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But it's unclear if ditching WinPhone would fix Nokia's deep issues

Magnus Rehle, a senior partner at telecom advising firm Greenwich Consulting, tells Reuters in an interview, "Elop has not been able to attract customers and that is what counts. You can say that he has not had enough time, but he has been there for two years. Time is up."

He's referring to Nokia Oyj. (HEX:NOK1V) CEO Stephen Elop, the former Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) executive who now leads the embattled Finnish phonemaker.

Patience with Mr. Elop is wearing thin among investors.  Danske Invest Finnish Equity Fund is one large Nokia shareholder.  Juha Varis one of the fund's members comments, "The Christmas season is a lost cause. For Nokia, if there is any chance, it will be Spring.  The beginning of next year may be the final judgment. I think that maybe the end of the first quarter is the marking point."

Nordea analyst Sami Sarkamies comments, "He has been making some brave decisions and courage is something this company has lacked for a long time before Elop joined.  His starting point was really weak and it's hard to say someone else would have done a better job."

Stephen Elop
Nokia CEO Stephen Elop [Image Source: Mark Vlander/Getty Images]

But Reuters reports that even Mr. Sakarmies views Q1/Q2 2013 as the point at which Nokia must turn the quarter or show Mr. Elop the door.

Nokia's failures are correlated to Microsoft's Windows Phone platform, but responsibility for causation doesn't necessarily rest on the shoulders of Mr. Elop's decision to go Windows Phone.  Rather, it was arguably from making the decision to early (perhaps) and taking a bizarrely long time to get Windows Phone product to market.

Now Nokia's Windows Phone 8 lineup is facing stiff competition from HTC Corp. (TPE:2498) and Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KSC:005930) who previously had paid little interest to the platform.  At the same time Apple, Inc. (AAPL) and Samsung's Android lineup are consistently outselling Nokia's Lumia Windows Phones.

The question is what should Nokia do?  Some like Mr. Rehle believe Nokia should ditch Windows Phone and use Android.  A switch to Android would certainly lower costs, but at a price.  First, Nokia would lose its payments from Microsoft.  Second, abandoning Microsoft for Google Inc.'s (GOOG) open source OS could lead to some big legal risks, given Apple and Microsoft's aggressive litigation history (Nokia does have a cross-licensing deal with Apple, but its exact scope is unclear).

Android statues
Some investors want Nokia to jump ship to Android. [Image Source: AndroidModo]

On the other hand, with Samsung and HTC on the verge of fleeing to Windows Phone, if Nokia stays, it could find itself being shown up in a market it was groomed by Microsoft to be the star of.

Source: Reuters

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RE: Huh?
By aurareturn on 9/19/2012 8:40:09 PM , Rating: 2
Anyone who actually believes Nokia can turn the ship around is crazy.

If Nokia goes to Android, it can't compete with Samsung and HTC in phone design. Nokia is too late to the game. Doesn't have a brand-name in the Android market. Would take them years to build the image that Samsung and HTC have with Android.

If MS' OS does miraculously succeed, other superior hardware makers like Samsung and HTC will just storm in and make better phones.

Nokia has lost its advantage. It's not longer the best hardware maker and it doesn't even have its own OS anymore.

RIM part II.

RE: Huh?
By Kyuu on 9/19/2012 9:52:35 PM , Rating: 3
I agree that Nokia doesn't have the brand-name image of Samsung or HTC in the Android market, but I'm wondering on what basis you make the assertion that Nokia is an inferior hardware maker. Have you actually compared the Lumias, Samsung's Ativ S, and the HTC 8X/8S?

The Lumias are generally regarded as the nicest pieces of hardware coming out period, WP8 phone or otherwise -- only major complaint is the weight, but I wonder how many people actually give a crap about an extra couple tenths of a pound). Of course not everyone will like them, and the Samsung Ativ S looks nice (being basically a WP8 version of the GS3 with an attractive brushed-aluminum back). The HTCs are nice enough but not terribly interesting unless you prefer smaller phones.

RE: Huh?
By othercents on 9/20/2012 10:13:56 AM , Rating: 2
I agree, while Nokia isn't known in the Android market they are well known for making reliable phones especially compared to Samsung which are more flimsy than Nokia. Personally I would be using a Lumia now except they took too long to get to market. I'm using a Samsung Focus S.

Keep in mind Samsung and HTC were the initial release partners for Windows Phone 7 on November 8, 2010. Nokia decided to go to Windows Phone 7 during the Mango release and the Lumia 800 arrived on Dec 2011 in the US.

