Stephen Elop’s astonishing and frank assessment of Nokia’s woes, from its smartphone stumbles to disasters in developing markets , has shown Espoo has finally reached rock bottom. The brutal truth, that Nokia doesn’t have a phone that even “comes close to [the iPhone],” that Android has battered Symbian completely and that a lack of leadership and poor decisions have backed the company into a corner, means Elop is now ready to strike and make major changes.
Here’s our Top 10 fixes he can enact now, starting at this Friday’s Capital Markets event in London and then at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona.
1 Get Windows Phone 7 on board
This is looking increasingly likely, with Elop’s previous employers said to be primed to strike a deal with Nokia and bring the nascent smartphone platform to Nokia phones. Elop says in his memo that Nokia needs, “to decide how we either build, catalyse or join an ecosystem.” The latter is a strong and very possible option and WP7 is a smart move.
2 Get Android on board too
There’s no point in plumping for just one OS. HTC doesn’t, Samsung doesn’t and neither should Nokia. “Google has become a gravitational force, drawing much of the industry's innovation to its core,” says Elop. There’s no point complaining. Hop on board and create Android phones everyone will surely love.
3 Ditch Symbian as a smartphone platform
Symbian’s end is nigh. Elop admits the OS is uncompetitive in North America, the territory where Nokia craves success. Symbian just can’t match Android and its redesign is still woefully underwhelming. Now’s the time to say so and walk away from an OS that has served its purpose but is criminally outdated.
4 Make S40 a real focus in smartphone markets
Elop complains that Chinese mobile makers are whipping up phones quicker than Nokia execs finish Powerpoint presentations. Any Symbian energies should be poured into making S40 a winner in China, India and Africa. A simple, basic OS that can handle straightforward tasks with aplomb is all that’s needed for now.
5 Make that move to America
Reports have already suggested Elop is keen to take Nokia’s main business to Silicon Valley, putting it right at the heart of the world’s biggest tech community. Espoo would retain research and development roles, but this would give the company a better focus and stop it looking so desperately put of touch with the fast-paced world of mobile.
6 Make hardware the focus
If Nokia does go with Android and WP7, then it can make the best phones in the world. Its hardware is never really the issue: the E7 and N8 are both sleek and brilliantly designed devices. Imagine a Google phone with that brushed aluminium finish and one of Nokia’s killer cameras shoved on the back.
7 Admit defeat with MeeGo
This will be painful, but perhaps it has to be done. One of the most telling parts of Elop’s memo is where he states: “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.” That means a MWC reveal is unlikely. This is one OS that maybe the world no longer needs.
8 Drop the lawsuits
Rumours have suggested that any tie-up with Microsoft would end the legal wrangling between the two tech titans. Perhaps Nokia needs to make overtures to Apple and bring an end to the ugly spectacle of their very public war of words. A clean slate and a leaner, meaner Nokia would surely prevail.
9 Rebrand Ovi
Ovi is actually a brilliant, wide-ranging service, with a great app store and a truly brilliant free maps service. But who really knows what it is and what it does. Ovi needs rebranding so the wider public can buy into the idea that Nokia has an ecosystem just like Apple and Google. That’s of Nokia decides to stick with its own ecosystem at all.
10 Cut out the delays
Nokia has become a laughing stock due to delays to phones like the N8 and E7. Getting the perfect is important, but it’s having an impact on the company’s competitiveness and, Elop suggests, its credit rating. The bloated company that Nokia has become needs cutting down to size and needs to kill off terrible delays if it wants to return to the top table.