Modern Economy, 2011, 2, 395-402
doi:10.4236/me.2011.23043 Published Online July 2011 (
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. ME
Strategy Orientation Analysis in the Mobile Phone
Case Business
Ville Isoherranen1, Pekka Kess2
1Elektroniikkatie, Finland Nokia Oyj, Oulu, Finland
2Department of Industrial Engineering and Management Faculty of Engineering, University of Oulu, Finland
Received February 16, 2011; revised April 13, 2011 ; accepted April 27, 2011
The focus on this research is to evaluate the characteristics of technology orientation (technology push),
market orientation (market pull), customer focus and product focus in the case business strategy. In addition
to plotting the dynamics of these four strategy dimensions over time, the four-way analysis framework is
developed. This development is based on Nokia’s mobile phone business. Its past successful business and
product transformations contribute to the selection. The findings show strong product focus in case business
strategy with developments towards market-orientation.
Keywords: Strategy, Strategy Analysis Framework, Technology Orientation, Market-Orientation, Customer
Focus, Product Focus, Technology Push, Market Pull
1. Introduction
The increasing power of buyers in highly competitive
markets forces companies to get closer to customers in
order to maintain their business and to create value-
adding solutions to capture more revenue from their cus-
tomer base [1-3]. Strategy creation in highly competitive
market has been discussed e.g. by Porter [4], Hamel and
Prahalad [5], Moore [6], and Kim and Mauborgne [7]. In
addition, the continuous flow of new products and dis-
ruptive new technologies are the essential characteristics
of global and vibrant telecommunications ecosystems.
This forces companies towards more efficient operations
to succeed in this highly competitive market [7-9].
Technology oriented companies strategy is based on
the technology assets or skills their posses. Their drive is
to push the new technology to market and create winning
strategy by being the first to deploy that technology or the
one deploying the most advanced technology in the on-
going race of technology innovations [5,6]. Market ori-
entated companies, focused on market pull, are having
long-term commitment to understand customer needs, and
thus developing innovative solutions by discovering
hidden customer needs and new markets [11,12]. Enter-
prises in all industry areas want to be more custo-
mer-centric. Customer focus in strategy can e.g. appear as
mass customization or personalization strategies [13].
Customer focus can be seen as organization strategy to
respond to customers expressed demand [11]. Product
focused strategy can be seen as internally focused com-
pany’s strategy that pursuits competitive advantage by
delivering cutting-edge products with best features, based
its core-competences [3].
This interesting four way (technology orientation,
technology push; market orientation, market pull; cus-
tomer focus and product focus) orientation and interaction
of strategy focus, that has not previously been extensively
researched, will be analysed and discussed in this study,
and empirical study will be conducted by analyzing case
business strategy.
The case business Nokia is an old Finnish company.
Company has been founded in 1865. In 1995, it focused
on telecommunication businesses and in 2007 in mobile
phone products and services, when the network systems
business merged with Siemens and Nokia Siemens Net-
works was established. Nokia is the global leader in mo-
bile telecommunications and has dominated the telecom
market for years. Nokia shipped 2009 over 430 million
units of mobile devices, average of over 1.1 million units
a day and thus reaching market share of estimated 35% of
mobile devices market [14]. The transformation of Nokia
from a company constructed of several different business
areas, such as car tyres, cables, TV’s and industry elec-
tronics, to company that has focus on telecommunication
has been remarkable. Nokia made strategic decision to
focus on one of its business areas, and has been able to
grow significantly due to this strategic choice. Especially,
this choice has been followed by long growth in sales of
Nokia’s mobile phones and thus Nokia has gained leading
market position in mobile phone market. This success and
growth makes Nokia mobile phone business interesting
case example to study strategy orientation during life
cycle phases due to its ability to maintain competitiveness.
In addition, the ongoing transformation of Nokia from
mobile phones focused company to also as a provider of
internet-based services, also make Nokia’s mobile phone
business relevant research case for strategy orientation in
reference to life cycle position. Nokia’s strategy has been
especially discussed by Doz and Kosonen [15], from the
viewpoint of strategic agility. Other academic papers
written about Nokia cover e.g. topics from open innova-
tion and innovation networks [16], Nokia’s growth suc-
cess factors [17] and the fundamental change that Nokia
brough to telecommuniation industry [18].
