Nokia vice-president leaves firm; questions remain over why

Summary:A senior Nokia executive has left the company, but the high-profile smartphone marketer left without fuss or explanation -- and nobody seems to want to talk about it.

Nokia vice-president of product marketing Ilari Nurmi has left the company, Reuters confirmed on Friday, but questions over his departure linger after the high-profile executive at the Finland-based phone giant left seemingly through the back door. 

Nurmi, who was in charge of Nokia's smartphone strategy, confirmed the news on Twitter late Sunday evening:

But the reason exactly why Nurmi left the company remains unknown. 

The launch of two Windows Phone 8-powered Nokia Lumia 820 and Lumia 920 devices last month left investors reportedly disappointed by the lack of communication by the phone maker over launch details and prices. Nurmi spoke at the announcement of the two phones, alongside other senior Nokia executives. Another annoyance -- the long wait between the announcement in September and the launch later in fall -- also ruffled the feathers of company investors.

Former Nokia vice-president of product marketing Ilari Nurmi leaves the firm after 15 years, but for what reason remains unknown.

Image credit: Nokia.

While the devices themselves were highly regarded as strong competitors in the mobile market place, and subsequently received rave reviews from the media, Nokia suffered a share price plunge of close to 16 percent on the day.

Soon after the revealing of the next-generation Lumia handsets, Nokia was embroiled in a 'staging' controversy that led to an internal investigation at the firm's Espoo headquarters. Nokia confessed that a promotional video for the Lumia 920 was filmed with a professional film crew and not by the device itself, leading to the phone giant swallowing a whole selection of bitter-tasting humble pies. 

The firm said there was "no intention to mislead," but nonetheless apologized -- only after The Verge site discovered that Nokia had "faked" the video. But at the heart of the phone's product marketing was Nurmi, who would have been ultimately responsible for the gaffe. 

Latest comScore figures also show that Nokia's place in the mobile market has slipped beyond a point almost of no return. The phone maker, which once saw a mobile in almost every hand of every emerging market around the world, remains left out of the top five smartphones and non-smartphone table of mobile manufacturers.

In terms of platform share, Microsoft's Windows Phone share continues to decline month-on-month, currently standing at 3.6 percent of the market, but it's likely that Samsung and HTC are carrying the bulk of the sales ahead of Nokia, which in July only managed to ship (not sell) 600,000 handsets to North America. 

These three events combined -- a Nokia share price plunge, an embarrassing mea culpa after a faked promotional advert was uncovered, and an ongoing dwindling of market share figures -- may have led to the departure of the Nokia vice-president.

But we can only guess. 

Nurmi did not return contact to ZDNet at the time of writing. A Nokia spokesperson said the company "does not publicly comment on internal matters." Of course, we'll update the piece if we hear back.

Updated at 12:30 a.m. BST: to clarify "Windows Phone" share, as Windows Phone 8 has yet to be released.

Topics: Nokia, Microsoft, Smartphones, Tech Industry, Windows

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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