Canadian CEO brings Nokia what it needs: balls

Canadian CEO brings Nokia what it needs: balls

Canadians may not have a reputation for being brash, assertive leaders, but every once in a while we still manage to surprise: Nokia’s Ancaster-born CEO Stephen Elop has been making waves this week by shaking up the struggling cellphone giant. Earlier this week, a memo from Elop to Nokia staff leaked to tech site Engadget. In it, Elop said there had been too many bad decisions at Nokia over the years and that “we poured gasoline on our own burning platform.” With that bracing news out of the way, Nokia announced today that it’s abandoning its own attempt at building a smartphone operating system and throwing its lot in with Microsoft.

According to the Globe and Mail:

“This is now a three-horse race,” Mr. Elop said, referring the Nokia-Microsoft attempt to prevent Google’s Android operating system and the Apple iPhone from owning the entire smart phone market..

Seated next to Mr. Elop in a London hotel auditorium, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said “this partnership with Nokia will accelerate—dramatically accelerate— our Windows phone ecosystem.”

The partnership did not impress investors, who drove down Nokia’s shares by 9 per cent in morning trading in Europe. Analysts said the plunge was in good part due to Nokia’s warning of “significant uncertainties” over how the changes would affect the Finish [sic] company’s performance this year.

The decision is a bold move, especially considering that, in terms of market share, Microsoft might as well not exist. Elop says that Nokia considered moving to Android, but decided against it because the company would have a hard time distinguishing itself in the larger Android market. Apparently, Nokia’s management is hoping the bet on Microsoft will keep the brand strong—and stop Nokia’s nasty slide over the last year.

Microsoft’s got to be happy this morning, seeing as they’ve effectively been made the OS of choice for the world’s largest smartphone maker. Most of all, though, we’re happy to see a Canadian-born CEO showing the world we’re capable of bringing some guts to the table.

• Nokia CEO Stephen Elop rallies troops in brutally honest ‘burning platform’ memo? [Engadget]
• Nokia Q&A reveals more MeeGo details and tablet plans [Engadget]
• Nokia joins forces with Microsoft in smart phone war [Globe and Mail]