This study can be condensed to the following research
RQ1: What are the characteristics of the technology
orientation, market orientation, customer focus and
product focus in strategy?
RQ2: What is the framework to analyze this 4-way
orientation of the case company strategy?
2. Strategy Erientations
2.1. Technology Orientation, ‘Technology Push’
First, technology push is a term used for the approach in
which the technology innovation is pushed to the market
starting from internal development via production to
marketing function. In the ‘market pull’ approach in the
other hand the signal for development starts from the
expressed market need [19]. This is illustrated in the
Figure 1. Due to nature of this approach, the technology
orientation focus in strategy, pushing new technology to
market, which has not expressed explicitly its demand for
such technology, creates greater uncertainty for success in
the marketplace. Technology orientation characteristics
are large research and development investments, drive for
big leap in the technology development, long term focus
and duration of development projects. Also not only there
is uncertainty of the market demand, but also about the
technology itself, its feasibility and maturity [20-22].
According to Walsh et al. [23] technology push strat-
egy can based both, on the company’s internal compe-
tences, or on the external signal of disruptive technology.
The internal development can lead to new technology or
major improvement of existing one, technology push
Figure 1. Technology push vs. market pull (adapted from
Martin, [19]).
originated from external source leads to creative de-
stroying of old technologies. Overall the technology ori-
ented strategy wants to create competitive advantage from
the technology advancements and from the adoption of
new technologies [24].
2.2. Market Orientation ‘Market Pull’
The Brem and Voigt [25] summarize “the market pull to
be characterized by unsatisfied customer that creates new
demand, which requires problem solving”. The impulse
comes from individuals or groups that state their demand.
According to Day [26] market-driven companies know
their markets deeply so that they are able to identify
valuable customers. Thus these companies are able to
make strategic choices and implement those consistently.
Day [12] also adds that market orientation represents
superior skills in understanding and satisfying customers.
According to Day [26] the characteristics of mar-
ket-driven organizations are offering superior solutions
and experience, focus on customer value, ability to con-
vert customer satisfaction into loyalty, drive to energize
employees, anticipation of competitor moves by intimate
market understanding, viewing marketing as investment
and not as costs and leveraging brands assets. Also Day
[12] lists the market-driven company features to be a set
of beliefs that puts customer’s interest first, ability to
generate and use information about customers and com-
petitors, and the ability to coordinate resources for cus-
tomer value creation. Slater and Narver [27] summarize
market orientation to be continuous collection of target
customers’ needs and competitors’ capabilities. Hartline
et al. [28] state “market orientation to be organizational
culture that creates effectively and efficiently superior
value to buyers and thus excellent business performance”.
Slater and Narver [11] describe the market-oriented ap-
proach to be “long-term, proactive, commitment to un-
derstand customer needs, both expressed and latent, and
develop innovate solutions for ensuring high customer
value”. At the same time, market-oriented companies,
understanding that different types of customers provide
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. ME
different levels of information and that customer voice is
only one source of information for building strategies.
The market-oriented approach enables companies to de-
liver market focused innovation and sustainable competi-
tive advantage by their commitment to continuous market
learning, discovering latent needs and hidden markets
Here we define the market pull strategies characteris-
tics to be synonymous of market-oriented and mar-
ket-driven strategy characteristics (Figure 1).
2.3. Customer Focus
Tseng and Piller [13] present the customer focus to be
putting the customer at the center of the enterprise and
building processes and systems towards serving custom-
ers as individuals. Customer culture within organization is
basically thinking the key decisions, key investments and
key processes from customer point of view. It is about
putting the customer first both in everyday business op-
erations and from strategic planning initiatives. This is
done based on company’s the inbuilt values, behavior
models and competences which in the end make the cul-
ture of a company to be customer focused [29]. Slater and
Narver [11] differentiate the customer-led and market
oriented as customer-led is seen as reactive approach that
focuses on the expressed desires of customers and fails to
deliver sustainable competitive advantage by failing to
recognize the not stated customer requirements, which
can be source for innovations. However, Connor [30]
criticizes this approach to not to be taken into considera-
tion the firms size as factor, and with neglecting the short
term survival needs of businesses, thus these approaches
need to be in balance. In response Slater and Narver [31]
clarify their position of stating the nature of continuum of
market learning, and that exclusively customer-led com-
panies do not achieve full benefits of being mar-
ket-oriented. And they draw comparison with Miles et al.
