Nokia standing on burning platform: CEO

Dylan Bushell-Embling and Caroline Gabriel
10 Feb 2011
Daily News

An explosive memo purportedly penned by Nokia CEO Stephen Elop has left the internet ablaze with speculation that Nokia may adopt a platform developed by rivals such as Microsoft or Android.

The memo, which was allegedly leaked to Engadget, describes Nokia as “standing on a burning platform.”

The plaintive missive describes Nokia's market woes as Apple encroaches on its business at the high-end, Android in the mid-range and cut-price Chinese handset makers at the low-end.

It states that Nokia is years behind these rivals, and that if Nokia continues with its strategies for MeeGo and Symbian it will only fall further behind.

“Our competitors aren't taking our market share with devices; they are taking our market share with an entire ecosystem. This means we're going to have to decide how we either build, catalyse or join an ecosystem,” it says.

Partly as a result of the memo, there has been intense speculation that Nokia might embrace a new operating system at its strategy day on Friday. The most likely candidate is Windows Phone 7, but some analysts have urged the Finnish giant to back the winning horse, Android.

But according to reports, several large operators have called on Nokia not to adopt Android. Many cellcos may be happy to sell Android phones to eager consumers, but do not want Google to gain any more power over the mobile web agenda.

According to the Financial Times, major cellcos such as Vodafone, Telefonica and Orange have stated that they hope Nokia will rule out adopting Android, when CEO Stephen Elop outlines his new strategy this week. Instead, they are urging him to build up MeeGo as an alternative to Android and iOS.

The three cited carriers are also leading lights, along with T-Mobile and Telecom Italia, in a shadowy group of European mobile players, which have reportedly created an informal group to 'keep an eye on' Google and Apple, their business practices and their ability to shift the mobile model.

These carriers have expressed the view that Android and iOS are "Trojan horses" to make Google and Apple the direct point of contact for mobile users, relegating the cellcos to dumb pipes.

TeliaSonera's CEO was the latest to warn against the rising power of Google and Apple in the wireless market. Lars Nyberg told the Financial Times that his firm had benefited from the boom in smartphones and mobile data, but he was increasingly worried that alternatives to Android and iOS would be eclipsed, leaving a duopoly that could dictate terms to the whole industry.

Saying that smartphones now account for 90% of the handsets Telia sells in Sweden – one of the highest figures in the world - he called on Nordic consumers to support Nokia and Sony Ericsson against US-based rivals like Apple (though, of course, Sony Ericsson has recently moved away from Symbian to focus only on Android).

Nyberg commented on Nokia: “I would not count them out. It looks like Android and Apple right now, but things can change very fast in this industry.”

Parts of this article originally appeared in Rethink Wireless

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