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Stephen Elop is the right man for Nokia

Ash Nallawalla

11 September 2010

Mobile

Nokia Corporation
Stock Exchange Release
September 10, 2010 at 08:30 (CET+1)

Stephen ElopEspoo, Finland -Nokia’s Board of Directors has appointed Stephen Elop President and Chief Executive Officer of Nokia as of September 21. Elop currently heads Microsoft’s Business Division. Before joining Microsoft, Elop held senior executive positions in a number of US-based public companies, including Juniper Networks, Adobe Systems Inc. and Macromedia Inc. He holds a degree in computer engineering and management from McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada, which is his home country.

(extract from a Nokia press release)

I reported to Elop’s regional VP at Macromedia eight years ago and think he is the perfect change agent for the Nokia challenge. Congratulations, Stephen! I’d like to compliment Marguerite Reardon for an excellent CNET article (Is Nokia’s CEO shuffle too little too late?) that alerted me to the news.

I didn’t follow Stephen’s work at Adobe or Microsoft but he was a keen talent spotter. He’d give Gordon Ramsay a run for his money in the kitchen to make a great omelette; thus he will assemble a strong team at Nokia. They’ll be under great pressure, but the outcome for Nokia will be for the better.

Referring to the CNET article and comments:

If his Microsoft/Juniper exposure has given him a supposed “expertise” in networking and applications, then he also has an equal, if not better, exposure to mobile devices because Macromedia had a concerted effort and success in getting Flash into mobile phones of the day.

I have seen Macromedia, Adobe and Microsoft developer communities from the inside/periphery to varying degrees and they were all pretty robust – certainly the Allaire and Macromedia ones for sure. As a user group evangelist, I have had privileged physical access into Redmond over 20 years to its Windows and Office buildings. While Windows and Office marketing has been excellent, Microsoft hasn’t been good with marketing electronics, notably the Zune. Yes, the Xbox 360 has done well recently, but look how long it took to arrive.

However, I doubt if anyone can extract any more brilliance out of Symbian. It needs to go and Nokia should embrace Android for smart phones and Windows 7 for tablets. Undoubtedly, Elop would have good connections within Microsoft to explore the latter.

As a Nokia user for 12 years, I bought the N95 for its crude GPS but switched to the iPhone 3GS when the contract expired, again for Google Maps on the latter. Today, it’s my daily interface to Twitter and Foursquare and occasional convenience by way of other apps.

I miss the convenience of tactile buttons, but otherwise prefer the apps environment of the iPhone. Around my office I see a sea of iPhones, company-issued Blackberries but hardly a Nokia or other traditional mobile. Nokia will have some success with its low-end phones in poorer economies but its opportunity lies in an iPad challenger. Hardware and its brand are Nokia’s strengths.

My work requires access to Flash content and certain Windows apps, so the iPad remains a pretty toy to me, as do Android devices. The iPhone doesn’t interface well with my car’s Bluetooth controls or my Microsoft Outlook. I am “stuck” with a heavy laptop for now.

A Windows 7 tablet would be perfect for me and many others who are not too bothered by the size of Apple’s candy store. Apple is just opening up its kimono for Flash apps on the iPad, but until it can run desktop apps, Windows 7 is a solution looking for the right problem.

Nokia can and should be that missing piece.

Ash Nallawalla

Search strategist experienced in large, complex websites. Ash's Google+ profile

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