[32] typology of which any chosen strategy may be suc-
cessful, but that in market-orientation strategy continuum
the more advanced businesses do better. Hartline et al. [28]
defines to customer orientation to be a set of beliefs that
puts the customer’s interest first, but balancing this with
other stakeholder’s requirements, and they also combine
the aspects of customer orientation to market orientation.
Kelly [33] concludes that “customer focus can be result of
mutually beneficial long-term relationship with custom-
Mass customization and personalization approaches are
the essential characteristics of customer focus in the
strategy level. The basic idea of being customer centric in
mass customization is to achieve the individual customer
requirements without any significant increase in produc-
tion or distribution costs. The competitive advantage of
mass customization is based on combining the efficiency
of mass production with the differentiation possibilities.
Also the agile manufacturing, focused factories, flexible
specialization, lean manufacturing; customer relationship
management can be presented as the strategies for ful-
filling the changing customer requirements [13].
Mass customization characteristics include stable
process that is not re-invented for each customer but that
main process is flexible enough to produce based on the
needs of the different customers. Also there is pre-build
“solution base” which sets the boundaries for differentia-
tion. Also there is focus on the relationship building by e.g.
collecting of data of the customer needs and requirements.
The overall customization is kept under cost control so
that the price does not increase resulting in possible
market segment switch. [13].
Personalization characteristics include frequent com-
munication and interaction with the customer. The proc-
ess is information intense, and has been especially
adopted in the internet based services business. The in-
formation of the customer is exchanged to product fea-
tures or attributes. The recommendation plays important
role in personalization strategy. Recommendation based
on customer attributes can be used to propose set or bun-
dle from the existing standard products, which created
added value for customer with minimum effort. This
capability to delivery personal configuration is one of the
key parts of building personalization in to strategy [13].
We define customer focus in strategy in this research to
have the characteristics of customer centric approach,
mass customization and personalization (Figure 2).
2.4. Product Focus
Galbraith [3,34] defines the characteristics of prod-
uct-centric company from 13 different viewpoints. We
Figure 2. Four-way strategy orientation framework.
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consider the most important views from strategy point of
view to be the goal, value creation route, customer defi-
nition, organizational setup, reward priorities, the priority
setting basis and the pricing. Also the aspects of organ-
izational setup and reward priorities together with meas-
urement of success are essential aspects to consider. Ac-
cording to Galbraith the goal of product product-centric
company is to create the best product for customer. The
value creation route is the cutting-edge products, useful
features and new applications. Highest customer priority
is given to most advanced customers. The organizational
setup focuses on product profit centers and the reward
focuses e.g. on the market share. The priority setting of is
based on portfolio of products. Thompson [2] describes
the transformation journey of inward-focused product
driven company via market-focused company to cus-
tomer-centric company. The characteristics of company
focused on the core competences, with certain inward-
focus, also can be identified as part of the product-focused
company [5].
We define the product focused in strategy in this re-
search to have the characteristics of product-oriented
2.5. Framework
We have summarized based on the literature analysis the
main characteristics of the strategy orientations of tech-
nology orientation, market orientation, customer focus
and product focus to Table 1.
Based on this collection we have created four-way
strategy orientation framework that will use for analysis
(Figure 2). In this framework the different orientation
characteristics are fitted together. The sections are named
with the characterizing heading from Table 1. Here we
have fitted in the opposite ends of the x-axis the tech-
nology orientation and market orientation, and in the
opposite ends of the y-axis the customer focus and prod-
-uct focus. This is based on and consistent with the find-
ings of the literature review, and the characteristics listed
for each orientation. The framework highlights the trade-
off nature of the different orientations or focus directions,
thus the mapping on the opposite ends of the axis.
