Oh dear, Nokia, you do seem to be in a sorry state. Your market cap has plunged almost 45% since the start of the year, your credit rating has been downgraded, your CTO has left and, even worse, it looks as if Microsoft might buy you.
Where did it all go wrong? Mmm, I would say it was around October 2008 when your new (and frankly very rude) Global Head of Marketing (can’t remember his name, Mark somebody?) decided to terminate the company’s three-year sponsorship of this newsletter, but perhaps it goes deeper than that.
Over to Malcolm Gladwell and his nebulous tipping point then. No stand-out reason, just too much market share, so-called innovation based on a big lump of Euros in the bank, some bonkers ideas such as Ovi and probably that pesky Apple and, increasingly, that Android thing muddying the waters of the old Nokia river.
I went to Helsinki last winter on a beautiful sunny day to see Nokia at their lakeside headquarters in Espoo. Unbelievably I was not only there as part of a journo-jolly, I was also there to talk about taking a job with them. While that obviously never happened, and after this newsletter will never EVER happen, I knew then they were all over.
Not only were the receptionists rude and relatively ugly, no small feat for a company that regularly rolls out dolly-birds at events and award ceremonies, but being there felt like being kettled at a London demonstration.
Nokia’s PR oaf (no names, but he had that awful South African accent that screams apartheid in its very inflection) knew the journalists were coming, but wasn’t prepared to see me with a ‘journalist’ name tag on speaking to one of Nokia’s people… without checking who I was.
Friendly fire, mate, friendly fire. I’m a writer but I’m also being head-hunted, chill out. He was on his laptop Googling my name before you could say I’ve-never-met-a-nice-South-African and then made his first-day-back-from-maternity-leave colleague usher all journalists (including me) out of the building. No visit to the labs, no coffee, nuffink.
My immediate thoughts were don’t touch this lot with a barge pole, but due to previous good faith with the company, I didn’t go social and Tweet about it, I just thought it was very sad. As the ex-Vodafone man-about-town Graeme Ferguson will testify, I’ve always loved that Nokia interface.
But the end is near and I face the final handset. On my desk in front of me is an unopened ZTE phone. I know the interface will be tough, I know that my kind-of-beloved X6 will be tough to dump, but it’s time to go.
Moreover, and in a delicious twist of fate, yesterday TechCrunch asked me to write a weekend piece for them, a ‘fun’ piece about Nokia.
Oh, you couldn’t make it up. So, in advance I’m dedicating this newsletter, and the TechCrunch piece to Nokia’s PR in Espoo. Really, mate, you brought it all on yourself. Best of luck in the future.