Nokia CEO believes they have been pouring gas on their own burning platform

Nokia CEO believes they have been pouring gas on their own burning platform

Summary: Things are getting interesting in the mobile world this week and Nokia's new CEO is not holding back as he takes a critical look at the company and issues an internal memo that has now leaked out.


If you are a regular reader then you know I have been a fan of Nokia smartphones since the first Nseries device I used several years ago. I am the editor of the Nokia Experts site where I get to express my passion for the platform, but it has been tough the last few months to get too excited about much. Engadget received a copy of the text from an internal Nokia memo from CEO Stephen Elop and he is brutally honest. As a fan and critic of Nokia, I find it refreshing to hear their new leader laying it all out there since there is now hope that he has their attention and will rally the troops.

My primary device is currently a Dell Venue Pro running Windows Phone 7, but if I am going out and about where I know I will be taking photos then I pop my SIM in my orange Nokia N8. The N8 is a fantastic piece of hardware and since I have been using Symbian for years I am quite adept at using the software. However, it is nothing flashy and there are issues that pop up from time-to-time. We can justify what Nokia has done for the past couple of years until we are blue in the face, but I have to say I am relieved that Mr. Elop stepped up and said Nokia screwed up since I can now stop rationalizing things in my mind.

A couple key quotes from his internal memo that hit me are as follows:

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

Wow, I guess I can stop trying to convince people my N8 rivals the iPhone, huh? Actually, there are several innovations and design elements of the N8 where it does beat the iPhone, but Mr. Elop mentions the experience and that is where Nokia has fallen down.

This is what I have been trying to understand. I believe at least some of it has been due to our attitude inside Nokia. We poured gasoline on our own burning platform. I believe we have lacked accountability and leadership to align and direct the company through these disruptive times. We had a series of misses. We haven't been delivering innovation fast enough. We're not collaborating internally.

We all know the mobile space moves fast, but Nokia always seemed to take the attitude that they were doing just fine on their own timeline. Obviously, Mr. Elop does not believe that and it is great to see he is honestly looking at what is out there in the mobile world.

Nokia will be holding their Capital Markets Day on Friday where Mr. Elop will reveal his future strategy. There are rumors that he might partner with Microsoft and release Windows Phone 7 devices or go with Android in an HTC-like multiple platform approach. As a fan of both Nokia and Windows Phone 7 you know what I would prefer. Stay tuned for some shaking up at Nokia and let's hope they get their ship back on course.

Topics: Smartphones, CXO, Hardware, Mobility, Nokia, Operating Systems, Software, Windows

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  • RE: Nokia CEO believes they have been pouring gas on their own burning platform

    Your dreaming! Nokia were not interested in Quality. Stop trying to sell an N8 no one is interested. It will be interesting if the new CEO talks about quality going forward and sacks all those trendy useless people who spend their time trying yo re-invent the wheel.
  • I don't get it

    Seriously, how is Nokia still alive. Well the reason is simple... many people still believe that Nokia is awesome any buy their phones not having experienced anything else. Ignorance is bliss I guess.
    General C#
  • RE: Nokia CEO believes they have been pouring gas on their own burning platform

    Come on, yes we know symbian has serious user interface issue, but thats it its a user interface issue not an OS issue, the underlying OS is solid and far more suited to mobile devices than any other out there(be it iOS or any of the linux based mobile OSs out there, webOS, Android, and yes meego).
    If the planned symbian interface overhaul is up to scratch it should be all it needs, unfortunately even if the interface overhaul was ground breaking I can still see people like the engadgets of the world beating it while its down.
    Wat about meego? The current builds of the meego handset inteface look very promising. Dropping it would be a little premature.
    I really hope nokia dont make the mistake of killing the only truely open mobile OS out there before it even gets a chance to take off.
    As for this talk of Nokia jumping on the Windows Phone 7 bandwagon, its a horrible idea. As it stands WP7 is at best an incomplete os, with a very flashing interface, at worst an OS with an awful (from a usability standpoint) interface, that has minimal market in the US and is dead in the water outside the US, with a completely closed eco system(as opposed to meego being wonderfully completely open), and would require Nokia to completely drop the QT approach they have be pushing the last few years and adopt .NET, yuk.
    I for one am desperately hoping that this Windows Phone 7 talk is nonsense.
    • RE: Nokia CEO believes they have been pouring gas on their own burning platform

