Re: Why not blame Microsoft
Elop, for all his flaws (and apparent ignorance of the Osborne Effect), was "parachuted" into a basket-case of a company whose woes date back to the adoption of a platform, Symbian, that was designed for the mobile technologies of the 1990s, not the 2000s, let alone the 2010s.
Symbian shared many design flaws with Microsoft's much-loathed MFC. And for similar reasons: both were built on C++, but that language was still in flux during the 1990s, with the result that many OOP concepts were not particularly well implemented in the language itself and required all sorts of hacky workarounds. The most visible example of this was Symbian's decision to roll its own memory management system. This made your code much more difficult to port, for example.
Symbian was also clearly designed by people who genuinely believed that 'correctness' was the most important thing, so the API demanded pages and pages of sub-classing, just to perform the most basic of operations. And they didn't give a damn about making the developer's life easier. No decent IDEs, no design tools, no consistency across the UI-layer APIs. Nada. You had to do it all the hard way. Because, masochism. Think GNU / Linux development circa 1998.
So, Nokia's main platform was a technological dead-end. It was never going to work in an era of mobile devices powerful enough to run proper, hairy-chested, grown-up operating systems like *BSD, Linux, or Windows NT. Its lifespan was therefore inherently limited. But Nokia's management had no consistent Plan B. They bickered endlessly, duplicated efforts, and let petty empires and management politics get in the way of running a damned company.
Nokia's original management team royally f*cked up. This was NOT Elop's fault as he wasn't there during any of this.
By the time Elop was brought on board, the mobile division was already a massive basket-case and clearly in its death throes. Elop looked about desperately to find an alternative to Symbian. In 2010, Android was still very half-baked and no better than any other option. (This was the Android 2.x period.) At this point in time, Windows Phone looked just as viable as any other option, and Elop had worked for Microsoft, so he presumably felt having contacts there would be useful. He didn't know anyone at Google.
Elop did make some mistakes, but the leaking of the "burning platforms" memo is not something he can be directly blamed for. (My money's on it being leaked by a disgruntled member of the outgoing management team.) This resulted in the predictable Osborne Effect, effectively destroying what little chance the mobile division may have had of surviving intact as part of the larger Nokia group. With nobody buying their old tat, Nokia had to find a buyer for the division.
Elop's connections at Microsoft made the latter an obvious choice, but Microsoft weren't actually that interested. That Elop pulled off the purchase regardless is therefore not a "failure" as many seem to believe: had he not achieved this, there would be no Nokia Lumia phones today: the division would most probably have been closed down entirely. Believe it or not, this made Nokia's shareholders happy, not sad. They don't care how their goose makes those golden eggs, as long as it keeps laying them and making them money.