A Memo from Nokia’s CEO Stephen Elop on their crisis

Engadget.com was able to get its hands on an internal memo sent out to all employees by Nokia’s new CEO Stephen.

The memo itself paints a rather gloomy picture of how the Symbian Operating System is viewed by Stephen Elop. Unfortunately the rest of the mobile world seems to have had this view for quite some time now.

I’ve been an ardent Nokia fan for most of my life, but my enthusiasm shown towards Nokia has waned in the past two years. One of the biggest reason for that would have to be the Symbian operating system.

The iOS has been around long enough and has shown people what smartphones are capable of. Android seems to have taken it a step further, opening a massive market for phones in virtually any price bracket to adopt the operating system and making life easier for manufacturers. Symbian’s OS paled in comparison. I though that the  only ray of hope emanating from Nokia was Maemo.

My first proper mobile experience with Maemo was with Nokia’s flagship-in-disguise the N900. I loved the OS and still consider it to be among the best Mobile operating systems I have ever used. Sure phone was effectively a public beta and it had its issues. But the OS definitely seemed to be a step in the right direction. Using any other Symbian touch screen device felt downright horrible.

Nokia’s announcement of the N8 Imaging Flagship seemed to bring hope to the fanboys, a great looking phone with an enviable hardware configuration. the only question mark was the OS, but we were assured that Symbian^3 would be perfect.

At a closed beta test our worst fears were confirmed. The latest OS seemed more like an update as opposed to a brand new operating system. Honestly the only way I knew it was something new was because Nokia tried selling “Symbian^3” more than the other excellent features the N8 possessed. We were told the OS was still in its final stages in development, and that by the time of launch the creases would be ironed out.

Unfortunately even after the phone was released and we received out test phones, the problems persisted. This was all to reminiscent of what happened with the N97. It is just unacceptable to launch a flagship device with so many flaws. To do so twice in a row is pathetic. Don’t get me wrong, the build quality on the N8 is excellent and it’s camera is one of the best still out in the market, but the OS really dulls down the overall experience.

It was almost like Nokia didn’t make an effort to improve the Symbian OS. Defending the system now seemed pointless. Nokia’s public declaration that the N8 would be the last Symbian based N-Series phone, seemed to be just another pointless nail in the casket.

Maemo was converted into MeeGo with much pomp and splendour, but consequently seems to have been relegated to the shadows.

Nokia’s new CEO addresses these points in an internal memo sent out to all Nokia employees.  Here are excerpts from the memo that was sent out:

  • About Nokia’s competition

    • Apple demonstrated that if designed well, consumers would buy a high-priced phone with a great experience and developers would build applications. They changed the game, and today, Apple owns the high-end range.
    • Android came in at the high-end, they are now winning the mid-range, and quickly they are going downstream to phones under €100. Google has become a gravitational force, drawing much of the industry’s innovation to its core.
    • Let’s not forget about the low-end price range. In 2008, MediaTek supplied complete reference designs for phone chipsets, which enabled manufacturers in the Shenzhen region of China to produce phones at an unbelievable pace. By some accounts, this ecosystem now produces more than one third of the phones sold globally – taking share from us in emerging markets.
    • 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.
  • About Nokia’s Slow Pace
    • We have some brilliant sources of innovation inside Nokia, but we are not bringing it to market fast enough.
    • We thought MeeGo would be a platform for winning high-end smartphones. However, at this rate, by the end of 2011, we might have only one MeeGo product in the market.
    • I believe we have lacked accountability and leadership to align and direct the company through these disruptive times. We had a series of misses. We haven’t been delivering innovation fast enough.
    • Nokia, our platform is burning.
  • Hinting about a possible partnership with Android or Windows Phone 7
    • 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.

I for one am looking forward to what steps Nokia is going to take under Stephen Elop’s guidance when they share their strategy tomorrow. The full memo is a must read and you can get it over at the Engadget site.

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Perennial Student, Twitterphobe, Closet Biker, Timewaster extraordinaire. Owner of a Classic Phone.

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