11th February, 2011.
Nokia’s Partnership with Microsoft and the Leaked Memo
“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.”
In case you haven’t read it, Stephen Elop, CEO of Nokia, apparently sent out a memo regarding the company’s poor response to the rapid growth of the smartphone market. I read it here.
It was a well written memo and gives Nokia a reality check. The world’s largest handset makers are falling behind in terms of innovation, OS and strong market-leading smartphones. Back in the day, everyone owned a Nokia because of their robust designs and solid usability. These days, their smartphones are the size of TV remotes, just suck, or are overpriced as they are priced similar to the iPhone - minus the fact that there are barely any apps, slow OS and lack of a strong bridging software like iTunes that easily allow phone management.
But anyway, what I admired most from this memo is the way he opened:
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.
Today, Nokia announced a partnership with Microsoft to bring Windows Mobile 7 to their handsets. I see this is a bad move - Android and iOS are here to stay, where as WM7 is still quite behind. Android will simply grow exponentially, especially since Google bleeds out innovation - as Elop said himself:
“Google has become a gravitational force, drawing much of the industry’s innovation to its core.”
So why join a slow growing OS rather than one that is constantly improving and offering countless new technology? Sure, it’s better than the current interfaces that Nokia use, but to catch up with the times, Android is the way forward, especially if you are rapidly losing market share and barely have any presence in the growing smartphone market.
Nokia could’ve joined a market leader to reposition themselves and to take back lost ground from LG, Samsung, Motorola and HTC, but instead, they opted for someone with an OS that’s trailing far behind the pack.