Speaking of Nokia – Engadget got their hands on what is supposedly an internal memo sent to Nokia employees by the company’s new CEO. It’s… Brutal. As in, brutally honest. There’s no sugar-coating here, no unicorns, no glitter. “Nokia, our platform is burning.” Update: Android is probably out of the question. Will it be Windows Phone 7, after all? Damn; Palm tonight, Nokia Friday – what a week for mobile! Update: The “Communities Dominate Brands” blog published an in-depth analysis of the memo, which claims with sound arguments that it might well be a hoax.
The authenticity of the memo is probably guaranteed (although not confirmed!) because parts of it have been quoted independently by other websites before Engadget got their hands on the whole thing. The memo is incredibly harsh about the company’s current position and performance in the recent past.
First, Elop identifies the two ‘explosions’ that set Nokia’s platform on fire. “Apple demonstrated that if designed well, consumers would buy a high-priced phone with a great experience and developers would build applications. They changed the game, and today, Apple owns the high-end range,” Elop details, “And then, there is Android. In about two years, Android created a platform that attracts application developers, service providers and hardware manufacturers.”
With the magic power of hindsight, Elop states that it is now more than apparent that Nokia made the wrong choices in the wake of the arrival of the iPhone and Android. Even after four years of the iPhone, Nokia still doesn’t have a comparable product, he states. Android came a’knockin’ only two years ago, and has now overtaken Nokia in smartphone shipments. “Unbelievable,” Elop responds.
While not saying it with as many words, it would appear Elop is sounding the death knell for MeeGo. “We thought MeeGo would be a platform for winning high-end smartphones,” he states, “However, at this rate, by the end of 2011, we might have only one MeeGo product in the market.” In other words, MeeGo is not Nokia’s saviour.
He isn’t much more positive about Symbian. “It has proven to be non-competitive in leading markets like North America. Additionally, Symbian is proving to be an increasingly difficult environment in which to develop to meet the continuously expanding consumer requirements, leading to slowness in product development and also creating a disadvantage when we seek to take advantage of new hardware platforms,” he explains, “As a result, if we continue like before, we will get further and further behind, while our competitors advance further and further ahead.”
Elop believes Nokia’s failing is that it still approaches the market on a device-to-device basis, while in fact, they ought to focus on ecosystems. It’s no longer a battle of devices, but a battle of ecosystems, which includes not only hardware and software, but also developers, applications, ecommerce, advertising, search, social applications, location-based services, unified communications, and much more.
“Our competitors aren’t taking our market share with devices; they are taking our market share with an entire ecosystem,” he clarifies, “This means we’re going to have to decide how we either build, catalyse or join an ecosystem.”
How did Nokia get here? In answering this question, Elop lobs his harshest criticism.
“I believe at least some of it has been due to our attitude inside Nokia,” he explains, “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.”
Much of what Elop explains in this memo are things websites and blogs have been saying for a while now. However, seeing it all nicely summarised by Nokia’s new CEO means massive changes are afoot. “A huge effort to transform [the] company” is under way, and Elop will share this strategy with the world February 11.