3. Empirical Study
3.1. Research Process
The research process is described in the Figure 3. The
strategy orientations were studied by using existing lit-
erature as a source. The output of the literature review was
the synthesis in form of the analysis framework. This
phase where followed by the case material empirical data
collection. This empirical data was collected from the
annual reports of the case business through the years
1990-2009. This empirical data consisted of 20 case
business annual reports (Appendix 1). Time span of
nearly 20 years was considered to be sufficiently wide in
the fast changing telecommunication markets and to bring
extensive knowledge on the case business strategy de-
velopment. These reports where available in printed
format in Finnish and in electronic format both in Finnish
and English. Both the printed and electronic version
where used to achieve rich insight on the case business
strategy. After this collection phase, the strategy orienta-
tion framework (Figure 2) was then used to analyze the
empirical case data. The analysis was conducted in four
parts (Figure 4.) to reflect the case business different life
cycle positions.
3.2. Results and Analysis
The case business strategy orientation in the period of the
1990-1994 is showing the characteristics of the technol-
ogy orientation, ‘technology push’. At the first part of this
period case business has made strategic choice to con-
centrate to telecommunications business, which is explicit
sign of long term commitment to development within this
Table 1. Strategy orientation characteristics summary.
Strategy orientation
characteristics Technology orientation
‘Technology push’
Market orientation, ‘Market
pull’ Customer focus Product focus
a)Large research and development
a)Ability to identify
a)Focus on expressed
customer needs
a)Focus on creation of
best product
b)Drive for big advancements in
technology b)Focus on customer value b) Stable customization
process with boundaries
b) Focus on features
and new applications
c) Long term focus and duration
of development initiatives
c) Ability to generate
information about customers
c) Collecting data and
requirements of
customer needs
c) Creation of
portfolio of products
d) Adoption of new technologies
d) Long-term proactive drive
to understand customer
d) Cost focused
customization and
d) Inward-focused
strategy approach,
‘core competences’
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Figure 3. The research process.
Figure 4. Strategy orientation analysis of the case business.
technology based market. This is followed by investments
focus to research and development activities to pursuit the
new emerging business opportunities of adapting new
digital communications standard (GSM). During this
period the case business is increasing heavily its invest-
ments to R&D. This is visible e.g. by opening new R&D
sites to Oulu and Salo. Also the production investments
are considerable during this period. Case business is
pursuing advancement in technology to achieve competi-
tive advantage.
The period of 1995-2000 the case business continues to
have the characteristics of the technology oriented strat-
egy which can be seen as the continuance of the large
investments to research and development, followed by
focus on international standardization of new technologies.
However the dominating characteristics are the product
focus in the strategy. This is visible with the focus on the
development of portfolio of products for to satisfy the
needs of different segment on customers. Especially the
corporate users’ and private users’ needs are identified.
Case business aims for developing the best product with
high focus on the e.g. design and latest features of mobile
phones. During this period also the customer focus, in form
of regional organizations and the mass customization
needs are raising. There is example e.g. of the customi-
zation of the mobile phone keyboard for Chinese users.
Differentiation is driven by differences in customer base
as the different customer requirements are being collected.
The period of 2001-2006 the case business continues to
have strong product focus in the strategy. Also there is
less mentioned about the customer focus. The strategy
focus seems to be focused on the internal development
initiatives and moreover the development of widening
product portfolio. During 2001 there is launched 22 new
mobile phone models, during 2002, 34 new mobile phone
models, and e.g. during 2003, 2005 and 2006 staggering
about 40 new mobile phone models on each year. Case
business focuses on development of new features and
responding the different customer needs with large variety
of products. Especially there are examples of develop-
ment of color displays, QWERTYkeyboards, mega-
pixel cameras as new high end features. Also the case
business strategy shows drive to find new purposes to use
of its products e.g. in the area gaming. The decision to
establish new organizational setup of nine product busi-
ness units to optimize economies of scale and drive for
market share gains towards the set long term target shows
characteristics of product focused organization.
The period of 2007-2009 shows indications of change
in the case business strategy. The product dimension
continues to be strong but the also the market-orientation
is becoming visible. There is strategic drive to pursuit
development of internet services businesses by acquisi-
tion of several companies, e.g. music and navigation ser-
vices. Also the more long term commitment for under-
standing customer needs and delivering holistic solutions
for their needs is coming visible at the end for the exam-
ined period e.g. by establishing dedicated solutions unit.
Also there are signs of exclusive customization efforts for
key customer of certain model. This is consistent with the
customer focus characteristics.
