Thoughts on Nokia’s Burning Platform

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To be frank, I thought the Nokia CEO Stephen Elop’s open letter was a waste of time and extremely long overdue. It should never have come to this. I don’t understand why he wasted so much time talking about a burning platform. He should have just got straight to the point and told his company that their products are just rubbish when compared to the competition and that after 4 years they still don’t have a product that can even come close to the iPhone experience.

To their credit, essentially no other company has been able to produce a product that matches the iPhone in quality so at least they’re not the only ones. The problem is that their competition are generally running Android, and Nokia’s devices are several steps behind even these. In addition, they have announced some kind of deal with Microsoft. I’m not sure if it’s an exclusive deal to run Windows Phone on their new devices, but even a partial deal would be a mistake in my opinion. The industry is clearly moving towards iPhone and Android as the two main operating systems. Blackberry is still using their own OS but they don’t really need to compete with the other major mobile OS makers as they have a more dedicated following of users.

I don’t care what Microsoft are saying, I just can’t see them challenging Apple and Google any time soon and will probably stay a distant 3rd or 4th in the OS race. I suppose the change from Symbian to Windows Phone 7 or the next version will be a step forward, but it’s not a big enough one for Nokia, who are in trouble if they don’t make a success of their next generation of devices.

They should be following Sony Eriksson and others who have seen the light and decided smartly to jump onto the Android bandwagon as opposed to supporting their own faltering OS efforts. Nokia should at the very least start producing good quality but affordable Android phones in order to quickly turn their fortunes around as much as possible in the short term. They have to work quickly as they have essentially warned potential customers off purchasing one of their current crop of smartphones.

The other thing the company needs to focus on is their long-time speciality: cheap, simple and fashion phones. Even now, if someone who isn’t that tech savvy asks me to recommend a phone to them, I’ll recommend a cheap Nokia. They are almost indestructible, have big buttons and for the most part, simple interfaces that anyone can understand. They have a lot of competition in this area now but such is the norm for all mobile products. They have to find a way to separate themselves from the competition once again and continue their dominance of the low cost phone market. This has been keeping the company going in the last few years, but they have to continue to innovate to bring in the funds to develop their smartphone program further.

Overall I think this is the start of the company’s turnaround. By being so honest and open about their problems, they’ve put themselves in a back against the wall situation, which is good as it will force them into a state of urgency and hopefully quick recovery.