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Nokia Chief Sees Company on 'Burning Platform'

    PARIS — The new chief executive of Nokia, preparing the troubled mobile phone maker for a wide-ranging shakeup, has reportedly compared the company’s plight to that of a man standing on a “burning platform” and trying to decide whether to jump into icy waters.

    Nokia has fallen “years behind” Apple and Google in the market for sophisticated mobile phones, the executive, Stephen Elop, is said to have written in an internal memo that was leaked to a technology news blog, Engadget, and later appeared widely on the Internet.

    The authenticity of the memo could not immediately be confirmed, but Engadget said it had verified that the note was written by Mr. Elop, who took over as chief of Nokia in September, joining the company from Microsoft.

    “We have more than one explosion — we have multiple points of scorching heat that are fueling a blazing fire around us,” the memo says. “While competitors poured flames on our market share, what happened at Nokia? We fell behind, we missed big trends, and we lost time.”

    Leo Mckay, a spokesman at Nokia headquarters in Espoo, Finland, declined to confirm whether Mr. Elop had written the text.

    “We are not commenting on any alleged internal memos,” Mr. Mckay said.

    Pete Cunningham, an analyst at Canalys, a research firm in Reading, England, said that even though Mr. Elop had not immediately acknowledged authorship of the note, “certainly the contents of the memo appear to speak of Nokia’s major challenges.”

    The memo laments Nokia’s inability to come up with an answer to Apple’s iPhone in the market for high-end smartphones. In global market share, Google’s Android operating system has overtaken Nokia’s Symbian system.

    In phone manufacturing, too, Nokia has been losing ground at an alarming rate. Worldwide, Nokia remained the largest maker of mobile devices last year, the research firm Gartner said Wednesday. But its market share fell to 29 percent from 36 percent a year earlier. Apple and Research in Motion, maker of the BlackBerry, posted gains.

    Even at the low end of the phone market, where Nokia models were once ubiquitous, Chinese companies are now developing phones faster than Nokia can “polish a PowerPoint presentation,” the memo says. Mr. Elop is expected to announce his strategy for turning around Nokia at a presentation in London on Friday. www.dominicanflash.com Speculation about the course he might take has ranged widely, with some analysts predicting an alliance with Microsoft, under which Nokia would ditch Symbian in favor of the Windows Phone operating system for high-end smartphones. Other reports have said Mr. Elop, a Canadian who is the first non-Finnish executive to head the Finland-based company, plans to dismiss a number of top officials. “It will be a huge effort to transform our company,” the memo says.

    The spotlight will remain on Nokia during a trade show in Barcelona next week, where mobile phone makers often show off new products. “Nokia’s future rests on the announcements it will make on February 11 and how well the company can execute on those plans in the limited time available,” Gartner analysts wrote in their report.

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Nokia Chief Sees Company on 'Burning Platform'

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