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Nokia: 'standing on a burning platform,' Apple on top [U]

updated 06:40 pm EST, Tue February 8, 2011

Nokia CEO memo reveals fear of iPhone, Android

(Update: full memo) Nokia has been circulating a memo that has fueled beliefs the company is about to undergo a major platform shift. The note by new company CEO Stephen Elop characterizes Nokia as "standing on a burning platform" where its insistence on Symbian and the status quo has left it attacked on all sides. A TechCrunch copy of the note from late Tuesday has Apple's iPhone controlling the high-end, Android the mid-range and a slew of Chinese companies getting the bottom.

The only choice for Nokia is to jump off of its platform, as it was better to embrace the unknown than to face destruction with what you know, the memo read. More details would be made public at the company's February 11 meeting, but how many of these would be publicized would depend on how much attention Elop wanted to get.

It further supports notions that Nokia may be on the verge of a platform switch that would see it drop one of its Symbian editions or even MeeGo in favor of a common platform such as Android or Windows Phone 7. A "well-placed" insider expected Windows Phone 7 to be the choice, but that it might not be ready until 2012. Microsoft's OS could end up being the major platform for Nokia in the end, another source said.

An OS shift would be part of a much larger attempt to break back into the US after years of declining share during the relative neglect of Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo's reign as CEO. The company is believed to be putting down significantly stronger roots in the tech-savvy San Francisco Bay Area and acknowledging that Europe is no longer the center for smartphone development. Nokia has had a presence in the US for years and insisted repeatedly during the Kallasvuo era that it was due to recover, but it never committed significant efforts to getting smartphones through to carriers and instead hoped customers would pay the frequently $500-plus prices for unlocked devices.

A Windows Phone 7 switch would be a gamble for Nokia. The OS has tightly controlled hardware specifications and limited customization that would erase Nokia's self-proclaimed uniqueness. The OS also has yet to gain any significant traction and wouldn't necessarily be helped by Nokia, even if it counted on its large smartphone market share as leverage. Android is theoretically better for Nokia as it would maintain an open platform and allow much more customization.

Most suspect a WP7 switch would come in part as a debt of gratitude to Elop's former employer, Microsoft.

Update: A full copy of the memo has emerged and has made it clear that Elop is disappointed in MeeGo. There may at best be one phone using the OS this year, he said. He also admitted bluntly that Symbian was "non-competitive" in North America. Apple and Google were not only taking market share but robbing Nokia of an "entire ecosystem."

"The first iPhone shipped in 2007, and we still don't have a product that is close to their experience," he he said. "Android came on the scene just over 2 years ago, and this week they took our leadership position in smartphone volumes."

Nokia has "poured gasoline" on that burning platform through its attitude, Elop added.

By Electronista Staff


  1. Feathers

    Grizzled Veteran

    Joined: Oct 1999



    Stephen Elop? Wait, didn't he work wait...I remember...he worked for Microsoft! Buh-bye Nokia!

  1. iphonerulez

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: Nov 2008


    The Nokia fanbois still think the company

    is doing just fine and Symbian is some sort of wonder OS that's too good to abandon. In fact, much better than iOS.

  1. ricardogf

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jan 2003



    Well, the message is kinda obvious: Elop, a disguised Microshaft serf, is trying to justify his intended jump to Windows Phone so that he can finally pay back its loved company. Nokia couldn't do much worse with people like him at the helm.

    Symbian is dead, and this is just the beginning of the end for Nokia.

  1. midtoad

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jul 2007


    Nokia is doomed

    If Nokia drops Symbian for Windows Phone 7, that's just jumping from one frying pan to the next. At least Symbian has substantial market share at the moment, while Windows Phone 7 is an also-ran. The only hope for survival for Nokia is Android. Nokia builds great hardware, Google builds great software - bring them together already!

  1. Jonathan-Tanya

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Oct 2004


    pre-announce to your customers to stop buying

    pre-announce to your customers to stop buying the phones you currently have on sale, and maybe sometime in 2012 jump onto the slow moving Win 7 platform.

    WOW, these guys are dense.

    How about you secretly had an Android backup plan all along, and jump into it with products hard is that to figure out.

  1. coffeetime

    Senior User

    Joined: Nov 2006


    What a speech! Salute!

    Very emotional speech that comes with a huge pride of their own brand. That's where the problem is. Too pride to submit themselves to Android any sooner. So they wait and wait and wait to see how their Symbian and MeeGo perform. It looks like they would rather sink their own ship gracefully than give in to the competitors. Well, just make sure they stack enough "Android" life-savers after the ship sunk and then join the rest of the slew of the bottom-line phones if they dare.

  1. mdporter

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Sep 2001



    The only thing unique about Nokia is that it has managed to stay in business this long.

  1. SockRolid

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Jan 2010


    Too much pride to build droids just yet

    I think it will take another year or two before Nokia gives up all hope and becomes just another running dog droid maker. They're going to try to maintain their uniqueness, sans-Symbian, with WP7.

    But when WP7 fails so save its smartphone business, Nokia will be forced to join the shirtsleeve dirtball droidmakers of the world.

  1. tundaman

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Mar 2010


    First Step

    Recognize errors is the first step to do things right. And that's the very first time that I see a high ranked executive from an Apple rival come clean about their position in the smartphone market, instead of trying to full everybody by ignoring the truth. I don't know if he will make the right choice or if that's just a way for justifying his willingness to favor his old boss M$ in the imminent change of plans, only time will tell... but who knows, maybe something good come out of it to fuel competition with one more big player in the game, which should be good for users in the end.

  1. thewebdrives


    Joined: Jun 2007


    comment title

    your comment

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