RE: Huh?
By JKflipflop98 on 9/20/2012 7:46:26 AM , Rating: 2
While I certainly agree that it's a long-shot, nothing is impossible. They may very well come out of left field with the next iPhone that everyone just has to have.

Highly improbable? You betcha. Completely impossible? Nope.

RE: Huh?
By Strunf on 9/20/2012 7:55:17 AM , Rating: 3
Why are you reducing the brand name to the android market when Nokia as a company has a much better image than HTC, if the average joe goes to buy a smartphone chances are he will recognize much faster the Nokia brand than HTC.

Also you're very incorrect if you think Nokia can't compete in design... the new Lumia stand out easily, HTC not soo much.

In terms of hardware, Nokia has always been top notch with phones that last and features not seen anywhere else, like the 40Mpx cameras...

Nokia lost its advantage but don't count them dead yet, their only stupidity was to move exclusively to windows phone and announcing it long before having actual products made them 2x more stupid... that said they are still in the game and the Lumias prove it.

Nokia today is the perfect example of wasted potential, when you have a brand name like Nokia you don't go around doing beginner mistakes! This whole chapter for me was nothing more than a ploy from MS to give an extra boost to windows phone at the expense of Nokia.

RE: Huh?
By sgns on 9/20/2012 9:11:37 AM , Rating: 2
Nokia today is the perfect example of wasted potential, when you have a brand name like Nokia you don't go around doing beginner mistakes! This whole chapter for me was nothing more than a ploy from MS to give an extra boost to windows phone at the expense of Nokia.

This. I agree 100%. Nokia squandered their uniqueness (they should really have rebranded Meego – and thrown money at buying UX people from Palm for example, and never went MS exclusive). I'm sad to say this looks like a weakness of Elop's era – he has to my knowledge not either delivered a positive vision (in contrast to the unfortunate – because it still stands out in a major way – burning platform memo), or preserved the heritage. Even if N9 looked great, abandoning it made the Lumias look like an afterthought.

It's easy to see that Nokia didn't know how to build an ecosystem/software like Apple, or the chips that Samsung do. They bet on their hardware being enough… but then MS should have not messed up, and Nokia should not have let anybody mess up the execution one bit.

Unfortunately, with only hardware (and maps and music services) their own, there's very little left to recognize them for when MS doesn't deliver and Nokia's shipping dates slip. It looks very ugly. My Finnish-born heart bleeds.

Episode 16 of the Talk Show with John Gruber, where he interviews Om Malik and they talk about Nokia (good discussion) brought me here. :| The link:

RE: Huh?
By Reclaimer77 on 9/20/2012 12:44:51 PM , Rating: 1
If Nokia goes to Android, it can't compete with Samsung and HTC in phone design.

Why couldn't they? That's the great thing about Android, ANYONE can make a great phone for it.

Think about what Android has done for the non-Apple smartphone market! It's allowed players we've barely heard of to compete. Who was HTC before Android came along? Did anyone buy their phones before? Sure they made some stuff before Android came along, but they weren't a household name.

So when you say Nokia "can't compete" with others in phone design, I have a big issue with that statement. History is against you.

RE: Huh?
By zephyrprime on 9/20/2012 12:57:38 PM , Rating: 1
I don't think Samsung and especially HTC have super strong brands in the Android market. Also, I don't even agree that the idea of an "Android market" has much mindshare at all with the general public because the general phone buying public doesn't think about this stuff much at all. Only the iphone and apple have any significant mindshare in the public as brands when it comes to phones. For techies, it's a different story but techies are 1% of the market.

RE: Huh?
By Mint on 9/20/2012 2:12:29 PM , Rating: 4
Every non-Samsung maker for Android is basically fighting for scraps. Those scraps are big enough for HTC, LG, etc. to be happy, but not Nokia. In order for them to take substantial share away from Samsung, they'd have to make a much better phone, and I don't think that's possible without some serious Samsung blunders.

WP8 is the only realistic way to give Nokia a chance at being a top dog again. If they stuck with Symbian, it would be a RIM redux. If they went with Android 3 years ago, they may have had a chance, but it's too late now. If they go Android now, their fate is sealed as a bit player.

Elop made the right choice. The best of WP8 is still to come a year or two down the road, particularly with Intel's x86 mobile penetration being an unstoppable train due to their process advantage.

"We are going to continue to work with them to make sure they understand the reality of the Internet.  A lot of these people don't have Ph.Ds, and they don't have a degree in computer science." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis

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