updated 12:00 pm EST, Sat February 5, 2011
Nokia's Elop may fire execs to fight Apple, Google
Nokia is likely to fire several top executives in an urgent attempt to reverse its collapsing market share in the face of Android and the iPhone, a German newspaper said on Saturday. Wirtschaftswoche claimed from multiple sources that the company's February 11 meeting would be used to announce a reorganization and the exit of key officials, including its mobile head Mary McDowell, Chief Development Officer Kai Öistämö, as well as its services lead Tero Ojanperä. Nearly half of Nokia's board, those loyal to ousted CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo and departing board chairman Jorma Ollila, may also be pushed to leave.
Recently installed CEO Stephen Elop has reportedly tapped headhunters specifically looking for workers with advanced software expertise. None of the maneuvers have been confirmed by Nokia and aren't expected to receive details until the upcoming meeting.
The moves would likely be part of an attempt to break up what's believed to be an inherently slow-moving culture at the company that refused to focus on software and assumed that Android and the iPhone weren't threats. Elop himself is commonly thought to have been chosen after Kallasvuo was deemed ineffective, but his arrival has already seen the company's smartphone leader plan his leave, in part over his inability to get the chief spot. The company is known to be unhappy with the progress of Symbian and took back control shortly after Elop arrived.
Calls have been made by analysts, including Berenberg Bank's Adnaan Ahmad, for Nokia to adopt an alternative and more modern operating system such as Android or Windows Phone 7. The Finnish company has been working with Intel on the new MeeGo platform, but no phone hardware has shipped so far. Ahmad suggested that Nokia should use Windows Phone 7 in part to stand out versus Android but also for Elop to take advantage of his connections as a former Microsoft executive. Windows Phone 7 is considered less likely beyond Ahmad as Microsoft's strict control of hardware features and software customization would lead Nokia to blend in with rivals like HTC, LG and Samsung.
Elop has given vague hints that such an OS switch might be part of the restructuring. During Nokia's fiscal results call, he suggested that the company had to "build, catalyze, and/or join a competitive ecosystem" and thus wouldn't be locked to the company's previous strategy of insisting on creating all software itself.