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Nokia boss: “We are standing on a burning platform”

Nokia boss: “We are standing on a burning platform”

Stephen Elop, CEO of Nokia has launched a stinging attack on the company he oversees in a brutally honest internal memo to employees, lambasting the company’s failing influence and its slow reaction to new threats in the smartphone market.

The 1200-word memo, unearthed by TechCrunch Europe, starts with Elop telling the story of a man working on an oil platform in the North Sea, drawing a parallel between his plight and that of the embattled Finnish company. After the plaform caught fire, Elop detailed how the rig worker had mere seconds to decide whether to jump into the icy water or burn where he stood.

Elop said: “Over the past few months, I've shared with you what I've heard from our shareholders, operators, developers, suppliers and from you. Today, I'm going to share what I've learned and what I have come to believe.


“I have learned that we are standing on a burning platform.”

Comparing the world’s largest phone maker to standing on a ‘burning platform’ may be a hard pill to swallow for senior executives who have been part of the company since the beginning, but with Espoo losing nearly half its global market share since the arrival of the iPhone and Android, they are hardly in a position to complain.

Elop goes on to criticise Nokia’s lack of innovation and its inability to come up with an answer to Apple in four years since the release of the original iPhone. He then lavishes praise on Android, which is already doing exactly that after just two years in the market.

“While competitors poured flames on our market share, what happened at Nokia? 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.”

All true, but a little obvious, really. But perhaps the most interesting comment came when he talks about where Finns should go from here.

“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.”

Note the bit that says “join an ecosystem”? It almost sounds like an admission that Nokia’s only option to stay relevant, other than coming up with something groundbreaking soon, is to join its competition. Not only would that mean a major change in attitude, but also a radical shift in the balance of powers in the smartphone space.

Rumours have already suggested that Espoo may be close to forming an alliance with Microsoft for Windows Phone 7 and possibly even with Android.

Would you like to see Nokia joining a rival – or stick it out and wait for Meego? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Source: TechCrunch Europe via Engadget

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