      @blert13 let me correct you: UI is part of OS. Consumers care about the experience, that is what UI is about.
      Windows Phone 7 is a great OS and it need a little time to gain momentum (think about the Android market share one year after its release) . Metro UI, Office, Xbox Live are selling points. In addition, Microsoft enjoys the largest developer community and developing applications for WP7 with free Visual Studio is a pleasure.
      WP7 is not dead outside US. Indeed it is entering countries like Korea, China, Russia in the second half of this year due to the huge work going abroad (negotiation with carriors, dealing with foreign policies and so on).
      • RE: Nokia CEO believes they have been pouring gas on their own burning platform

        @UseYourHead - really

        UI is not part of OS, you can run OS without graphic UI at all (with command line interface.) Android for example is one of possible UIs for Linux OS (although strictly speaking Android is slightly more than simply UI, it is Application Framework which includes UI...) but _not_ an OS itself...
        Kurt Usen
  • They should build iOS devices

    That would be a paradigm shift.
    • Right. You think Apple would let them use iOS?

      Or do you mean build them for Apple? That won't happen there either as Apple has a nice hefty profit margin right now building these things in China, why change that?
  • The Internet IS the EcoSystem Elop wants to join

    It really isn't all that complicated. The INTERNET is the ECOSYSTEM. Java Virtual Machines, Flash Video, HTML5 (and a Great Browser) are all that is really needed to succeed in the coming years. The User Interface thing is probably overblown. Here in the U.S. because of Cellular providers not being happy with Nokia's Unlocked Phone plan, users have not seen much love. If Nokia can focus on the above things, they will have provided a great phone/OS and provided an Ecosystem where quite a bit of the functionality is free (just as it is now on a PC), instead of having to buy and APP for everything. iPhone users are going to look back in a year or so at the money they have spent(i.e. wasted) on APPS and it's is going to be "Pet Rock" regret all over again !
    • out to lunch...

      @jkohut ..ecosystem is not just apps and app revenue.. ecosystem is media sale and distribution, content delivery services, media time and place shifting, search, mobile advertising, location based services, close desktop computer application features, close integration with living room entertainment etc, etc, etc.. AND all the money that can be garnered from that.. your plan which involves giving up all that revenue to online service providers??? that puts Nokia even worse position than it is today..

      this is the kind of simplistic, backwards thinking from yester year that got Nokia onto its burning platform in the first place.. you can't just compete on just HW and software anymore.. when you competition is propping up their HW pricing with service offering.. and close integration and tie-ins.. sorry man, you just don't understand the tech world we live in.. at least Nokia has woken up and smelled the coffee.. not sure that WP7 is the answer..

      why don't they just roll with mulitple OSs...? Meego, WP7 and Android.. put Dalvik on MeeGo and co-op the android marketplace like RIM is supposedly contemplating.. this is take no prisoners time.. no shame.. just go for it..
  • Not it

    If they think tying their future to WP7 will bear fruit they will be making another huge mistake. Better to go down with the MeeGo wishful thinking.

    If Nokia wants to remain relevant they need to ship a line of quality Android devices within months. They should also be working on a couple of Android tablets. (Nokia was shipping Maemo tablets before Jobs had his iPad dream)

    If they wish to continue development on MeeGo in parallel then so be it. Tying their smart phone future solely to MeeGo was a fools errand.
    Tim Patterson
  • It's some guy from Palo Alto

    I can think of at least one $100 billion computer company that has some good technology including a nice mobile OS, a good supply chain with serious buying power, widespread retail distribution plus an Enterprise direct sales force, and who needs a big presence in mobile handsets Right Now, in a hurry. In fact they're probably already looking for some big handset maker who's kinda on the skids and could be snapped up cheaply. Moto just sent its handset division out into the world alone, where its fortunes are questionable, and now here comes Nokia. Which one will HP acquire? Place your bets.
    Robert Hahn