Nokia pees in their pants

Seven years ago, Nokia was the world’s most popular smartphone brand, hoarding nearly 50% of global marketshare. Today, a defeated Nokia reluctantly showcases new products at MWC 2014, barely claiming 3% of the global pie. How the tides change.

The inevitable downfall can be traced back to one quote by then Nokia exec Anssi Vanjoki,

Screen Shot 2014-02-24 at 9.37.25 AM“Nokia using Android would be like Finnish boys who pee in their pants for warmth during the cold winter.”

Nokia finally peed their pants today, announcing the Nokia X+, Nokia X+, and Nokia XL (read the announcement, watch hands-on video). There is good reason to believe the warmth of these Nokia Android Phones won’t last long: the Nokia brand will soon fall under the Microsoft banner, where they’ll relegate the software to Windows Phones, further dooming any chance of a Nokia revival.

Elop’s “peeing in your pants” quote can’t be made responsible for dooming Nokia, but the company culture and direction rooted in that statement can. The comment is slathered in corporate arrogance; you can almost sense that Elop would rather the company go down in flames than have to swallow their pride and march to another industry leader’s drum. And that’s exactly what happened.

In 2007, when Google announced Android, supporting the yet-to-exist platform wasn’t exactly cool. Industry analysts poked fun, tech publications mostly raised doubts, and only a small contingency correctly predicted its eventual dominance.

But Nokia brass didn’t make those statements in 2007, they made them in 2010, when Android had already become a proven winner. You can read that frustration in the quote, sensing the captain of a sinking ship, defiantly staying on board as a matter of principle. Had Nokia made this decision earlier, the state of the company (and Android) might be very different.

Nokia Global Smartphone Marketshare

Nokia Market Share
(Source: Statista.com)

Android has gone through some interesting periods with every new hardware iteration. The original T-Mobile G1 is almost laughably adorable these days and it wasn’t until the Motorola Droid launched in 2009 that Android posed a serious threat to iOS. It sparked an “iPhone vs. Droid” showdown whose nomenclature confused the participants of any technology discussion or debate – from soccer moms to industry analysts – and sometimes still does.

“Droid the phone? Or Droid the platform? You know Droid and Android aren’t the same thing, right?”

Motorola seemed to own the Android spotlight for quite sometime, eventually passing the baton between a few hopeful heirs including HTC. Many more temporarily powered the hype machine such as ASUS  and the Transformer Prime and Sony when the first Xperia was rumored, but none had the staying power that Samsung brought with their Galaxy series.

The Samsung Galaxy series is undoubtedly Android’s most dominant and successful brand and it’s here to stay. But might the story be different if Nokia embraced Android early on? Could Nokia have regained their stronghold by leveraging their global presence to put affordable Android’s into the hands of the masses?

We may never know.

Whether or not you’re in the market for a new phone, you may want to consider buying the Nokia X, X+, or XL… as a collector’s item. It’s quite likely that these will be the last Android devices that Nokia ever makes.

Back in September 2013, Microsoft acquired Nokia for $7.2 Billion. The deal still needs to earn regulatory approval and jump through legal hoops, but nobody is expecting any holdups, with finalization likely coming in March. Once that transition is complete, Microsoft will likely axe any Nokia Android initiatives, instead preferring to exclusively push their Windows Phone brand.

Or maybe not. With Nokia’s white flag waving and Ballmer gone from Microsoft, the fate of each company lies in very different hands, and in fact embracing Android is one thing that current Microsoft bigwigs are considering. In fact, Microsoft is considering bringing Android Apps to Windows, something we think would spell the death for Windows Phone altogether.

Android could save Nokia and Microsoft needs Nokia to save Windows Phone, but is there room for a love triangle?

What should Microsoft do?

