Would an outsider do better?

“THE pace of technological change will only increase,” Hans Vestberg told a group of visitors to Ericsson’s headquarters in Stockholm a few months ago, adding that his company had to learn from “innovators”. Though Ericsson is a colossus, with two-fifths of the world’s mobile-phone traffic passing through its networks, he talked of needing a new business model to take on rising digital rivals—providers of software and database services, such as Google and Microsoft. His observations were shrewd, but someone else will have to find ways of putting them into practice. Mr Vestberg lost his job on July 25th.

He ran the firm for six years but repeated efforts to cut costs failed. Ericsson’s revenues from selling and installing telecoms networks, its core business, face long-term decline. More bad news came this week when Standard & Poor’s, a rating agency, said it was worried about the firm’s earnings prospects. Its two main competitors, Nokia (which has completed a merger with Alcatel, of France) and Huawei Technologies, of China, are far more efficient.

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