Mobile

Nokia hurdles: speed, accountability, and laziness

When Nokia CEO Stephen Elop joined the company last year and led it to partner with Microsoft, we knew it would be difficult for him to reshape the mobile giant into a worthy competitor against Apple and Google.

Now we have a better sense of what Elop (pictured) faces at Nokia, thanks to a Bloomberg report from this morning, and it all seems to come down to speed, accountability, and laziness.

Speed: Every flagship Nokia phone since the N97′s launch in 2009 has faced delays, including its recent N8 and E7 smartphones. According to research firm Asymco’s Horace Dediu, Nokia has spent between 18 months and two years developing new hardware — a staggering figure given that typical mobile product cycles run about six or seven months, according to Sony Ericsson CEO Bert Nordberg.

Accountability: Nokia has been a “ghost town” over the summer for the past four years, according to Adam Greenfield, a former Nokia employee. While Apple was busy dominating the mobile industry with a new iPhone every summer, Nokia managers were on vacation at their lakeside cottages.

“If you need a decision and the key person’s at the summer cottage? Forget it. You’ll resolve that issue in September. It’s something that hampers their agility,” Greenfield said. Delays like this certainly didn’t help Nokia’s speed problem, but the bigger issue is that managers seemed to be taking it easy when they should have been figuring out a way to defeat the iPhone and Android threat.

Laziness: This wasn’t explicitly pointed out in the Bloomberg report, but it seems obvious that Nokia has gotten lazy over the past few years given its problems with speed and accountability. Nokia failed to innovate quickly and deliver MeeGo to the public, and it wasted too much time shoehorning modern smartphone functionality into its aging Symbian platform.

It goes to show just how much the company needed to partner with Microsoft for Windows Phone 7 — Nokia was simply unable to keep up with its competitors when it came to hardware and software. Now the company can let Microsoft deliver compelling software, while it focuses on making killer devices.

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