Nokia descended into irrelevancy and rather than learning from their mistakes, gave up its independence and chose the wrong ally.
First, the title of this article: Yes, Anssi Vanjoki said that Nokia relying on Android for its devices was like peeing on your pants for warmth in the winter, when he was executive vice president of devices and front runner to become the CEO. Then, like a friend of mine said, becoming Microsoft's bitch has got to be worse than shitting on your pants. Elop said about using Android that the "option was carefully examined, but would have left Nokia with little control over its destiny and killed its ability to differentiate from rivals" (quoted from here, got link from here). Am I the only one who thinks this is an evident oxymoron? how's any better turning Microsoft's bitch than being one of the many Android suppliers?, turning Microsoft's bitch let's you differentiate, alright, as the dumb choice.
There are several precedents that illustrate how bad the decision to dump Symbian (a nice platform, by the way) not to go Android but Windows 7 is; I will mention only one for brevity and similarity, Motorola. Apple (or Steven Jobs) screwed them with the Rokr, the precursor of the iPhone, and at one point, they only had bad products in the market, zero credibility, and looked pretty much done, a company soon to become another roadkill of emerging technologies. Fast forward a few years, and now, they have placed four extremely good products in the market: The original Droid (1) (called "Milestone" in other parts of the world), which I acquired in November 2009 and I still use, which I think was the best smartphone for a couple of months (the iPhone had greater processing power, but not so much more to compensate for the disadvantages of AT&T vs. Verizon and Android), then the Droid X came, the Droid 2, and now the Xoom. Using Motorola went in 18 months from being a shame to becoming cool.
Back when the Rokr was launched, I predicted it was going to flop, and that Apple will get in the handtop business with an iPad + Palm Pilot + mobile telephone and that this will be hugely successful because Apple would allow what nobody else dared: a platform open to developers that could take the product to the infinite of its possibilities; and the capability of creating a foundation of high quality. I was sure of the high quality, because Apple had the experiences of consumer electronics from the iPod, including video; the applications for Mac OS X; the porting of Mac OS X to x86 which strongly indicated the capability to port it to ARM, and the nature of Mac OS X itself, classical Unix plus the Apple intellectual property on graphics, media and user interfaces; although I was not certain about the freedom to make applications. I just thought that was the natural thing to do. For exactly the same reasons, the way that they apply to Microsoft, I am certain that they will continue to fail; and Apple allowed some freedom to make apps for the iPhone, for sure, but fell way shorter of what I expected or hoped for. Then, as I have repeatedly said, the opportunity for what became Android was left open, a truly free platform, and Android arose to the point of beginning to displace iOS one year after launched; and "snowballing" on the combined creative energies of multiple hardware manufacturers and thousands upon thousands of developers that leverage the great default application set developed by Google which feedsback on raving user and consumer enthusiasm.
Microsoft used all of its might for Windows 7 mobile, came to market with an otherwise compelling product, but the market rejected it as not up to the standard set by iOS and Android, it just isn't. And this is the platform Nokia chose. It is doomed to fail catastrophically. You only have to see that RIMM/Blackberry is fighting for its survival because the iPhone is entrenching and Android is growing by leaps and bounds.
In previous posts, especially "Exploration" (2) I have explained at length about why there is no substitute for real knowledge in the direction of a company. I submit another example of this, Sanjay Jha, since I mentioned the case of Motorola: he is not a marketroid, he is an engineer. I think a marketroid would choose Windows over Android, the big, established partner; versus the upcomer. We have seen the results of Sanjay Jha; we will see how Elop's Nokia will go to hell pulled by Windows
There is more to say about this theme...
(1) I recently discovered that what came to be the Droid was originally designed and developed as a Windows Mobile phone. Hard to imagine how it could have turned to be the fortunes-reversal product it was if so.
(2) From "Dirk Meyer", third footnote:
I dread showmanship in leaders. Examples: Steven Jobs, before ratifying his genius has thrice-empire-builder (Apple, Pixar, and Apple again) ran Apple, his first empire, into the ground, and had a diet of humble pie for years. Carly Fiorina and her nonsensical acquisition of Compaq; Jeffrey Skilling of Enron, etc. Observe that showmanship is all it takes to convince the meek to take great risks; while real knowledge is what determines their success, showmanship is therefore bound inexorably towards disaster, and the sooner it happens (Steve Jobs), the better.