My story on Nokia’s platform troubles is up on Time.
Nokia’s Stephen Elop certainly has a way with words. In February, in what might have been the most brutally honest corporate memo in decades, the recently installed CEO compared his company to an oil worker trapped on a burning drilling rig, facing a terrible choice. “He was surrounded by flames,” Elop wrote. “Through the smoke and heat, he barely made his way out of the chaos to the platform’s edge. When he looked down … all he could see were the dark, cold, foreboding Atlantic waters.”
Call it the parable of the burning platform. The Finnish mobile-phone manufacturer that had once been able to comfortably claim that its distinctive ringtone was the most listened-to melody in the history of music is watching its dominance go up in smoke. Since the launch of the iPhone in 2007, Nokia’s share of the smart-phone market has dropped from 51% to 27%, according to the research firm Gartner. In the midrange, phones carrying Google’s Android operating system have just surpassed Nokia’s smart phones in sales. And a host of low-priced Chinese competitors are nipping at its heels. Brand loyalty is at an all-time low. Like the oil worker, Elop, who had joined Nokia from Microsoft in September, needed to make a dramatic decision. And like the oil worker, he decided to jump.