This piece from the BBC includes an intriguing quote from an analyst (Tomi Ahonen, quoted around half way down) suggesting that Nokias woes might have been overstated and that they should look on the bright side. True, Nokia still has an immense market share, but I don’t think there’s any room for complacency. Of course, Toyota would envy Nokia’s sheer presence in the market, but they wouldn’t envy the ability of competitors to build up a huge market share and a strong brand within a very short time. And perhaps if they are to look at the motor industry, they should look at the problems encountered by the British motor industry in the 1960s and 1970s; admittedly they were hampered by dreadful industrial relations and poor quality manufacturing, but they also had a tendency to build products that the engineers wanted but which didn’t necessarily appeal to customer.
Or they could stick to IT and look at Digital Equipment, until the advent of the Smartphone the most dramatic example of a business whose traditional market disappeared because of disruptive innovation – in their case the personal computer. Jack Schofield’s obituary of Ken Olsen is a reminder of how rapid the fall of Digital Equipment was, from Fortune magazine’s hero in 1986 to acquisition by Compaq in 1998. And also even if his statement about nobody needing a computer at home was taken out of context, it’s apparent that Olsen and his company, for all their brilliance and perception, sadly misjudged the impact of the personal computer.