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Can Elop Be The New Steve Jobs

Nokia is having a pretty bad time of things at the moment. Symbian has
run it's natural life and is now beyond the point where it can run as
a usable smartphone platform; Meego has failed to deliver any phones
at all and the company has seen a massive fall in both market share
and market value - a pretty sorry place to be for the company that led
the mobile phone boom for the last twenty years.

There are remarkable parallels to Apple Inc., a company who in 1997
were on the ropes, with investors calling for the company to be shut
down and it's large cash pile to be returned to stockholders; with
market analysts comparing it's products and strategy to Dell's in a
less than favourable light and even Apple evangelists talking about
the imminent collapse of the company.

Then Gil Amelio pulled off a (possibly unwitting) master stroke, in
acquiring Next Computer and with it engineering the return to the
company of Steve Jobs. Jobs took the reins of the business, launched
the company saving iMac and acquired a small business with a innocuous
looking MP3 player that it parlayed into the biggest business in the
world. A pretty good return for a decade and a half of stewardship.

Over at Nokia Stephen Elop has the task of saving the business. A
Canadian previously responsible for Microsoft Office, his first move
has been to form links with Microsoft around the Windows Phone
platform. That's prompted some questions about his impartiality but
given Nokia's financial position, Google control over the Android
platform and it's need to move forward it's smartphone strategy it's
hard to see where else he could go.

What remains now is to prove that with a modern mobile OS, Nokia's
teams of (some quite brilliant) engineers can overcome the politics
which have dragged them down to this position and deliver compelling
devices to market. If they can it could be the saving of both Nokia
and Microsoft. It would also complete a turnaround at Nokia akin to
Steve Jobs early years at Apple.

Anything less and the company's futures will be in serious question,
no matter what it's relative strength look like today.


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