Josie Cox and Tarmo Virki:
Over the past five quarters, the onetime darling of mobile telecoms has eroded its cash pile by 2.1 billion euros ($2.7 billion)—a rate that would wipe out its entire 4.9 billion euros reserves in a couple years.
“Nokia’s Lumia was an attempt to catch up, but it was simply too little too late,” said Nancy Utterback, credit strategist at Aviva Investors. “I would not rule out the possibility of Nokia being downgraded further. The company is in a negative spiral that will be hard to reverse.”
While I wasn’t right back at the end of 2010 when I asserted that they’d never go with Windows Phone over MeeGo despite all the very real problems MeeGo was having—which were even deeper than I understood—I’m beginning to scratch my head and wonder if maybe I should have been right. The not-quite-MeeGo N9 proved in some ways to be a more interesting phone than the Lumia series, and it also proved to be the only interesting thing Nokia did last year.
It’s quite likely that Elop’s instincts were right and that Nokia did need to move to something like Windows Phone—but I think his instincts may have been wrong in not adapting Android instead. Android 3.x/4.x with a Nokia-built Qt layer would have had all the benefits of Android and made it much easier to port existing Qt-based Symbian and MeeGo apps, keeping Nokia’s developer community from feeling knifed in the back and making it quite reasonable for Nokia to keep releasing “high end” Symbian phones like the N8 as a stopgap through 2011 until they had their shit together. The way things have actually played out, though, the mostly-lost-year of 2011 may well have done the company in.