APPARENTLY Prime Minister Alexander Stubb hasn't read my book, The Decline and Fall of Nokia. If he had read it, he wouldn't have told a reporter the wrong reason why the company collapsed. Everyone makes mistakes, but Stubb's statement also implies what he thinks about blame and responsibility. It is not encouraging.
LAST week Stubb was interviewed by the American financial news broadcaster CNBC. He was talking about how the public sector's job was to build a good environment for innovation when he segued into Nokia. He stated: "A little bit paradoxically I guess one could say that the iPhone killed Nokia and the iPad killed the Finnish paper industry."
HIS statement that the iPhone killed Nokia received a lot of attention, particularly because it is wrong. He has since responded to the criticism, suggesting that he was using a metaphor for global change. That might be true, but he certainly gave the wrong message.
IF WE take Stubb literally, he was simply incorrect. Apple didn't kill Nokia. Nokia killed Nokia. It was Nokia's actions and inactions – their strategic and tactical blunders, their poor processes, their inefficient structure – which caused the decline and fall of Finland's greatest company. It wasn't Apple. Apple was more of a symptom of Nokia's weakness than a cause of it.
I COULD go into great detail about why Nokia fell. I could talk about software problems and leadership errors and irregular processes and botched products and bureaucratic inefficiencies. I do this in my book, so I won't do it here. But the bottom line on the ledger is simple: the death of Nokia's mobile phone division was an accidental suicide.
David J. Cord
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