It’s been a busy month for Nokia as the company took a number of measures to double down on its efforts to better compete against the iPhone and a slew of Android devices. The most notable corporate shakeup at the Finnish handset maker occurred just about 10 days ago when the company announced that former Microsoft manager Stephen Elop would be stepping in to take over CEO duties from Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo.
With its marketshare trending downward, and no premium and competitive smartphone to speak of, Nokia will need a lot more than a corporate re-structuring if it wants to remain relevant in a smartphone market that’s increasingly moving along at a quicker clip than in years past.
To that end, Nokia CTO recently stated that he’s looking for a few “dirty jerseys” to help Nokia deliver innovative products that can actually divert user attention away from the iPhone.
“I want to be very focused on working with the people who are building the product,” Green recently stated in an interview. “They should be in the game, playing, and not on the sidelines with a clean jersey telling people what to do.”
Euphemisms aside, there’s a deeper problem at the root of Nokia’s woes, and it may very well be that the company is too big for its own good. Indeed, over the past few months, corporate shakeups at Nokia were done with the express intent of streamlining the company’s development process and hastening the time it takes to get from product development to actually shipping a new device.
Corporate red tape aside, Nokia’s lackluster efforts aren’t for want of trying. Believe it or not, but Nokia’s R&D budget tops out at an astounding $7.7 billion, which is nearly 6 times as much as Apple spends on its own research and development efforts. Not surprisingly, Apple CEO Steve Jobs has, on more than one occasion, mocked companies like Microsoft who spend an inordinate amount on R&D but still can’t seem to produce cutting edge products. Jobs often likes to say that Apple prefers to hire the right people rather than blindly throwing money away in the name of “research and development.”
Elop may need to follow the example set by Steve Jobs, who slashed R&D costs after he returned to Apple in 1997. Jobs argued that Apple should use its best brains to build snazzy new Mac products rather than futuristic gee-whiz technologies.
“My job is to take the organization through a period of disruption and ensure that we are meeting the needs of customers while delivering superior financial results,” Elop said at a press briefing in Espoo, Finland, on Sept. 10.
Green, who’s based in Palo Alto, California, as well as Espoo, said Nokia’s likely to keep the research centers going, although he said he’s prodding them to be more relevant to products Nokia can deliver soon.
“My role is to catalyze certain aspects of technology transfer from research to product,” he said.