...

They took the piss because I bought on a low when the companies were in deep doo. Apple just started shifting Firewire Mac-only iPods and the buggy POS that was OSX 10.1 which were laughed at initially, ARM was still suffering from Intel's pull-out of the DEC purchased StrongARM product and Acorn fiasco and Raytheon was pre-911 and had fucked up several major contracts. MS was in a good position (as always) but they were riding low.

MS's business sector proposition had a reasonable position in the market. The market was fragmented to bits then as well. A lot of it was Symbian and WinCE stuff with some fallout from proprietary platforms and the POS that was J2ME.

They let that go with WP7 and to iOS a bit (c'mon it's a version 1 product) but are clawing it back now with WP8.

Not one business person I know uses Android anymore though citing it's unreliable. I see a rough distribution of 70/30 iOS/WP8 and that's falling because dropping an iPhone is an expensive problem to sort for corporate IT departments and individual users. You can afford to throw away a couple of WP8 devices a year for the same cash per user as a 4S and 4 WP8 handsets for the price of a 5.

I've never seen a business person use a WP phone. Never. And I do get to talk to quite a lot of them. It's iOS most of the time with very few Androids. WP is simply not a factor. There are markets/territories where WP is doing quite well, especially in low income countries because you get them quite cheap. But when I say 'doing quite well', I mean: You actually get to see them in 1 out of 10 phones.

WP7 was not a version 1 product. It says 7 right there in the name. It was a big departure from what went before, certainly, but it's not like they were new to the mobile business, or to smartphones. The hype around WP7 was sickening, with many tech sites filled up with glowing reviews months before even dev previews of the device were launched. The same then happened with 8, with the same lacklustre excuses when it failed to get any market share (It's a new product! Give it time!).

I haven't seen a single person with a winphone that likes it. I know a couple who were suckered into it and hate it, and a few more who were persuaded to take a trial of a lumia for a week and took it back in a day.

Well let's see: Nokia instead choose to go into the WP market which back then was lingering at around 4% market share, and managed to get 70% of all WP sales which still is at merely 6% market share (while competing with samsung, htc, lg, etc.). Congrats, well done!

Imagine if instead they went for android, and took that 70% market share in the Android space? It was possible for them to do in the WP space, why should it not have been possible in the Android space?

As I see it, they wasted their engineering abilities to gain a big chunk of an unimportant market, rather than shooting for the big fish, because their idiotic CEO puts Microsoft's interests before Nokia's.

Let me quote another MS figure here: "developers, developers, developers, developers." I have yet to see an actual smartphone app, used in Real Life, which is for WP. On the other hand, everybody and their dog seems to be making iOS and Android apps. (Anecdote: on the occasion where we needed a mobile app, WP was considered as a target, and rejected - alongside BB and FirefoxOS - as marginal; the app is for iOS and Android).

IMHO, you pretty much don't need any apps to start with which is why you don't see them in the wild.

You've got built in: Word, Excel, OneNote, Powerpoint, a decent mail client, decent web browser, Facebook / Twitter client, Calendar, image manager, cloud sync, wallet, music player, search, music recognition, decent calculator, product comparison and turn by turn navigation.

You can't compete against that.

The only apps I've added are: ebay (because their mobile site is shit) and Weather.

Sure there are apps by the thousands developed by people but as per iOS and Android stores, most of them are buggy shite.

App usage count doesn't mean the device is useless.

Oh, okay, I get it now: One Microsoft Way - our way or the highway, no competition needed (or desired). Sure, that makes business sense to me (really); but this is also the reason I'm not using a WP - it doesn't make sense _for_ me (as I've been bitten by single-vendor lock-in too many times; diversity in software providers at least allows me to hedge my bets, in case a new leadership decides that e.g. cloud sync is an excellent cash cow, and that the text editor screen is an excellent place to put ads).

OTOH, developer engagement _with_ the platform eventually draws a user crowd to it - that's what the 4D motto means. I don't see any significant push in this direction (as opposed to, say, such past occurences with Win32API, or .net, or other MS technologies). If there's already "everything the user should ever need" (not to be confused with "everything the user needs"), then why bother?

Nobody wants office on a phone, and the rest of the features are present on all the other platforms.

So yes, you can compete with that, and do it much better.

Quite the contrary: people do want office on a phone. They don't want to write documents on it though.

They want Outlook to be the same as their desktop (which it is).

They want integrated calendars and contacts (which they are) so they can maintain their schedule on the road.

They want to view documents straight up without some third party piece of shit viewer that can't render anything properly (which they can).

They want their OneNote notebooks (which they can have).

Not only that the whole shebang actually works 100% flawlessly.

Seriously, I've never come across anyone that cares about document viewing on a phone, and I've worked in some huge enterprises.

