The CEO Who Missed The Point

2007 was remarkable for two events in the mobile universe: Nokia made its biggest ever profit and Apple launched the iPhone.

In 2007, Nokia sold 436 million phones – some 40% of all phones sold worldwide – and the company made a profit of €6.7 billion.

Next-best vendor was Mote with a lousy 164 million phones.

Nokia’s new CEO, Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, who took over in 2006, thought software was the answer to the iPhone.

He bought map-maker Navteq for $8 billion, Trolltech ASA for $150 million and various social networking start-ups.

He pushed the development of services like music downloads and GPS navigation.

But, for some reason, Kallasvuo never twigged that the touch-screen had changed the market forever.



  1. I suppose that’s the way of all flesh, Graham, particularly successful flesh. But there aren’t enough Andy Grove style managers around to keep successful companies on their toes. Maybe there never were.

  2. I remember selling to Nokia in their early days, they were fast, decisive and a pleasure to deal with. They became bloated, indecisive and arrogant. We now see the result.

  3. Yes they had plenty of cash, SilverMan, and the engineers knew what to do – touch-screens – but the management stuck with keyboards even though they could have afforded to do both. The bosses got hooked on the ‘software and services’ mantra and forgot that devices are important too. But, of course, Kallasvuo and his MBA mates were no match for Jobs.

  4. So they had plenty of cash, and bought a bunch of companies. But they did not have a vision of what they wanted to do perhaps?
    Apple had the benefit of Steve Jobs, who basically was a crabby customer who wanted nice toys – and had the ability to know what was possible with enough hard work.
    Every company needs a crabby customer in-house to spur things forward. Without that direction can be lost.

  5. The nutricious Nokia Agar of the past sev!rem to have turned into undesirable mold in such of an excess that Satya Nadella have to remedy the overgrowth in the newly joined corporate Petri dish.

    Nothing too surprising given the desirability of the clunky WP devices they are flogging at a loss. It all seems like an orchestrated farce and it makes me wonder what actually was happening behind the scenes after 2007?

  6. Sorry Tony I had it right in the second para – 2007. 1997 was an aberration. Thanks for pointing that out. I’ve changed it.

  7. 1997 wasn’t the iPhone launch David, though Nokia might have adapted faster and survived longer had it been.

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