Thursday, January 15, 2009

RIP Nortel?

So Nortel has finally filed for Chapter 11. It's being called the first major tech casualty of the global recession, but the reality is Nortel has been on a life support machine for years. In fact, from a PR perspective, it's been dead for what seems like an eternity. They suffered the biggest problem of all for a company ... they became boring.

There's no excuse for that really. When you look at their heritage, the companies they've acquired over the years, the technology they have, the global reach they can deliver, they should be at the top of the pile, or as damn well near it. But the reality couldn't be further away. They've lacked a compelling story. No-one knew what they stood for, what their vision was, where they were lookign to take themselves and their customers in the future.

On the plus side, at least we now do know where they're heading.

So what does the future hold for Nortel? Well, rumours about the possible hiving off of technology have long circulated, with the Metro Ethernet business looking to be the first to go.

Nortel could re-emerge from the ashes and become, as I once described another company we were pitching, a "corpse with a vision"*, but someone I'm doubting it. Not only is there consensus among analysts is that the parts are more valuable than the sum, but you have to question what equity there is left in the Nortel brand.

Oh, and the "corpse with a vision"? We actually won the client, so the analogy can't be that bad!

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