I have learned that we are standing on a burning platform – Nokia CEO

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Stephern Elop Nokia

Excerpt from an internal memo supposedly from Stephen Elop, Nokia CEO:

Hello there,

There is a pertinent story about a man who was working on an oil platform in the North Sea. He woke up one night from a loud explosion, which suddenly set his entire oil platform on fire. In mere moments, he was surrounded by flames. Through the smoke and heat, he barely made his way out of the chaos to the platform’s edge. When he looked down over the edge, all he could see were the dark, cold, foreboding Atlantic waters.

As the fire approached him, the man had mere seconds to react. He could stand on the platform, and inevitably be consumed by the burning flames. Or, he could plunge 30 meters in to the freezing waters. The man was standing upon a “burning platform,” and he needed to make a choice.

He decided to jump. It was unexpected. In ordinary circumstances, the man would never consider plunging into icy waters. But these were not ordinary times – his platform was on fire. The man survived the fall and the waters. After he was rescued, he noted that a “burning platform” caused a radical change in his behaviour.

We too, are standing on a “burning platform,” and we must decide how we are going to change our behaviour.

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.

Read the full memo over at Engadget.

Ladies and gentlemen, you can be sure that Stephen is going to announce radical platform strategies on February 11th. If this is real, it takes guts for a company CEO to be this brutally honest.

In my opinion, Nokia needs this kind of excitement. I won’t be surprised if MeeGo is as good as dead. Whatever platforms Nokia chooses to jump off and get on, the smartphone race is about to be disrupted once again in a massive way.

  1. As I said sometime ago, Nokia should follow the Samsung route. Having your own platform should not stop you from producing devices for other platforms, especially since Nokia designs excellent hardwares.
    Bold move…survival move!!!

  2. This allegorical “burning platform” is so poignant!

    Well, I asked the hypothetical question here – a while back,’what would be the implication of Nokia adopting say – an Android – as their OS?”. A lot of people did not see such ‘sacrilege’ ever happening.

    Looks like Nokia asked themselves that question too – and arrived at what I thought then.

    Nokia is a hardware company. They should be more concerned with the user experience on their phones. The battery life. The ruggedness. The pricing. The branding / perception. How well it is sells – and what profit they (can) make.

    Would I buy a Nokia running a WindowsPhone? Nokia has the hardware expertise. What is left is the “supposedly unintuitive” user interface.

    If WindowsPhone OS addresses all (/most of) its current deficienciies in their OS update, I probably would be an even more loyalty Nokia fan.

    A change of this cataclysmic magnitude would scared any CEO, but then, it is only ‘risk-takers’ and iconoclasts that change and advance the world!

    Go, Nokia! Just ‘do it!”

  3. The MWC should hurry up and start jare! Let’s see the new things Nokia has come up with. I hope MeeGo will be a big hit.

  4. Yes. I have tweeted about this earlier on!

    Nokia needs to make a bold move to continue to remain relavant. Just look at Tomi Ahonen take on Nokia:

    ‘For the first half of the year 2010, Nokia grew rougly as fast as the industry. It ended year 2009 with 39% market share in smartphones. At the end of Q2 it had 39% market share. Then in Q3 and Q4, suddenly – catastrophically – Nokia growth slowed to anemic, for the first time for as long as I can remember, Nokia’s quarterly growth was the slowest of any of the biggest 6 smartphone makers, and far slower than the industry. Nokia’s market share crashed to 33% after Q3 and down to (about) 28% after Q4. In six months, Nokia destroyed 11 points of market share – it abandoned one quarter of its total market – in half a year!’

    Yes, the point is Nokia’s claim at number one is being threatened. It is on a spiral downwards. Losing 11 points of market share in just 6 months is the heights. Even Motorola did not go down so fast. Elop is a CEO that appreciates where Nokia truly stands. And with a proper planning and a new all-embracing, well-orchestrated road map (Not Symbian ^3 and ^4 facade), Nokia will pull out of this avalanche fast. And become what it used to be.

    Let’s see what 11th of February brings.