Microsoft is in dire straits. There is no debate that computing is moving mobile and Microsoft desperately needs a horse in that race. Right now, their horse is Windows Phone. Right now, Nokia is the only manufacturer actively focusing on Windows Phone. Lose that edge and the Nokia brand will crumble altogether. If that happens, Microsoft and their Windows Phone dream are in trouble.

So why not continue making Android Phones? Doing so would diversify their risk. If Nokia’s Android phones enjoy success, it creates two huge wins:

  • They’re able to create their own “Nexus” for Android Phones, creating an experience with Bing, Skype, Windows, etc… that they consider industry leading when integrating Android for the typical Windows user.
  • They’re able to sustain further development for Nokia Windows Phones and the Windows Phone platform as a whole using revenue and assets from the Android Phone initiatives.

In the end, Microsoft has to consider the fact that Windows Phone might either die or be faced to take a drastically different route. If they can’t realize that right now, then they’re staring down an alley that looks awfully similar to the one Stephen Elop described.

So listen up, Microsoft. After all of that talk about peeing in their pants, Nokia finally manned up and got potty-trained with Android. It wasn’t a fun decision to make, but they swallowed their pride, and they did it. Now that you’re in charge, does it make sense to set Nokia back another 5 years by once again refusing to use Android? Do you realize you’ll inevitably come to the same conclusion?

I hope the Nokia X is not the last Nokia Android phone we see. As odd as it sounds, I want Microsoft to be successful with a viable 3rd mobile OS alternative, and selling a lot of Nokia Android Phones might be the only of ensuring that happens.

“Innovate or die,” they say. But when “innovate” isn’t working, you’ve at least got to adopt and adapt.

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  • blest

    Lol pissy Nokia

  • M0nk

    I have 2 theories:
    1) MS forced Nokia to fork android so they will not be able to be part of AOSP in the future. After a couple of years the remaining of Nokia (the part that was not sold to MS) can start selling phones again and this fork will prevent Nokia to join the AOSP and be a serious contender.
    2) Android was a plan B since many years ago and something went wrong with MS (maybe Elop not being named MS CEO), so he launched Nokia X in return ;)

  • 5up Mushroom

    I can’t help but think the problems for Nokia started well before that 2010 Elop quote. They made the fundamental error that they were a software company, when in fact their core was amazing hardware. Everyone had the indestructable Nokia phone that lasted for years regardless of how you treated it. Had they moved to drop Symbian faster and pick up Android, or even WebOS (although that is obviously very debatable) they would be in a much much stronger position today.

    • fourthletter

      Not strictly true – it was always the easy to use software that was a win for Nokia – until it all started to become a mess in their smartphones.

    • JBrowne1012

      Nokia with webOs would have put Android to shame actually. Nokia going with Android instead of M$oft would have been much better. I feel as if Nokia moving to partner with Nokia brought down the company much further because nobody really wanted WP7 at the time. If Nokia would have released an android phone years ago they would be in Samsungs place as main competitor to iOs

      • Robb Nunya

        “Nokia with webOs would have put Android to shame actually.”

        Would have… but didn’t. Lots of ifs ands or buts that never amount to squat.

  • fourthletter

    This is the reason Microsoft bought Nokia – the exclusive deal was finished so Nokia was going to do what they should have done in the first place and fork Android – this forced Microsoft’s hand – if forked Android worked for Nokia then Windows Phone would be in real trouble.

    • 4beaches

      And I suspect that Elop forced them to make that god awful tile screen for it too.

  • Tony Lai

    I would like to congratulate Nokia on their achievement of traveling back in time to about 4 years ago! That is such a great feat!

  • pramarama

    You ain’t cool unless you pee your pants!

    • Jeff D

      If peeing your pants is cool then I’m Miles Davis.

      • Robb Nunya

        Would that make you cool, or not cool?

  • JBrowne1012

    90% of people who buy this will root the device to get rid of internally the piss poor software that nokia/m$oft hindered it with. Obviously with the ui they are trying so effortlessly to get people to try windows phone 8 and by people I mean android fans

    • robjackson81

      I think you are radically misinterpreting the likely customer of this phone. I doubt 10% of the people who buy this phone will even know what “rooting” means.

      • Henri Weich Conradie

        So true, Rob. It’s almost as bad as people who have Android phones that don’t even know what Android is.

      • Robb Nunya

        Exactly. I was in a room of absolute geeks last night (taking a Cisco class), and I was surprised to see how many people didn’t even know what a custom ROM was. I expect that in the general populace, but I was in a geek stronghold (A makerspace) and among my kind… :D

        of course, in all fairness, I probably would do a lousy job of rehabbing a pinball machine, or programming a cnc lathe…

      • JRomeo

        when will phandroid update the specs page for the nokia x?

    • Ben Edwards

      99.99% of people who buy this phone will do so because it’s cheap, and they’ll never change a thing about it.

  • Major_Pita

    Sounds like they deliberately spec’d the phones to suck at least compared to mainstream offerings. Maybe Kit Kat will run on these given it’s smaller footprint but it sure seems that the X series is designed around Kit Kat’s absolute minimum hardware requirements.

  • DannyB2

    What should Microsoft do? you ask?

    Microsoft should put themselves out of our misery.

  • JRomeo

    you posted a link to the specs…….. when you click on that link, there are no specs there, it seems its a blank document, that hasn’t been filled in yet.

    • Robb Nunya

      Then they aren’t far from the actual specs… These things are underwhelming, and I’m putting that kindly.

  • David Narada Brown

    the phones specs and that comment arent goin to help them win any current android users. with iphone and Android already doing so well you have to think they will need to steal some of these users to gain decent market share. I mean how many new customers can they attract to mobile phones at this point? gonna have steal from somewhere!

    • Robb Nunya

      A ton. They aren’t looking to sell these in the US. These are for emerging economies (ie. China and India).

      • David Narada Brown

        so theres an open market in china n india? these people havent already adopted android and ios?

        • Robb Nunya

          Yeah. It’s a growth market. S America as well. India is a golden opportunity for an inexpensive phone that can run BBM because of the high level of ownership of Blackberries.

          China + India are projected to add another 400m smartphones to the rosters in 2014. That’s added smartphone users, not replacement sales.

          The ten largest countries for sales will be China (283m), India (225m), the US (89m), Brazil (47m), Indonesia (46m), Russia (31m), Japan (30m), Mexico (23m), Germany (22m) and France (18.7m), just ahead of the UK with 17.7m.

          http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/jan/13/smartphone-explosion-2014-india-us-china-firefoxos-android

          Of course, these are projections. But probably not too far off.

          • David Narada Brown

            interesting!

  • Drago

    Lmao. I just came here to laugh at this article’s title and picture.

    One of the few Adam Sandler movies that I like. Haha.

    • Delmar

      Happy Gilmore is another great movie too

      • Crafty

        Agreed. That and Billy Madison are the two I like the most.

        Too bad Sandler makes terrible movies now. Jack and Jill, I’m looking at you in particular.

  • lolwut

    The graph made me actually laugh out loud

  • 4beaches

    I think they pooped their pants too…then painted it pretty colours and put Windows Phone on it

  • https://plus.google.com/102862831744598656090/about Wesley

    Microsoft said Windows Phone 8.1 can run on any hardware that Android can. Maybe they are hoping to sell a lot of these because it’s “Android” and then, once all those people are using Microsoft services, update them all to Windows Phone 8.1 rather than Android. That would be a true bate and switch move that would guarantee more Windows Phone users. Many think they are trying to get people to switch to Windows Phone when they buy their next phone after owning one of these but what’s stopping these from being Windows Phones? It’s diabolical!

  • Adrie H

    This is a good but sad read for a Nokia fanboy who unfortunately only started to use Android in 2011

  • Robb Nunya

    And they’re releasing gimped Android phones with MS Services instead of Google services. They didn’t even pee their pants right.