A scathing memo from Nokia CEO Steven Elop that describes Nokia as standing on a "burning platform" suggests big changes are in store for the troubled mobile phone maker, which is "years behind" its competition.
Elop, the former Microsoft executive and recently appointed Nokia CEO, wrote in an internal memo to Nokia employees that mobile phone company has fallen far behind rivals like Apple and Google Android, and that other brands have started to eat into Nokia's share of emerging markets as well.
It "will be a huge effort to transform our company," Elop writes.
The leaked memo, which was reported on by Engadget Tuesday and also quoted from by The Wall Street Journal Wednesday, arrives a few days before Elop is scheduled to speak to analysts at a Nokia event in London on Friday. It is widely assumed that Elop will discuss changes to Nokia's senior management and strategic direction at that meeting.
The tone of the memo, whose authenticity has not been confirmed by Nokia, is a blunt assessment of a company that still dominates mobile phones on a global scale but is rapidly losing share.
"The first iPhone shipping [was] in 2007, and we still don't have a product that is close to that experience," Elop writes, according to the quoted text of the memo.
Elop also references Android, the Google mobile OS currently seen on many of the marquee smartphones and mobile devices on the market.
According to Canalys, Android phones overtook phones running Nokia's Symbian platform in the fourth quarter of 2010, and Google now commands a 32.9 percent share of the global market.
That, Elop writes, is "unbelievable."
"In about two years, Android created a platform that attracts application developers, service providers and hardware manufacturers," Elop wrote, according to the text of the memo posted by Engadget. "Android came in at the high-end, they are now winning the mid-range, and quickly they are going to downstream to phones under 100. Google has become a gravitational force, drawing much of the industry's innovation to its core."
Elop's mem, also hints that Nokia's much-touted, high-end MeeGo platform hasn't delivered on its promise. Nokia sources told Reuters on Wednesday that MeeGo has been dropped altogether, though Nokia has not confirmed that move, either.
"We have some brilliant sources of innovation inside Nokia, but we are not bringing it to market fast enough," Elop writes. "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."
Elop was named the new CEO of Nokia in September 2010, replacing Olli Pekka-Kallasvuo and departing from his post as head of Microsoft's Business Division. Several top Nokia executives departed the company following Elop's appointment, and according to The Wall Street Journal, another major executive shakeup is in the works.