  5. It amazes me when I read about the massive negativity directed against nokia and it’s operating systems: Symbian and Meego. Especially from people who know next to nothing and those who should know better.
    In this so-called memo, (which is not verified by anyone. Though engadget.com claimed it was confirmed by trusted sources, those sources were never mentioned nor was mention made of how it was confirmed that Mr. Stephen Elop actually wrote the memo) Elop never said nokia will stop using Meego and symbian. Nor did he say nokia will use anothers’ OS. The man (whoever he represent) jumped from a platform into icy, uninviting dark waters. He didn’t jump onto another platform! Based on that it could be infered that nokia will leave the smartphone market altogether. Yeah. In your dreams.
    Now why would nokia drop Meego after all the billions of dollars spent on it, after the series of meetings and support from developers and other partners like AMD, INTEL, and the rest? It just doesn’t make sense.
    I bet what all these symbian haters want is to see android on a nokia smartphone. They will die hating!!

  6. I was planning on buying a meego phone when one with a hardware qwerty comes out but now i am not so sure. First maemo was killed and now it could be either meego or symbian, i hope whatever the ceo reveals on friday nokia will stick to it for the next 10 years.

  7. Keeping our fingers crossed and watching with keen interest what Nokia and their American CEO comes up with.

  8. Interesting…. very interesting…
    Nokia will surely come up with something very interesting.

    If these were indeed the words of nokia CEO, you can be sure that nokia is trimming down to a fighting weight and will come bouncing back in a big way.

    WATCH OUT!!!

  9. Tivta said it all.@jopancy. I love Nokia like you but just because they spent billions on meego and symbian does not mean they cant use another os. An example is multilinks nigeria jumping ship because of loses. Nokia can not maintain the lead against over six handset makers. If you cant beat them, JOIN THEM. Lets wait till friday

  10. If I was Nokia, I would create phones running both Android and Windows 7, if you remember motorola was also going comatose and they jumped on the android bandwagon with the droid running android, months later they are selling more units than ever. The bottom line is symbian is a dying or infact dead OS. They need to let go off their pride, business is about results and Nokia surely aint getting those results.
    They can keep symbian on their mid range phones so as to not alienate their core base or they need to immediately change the os on their high end phones.

  11. When I said in the original article, I won’t be surprised if MeeGo is as good as dead, I know I irked some Nokia fans.

    But think of it – MeeGo has been like an aircraft that’s been unable to take off since forever. 2010 – No MeeGo smartphone. 2011 – Nokia are saying that the E7 (Symbian) is their main thrust for the year (read: no MeeGo again). Read between the lines, people. I am no prophet, but MeeGo looks like a stillbirth.

    Here is a quote that I just ran into a few minutes ago (again from unnamed sources, but published by Reuters):

    Nokia has ended development of its first smartphone using its new MeeGo operating system before it was ever launched, two industry sources close to the company said. A spokesman for Nokia declined to comment.

    Via: DailyMobile and reuters

    I doubt that Nokia will dump Symbian like that. No-one in their right sense dump >30% of a market. But MeeGo? I’m not holding my breath anymore. After using a Windowsphone 7 device, I really do hope that Nokia adopts WP7 for their high-end smartphones.

  12. And here’s another insightful thought, It doesn’t matter if Nokia launches a Windows Phone…

    Here’s a strong point made in the above link. I agree on this point:

    Nokia can’t just be a hardware vendor… customers need to move easily between platforms and developers need a common language. More than that though, it’s about the money… To continue as a top-tier player Nokia needs app revenue, content revenue and all the things that come next (like financial services).

    But, personally, I think it matters – even if only in the short term (the writer said that much too).

  13. Nobody hates Nokia, jopancy. And Engadget by the way is a very reputable Blog and a trusted repository of Tech news. If they say they have their sources and they published that, then it has a high level of probability of being true!

    @Jopancy. The present CEO of Nokia; Stephen Elop is not American by the way. He is Canadian.

  14. Strategically, it would be unwise at the long run if Nokia should adopt any other OS apart from it’s own.
    Nokia is different from Motorola, Samsung or S. Ericsson. These companies will jump on anything they perceive would boost their sales. But then, after adopting Android none of them individually has surpass Nokia in terms of unit sales. Nokia on the other hand sets the trend. They have a huge fan base. These fans want symbian and eventually Meego to succeed. Even if Nokia should use Android or Windows Mobile 7. The novelty would wear off sooner or later and Nokia will be no different from the others. It’ll be a great disappointment to most of symbian fans if Nokia should now abandon ship (and that will definitely be the end for nokia). There would be no increase in sales. To remain a bit relevant, it would need to tweak its version of android to be a bit unique. But then, android is android no matter what. And what if Google decides to scrap android, then what? So you see it pays Nokia to make meego succeed.
    Why I defend symbian? Maybe because no smartphone maker acknowledges Africa as nokia does. samsung, motorola, sony ericsson, apple, these are more for europe. They don’t give a hoot about africa. But nokia does. I like that.

