Nokia Plan B: Journalists fooled by “one very bored engineer”

The buzz over Nokia’s potentially risky new partnership with Microsoft continued to rise this week, as the market worried talent would flee Nokia in droves and the company would continue its downward spiral and flailing attempts at innovation.

But then there came hope for doubters with news leaking that nine unnamed investors had created a swashbuckling new cabal–dubbed “Nokia Plan B”–to rally disgruntled shareholders, find a way to get themselves onto the company’s board and then fire CEO Stephen Elop.

The Plan B shareholders had said they wanted Nokia to return to its homegrown software initiatives, which included focusing on MeeGo as its next-generation OS, and increasing the length of Symbian’s life span.

Plan B attracted so much attention from followers unhappy with the merger that even the mere possibility of it caught the eye of a cadre of major news outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, despite the fact the group had already disbanded within its first 36 hours of creation.

Now we know why the group of “nine young investors” flamed out.

Apparently not only was Plan B a hoax, it was one that had achieved major attention despite being the works of what @NokiaPlanB Twitter account said was “one very bored engineer who really likes his iPhone.”

The news that the whole plan was a fake is sure to disappoint individual Nokia shareholders who supported the group’s tactics.

The Plan B leaders had initially said they had disbanded because of pressure from institutional investors, saying in an earlier blog post that responses from institutional investors “were not encouraging.”

In that post, the shareholders wrote: “These institutions have a fiduciary responsibility to their customers and are legally bared from supporting radical initiatives like seating a bunch of kids on the board of directors. If they do not agree with Nokia’s plans, they are better off simply divesting and putting their money in other companies that better fit their investing strategy (which is exactly what they have been doing).”

What’s most remarkable of the story is how quickly it caught on with the tech press, including VentureBeat, who were willing to see a full-fledge revolt in an anonymous website — in part because the deal was receiving plenty of criticism already from Nokia fans and employees.

It doesn’t look like anyone has succeeded in tracking down the person responsible for the Plan B hoax, so of course we’re still taking their description of themselves on faith.