Stephen Elop said Nokia is surrounded by a 'fire of competition', according to a company memo [EPA]

Nokia's chief executive has said that the mobile phone giant is "standing on a burning platform" surrounded by a fire of competition, according to a leaked memo sent to staff.

The unusually frank document, sent by newly appointed Stephen Elop, suggests the company is not doing enough to compete with Apple's iPhone or Google's Android smartphone, and that a radical change is necessary.

He compared the situation faced by the company to a story of a man who jumps into freezing waters to escape a burning oil rig.

"In ordinary circumstances, the man would never consider plunging into icy waters," the memo, obtained by the AFP news agency, said.

"We too, are standing on a 'burning platform,' and we must decide how we are going to change our behaviour.

"When we share the new strategy on February 11, it will be a huge effort to transform our company," Elop wrote in the message on the company's internal website.

'Intense heat from competitors'

Some British media say they have verified the authenticity of the memo, but Nokia refused to comment on it when approached by Al Jazeera.

Finnish-based Nokia was once the leader in the mobile world, with a 40 per cent share in the mobile device market up to the second quarter of 2008.

But its fortunes have dropped recently, hitting 31 per cent of the market in the fourth quarter of 2010.

Elop said there were "multiple points of scorching heat" fuelling the "blazing fire around us".

"For example, there is intense heat coming from our competitors, more rapidly than we ever expected."

He said Apple and Android quickly took over the market, and criticised Nokia for being slow to respond to changes in trends.

"The first iPhone shipped in 2007, and we still don't have a product that is close to their experience."

"Android came on the scene just over two years ago, and this week they took our leadership position in smartphone volumes. Unbelievable."

According to the leaked memo, Nokia has stopped developing its first smartphone using a MeeGo operating system, which was seen as key to the firm's battle in the high-end smartphone market.

"We thought MeeGo would be a platform for winning high-end smartphones. However, at this rate, by the end of 2011, we might have only one MeeGo product in the market," Elop wrote.

The company is holding an investor day in London on Friday, where Elop is expected to make a significant announcement about the future of the company.

It has been suggested that he could announce an alliance with another operating system, such as Android or Microsoft's Windows Phone 7, and dramatically shake up the company's management.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies