The stock market has now had 1 week to evaluate the choice of Stephen Elop as a new CEO of Nokia. A look at the stock price shows that there was initially a slightly hopeful reaction. However, the last two days the share price has developed below the SP 500 index.
This seem to imply that the market does not believe that Steven Elop will take out Nokia from the doldrums.
Why? The guy has a software background, dynamic appearance and a phenomenal career track. Shouldn’t the market be enthusiastic?
The market seem to imply one of two things. Either Stephen Elop is better than Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo but does not have what it takes. Despite his skills the problems of Nokia are so deep that he will not be able to turn it around. (If he would be viewed as a choice equal to Kallasvuo the stock price should have declined as the price can be assumed to have included an expectation that Kallasvuo would be replaced by a new and better CEO). Or, he is OK, but the strategy is wrong and he will not do anything about it.
The first alternative seems wrong as it assumes that Nokia has no strategic alternative that could make it successful. Jumping on the Android train now could still secure Nokia its place as the number one vendor in the smartphone market.
This leaves us with the second alternative - Nokia has the wrong strategy but Stephen Elop will not change it. Why?
Nokia’s strategy states that it should build its success not only on the basis of hardware but also on software, become more of a software company to be able to match companies like Apple and to some extent RIM. It is a logical strategy given that Nokia is a hardware based market leader and the market is becoming more software. However it has a serious flaw - it is too late. The window for successfully pursuing this strategy has closed for Nokia. Its products may be technically superb and extremely sophisticated but they do not have the software that will convince users and most importantly application developers to go Nokia instead of Android. Its new operating system MeeGo is coming too late and Symbian 3 is no solution. When MeeGo reaches the market next spring there will be 150.000 - 200.000 Android apps that gives the buyer of an Android phone so much more than the buyer of a MeeGo phone. And Android will most likely at that time already be the market leader in smartphones - not Symbian (see my earlier writings).
So why does not Nokia simply change the strategy. They should be able to understand this!
It is not that simple. The current strategy is Jorma Ollila's. By sacking O-P Kallasvuo he has put the blame on the implementation, not on the strategy. Changing the strategy now is admitting that he was wrong and should perhaps have gone together with Kallasvuo. This would clearly be too much to accept for someone who has become a legend and an icon in Finland.
Should he go? Not necessarily. But he should change the strategy. The current strategy is a high risk one were Nokia is betting its undisputable leadership in hardware in order to become a leader also in software. Is reputation being put before sense?
Disclosure: NOK € 100.000