Irate Former Symbian Chief Trashes Android, Nokia, Microsoft
April 26, 2012 12:30 PM
Former SVP says Nokia CEO Stephen Elop has "No...vision"; argues Android isn't open or functional
world's top maker of both smartphones
, these days Finland-based phonemaker Nokia Oyj. (
) can only wait and hope for a turnaround. The company was facing sliding sales and criticism that its smartphone operating system, Symbian, couldn't keep up with the young guns of the mobile world -- Google Inc.'s (
) Android and Apple, Inc.'s (
) iOS. In response, Nokia's board made a bold gamble importing former Microsoft Corp. (
executive Stephen Elop
as its CEO and allowing him to
forge a pact with Microsoft
to adopt Windows Phone.
I. Ex-Nokia Exec "Hates on" Android, Showers Defunct Symbian OS With Praise
While there are some promising signs
in terms of hardware
of late, the
have been pretty ugly and have called Nokia's
decision to ditch Symbian
-- or at least how it's executed that plan -- into question.
a ranting interview
, a clearly outraged Lee Williams -- former Nokia SVP of the early Series 60 smartphones (2006-2009) and
later Executive Director of the Symbian Foundation
(2009-2010) -- vented his frustrations at his former employer's decision to scrap Symbian, which he sees as a big mistake. He also used the interview as a platform to express some unusual views, attacking the operating system world's top players as incompetent in various ways and arguing that Nokia's Symbian is the ultimate operating system."
Mr. Williams, who now is a partner a SourceBits, a San Francisco mobile consulting firm, comments, "I did not see a good reason to change course [from Symbian] so frantically...I don't think Nokia was going in the wrong direction with some of the things it was doing -- it was simply executing poorly before Elop got there and they weren't giving it enough time. Symbian was Nokia's cash-cow -- Elop sacrificed it."
Lee Williams, former Symbian chief, claims Nokia is making a mistake. He argues that Microsoft's Windows Phone and Google's Android are losers, and that Symbian is a winner.
[Image Source: World of Phones]
The former Symbian chief argues Nokia would have been better served pledging to primarily support Symbian, but perhaps dabbling in Windows Phone.
He would approve of Nokia going to Microsoft's competitor Google even less, though. He had harsh words for the
world's most used smartphone operating system
, which he accuses of not being open and lacking functionality to -- you guessed it --
He jabs, "Android is a less capable offering than a few options that still exist within Nokia. It's certainly not what I would refer to as an open system. More than that, I think that Nokia has little opportunity to differentiate here in the near term…"
He bemoans, "Symbian is shipping on around 20 million new units a quarter as of today. When I was at the company it was responsible for seven of 10 of Nokia's highest gross margin products. Think of those volumes. There were dozens of products that shipped in the tens of millions."
II. Microsoft, Nokia CEO Elop, and Nokia Board Chairman Also Get Attacked
The bitter former executive throws dirt on Microsoft's
upcoming Windows Phone 8
. After arguing that the new OS won't be a market changer, he attacks Microsoft's general track record, commenting, "[E]verything 'Windows 8' has a big question mark on it right now, and it should be this way. Microsoft is notoriously late on delivery..."
He accuses Nokia CEO Stephen Elop of ruining the company. He comments, "As an arm chair quarterback, it is clear to me that [Nokia CEO Stephen] Elop is struggling. The results speak for themselves. Elop hasn't delivered a roadmap. He's been there for two to three years and there's really no roadmap," says Williams. "There's no overarching vision for this company. That to me is akin to stepping completely out of the leadership role and running behind the bus now."
Mr. Williams predicts that Nokia will eventually come back to
Symbian after realizing that it's the best. [Image Source: GizMag]
The issue provokes Mr. Williams so much that he vents about the strategy, stating, "Elop is operating like a CFO [chief financial officer] -- CFOs are very practical, always looking at costs, always internally focused... I don't think he's really projecting anything forward or sitting around with his team imaging what the future looks like. I think it's 's**t (sic) how do I get rid of a third of this overhead in R&D?"
And he's not above crowing about the
recent Nokia credit downgrade
to junk status, commenting, "Those credit ratings are a huge deal for them. If they can't borrow and move money -- wow! There's very little for them to do. Because they're the world's largest distributed manufacturer highly dependent on that movement and those credit ratings, and cash and bank."
III. Former Symbian Chief Predicts Nokia Will Come Crawling Back
The controversial analyst predicts that in six months to a year Mr. Elop will be booted and Nokia will undergo a "course correction" "back in the direction of [Symbian]."
While most of Mr. William's vehemence seems to be directed at Nokia it's impressive that he managed to claim that the world's top smartphone OS maker (Google) wasn't putting out a competent product and that the
world's top personal computer OS maker
(Microsoft) can't make a deadline.
On the one hand Nokia is indeed in a lot of trouble and one has to wonder if there isn't some truth in parts of Mr. Williams' frustrated diatribe. But at the same time some of his statements make him appear a bit out of touch with the reality that Microsoft and Google are the top dogs in the operating systems industry (along with Apple). It seems pretty unlikely that Nokia will turn back to
the Symbian "burning platform"
-- but that won't stop Symbian's ex-director from wishing Nokia would.
"Google fired a shot heard 'round the world, and now a second American company has answered the call to defend the rights of the Chinese people." -- Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.)
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