An internal memo supposedly penned by Nokia CEO Stephen Elop has leaked at multiple sources on the Web. The leak comes just days ahead of a Feb. 11 strategy and planning event in London, where the company is expected to offer investors guidance on its technology roadmap.
While a spokesman for Nokia declined to comment on the memo’s authenticity, it appears to be a fairly accurate assessment of where the company sits in the smartphone market. The memo uses a parable to explain Nokia’s predicament, telling the story of a man on a burning oil platform who chooses to jump into the freezing waters of the Atlantic rather than be engulfed by flames.
“We too, are standing on a ‘burning platform,’ and we must decide how we are going to change our behavior,” the memo states as it appeared on Engadget.
Honest assessments of Nokia’s competitors follow, including painfully detailed accounts of how Apple and Android have surpassed Nokia and “burned up” the company’s market share. “We have more than one explosion – we have multiple points of scorching heat that are fuelling a blazing fire around us.”
The memo bemoans the fact that the company “fell behind… missed big trends,” and posits that by the end of 2011, “we might have only one MeeGo product in the market.”
Citing industry sources close to Nokia, Reuters today reported that the company has ended development of its first MeeGo smartphone. If true, that would be yet another devastating setback for Nokia. While nothing has been confirmed by Nokia, the OEM has reportedly canceled launch of the Nokia X7 smartphone and Nuron 2 with AT&T and T-Mobile USA, respectively.
Nokia will hold its annual investor day later this week and also has a press event planned for Feb. 14. Either event could prove opportune times to clarify a path forward. While Nokia has continued to stress that it will rely on MeeGo as a way of competing with Apple and Google, many believe that the company’s high-end hardware would be better served if built around a proven platform such as Android.
A memo of such honesty wouldn’t be unheard of for Elop, who replaced Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo. After reporting a 21 percent drop in net earnings, Elop admitted that “the industry’s changed and now it’s time for Nokia to change faster.”
Android knocked Symbian from the top spot for the first time, according to recent numbers from Canalys. Shipments of Android smartphones reached 32.9 million, while devices running Nokia’s Symbian platform trailed slightly at 31.0 million worldwide. Nokia, however, managed to retain its position as the leading global smartphone vendor, with a total global market share of 28 percent.
The starkly honest 1,300-word memo was leaked in part to Reuters and in full to Engadget, with both outlets citing people close to the matter who vouched for its authenticity.