SANYO – NOKIA CDMA2000 JV (Interview for CNBC)

Was interviewed today about the announced JV between SANYO and Nokia for CDMA2000 phone handsets (I added some corrections here):

[Q1] How will SANYO benefit from this, since they are the ones who have the technology, what do they hope to gain from working with Nokia? Or is this merely a way to reduce costs for the company, since it’s struggling to remain profitable?

It is clear to me that NOKIA will benefit, since NOKIA needs 3G know-how from Japan because all markets where NOKIA is dominating are behind compared to Japan in 3G development, and also NOKIA needs a lot of other advanced technology from SANYO.

Of course who benefits depends both on the contract conditions and the relative strengths of the parties.

It’s clear that financially NOKIA is the much stronger of the two. NOKIA is financially very strong, while SANYO is in a very weak position, so it’s a very clever move for NOKIA.

[Q2] Is it already too late for Nokia to make such a move in the CDMA 2000 market, with strong players like Samsung, LG and Motorola already entrenched in the market?

I don’t think it’s too late – both Motorola and NOKIA demonstrated rebounds recently with new design initiatives such as Motorola’s RAZR and NOKIA did a successsful turn-round by introducing clam-shell phones a trend which NOKIA had missed by not being linked sufficiently into Japan before.

To succeed you need to make spectactular phones which match consumer needs, and you need the financial and manufacturing power as well as the brand. The combination of SANYO‘s technology with NOKIA’s financial strength and brand, as well as NOKIA’s efficient supply chain are a good basis.

[Q3] When would you expect to see the benefits of such a move to emerge?

I think one should not underestimate the cultural risks. NOKIA and SANYO have extremely different corporate cultures, and we have seen many cases where corporate cultures lead to great difficulties.

I think the key will be to manage the difference in corporate cultures of two very proud companies. Locating the JV in the USA might help.

SONY-Ericsson has demonstrated that such a JV can be successful. In the case of SONY-Ericsson it has taken several years for the JV to succeed. If one takes SONY-Ericsson as a measure, then it might take a couple of years (3-4 years) for this JV to succeed. If it’s faster than that it will be a positive surprise.

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