Is It Curtains for Nokia?

If you thought Nokia was in deep trouble, I reckon you'd be right. Trouble with leadership, software, and phones. Let's look at the challenges ahead, in The Long View...

Lacking Leadership
The current CEO, Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, has "outta here" tattooed on his forehead. He's being replaced by Stephen Elop later this month. While it's good that Nokia's appointed an outsider for a change, Elop faces some serious culture shock. Leading a Finnish company is a very different kettle of fish from his previous experiences at Microsoft, Juniper, and Adobe.

Meanwhile, Anssi Vanjoki --- Nokia's honcho in charge of smartphones -- has also quit. The rumor mill says he wasn't a happy bunny when he heard that he wasn't getting Olli-Pekka's corner office.

So Nokia faces a critical leadership vacuum right on the eve of Nokia World, its premier customer event. As I write, the website is still claiming that Vanjoki will be speaking at the event tomorrow. Amazing; I dare say there's some frantic scrambling going on behind the scenes.

Poor Platforms
Ignoring Nokia's increasingly irrelevant feature-phone platforms, the software platform story is, to be charitable, a bit of a mess.

Does anyone really think Symbian still has the ability to challenge iOS and Android? Nokia will be making lots of noise this week about the new version, Symbian^3, but that's a just stop-gap until ^4 is ready next year.

Symbian^4 looks very much like it's too little, too late. I also can't help thinking that moving to the Qt user interface framework is like applying the proverbial lipstick to a pig.

And then we have MeeGo, which is of course the successor to the execrable Maemo. We first saw that on the simply awful and mostly pointless Nokia 770: 'nuff said.

Patchy Phones
Last but not least, where are the devices to challenge smartphones such as iPhone 4, Droid X, Evo, and Galaxy S? Not to mention tablets from Apple, Dell, and a million Chinese manufacturers.

The Nokia N8 is also too little, too late. It's going to be too slow for a premium smartphone, and seems to be lacking any carrier relationships for the U.S. market -- so no subsidized low headline price.

Is It Curtains for Nokia?
It's not a pretty story, that's for sure. When even Gartner can see the writing on the wall, you know that something smells in Espoo.

Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and security. A cross-functional IT geek since 1985, you can follow him as @richi on Twitter, pretend to be richij's friend on Facebook, or just use good old email: TLV@richij.com.

You can also read Richi's full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

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