All the rest can be and is done flawlessly by any of the other OS's out there.

Win phone has no killer feature. If it did we'd see people actually using it.

Well, now you have me as a data point, I care ;) Alas, I need to open "exotic" formats like OpenOffice spreadsheets as well (I don't really get a say on what format lands in my inbox): on Android, I have chosen amongst the 3 paid apps which can do this (yes, there are also 30 others, but as noted above, 90% of _anything_ is crap); on WP, I'd be SOL as _MS_ Word only handles...wait for it..._MS_ Office formats. Yay, vendor lock-in! (Although to be fair, since the last month, there _is_ now a rudimentary converter on the WP store)

Ignoring the ignorant comments here about Elop "killing" Nokia, I would wonder who would replace Elop in the middle of what could very well be a turnaround for the company? Microsoft is still fairly strong, they certainly don't need a savior in the way Nokia still does. Microsoft could certainly buy Nokia and put Elop at the top of the whole thing, but that's not without its risks.

Would Microsoft sacrifice their only real friend in the mobile world just to grab their executive back? If Elop comes over, either Nokia follows or Microsoft disappears from the mobile market.

I could write a 50 page indictment of Elop for killing Nokia, but Tomi Ahonen already has, so here is the tl;dr: There is no reason Nokia couldn't have had Meego and Android alongside Windows Phone. Other OEMs, including Samsung and LG launch products with alternative OSs because they don't want to be caught out if OS preferences change. Several OEMs tried Windows Phone and/or Windows RT. Those products failed to gain traction and were abandoned. These OEMs and others will launch Tizen, Firefox OS, and Ubuntu products for the same reasons.

Sticking with Windows Phone exclusively in light of its failure at other OEMs looks more like career management than strategy. Launching a Windows RT product, as Nokia is rumored to be doing, is recklessness bordering on insanity.

As for Microsoft disappearing from mobile, it looks to me that Ballmer's departure anticipates that happening. Nokia can't keep going the way it is for much longer.

I disagree with every comment you have made here.

There is no reason Nokia couldn't have had Meego and Android alongside Windows Phone.

Really? How will their marketing handle this? Imagine three entirely incompatible operating systems. Add to that, they need to sell Symbian for a few more years anyway.

Samsung and LG launch products with alternative OSs because they don't want to be caught out if OS preferences change.

OS preferences don't change just like that. You need apps in the app store. It gets harder if you've already spent money on paid apps. Also, Samsung has gotten nowhere with their alternative OSes.

Those products failed to gain traction and were abandoned.

Windows RT was lame and deserves to die. Windows Phone is by no yardstick dead yet. It is actually doing a better job than many expected.

Several OEMs tried Windows Phone and/or Windows RT.

Exactly what Nokia wants. Nokia has become _the windows phone_. As of now, Lumia accounts for 75% of windows phone sales.

Microsoft disappearing from mobile, it looks to me that

Microsoft is not disappearing from mobile. Lumia sold 7.4 million phones this quarter. Up from 5.5m and 4.4m earlier. How is this a failing company, or a failing product?

Really? How will their marketing handle this? Imagine three entirely incompatible operating systems.

Exactly the same way Samsung, HTC are/were handling it.

Add to that, they need to sell Symbian for a few more years anyway.

Nokia essentially dropped Symbian two years ago.

Also, Samsung has gotten nowhere with their alternative OSes.

Funnily enough one of their alternative OSes that is getting them nowhere is Windows and they decided to focus on Android instead.

Nokia has become _the windows phone_.

I don't see how that is helping them. They had huge brand recognition. It used to be that 1 every 3 phones sold was made by them. Not saying that Elop was the source of all their misery, but the Windows Phone strategy doesn't seem to be helping them much.

As of now, Lumia accounts for 75% of windows phone sales.

The latter being around 3% of total smartphone sales, comparable to the marketshare of Bada OS two years ago.

Exactly the same way Samsung, HTC are/were handling it.

Samsung, HTC, LG are selling Android. Their other phones aren't selling really. If Nokia sold Android, they would be far behind in the Android market, and won't sell too many Lumias either.

Nokia essentially dropped Symbian two years ago.

They sell low cost Asha phones here in India (and probably in SE Asia), which I thought was an S40 derivative. (It seems so.)

The latter being around 3% of total smartphone sales, comparable to the marketshare of Bada OS two years ago.

Breaking into smartphones is hard. Nokia knows than Windows Phone isn't going to be shuttered. Windows Phone 8 was the first real Windows Phone OS. I recently was at a Nokia showroom. The $140 off-contract Lumia 520 was smoother than my Nexus 4. You should try it.

Samsung, HTC, LG are selling Android. Their other phones aren't selling really. If Nokia sold Android, they would be far behind in the Android market, and won't sell too many Lumias either.