The strategy focus development of the case business is
summarized in the Figure 4.
As a conclusion the orientation dynamics of the case
business is as described in Figure 5. The case business
strategy change is drawn as arrows on top the four-way
analysis framework. The case business strategy orienta-
tion starts from the left corner position of the technology
orientation, followed by shift to product focused strategy
with the customer focus elements. The case business
returns then to more purely to product focused strategy.
At the end of the examined period case business continues
to have product focused strategy but showing emerging
signs of moving towards market-oriented company with
long-term commitment to create holistic solutions.
4. Managerial Implications
The four-way strategy analysis framework (Figure 2)
Figure 5. Four-way strategy orientation dynamics of the
case business.
build from literature references combines the two domi-
nating dimensions in the current strategy thinking: the
market based (demand based) strategies and the product
based strategies. Examples of the market based strategies
can be found from the thinking of Porter [4] (differentia-
tion or cost leadership) and the thinking of Hamel and
Prahalad [5] (core competences) presents good example
of the product-based strategies. This framework enables
analysis in both of these domains by identification of key
characteristics. Product level strategies that in many oc-
casions derive from company’s core competences of
technology (Technology push), and the product-centric
strategies, make the analysis framework’s product based
strategies section. The market based strategies section is
build from the customer focused strategies and mar-
ket-oriented strategies (market pull).
The strategy orientation analysis framework enables
managers responsible of strategy development to analyze
their company’s position in the demand-based or prod-
uct-based domains, and then more accurately to point the
position to one of the four dimensions. Also not only the
current position but the change over time in the com-
pany’s strategy position can be analyzed using four-way
analysis framework. The same can be applied to analyze
or estimate the competitor’s strategy position, which is
important in highly competitive markets to ensure com-
petitive advantage.
The case business strategy orientation dynamics give
interesting case example of the strategy development over
time. This is good benchmark for strategy developers in
different companies as the agility to change the strategy
drivers has clearly showed in the case business example to
be essential for the successful growth, and then later in the
life cycle to be the essential building block for renewal
and search for new growth.
Overall the discussion of the customer-centricity within
the company can be easily evaluated by using the analysis
framework. Companies founding themselves in the sec-
tion of technology-product orientation cannot argue to be
leading in customer-centricity and vice versa. This prac-
tical analysis tool gives for strategy analysts to frame to
evaluate of how the company is doing with its strategy
implementation, contrast in the desired and current state,
gives strong signal and highlights the difficulty to achieve
customer-centricity. Customer-centricity, however, is
more and more important in the market where buyers have
variety of choice and failure to meet the customer re-
quirements may result in loosing valuable customers, and
in the end going out of business.
5. Conclusions
The purpose of this study was to analyze the case business
strategy orientations based on the analysis framework
build from literature references.
The research questions were stated to be following:
RQ1: What are the characteristics of the technology
orientation, market orientation, customer focus and product
focus in strategy?
RQ2: What is the framework to analyze this 4-way
orientation of the case company strategy?
Answering to research questions:
RQ1: The characteristics of the technology orientation,
market orientation, customer focus and product focus are
presented in the Table 1.
RQ2: The framework for 4-way strategy orientation
analysis is presented in Figure 2. This framework creates
synthesis of the different strategy orientations presented
in Table 1 and plots them to opposite axis to illustrate the
trade-off nature of these orientations.
The limitations of this research are originated from the
definitions of analysis framework dimensions. Especially
the definition of customer focused and market oriented
are somewhat overlapping in some areas. The cus-
tomer-centric strategies are in the field of strategy re-
search quite new and there is discussion ongoing on the
fundamental definitions and directions. Also the empirical
material has limitations due to its nature, as it gives
overview on the examined period but many detailed or
fine scale notations cannot be examined in further details.
The view in this research is breath but shallow, in com-
parison to e.g. interview approach in empirical material
collections where it is deep but narrow.
The areas for further research include the more
in-depth analysis of the customer focused, customer-
centric approach on strategy, as well as the customer
influence in strategy priorities definitions, customer life-
time value approach on the strategy and the overall trans-
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. ME
formation journey from product-centric strategy towards
customer-centric strategy. To this is also very much
linked the solution dimensions of strategy creation.
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