Nokia CFO plays Symbian while rubber boot maker burns

We hate to say it but Nokia really is steering itself into doom and gloom.

Once the former rubber boot maker ruled the world turning out mobile phones, but lately it appears that it can’t do anything right.

Margins for low end phones are now slimmer than an anorexic super-model on a cocaine diet and Nokia just can’t make a smartphone that anyone will buy.

It seems the rival Samsung is sensing that the outfit’s developers have worked out that the ship is holed and are hearing the sounds of Celine Dion and want out.

A recent newsletter posted by a Samsung developer has been circulated on the internet to the Symbian developers who are unhappy about the way things are tipping up in Nokia.

“If you are looking for a new platform to showcase your talents, we say “Hello!” and “welcome to Bada (operating system). If you’re new to the Bada development, or are moving your app from Symbian, we’d like to welcome you,” the newsletter said.

Samsung has confirmed it was posted by one of its developers but said it was not an official company statement. The outfit insists that there have been no orders from the outfit to headhunt Nokia staff.

Well none officially at least. We would not expect them to officially tell anyone anyway.

However it might not even have to headhunt anyone. The publicised move away from Symbian has been touted by unions to cost shedloads of developer jobs.

This would not be a problem if the outfit did not continue to send mixed messages on its plans for the OS.

Yesterday the outfit made the daft move to “re-enforce its commitment to Symbian”. Confused? You should be.

The move was mostly to appease shareholders and sure enough shares went higher. At issue for the shareholders is the announcement that Nokia would replace Symbian with Redmond’s Windows Phone 7. While there is nothing wrong with the OS, it is about as popular as a support Colonel Gaddafi rally.

But if you look carefully at the wording of Chief Financial Officer Timo Ihamuotila’s comments he did not back track on that plan.

He just added that Nokia will use the “long-tail of Symbian” as long as it gives it profitable margin. Given that Symbian is fast becoming seen as the MS DOS of mobile phones we would think the Long Tail is a euphemism.

What he was really saying was Nokia was at the arse end of using Symbian and we will do so until we can get something better.

Ihamuotila said the final contract with Microsoft was yet to be signed so there are still other options. Not Meego of course… but there is always… um… Well… Steve Ballmer has just written us a cheque for a billion dollars. Um… no… not really. 

But when your company is trying to keep developers, the last thing you want to be sending out is mixed messages to anyone. You need to be rallying the troops behind a future vision, rather than mucking around propping up the past