Rise and Fall of Nokia in India: Missing Patterns

On 28th March 2013, Nokia’s senior VP (India, Middle East, Asia) D Shivakumar quit the company after serving it for eight long years.

Shiv was known for his personal conviction on the importance of leadership. His conviction ran so deep that he sponsored many leadership programs throughout the region.

However, his tenure in India saw mixed results. While Nokia gained in brand image yet it suffered in sales.

Why was that?

Firstly, it completely missed out the emerging market of dual sim wave till it was too late. While competitors launched dual sim models in quick succession Nokia had nothing to offer. When it finally entered the market it was just too late. By that time their competitors have already grabbed 60% of the market share leaving Nokia with little or no elbow room to leverage. It substantially weakened Nokia’s leadership position.

Secondly, the company also failed to notice the emergence of smart phones with Android and Apple OS.

Nokia paid a price for not noticing two significant new market patterns in time – dual sim and smart phones. Their once enviable share of 60% of the market share quickly eroded to less than 40% in a matter of say two years. It now seems that this slide is irreversible.

All because leadership failed to see emerging patterns and act in time. And their aspiration did not match the aspiration of their consumers.

A costly mistake indeed.

Do you think ‘seeing patterns’ is leadership’s number 1 job?


Note: 11th Feb 2014:

That the above analysis made about a year back was correct is confirmed by this article dated 11th Feb, on Nokia’s attempt to stop the  slide http://tinyurl.com/pevtwho 

My prediction is they would still not be able to stage a comeback. They missed a few more vital perspectives in their strategy.

2 thoughts on “Rise and Fall of Nokia in India: Missing Patterns

  1. Maybe they noticed the patterns, but were too slow to exploit them due to lack of agility and/or overconfidence in its leadership position. So, the capacity to nimbly act upon the patterns in spite of the potential gamble is key. Better to make many minor failures than lose the game completely.


    1. I agree. But there seems to be an interesting twist here. Perhaps, the company wasn’t agile enough since reality wasn’t matching their B wave. Hence they possibly did not think of trying out and failing. Their B wave was ‘connecting’, which they did so well indeed by spreading out mobile connectivity all over India. Had their B wave been ‘communicating’ they perhaps would have noticed the changes better and might have cared to be agile enough to try out and risk some failures too. This is how I thought about it. I also think agility, which is so important is highly dependent on the resonance that takes place between reality and B wave of a company or a person. Then only one would care to notice. Without such resonance there is hardly any possibility of agility. Thoughts?


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