Elop persists with 'new season' at Nokia

CEO of troubled handset manufacturer reiterates bid to regain foothold of mobile market with strategic restructure and underscores confidence Windows Phone platform will help lead the way.
Written by Eileen Yu, Senior Contributing Editor

COMMUNICASIA, SINGAPORE--"A new season" is beginning at Nokia as the troubled handset maker pushes through its new strategy and reemphasizes its confidence that its gamble on Windows Phone will pay off.

Pointing to the company's change in strategic focus outlined on Feb. 11, Nokia President and CEO Stephen Elop reiterated the role of Microsoft's Windows Phone as a game changer.


Stephen Elop
(Credit: Aloysius Low)

Giving his address here Tuesday at the start of the four-day industry tradeshow, CommunicAsia, Elop said: "Earlier this year on Feb. 11, Nokia outlined a new course to change our direction. Just four months and ten days later today, on Jun. 21, a new season is beginning at Nokia. We have shifted our organization, we have a clear strategy and we are focused on delivering results."

The CEO said the company is putting in place the pieces needed to capture the next 1 billion users who will connect to the Internet, many of whom will come from the Southeast Asian region, which he noted is the world's third fastest-growing in terms of GDP (Gross Domestic Product).

An important piece of the puzzle is its gamble on Windows Phone which Elop had previously described as "the third ecosystem", after the Apple iOS and Google Android. He expressed "increased confidence" that Nokia will ship its first Windows Phone-based device later this year and in volume next year.

At the same time, he said support will continue through to 2016 for its own platform Symbian where the next update, Anna, will be shipped with the Nokia C7 in July and made available as an upgrade to existing users in August. In addition, 10 devices running on Symbian are slated to be rolled out over the next 12 months.

Elop also underscored the importance of developers in driving the company's strategy, because "we believe the battle in the industry has shifted from a battle of devices, to a war of ecosystems".

Marco Argenti, Nokia's senior vice president of developer experience, said during his presentation at the tradeshow: "Developers are our critical allies to win this war...[and] Windows Phone Mango is a big part of our strategy [here]."

He touted the company's software development kit, Qt, which he said is "core to bringing apps to the next 1 billion [users connecting to the Web].

Noting that there are currently over 100 million Qt-powered devices worldwide, Argenti added that the Nokia appstore is available in 190 countries today, clocking over 6 million downloads a day, which is a 300 percent year-on-year growth.

In addition, the appstore supports 121 operators in 42 markets, allow them to provide operator-based billing for purchases on the appstore. Citing studies conducted by Nokia, he said this was an important provision because operator billing can help push appstore purchases five-fold, compared to transactions made via credit card.

New phones unveiled
The handset maker today also announced three new models including the dual-SIM Nokia C2-03 and full-touchscreen N9, which features an NFC-enabled function that allows users to connect to Bluetooth devices such as headsets or speakers by simply touching the gadget. The phone runs on the company's Linux-based mobile operating system, Meego.


Nokia N9

Elop said N9 was the result of efforts by Nokia engineers to introduce new ways of using a phone, adding that many features in the device will be adopted in future Nokia products.

The touchscreen device is slated for launch later this year, he said, without providing an actual date. Pricing details will be provided nearer the launch date, he added.

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