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商业 - 科技

诺基亚:芬兰,别为我哭泣

Michal Lev-Ram 2013年09月04日

不管微软是否收购诺基亚,这个曾经的手机巨头按照现在的路子走下去肯定没有好下场。收购之后,诺基亚现任CEO埃洛普将负责微软设备及服务部门,而这个部门的主体就是诺基亚的资产。如果埃洛普将来能当上微软的老大,诺基亚或许能迎来曙光。

    诺基亚现任CEO埃洛普有望竞争微软掌门人的职位。

    微软(Microsoft)收购诺基亚(Nokia)是不是芬兰人的悲情一日?如今手机制造商诺基亚的传奇和未来都握在微软手中,这是许多芬兰人不得不接受的痛苦现实。而且,在一夜之间,不论他们是否愿意,32,000名诺基亚员工变成了雷德蒙德科技巨头微软的一份子。然而,诺基亚的业务从很早之前便开始持续下滑,即使微软没有突然出手,以72亿美元收购其设备及服务部门,诺基亚也不会有什么好下场。此外,这笔交易或许能够给这家芬兰品牌带来一线生机,帮助它恢复昔日的势头。尤其是如果诺基亚CEO史蒂芬•埃洛普能得到雷德蒙德的最高职位的话,此种可能性就更大了。曾是微软高管的埃洛普,如今被认为是最近形势突变的罪魁祸首。

    诺基亚曾是全球头号智能手机制造商,如今却连前五名也进不了。虽然它的非凡(Lumia)系列手机销量一直在增长,但增长速度不足以抵消其他产品的大幅下跌。最近一个季度,这家公司的收益比之前一年减少了24%。近几年,它的股票一直在持续下跌。到底发生了什么?原因或许有很多,但傲慢自大和罔顾成本、一味追求市场份额的错误做法是最主要的两个原因。与黑莓(BlackBerry)一样,诺基亚并没有认真对待2007年刚刚面世的iPhone手机。美国市场也是在后来才引起诺基亚的重视。如今,美国市场已经被全球领先的两大智能手机操作系统,也就是苹果(iPhone)的iOS和谷歌(Google)的安卓占领。外面的世界日新月异,诺基亚高管们却依然坚守着老化的塞班(Symbian)操作系统,结果浪费了太多的时间。

    2010年,埃洛普加入诺基亚时,这家公司的声誉与市场份额都已经遭受重挫。2011年高通(Qualcomm)召开手机开发者大会,埃洛普当时对听众们说:“过去两年的趋势是从设备竞争转向生态系统竞争。”果然,埃洛普入主公司之后不久就采取了一系列大胆举措,其中最重要的就是将公司的命运与微软的Windows操作系统捆绑在一起。诺基亚非凡系列手机便是两家公司联姻的结晶。虽然埃洛普的忠诚(和领导公司的能力)一直备受诟病,但非凡系列智能手机应该是诺基亚很长一段时间来最出色的一款产品。

    埃洛普在诺基亚的任职一直饱受争议,但与内部人员不同,他可以使公司放弃塞班,把赌注押在更可行的(虽然并不是很受欢迎的)操作系统上。虽然这可能是杯水车薪,而且为时已晚,而且埃洛普随后带领公司进行的转变也并非完美无缺。但考虑到公司从2011年便已注定的发展轨迹,此次公司与微软的交易也就不值得大惊小怪了。投资者对此次交易表示欢迎,诺基亚公司的股票在周二上午也暴涨超过了40%。

    富国银行(Wells Fargo)高级分析师梅纳德•阿姆在一份报告中写道:“我们认为,此次交易对诺基亚更为有利。因为,我们认为鉴于激烈的竞争和有限的产品接受度,诺基亚设备与服务部门的未来充满了风险。此次交易和收回合资公司诺基亚西门子公司(Nokia Siemens Network,NSN)将使诺基亚完成向网络基础设施业务的转变。”(诺基亚的剩余业务包括通讯设备业务、地图技术和专利许可部门)。阿姆补充说,更重要的是,这笔交易将增强微软-诺基亚合作的产品组合的财政实力。当然,前提是微软打好手中的牌。

    It's a sad day for Finland. Or is it? Sure, much of the phonemaker's storied legacy -- and future -- is now in Microsoft's hands, a bitter pill to swallow for many Finns. And yes, 32,000 Nokia employees will become part of the Redmond-based tech giant's empire overnight, whether they like it or not. But Nokia's (NOK) downward spiral began a long time ago, and the company wasn't headed toward any kind of happy ending, with or without Microsoft (MSFT) swooping in to buy its devices and services business for $7.2 billion. What's more, the deal may actually give the Finnish brand a sliver of a chance to regain some of its lost momentum. Especially if Stephen Elop -- yes, the Nokia CEO and former Microsoft exec now blamed for this most recent turn of events -- lands the top job in Redmond.

    Nokia, once the top smartphone manufacturer in the world, no longer cracks the top five. Sales of its Lumia line of phones have been growing, but not fast enough to offset massive drops in other products. In the company's most recent quarter, revenue fell 24% compared with the prior year. Its stock has been in decline for years. What happened? There were many causes for the downfall, but arrogance and a misguided focus on growing market share no matter the costs are two big ones. Like BlackBerry (BBRY), Nokia didn't take the iPhone's 2007 debut seriously. The U.S. market -- now home to the two leading smartphone operating systems in the world, Apple's (AAPL) iOS and Google's (GOOG) Android -- was merely an afterthought. And even as the world around them was changing, company execs clung to Symbian, Nokia's aging operating system, for far too long.

    By the time Elop came on board in 2010, Nokia's reputation and market share were already tanking. "What has happened over the last couple of years is there has been a shift from a battle of devices to a war of ecosystems," Elop told an audience of mobile developers at a Qualcomm (QCOM) conference in 2011. Sure enough, soon after he took over the company, the CEO made a series of bold moves, most significantly hitching the company's fate to Microsoft's Windows operating system. The resulting offspring of that marriage is Nokia's Lumia line of phones. And while Elop's loyalties (and ability to lead the Finnish company) have been questioned, the Lumia smartphones are probably the best thing out of Espoo in a long time.

    Elop's tenure at Nokia has been controversial, but unlike insiders he had the ability to divorce the company from Symbian and make a much-needed bet on a more viable operating system (albeit not a very popular one). It may have been too little, too late, and the "turnaround" Elop has subsequently led hasn't been flawless, to say the least. But this week's sale to Microsoft isn't surprising given the trajectory laid out in 2011. Investors are welcoming the deal, sending Nokia's share price up over 40% Tuesday morning.

    "We view this positively for Nokia, as we believe the path for the Device & Services business was fraught with peril given competitive forces and its limited product acceptance," Maynard Um, a senior analyst with Wells Fargo, wrote in a report. "This sale and the buyout of the Nokia Siemens Network (NSN) joint venture all but completes the transformation of Nokia into a network infrastructure-focused business." (The remaining Nokia will consist of the company's telecom equipment business, mapping technologies and an IP licensing division). What's more, added Um, the sale puts more "financial muscle" behind the combined Microsoft-Nokia portfolio of products. That is, of course, if Microsoft plays its cards right.

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