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Sold Before The “Finnish” Line: Here Are The Possible Implications Of Nokia”s Acquisition By Microsoft

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By Pradyut V. Hande:

In what many industry watchers believe was a plausible development in the offing, Microsoft Corporation is in the final stages of purchasing the mobile handset business of the now beleaguered Finnish company, Nokia. The deal valued at over 5.4 billion Euros is expected to be formally completed by early 2014, subject to approval by Nokia’s shareholders and completion of other regulatory formalities. This promises to add yet another dimension to the ongoing global smartphone war which has borne witness to proactive competitors engaging in the development of a sustainable differential advantage on the cutting edge of technological and marketing innovation.

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Nokia that once stood head and shoulders above its closest industrial rivals till the early 2000s has gradually seen its strong market position whittle away in the face of mounting competitive pressure across various platforms; most notably the smartphone segment. It’s failure to suitably respond to rapidly evolving consumer sensibilities and changing market realities coupled with the strong emergence and subsequent establishment of rivals such as Samsung, Apple, HTC, LG and off late even Google have collectively eroded its market share and brand credibility. However, despite all criticism; Nokia did valiantly attempt to stem the rot by bringing on board Microsoft’s Stephen Elop on board as CEO in 2010 who embarked on turning around the ailing company by first discarding its Symbian operating system in favour of a potentially beneficial partnership with Microsoft and then channelling its energies and resources behind the Lumia range of smartphones in 2011. The move although prudent at the time has produced mixed results globally as the Microsoft Windows Mobile platform still trails Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS powered smartphones significantly.

Microsoft’s purchase of Nokia is being viewed as an attempt to keep up with its industry rivals such as Google which purchased Motorola last year. Seamless software integration amplified by a wide variety of apps on a robust hardware mainframe is critical for any company’s success in this sector. The acquisition would provide Microsoft the opportunity to singularly manufacture, manage and control an independent product range; thereby, furthering the aforementioned agenda in an increasingly competitive environment.

At the other end of the spectrum, the sale of its mobile handset division will offer Nokia the chance to focus its attention on its network systems division where its primary competitors include the rapidly emerging Chinese company in Huawei and the increasingly sluggish Swedish giant in Ericsson. If Nokia can suitably leverage its advantage after buying out Siemens’ 50% stake in the successful Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) joint venture, then it can undermine the strengthening market position of Huawei. A measure of NSN’s consistent performance since its inception in 2007 can be gauged by the fact that it made a profit of 8 million Euros during the second quarter of the current financial year while Nokia’s mobile handset business accrued losses worth 227 million Euros in the same period. From a purely financial point of view, given the fact that capital is scarce to begin with; offloading a loss making venture to protect the overall bottom line makes sense.

Nokia’s mobile division acquisition by Microsoft throws up myriad technological and leadership oriented implications. Many believe that Stephen Elop who will be absorbed by the Silicon Valley giant along with 4,500 odd Nokia employees; is being groomed to succeed Microsoft’s current CEO, Steve Ballmer. Having worked extensively first at Microsoft and then in a major leadership role at Nokia, Elop could play a pivotal role in the strategic alignment of both companies down the line. Integrating Nokia into its organisational framework whilst restructuring the company will prove to be an immediate challenge.

It may have been on the cards, but the alacrity with which Microsoft has wrapped up the deal has taken many by surprise. For Nokia, the fall from grace has been quite spectacular. From being the leading mobile handset manufacturer for 14 years to drastically falling behind agile competitors to surrendering its Numero Uno global position to Samsung in 2012 and eventually tasting capitulation and selling out to its close ally in Microsoft. In an industry driven by constant innovation and hyper-competition, Nokia committed the cardinal sin of taking its dominant market position for granted instead of improving its value proposition to increasingly fickle target consumer segments. One false step can snowball into a series of costly blunders which can make recovery next to impossible. Whether Microsoft benefits from Nokia’s acquisition remains to be seen. However, what can be said with certitude is that the global smartphone war has just gotten that much hotter.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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