Nokia boss admits: "We're years behind"

By Barry Collins on Feb 10, 2011 10:34 AM
Filed under Finance

Stephen Elop admits Nokia is standing on a "burning platform".

Nokia chief Stephen Elop has exposed the parlous state of his company in a brutally frank memo to his staff.

The former Microsoft man says the company is "standing on a burning platform", having fallen "years behind" its rivals and with no firm plan for recovery.

In the week in which Elop will outline his plans for the future of the company, the CEO is scathing of his predecessors' performance, accusing them of falling asleep at the wheel.

Praising Apple for "redefining the smartphone" and Google's Android for becoming "a gravitational force, drawing much of the industry's innovation to its core", Elop claims Nokia has been left in their wake. He also admits Chinese firms are undercutting Nokia in the low-end mobile market.

"While competitors poured flames on our market share, what happened at Nokia?" asked Elop in the memo, which was leaked to Engadget. "We fell behind, we missed big trends, and we lost time. At that time, we thought we were making the right decisions; but, with the benefit of hindsight, we now find ourselves years behind."

Elop also poured cold water on Nokia's current best hope of revival - MeeGo - a new Linux-based operating system being co-developed with Intel. "We have some brilliant sources of innovation inside Nokia, but we are not bringing it to market fast enough," said Elop. "We thought MeeGo would be a platform for winning high-end smartphones. However, at this rate, by the end of 2011, we might have only one MeeGo product in the market."

Windows Phone 7 hint

The former Microsoft man is widely expected to announce that Nokia will adopt Windows Phone 7 later this week, in a bid to quickly make up some of that lost ground. Elop's memo suggests the CEO is in search of a quick fix.

"The battle of devices has now become a war of ecosystems, where ecosystems include not only the hardware and software of the device, but developers, applications, ecommerce, advertising, search, social applications, location-based services, unified communications and many other things," the Nokia chief claims.

"Our competitors aren't taking our market share with devices; they are taking our market share with an entire ecosystem. This means we're going to have to decide how we either build, catalyse or join an ecosystem."

This article originally appeared at

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