  15. Why I think there is much credence to the internal memo by the NOkia CEO is on account of his utterances in the last Nokia revenue call. I shall quote Stephen Elop, word-for-word;

    “Nokia must compete on ecosystem to ecosystem basis. In addition to great device experiences we must build, catalyse or join a competitive ecosystem. And the ecosystem approach we select must be comprehensive and cover a wide range of utilities and services that customers expect today and anticipate in the future” Stephen Elop, CEO, Nokia

    With the above speech noted, I want to be on record to predict 3 scenarios for Nokia;

    1. Symbian ^3 will be for middle level smartphones or may be killed off. Meego, in partnership with intel’s chips will be Nokia’s flagship and will ultimately replace Symbian ^3.

    2. We hear that there may be a collaboration between Nokia and open source Google’s Android OS or propriatary Microsoft’s Windows phone7! This may be true. In addition, summing Nokia CEO Stephen Elop’s origin from Nokia, I will throw my bet with Microsoft WP7 adoption by Nokia. It isn’t going to be as simple as what you have with Samsung, HTC, and LG; but a more intricate collabouration with some pleasant fine print surprises tomorrow!

    3. Finally, Nokia may stick on his own and may just announce office suites arrangement with Microsoft +- A refocus in Meego +- with a new Killer NOKIA OS for top-of-the-line Smartphone and Tablets. This new NOKIA Operating System will be proprietary just like Apple’s iOS.

    There. You have it. My credibility now on the line. This would either make me or break me as a Tech Analyst.

  16. I currently use a HTC Touch Pro primarily because of WM6.5 and the seamless connection to my Computer- same software on both mobile and desktop but it was the toughest decision I ever made as a Nokia (but not Symbian) loyalist.

    For close to Six months, I was hoping and praying for a Nokia phone that ran Windows Mobile but my prayers were never answered, and I left Nokia. I still use a Nokia phone, the 2790 (strictly for making calls) but as a Smartphone I’ll never go for Symbian- it is obviously limited and the scalability leaves more to be desired.

    Yes I love Nokia but as long as it stays married to Symbian, I’ll pitch my tent somewhere else.

    By the way, I’m still praying for a Nokia running WM7. Maybe my answer is in the horizon.

  17. gosh! see what microsoft pcs has cause nokia loyalists to become.
    Yomi, i thought the N8 can do everything the androids and windows do?
    Long live Nokia-okia forever!

  18. BBC News has verified that the memo is genuine.
    Excerpts;
    “The first iPhone shipped in 2007, and we still don’t have a product that is close to their experience,” chief executive Mr Elop wrote in the note that was distributed to the Finnish company’s staff and was first published by technology website Engadget.

  19. Yomi, i thought the N8 can do everything the androids and windows do?

    Without any controversy. The N8 (and Symbian in general) can. But if you read the memo again, its thrust is not about just features. The thrust of the memo is the fact that the modern smartphone battle is a battle of ecosystems, not just features (and I see the point in that).

    Unfortunately, the Symbian ecosystem i.e. Ovi, is not as integrated and as fluid and as seamless as say the iOS, Android and Windowsphone ecosystems.

    If it is about features, Symbian has no competitors at the moment. But ecosystems? I must admit that Symbian falls behind there…

  20. There it is, folls. BBC News say they have verified that the memo is authentic.

    Up till the end of last year, I held out hopes for MeeGo, but till date it continues to be a slow journey. Nokia certainly needs something else that is ready for use now.

    1. Announcing a new Nokia OS? I don’t think so. If they couldn’t get MeeGo out on time, what’s the guarantee that they will a new OS?

    2. Throwing away Symbian? Foolishness. Throwing out over 30% of the smartphone market is bad business sense

    PS: By the way, Afeqgoodmen, your attempt at playing analyst above reads like a clever guessing game that covers your buts in all directions. LOL. You only listed ALL possibilities there.

    Can you be more pointed about what you believe that Nokia will or will not do?

  21. Guys you wouldn’t believe this – I had a dream in which Stephen Elop announced a brand new OS for Nokia – and its named “Felize”. LOL

    A mobile OS named Felize? Sheeeesh! This is getting wierd. I need to find something else to do with my life.