Nokia appoints Microsoft Business Division Head as chief executive


The Finnish communications corporation Nokia announced that its Head will change on September 21. The previous chief executive Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo will continue to chair in non-executive capacity. The head of Microsoft Business division Stephen Elop will take the position. It is the first time a non-Finn becomes Nokia president and chief executive.

Stephen Elop in 2008. Image: luca.sartoni

The change follows Nokia’s fall in world markets. It includes a decrease in Nokia’s American market share to less than ten percent after failed negotiations with a number of leading American phone providers. An analyst at a market analyst company Canalys Pete Cunningham said, “Despite holding 38 percent market share of the smartphone market, Nokia’s failure to compete with the iPhone and high-tier Android devices, combined with its lack of progress in gaining significant traction in the United States, has led to press and investor dissatisfaction.”

Some commenters suggested that Nokia chose Mr. Elop partly because he is a Canadian, following criticism of American candidates by the Finnish press. However a Nokia spokesman rejected this, saying, “Nationality was not a selection criteria.”

Stephen Elop was president and CEO of the graphics and web-development software house Macromedia prior to its acquisition by Adobe in 2005. He then joined Microsoft as President of Microsoft’s Business Division in January, 2008. Commenting on his new role he said, “Nokia has a unique global position as well as a great brand upon which we can build. The Nokia slogan clearly states our key mission: Connecting People, which will acquire new dimensions as we build our portfolio of products, solutions and services.”

In the announcement the Chairman of the Nokia Board of Directors Jorma Ollila stressed an expected shift of focus from hardware to software. “His [Stephen Elop’s] strong software background and proven record in change management will be valuable assets as we press harder to complete the transformation of the company. We believe that Stephen will be able to drive both innovation and efficient execution of the company strategy in order to deliver increased value to our shareholders”.

Nokia stated in an official blog post, “Nokia is transitioning from a hardware manufacturer of mobile devices to a software and solutions business. …Stephen’s background in the software industry is one of his key strengths.”

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