My feeling is that they are not selling because they are not pushing them much. I don't think Samsung ever made a serious, competitive Windows Phone. Also Lumia is not selling the volume it's selling just because of the OS (actually for some is a disadvantage because of the smaller marketplace). It would be interesting to see how a Lumia with Android would fare.

Anyway, three years ago Samsung had 5% of the market and Nokia over 35%. They had a good lead over everyone no matter what OS they decided to back. Admittedly going with Android would have meant that they would have more competition, but I believe that they had a good chance on brand recognition alone. Perhaps it would have been worse, no way to tell now.

Nokia essentially dropped Symbian two years ago.

I think they have outsourced Symbian support. I am not sure anyone is developing for it or updating it any more.

regarding smoothness: any phone in the show room will feel smooth. that's really no achievement. how does it feel after heavy use, lots of data and apps installed? (of course, the latter won't be causing a problem on wp)

> How will their marketing handle this? Imagine three entirely incompatible operating systems.

It's not like Nokia didn't have experience in that.

Prior to the Elopcalypse, even prior to Meego they already had three incompatible operating systems: S60 ("symbian") running on their smartphones; S40 (basically a fleet of slightly different J2SE variants) running on their feature phones; and debian-based Maemo running on N900.

Sure, Maemo as a platform started from the original N770 tablet, followed by N800 and N810. As far as I know, Maemo got most of the phone features from certain internal Linux projects, eventually making the N900 phone possible.

Platforms didn't matter then, at all.

Prior to the iPhone, people (mostly) used whatever software that came with the phone. There was no concept of an App Store. At least, not in the same way we have now.

I bought the N800 when it came out. It was a geeky toy and had a nice community. But it was no platform to dislodge iOS or Android when Elop joined Nokia.

How many units did Palm and HP sell of the Pre series before collapsing? And everybody liked that platform too.

Microsoft's profits were $26.76 billion last year, up from $21b. Their revenue is close to $80b, meaning these are very healthy profits.

As such, I see no sign of imminent collapse like Palm. Or that they will (or can afford to) fold in the high stakes smartphone game.

All of that from smartphones? Looks more like "milk the old, reliable cash cows of Office+desktop Windows for all they're worth, and pour the money into the other stuff" to me.

Thank you for hijacking my comment that was discussing the actual content of the article for more "Nokia/Microsoft sucks" discussion. I'm glad I gave you that opportunity, since no one else in this thread is talking about the bullshit you want to talk about.

Do you have any relevant reply to my post? Let me remind you, the topic was "who, if anyone, would replace Elop at Nokia if this happened?".

Buy Jolla. You get a management team and product.

After sinking Nokia, Elop returns to Microsoft. Mission: accomplished.

How does that make sense? Nokia was in serious trouble before Elop got there and Android was already well established elsewhere.

Nokia stocks has risen ~40% in the last year. You call that sinking?

Aug 29 2012: 2.75 Aug 29 2013: 3.97

Compare that to Apple.

According to Yahoo Finance, it was 10.06 on the NYSE the day before he became the CEO. Went up a bit to 11.06 a couple of times in the next two quarters, but otherwise not good, and 3.94 in pre-market trading today.

That is not completely fair, though. At the time of his arrival Nokia was a desperately sinking ship. The price would drop before rising no matter what direction the company took at the time.

At the time of his arrival, Nokia was a stagnating dinosaur, with a tiny bit of hope in an innovative operating system that was mismanaged, buggy, and couldn't ship on time. Elop accidentally announced that they were discontinuing support on horrible Symbian, which was at the time the most popular smartphone operating system in the world, and turned Nokia into a desperately sinking ship.

Elop wasn't the worst CEO possible, but he was the worst CEO available.

That's why I gave an overview of the behavior starting with him becoming CEO. He got a couple of quarters of flat stock prices, perhaps suggesting investors were giving him a chance to show he was turning it around, and after that it's essentially all downhill.

Look at the last 5 years, you can't really paint it as hopeful right now: http://finance.yahoo.com/echarts?s=NOK+Interactive#symbol=no...

You mean a sunk ship is rising - 40%! ? What percentage of the mobile market does Nokia have? Hint: Was Samsung selling anything 5 years ago in this market? Not to mention QT is having a tough time.

If I was on a sinking ship that suddenly began to rise when a new captain took the helm, I would consider the captain to be doing a pretty decent job.

See my other comment in this subthread: it rose a bit, then sunk a whole lot. That it's up from its nadir $1.71 a bit more than a year ago is cold comfort when it was doing around $9 3 years ago summer through spring 2011.

First sentence of the article:

"...Chief Executive Officer Stephen Elop, who has presided over a 62 percent decline in market value..."

Nokia is like a ship with a hole in it, and Elop's job is to get it pointed in the right direction.

