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Nokia unrest: Investors are right to give Elop a rough ride

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Nokia unrest: Investors are right to give Elop a rough ride

Nokia’s latest top-end Windows Phone is set to be unveiled in less than a week’s time.

But despite a 27 per cent jump in Lumia sales in the first quarter of 2013, all is not well at Espoo.

Investors are up in arms about CEO Stephen Elop’s insistence on sticking with Microsoft’s struggling mobile platform, with one complaining that “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”.

The same shareholder, speaking at Nokia’s AGM in Helsinki, told Elop that while he was “a nice guy”, he needed to be aware that “results matter”.

Stephen Elop CEO Nokia

This is the most damning assessment of the former Microsoft man since he became the first non-Finn to run the once-great mobile maker.

Elop, though, is not for turning. His response was simple.

Quoth Elop: “We make adjustments as we go. But it's very clear to us that in today's war of ecosystems, we've made a very clear decision to focus on Windows Phone with our Lumia product line.

“And it is with that that we will compete with competitors like Samsung and Android.”

That last line is particularly telling.

Samsung Galaxy S4 white and black official (sides)

To Elop, Google and its software is as much a rival as Samsung and its best-selling hardware.

Couched in these terms, it’s easy to see why investors are unimpressed.

Android’s free availability makes it a cheaper option for Espoo, even if it would stymy its chances to build on the likes of its superb Nokia Maps.

While Windows Phone is a very sharp operating system, it just doesn’t have the traction of Android.

If Elop wants to boost sales and hence Nokia’s bottom line, his first move should be to begin work on a Nokia Android phone.

His company’s hardware pedigree is undeniable and a skinned Android handset would surely be lapped up.

As it is, Elop is beginning to sound like his predecessors, obsessed with fighting it out with rivals on an ailing platform despite being left for dust by Apple and Samsung.

He once described Symbian as a ‘burning platform’, and while no one would ever say Windows Phone has the same dated feel as that old-school OS, it’s certainly beginning to look like a dead end.

Android Jelly Bean Jar banner

Going to Google might be a bitter pill for Elop to swallow, but it doesn’t have to be.

He can always release both Google and Microsoft-backed handsets, just as HTC and Samsung do.

This option allows both to appear not to favour one over the either, even though the Big G’s OS is clearly where it’s at in terms of sales.

If he doesn’t, then it’s evident that investors will show him the door.

Either way, a Nokia Android phone is clearly the fix that Finns with a stake in the company are desperately seeking.

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