"Elop himself divides opinion, with some Finns blaming him for the demise of Europe’s biggest technology company and the former number one phone maker in the world. This really is a bit of chauvinistic nonsense, which seeks to transfer blame away from years of complacency and mismanagement at Nokia. What Elop’s critics forget is that he had an impossible choice in front of him when he arrived in late 2010."
Sorry, but I must disagree, this is not nonsense in any way, chauvinistic or otherwise.
Was Elop given a huge mess? Yes. Was it an impossible choice? Possibly, of course there's no way to know for sure, and Nokia really was (not to repeat myself) a huge mess. But.... I think Elop made the worst possible choices.
First, Nokia had a bit of a mess in that they had Meego (as people have mentioned) as well as several other parallel projects to make a modern smartphone platform. It would have made sense to pick one (probably Meego) and throw in bits and pieces of the other projects into it if it made sense to. What *didn't* make sense (and is what Elop did) is to cancel all of them (even though Meego for instance was complete enough to have shipping products) and decide to try to modernize S60 a bit instead. This of course wasn't going to go that well, because S60 had a very unusual programming model and basically very few of the facilities of a modern operating system.
Second, the memo. You simply do not say your current products are crap, and the ones that are coming out sometime in the future will be so much better. It's common sense. Up until this memo, Nokia was in fact muddling along actually selling a surprisingly large number of S60 phones still -- the low hardware requirements of S60 was allowing them to sell below the price of any competitor. After the memo, who wants to buy a product the CEO has said is crap and that they are no longer interested in? Sales dropped like a rock, with no replacement yet.
The last few steps, I don't place any blame for. When Nokia picked Windows Phone, since Elop had already cancelled Nokia's in-house development, the choice was down to Windows Phone and Android. Android phones are typically low profit margin, and running Windows Phone would make Nokia's phones stand out. I would have picked Android... I know Microsoft feels free to "burn" their partners when it suits them, but perhaps Elop did not. (In this case, I feel like Microsoft burned Nokia by refusing to make any OS changes to suit Nokia, when Nokia was literally the only licensee.. even trivial changes like increasing the maximum photo size to match the size of images Nokia's camera actually took.)
Finally, when Nokia sold to Microsoft --- by that point, I would have done the same. They were seriously on the ropes, and Microsoft made a fair offer.