Alleged Elop memo fuelling Nokia speculation
A frenzy of speculation has been unleashed ahead of a planned strategic briefing from Nokia on Friday 11th February, after a document reported to be an internal memo from CEO Stephen Elop has been published online. The document, which the BBC claimed on Wednesday to have verified as genuine, compares Nokia’s current position in the handset market to that of a man being forced to choose between the burning oil rig on which he stands and the dangerous, icy seas into which he must jump to avoid the flames.
It has been widely anticipated for some time that Stephen Elop’s defining initiative as Nokia CEO is soon to come, and equally widely anticipated that this will take the form of a new direction for the firm’s smartphone platform strategy. Android and Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 are viewed as the two choices for Nokia, which has seen its share in the high end of the handset market severely eroded as its own Symbian smartphone play has foundered.
“While competitors poured flames on our market share, what happened at Nokia?” Elop purportedly asks in the document, originally published in full by 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.
“The first iPhone shipped in 2007, and we still don’t have a product that is close to their experience. Android came on the scene just over 2 years ago, and this week they took our leadership position in smartphone volumes. Unbelievable.”
The document also deals at length with the rise and growing momentum of the Android platform, and the extra pressure this brings to bear on Nokia.
The observations in the document are not new, but the frankness with which they are made means that Elop, if the words are his, is telling home truths in a way that his predecessors were never able to. Nokia, for its part, has so far offered no public comment on the veracity of the document.
One thing is certain, however: whether the document is real or not, it has ensured that Nokia will have the industry’s undivided attention when it announces its plans later this week. And if it is genuine, then Elop can have been in no doubt that such incendiary words – to continue the motif of the memo – would find their way to a wider audience than his employees alone.