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Day April 24, 2012

Unforgiven: The consequences of profit failure in mobile phones

In June of last year I wrote a post titled “Does the phone market forgive failure?” It was written on the eve of Nokia’s Q2 2011 report highlighting the historic consequences of a dip into negative operating margins for a phone vendor.

I listed 13 phone vendors who were either merged, liquidated or acquired. There are no examples of vendors who recovered from a position of loss making.

I was prompted to follow-up by a note Charter Equity Research analyst Edward Snyder wrote illustrating the effect of negative operating margins on phone vendors. I took his illustration and expanded it with additional data.

Since my post in June last year Sony Ericsson and Motorola were acquired making the victims list total 14 companies, with Nokia, LG and RIM having joined the “endangered species list”. If the pattern repeats, then RIM and Nokia are in early phases of what promises to be an extended period of pain followed by an exit.

What the analysis does not answer is