Except he hasn't. He's just bailed water a little faster, and slightly reduced the sink rate.

I give them credit for doing something daring and different (betting on Windows when they knew noone else would). It was a big gamble, though, and at least so far, it hasn't paid off. Android would have been a far safer bet in the short-term at the very least.

Aug 29 2013: 3.97 Aug 29, 2011: 6.03. You call that rising?

Why? To finish the job of killing Microsoft?

In the mainstream media there is now the implication, hint, suggestion, claim, etc. that somehow Google, Facebook, Apple, and Samsung beat Microsoft at its own business. I don't buy that.

That hint, etc. plays well with consumers who see computing just in terms of consumer client devices.

Here are two blunt facts:

First, many more client devices need servers, and Microsoft with Windows Server, SQL Server, and many software tools for system installation, monitoring, and management has demonstrated that it knows how to run one heck of a big server farm with surprisingly small staff.

Second, people still need to work, at a computer 'work station' complete with a good, physical keyboard, the old kind with keys that move, and one or more screens, hopefully large, and maybe more than one. And they need to run some major software applications in graphics, high end word processing, video creation, editing, and production, engineering, statistics, etc., and for that people still need a high end desktop computer with, from Microsoft, Windows 7 that can run both 32 bit and 64 bit software. That work station may have 32 GB of main memory and 12 TB of disk memory. So, no smart phone or tablet can compete.

Yes, Apple sold a lot of iPhones, and McDonald's sold a lot of hamburgers, but that doesn't really mean that Microsoft should get in either the phone or hamburger business or was beaten by either Apple or McDonald's.

For the new CEO of Microsoft to push Microsoft into mobile client devices in competition with Apple and Samsung and software for such devices in competition with Apple and Google and to ignore desktops and servers would be huge mistake.

Yes, generally if there is a new business opportunity that involves software, Microsoft should consider getting in, e.g., search and Bing. And maybe Microsoft should push mobile client devices and associated operating system and application software, etc., but to ignore desktops and servers would be dumb, dumber than anything Ballmer did.

Apart from the fact that this is a non-story ("a gambling website picked Elop as the favorite", which website? with how many users?), as others have said, Microsoft needs Elop in Nokia to keep getting their support with Windows Phone.

Looks like the website is ladbrokes... http://sportsbeta.ladbrokes.com/Specials/Microsoft-Specials/...

Traffic looks like 20k/day visits or so (https://siteanalytics.compete.com/ladbrokes.com/)

Ladbrokes is one of the UKs largest bookies profits are in the $300M range. Number of active users is 1,010,000 according to their last annual report.

I suspect one of the spread betting sites would actually give a more realistic view. (I have however got £5 on Bill Gates at 50/1 as a real outside chance)

Now that Ballmer and Steven Sinofsky are out, I could see J Allard coming back.

(Edit) Reasoning:

1) He's one of the few Microsoft executives (at the time) who saw the rise of the internet in the 90's and the rise of mobile in the early 2000's

2) He spearheaded Xbox, Zune, and Courier, which appear to be the direction Microsoft wants to head towards

3) He must still be somewhat connected with Microsoft, as he appeared in the Xbox One video reveal

Somehow, out of instinct, I feel this guy will ruin Microsoft, which is not necessarily a bad thing. On a "burning platform" he is too interested/risky in changing his behaviour instead of putting off the fire first then bettering things for the long term, MS is blind to say the least.

Another burning-platform-memo incoming.

Will be funny if he retires the win kernel and announces a port to freebsd.

With people like Larry Page, Jeff Bezos leading its competition, MS sure does need someone very technical. May be Bill G makes a comeback.

How about Sundar Pichai?

Microsoft should pick Elon Musk or a famous googler, one of Sergey Brin, Larry Page, Eric Schmidt. That would create a tech super-empire. Then one of these should run for president.

Why isn't anyone suggesting Eric Schmidt? He has a lot of experience in winning and kicking ass as a software company.

Somewhat some time ago he must have decided to become the elder statesman of the technology circus. Not sure if it was such a great decision, but I would be very surprised if he came back into the business of "running" things.

Top Qualifications list:

1. Steve Ballmer : Best man in Gates Wedding. 2. Elop : Killed Nokia single-handedly! 3. -- : Doesn't matter: There is no MS anymore?

MSFT needs young cute girl (well, someone in late 30-ish) as CEO to distract the world from Marissa Meyer's domination :)

Old, bald and stubborn is no longer going to cut it.

Not sure if she qualifies for cute, but the only other female high profile tech personality that comes to mind would be Sheryl Sandberg.

And who is running HP??? Meg Whitman isn't high profile?

She is more of a grande dame than someone who signals an infusion of fresh thinking. But then again this could be just what MS is looking for.

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